Green cleaning or eco-cleaning has become a big business as homeowners gravitate toward more planet-friendly lifestyles. Eco-cleaning companies are popping up everywhere and there are a plethora of low impact cleaning products available to purchase. While there are a few commercial products that are staples in my pantry, many of my cleaning solutions are ones that I make at home. Much like the home remedies I use in the garden, these formulas are inexpensive and simple to prepare. If I don’t have the ingredients already, I can find everything I need at my neighborhood grocery store.
Stock Your Pantry
- Borax – Great for disinfecting and deodorizing and as a mild abrasive. Borax is a safe alternative but IS toxic. So be careful where you store it.
- Vinegar – A natural acidic for removing grime and soap scum. Because of vinegar’s acidic quality, don’t use it full strength on tile grout and it’s not recommended for marble or unprotected vinyl flooring.
- Baking soda – There are too many virtues of baking soda to list here, but mainly it is a great deodorizer, mild abrasive, and general gunk remover.
- Lemons – The juice is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer. Dried lemon peel can be used as a moth repellant.
- Essential oils – These oils are great to add a little fragrance to homemade cleaners. I like to use lemon, grapefruit, or lavender. Check your local health food store for essential oils.
- Liquid soap
- Cinnamon sticks
- Whole cloves
- Old t-shirts, diapers or other soft cloth
- Plastic spray bottles
- Small bucket
Here is a list of homemade cleaning solutions that I use in my home. When trying new products in your home use the same precautions as you would in the garden. Test in a small area before using it throughout your house. Also, remember to store cleaning products away from children and pets.
Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 gallon water in a cleaning bucket. Then add 1/2 cup vinegar. Use immediately.
Mix 1 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Apply to wood furniture with a soft, clean cloth. Allow to dry and buff with another soft, clean cloth.
Combine 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 cups hot water. Remember that borax is not non-toxic, so keep this solution away from the little ones.
My plumber told me that one of the best ways to prevent build up in pipes is with boiling water. About once a week I pour a kettle of boiling water down the sink.
To keep the kitchen sink fresh and deodorize the disposal pour 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain. Let stand for a few minutes and then flush with boiling water. The vinegar and baking soda will foam so be prepared for that. Also, don’t try this if you’ve recently used a commercial drain opener and are uncertain if any is still present.
Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 quart of water. Store in a spray bottle. When cleaning windows using old newspaper really does make a difference.
Bathtub and Sink Cleaner
Mix 1 2/3 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of liquid soap, and 1/2 of cup water in a cleaning bucket. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
My favorite way to bring fragrance into the home during the fall and winter is with a simmer pot. Fill a muslin bag with cinnamon sticks, orange peel, and whole cloves. Simmer the bag in a pot of boiling water. Just be sure you don’t leave the pot unattended.
A few drops of essential oil in a small dish of baking soda freshens the air.
Place a dish of vinegar by the stove when cooking fish or onions to eliminate odors.
Stuck on Grease
Baked on food can be loosened with baking soda. Sprinkle the dish liberally with baking soda and set aside for 5 – 10 minutes. Wash pan as usual.
Sprinkle half a lemon with salt and use it to scrub dishes.
Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.