One of the first “greening” projects I took on was household cleaners. All 3 of us have asthma in this household, and I had long-noticed how the conventional cleaners would set mine off like crazy (especially when cleaning smaller rooms, like the bathroom).
I also didn’t like the thought that I was cooking and preparing food on countertops using chemicals we could not safely ingest. And… the big capper for me was the thought of my little girl taking her bath in heavily chemical-laced water.
So I set about finding some suggestions and ultimately came up with a set of homemade cleaners we feel good about because 1) they keep the environment safe, and 2) they actually work!
I’ll share a full run-down of what we use in each room of the house for our weekly cleaning, but I would absolutely encourage you to check out the many resources available on this subject. Some great websites include Sustainable Baby Steps, Wellness Mama, Simple Life Mom, Keeper of the Home, and DIY Natural.
Play around with options, try things out, and don’t be afraid to keep making changes until you are fully satisfied with the results. Some people may suggest ingredients you are willing to try, some may be on your “never in a million years list.” You’ve got to choose your own path to sustainability and balance all those things like cost, time, effectiveness, natural-ness, etc.
And then, once you find the right combination for your home, you can do a little dance of joy.
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Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
We use a natural Lavender Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner for the kitchen, bathroom and floors in the house. I use it for the countertops and tabletops daily and during my weekly cleaning (including our wooden dining room table and coffeetable); for washing the sink whenever it needs to be shined up; for the sink and tub in the bathroom; and my husband uses it to mop all of the tile floors in our house.
The lavender has natural antibacterial properties, with the added benefit of helping to keep ants away (which is super helpful where we live!). The vinegar smell goes away once everything dries (I PROMISE)… and so you’re left with a very light vinegar scent and a sparkling clean surface. We love it.
distilled white vinegar
lavender essential oil (you could also add peppermint, tea tree, or rosemary – which are all natural insect fighters)
- Combine 9 parts vinegar to 1 part water in your spray bottle. (So… if I want to fill my bottle, which goes up to 24 oz, I’ll put in 21 ounces of vinegar and then add 3 ounces of water.)
- Add in 15-20 drops essential oil(s) of your choice. I highly recommend lavender in there – just because the scent is so pleasant for a household cleaner!
Homemade Mirror and Glass Cleaner
(& Homemade Pet Stain Remover!)
You could use a higher-concentration vinegar mix for your mirrors, windows, glass, etc. – but I have a separate natural Vinegar Mirror and Glass Cleaner that I use for the bathrooms, windows, etc. It’s super easy to make and – oddly enough – also makes a great cleaner for any pet accidents you may suffer as well. So it’s also my All-Natural Vinegar Pet Stain Remover.
distilled white vinegar
- Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. (For example, one cup of vinegar and one cup of water in a re-purposed spray bottle.)
- Spray surface with cleaner and wipe with a soft cloth or rag.
- For pet stains of the potty variety, wipe up as much as you can with a clean cloth and discard. Spray the area well and then wipe up the vinegar with a new cloth.
- For pet stains of the vomit variety, wipe up as much as you can with a clean cloth and discard. Spray the area thoroughly with the vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, clean the area with a damp cloth to remove any stains. (If color remains, repeat process and wipe again after 10 minutes with your damp cloth.)
Homemade Citrus Vinegar (great for toilets!)
I try to have a bath of homemade citrus vinegar at all times. Which means I’ve always got anywhere from 1-6 jars of it “steeping” under my sink or tucked around my counter. It is magical stuff, and I’ve found it is an excellent toilet bowl cleaner!
For steps on how to make citrus vinegar, click here
- For toilets, pour 1/2 to 1 cup citrus vinegar into bowl and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Scrub as you normally would, then flush.
- For really tough stains or particularly dirty toilets, add a cup of baking soda to the bowl after you’ve added the vinegar and let sit 5-10 minutes. Then brush/scrub as you normally do and flush.
A little extra note: If you do not have citrus vinegar handy or can’t make it soon enough, you can also use apple cider vinegar in a pinch. It’s a bit more expensive than the distilled white vinegar, so I tend to use it solely for my hair care… but if I’m out of citrus vinegar, it’s a great substitute for getting the toilet super clean.
Homemade Non-Abrasive Cleaner (aka soft scrub) or…
Natural DIY Tub and Shower Cleaner or…
How to Clean Your Ceramic Cooktop Naturally
Sometimes you need a little extra oomph to clean a surface. For example, simply spraying the All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaner into the tub would not really get that surface clean enough. This is when baking soda becomes your best friend. It can be used in all manner of ways, including tubs, showers, cooktops, countertops, sinks – essentially… any surface that needs a little cleaning boost. I buy the big box because we go through it so much (dishwashing powder, laundry soap, and general household cleaning). Try Ace Hardware or Menards to get the best price.
baking soda (buy it in the big box to save money!)
water or distilled white vinegar
- Sprinkle the baking soda lightly over the surface of what you’d like to clean. Spray with vinegar to create a foaming action that will help make the baking soda more paste-like and also give you the extra cleaning power of vinegar. (So, for example, I sprinkle about 1/4 cup in the tub and then spray with the Lavender Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner.)
- For really tough stains, combine the baking soda with a little bit of water to create a paste (very much like the homemade toothpaste method). Let the paste sit on the stain for 3-5 minutes and then scrub (I have found my fingers work best for smooth surfaces like the ceramic cooktop) until the stain is removed.