In many households, commercial cleaners are used to clean all areas of the home. Because they are readily available in most grocery, drug or home improvement stores, they are the convenient choice for busy individuals. Unfortunately, they also contain chemicals that can be harmful for families, particularly those with children or certain illnesses. In addition, commercial cleaners can leach back into the environment, becoming an air or water pollutant. Natural, environmentally-friendly cleaners can easily be made right at home with minimal effort and little, if any, additional cost. In fact, many homemade cleaners use items already found in the home. By using green cleaners, people can improve the air quality in their homes, eliminate harmful chemicals and improve or safeguard the health of all family members.
- General Toilet Bowl Cleaners: Vinegar and baking soda may be used to naturally clean the toilet bowls in the house. Because the mixture will fizz, pour a quarter-cup of baking soda directly into the bowl, followed by a cup of distilled vinegar. Leave the bowl for several minutes before using a toilet brush to scrub thoroughly.
- Toilet Stain Removal: Some toilet stains are a challenge to remove. When faced with difficult stains, use table salt as an abrasive along with lemon juice. The acidity of the juice combines with the salt to fade the stain, plus lemon juice works as a mild bleach.
- Tub and Tiles: Baking soda and vinegar may also be used to clean the bathtub and shower tiles. Use these ingredients by first wiping the surface with vinegar, taking care to limit contact with the tile grout. Dampen a sponge with water and pour baking soda on its surface before rubbing down the tub. Finally, rinse thoroughly with water.
- Mold Cleaner for the Bathroom: Because vinegar can damage the tile grout in the shower, use hydrogen peroxide to safely remove any mold that has grown on the grout. The hydrogen peroxide should be mixed with water in a spray bottle so that it is one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water. Spray on areas of mold and allow to sit for no less than one hour before rinsing clean.
- Oven Cleaner: Commercial oven cleaner contains harsh chemicals the emit an obnoxious odor and fumes. A paste of baking soda, salt and water may be used as a non-toxic oven cleaner. The paste consists of a quarter-cup each of salt and water mixed with three-quarters of a cup of baking soda. The mixture is applied and left on the oven's interior overnight and then removed and wiped clean the next day. When applying the mixture, caution should be used and any areas of bare metal avoided.
- Freshen the Garbage Disposal: The kitchen's garbage disposal can become a very smelly place if not properly cleaned. To both clean and maintain the garbage disposal, drop an ice cube into the sink along with the rind from a lemon. The lemon will disinfect the blades and impart a clean scent, while the ice will help the blades remain sharp.
- Dishwashing Soap: Dishwashing powder is a common purchase that can benefit from a green substitution. It comes into direct contact with the dishes and consequently, the food that people eat. Mix equal parts of washing soda and Borax and store in a clean, dry place until ready to use. Use the mixture in the same manner as commercial dishwashing powder.
- Cleaning the Microwave: There are two green methods of cleaning the microwave of all of the splatters and buildup that can accumulate on its walls, turntable, and door. One method is to place a small bowl of white vinegar mixed with lemon juice into a cup in the center of the turntable. After turning the microwave on for several minutes, let it rest for two to three minutes longer. Go into the microwave and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth to remove the now-softened cooked-on food. The second method of cleaning the microwave involves wiping the interior with a baking soda and water mixture. After wiping the unit down, follow up by rinsing with a damp cloth.
- Cleaning the Refrigerator: Cleaning the refrigerator can be a big job and an important one as well. It doesn't, however, need to be a difficult one. Create a simple solution of baking soda dissolved in warm water to wash down the interior of the emptied appliance. To make the cleaner for the refrigerator, mix two tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of warm water.
Certain products can be used in various rooms around the home. Other homemade products are versatile and have multiple purposes for floors, mirrors, counters and more. The products include glass cleaners that can be used to clean windows and mirrors around the home. All-purpose cleaners are used to clean up countertops in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. They may also be used to clean walls and other areas.
- All-Surface Cleaner: In a spray bottle, mix a quarter-teaspoon of liquid castile soap and two teaspoons of Borax with 16 ounces of hot water. Dissolve the Borax completely before spraying the mixture on surfaces such as countertops, walls and anywhere an all-purpose cleaner would normally be used.
- Deodorizing All-Purpose Cleaner: Add four tablespoons of baking soda to one quart of water to create a simple yet effective all-purpose cleaner that also serves as a deodorizer.
- Glass-Cleaning Spray: A combination of white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water makes an effective and streak-free glass cleaner. To make the spray, pour two cups of water in a spray bottle followed by a half-cup of white vinegar and a quarter-cup of rubbing alcohol.
- Drain Cleaner: Baking soda and vinegar poured weekly down drains can help keep them clog-free and fresh-smelling.
- General Hard Surface Floor Cleaner: A quarter-cup of liquid castile soap added to a two-gallon bucket of warm water can safely clean most hard floor surfaces.
- Floor Tile Cleaner: Fill a bucket with hot water and add one cup of white vinegar to clean tile floors in the home.
- Furniture Polish: Make wood furniture gleam by ditching commercial sprays and products in favor of an all-purpose polish made of lemon juice and olive oil. To create the polish, simply mix a half-cup of olive oil with a quarter-cup of lemon juice. Use a clean cloth to apply and rub in the olive oil/lemon juice mixture onto the furniture being polished.
Ingredients That are Useful As Is
- Vinegar: Vinegar is often found in many natural, eco-friendly cleaning product recipes; however, on its own, it has many beneficial uses when it comes to cleaning. It removes mineral deposits and soap scum, inhibits the growth of certain types of bacteria and is an antifungal solution.
- Baking Soda: Yet another common ingredient in homemade cleaning products, baking soda can be used solo to effectively remove odors, such as from carpets or furniture. It is also useful as a mild abrasive for scrubbing and to cut through grease.
- Salt: Coarse salt and even table salt is abrasive and may effectively be used in place of harsh and potentially toxic commercial scouring powders.
- Lemon: Lemon juice can be used to shine surfaces, impart a pleasant scent and combat mold and mildew. Lemon is also a mild bleach and de-greaser.
More Cleaning Resources
- Nine Cleaners You Can Make Yourself
- 66 All-Natural Cleaning Solutions
- How to Prepare Green Cleaning Recipes for a Healthy Home (PDF)
- Non-Toxic Home Cleaning
- Cleaning Products Practical Tips: Recipes/How-To
- Homemade Cleaners
- Baking Soda: The Everyday Miracle (PDF)
- Ten Simple Ways to Clean Green
- Family Circle: Six Eco-Friendly Bathroom Cleaning Tips
- Better Homes and Gardens: Green Cleaning Recipes
- 67 Homemade All-Natural Cleaning Solutions
- Family Conservation Resource: Get a Green Clean!
- Green Cleaning for Your Home (PDF)
- Reducing Toxicity in Your Home (PDF)
- Be Green While Spring Cleaning (PDF)
- Green Household Tips That Can Save You Some Green (PDF)
- Green Cleaning