Store-bought cleaners can be toxic and are often super expensive. I used to buy these cleaners all the time, and I definitely remember coughing every time I cleaned with them. Not good… These harsh cleaners don’t even have to tell you exactly what’s in them.
I used to have different cleaners for different parts of the house, but realized it was unnecessary and way too expensive to buy all those different cleaners. We try to keep our cleaning routine as simple as possible. Instead, we’ve opted to use more natural alternatives - most that you can find in your own pantry! Check out all our Green Cleaning Basics below.
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Homemade vinegar cleaner
All it takes is vinegar and water - super easy and very effective. I like to add some lavender for a prettier smell. You can also add citrus peels or herbs for a more pleasant aroma. This homemade cleaner works great for mirrors and cleaning up just about any surface. Use it to clean your sink, shower doors, bath tub, greasy stove tops, coffee makers, refrigerator, really just about everything.
Just don’t use it on natural stones, or brass fixtures (clean those surfaces with water and castile soap instead). Vinegar is a powerful disinfectant. And don’t worry, that vinegar smell doesn’t hang around long.
You can use alcohol (rubbing alcohol or vodka) on porous surfaces. Which also works great as a degreaser.
I was recently trying to clean the sink with some spray I found under the sink (we were traveling so I used what I could find...). But it just wasn’t doing the trick, even with plenty of elbow grease. So I opted for a different approach. I found some baking soda, sprinkled a little into the sink, added a splash of vinegar, and everything wiped in super easy! I barely even had to scrub. Baking soda is a great deodorizer, can unclog drains, keeps white fabrics white and works great to clean your oven.
This great all purpose soap and is even plant-based. I buy mine in bulk in liquid form, but it can be found in bar form too (I do use the bar form for my homemade laundry soap). Castile soap can be used as a dish soap or hand soap. Anything from counters, toilets, tile, floors, for laundry soap, and even on the walls. It’s super versatile!
A word of caution
Don’t combine castile soap and vinegar. They don’t like each other...the vinegar unsaponifies the castile soap and you end up with a curdled mess.
Lemons work great for keeping your whites white. They’re also great as a little hand-held scrubber. Sprinkle some baking soda in your sinks or on your cutting boards, then use half a lemon as a scrubber. Lemons can also remove stains from butcher block counters, they can freshen the garbage disposal and can be used to make your vinegar cleaner smell better! Check out Pursuing Zero Waste ↠ Lemons for more ideas on using lemons.
So much more effective than paper towels. A great zero waste alternative that you can wash! I can’t imagine cleaning without washable towels now that we’ve made the switch.
Glass spray bottle
Fill it with your vinegar & water mixture for an easy (and refillable!) cleaning solution. Make sure to label and date your cleaners so you don’t get them mixed up.
A few more green cleaning basics
- Compostable dish rag (or a washable one)
- Pan brush
- Wooden scraper
- Wooden broom
- Bagless vacuum
I try to keep our cleaning routine all natural and as simple as possible. No harsh chemicals, no artificial scents, and no more coughing from my cleaning products anymore!
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