Many commercial household cleaners contain harsh, toxic chemicals like bleach and phosphates. Not only can they be caustic, they also can be expensive. Choosing eco-friendly cleaners can make a huge difference for your wallet, your family, the health of your home, and the environment.
Fortunately, you already have many eco-friendly cleaners in your home right now. To get started down a healthier and more mindful road, here is a handy list of excellent green cleaners you may not realize you already have in your home.
Good old white vinegar is THE eco-friendly cleaning superstar. It’s been used in countless ways for generations because it’s highly effective, cheap, versatile, and gentle on the environment. It’s also a natural microbial, so it’s perfect to use as a disinfectant in your kitchen and bathroom.
Using Vinegar to Clean Your Home
- Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and fill up a re-usable spray bottle and you have a phenomenal streak-free cleaner for all your windows and mirrors. You can use it to spray your glass shower doors to remove and prevent soapy build up as well.
- Use the vinegar straight up to dissolve mineral build-up on your showerhead or descale your coffee maker. You can pa cup of straight vinegar down your kitchen drain once a week to keep it fresh and clear. You even can use undiluted white vinegar to keep your toilet bowls clean.
- Mix a half a cup of white vinegar into a bucket of hot water and use it to mop your no wax floors. If you add 2 cups of white vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher, your plates, cutlery, and glasses will sparkle.
- Pour a quarter cup of white vinegar and a cup of water into an open glass bowl, then place it into your microwave. Set your microwave on high and allow the vinegar-water mixture to boil. After it has boiled, wait 2-3 minutes to let things cool down a bit. Open the microwave, wipe off the steam and food residue, and your microwave will gleam.
- Vinegar is also effective for removing wine stains from many fabrics and carpets (as long as you get to them quickly). Before you clean, test an unseen area of the item to make sure the fabric or carpet is color safe. If it is, alternate sponging distilled white vinegar directly onto the stain and blotting it off until it disappears.
- You can even use full-strength white vinegar in your garden as a weed and grass killer!
Baking soda is another tried and true eco-friendly cleaner. It’s a mild abrasive, which makes it a top notch replacement for those gritty cleansers you use to clean your sink, tub, and toilet.
Don’t worry about scratch marks. When we say it’s a mild abrasive, we mean it’s mild! You can use it on all soft surfaces – even marble.
- Mix together three-parts baking soda and one-part water, grab an old toothbrush, and use the baking soda paste as an effective eco-friendly grout cleaner. The same formula can tackle any stains on coffee cups or cutting boards, and it can even help you scrub baked-on greasy residue off of your cookware without worrying about the harsh chemicals in commercial cleaners.
- Mixed with water, baking soda will even scrub off the most stubborn grease build up on your kitchen fan and stove. And speaking of stubborn stains, It’s also a wonderful oven cleaner.
- Baking soda also is a natural deodorizer, so it’s great to use anywhere you want to get rid of unwanted smells.
Baking Soda and Vinegar Together
While baking soda and vinegar are great cleaners on their own, they work wonders together. A word of warning, however: be aware that mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction.
Vinegar is an acid, and baking soda is a base. When you mix them together, the reaction can sometimes look like a volcanic eruption (remember those elementary school volcano projects?). It’s harmless, though, and even fun. It’s also balancing out the cleaning benefits and leaving you with mostly water, and a little salt.
Salt is another natural abrasive that is good for dealing with stains. Use it as you would use baking soda to remove stains from coffee mugs, counter-tops, and cookware.
Salt also works wonders on red wine stains on clothing, napkins, or table cloths. Just cover the stain while it’s still wet, and let the salt soak up the wine. You want to completely cover the stain with salt, so the top is white (and you don’t see the wine-soaked salt below it that’s gobbling up the stain). When the salt dries, just rub it away, and you’ll find the stain has disappeared.
If you don’t love the smell of your vinegar cleaning solution, lemons are your answer. It’s no coincidence that so many household cleansers smell like lemons! Their crisp, citrus aroma has come to symbolize cleanliness and freshness. The reason is that for hundreds of years lemons have been an ingredient in many homemade cleaners.
- Fill up a large jar with lemon peels and pour in white vinegar. Leave the mixture for a few days, and then strain the lemon-vinegar into a bottle to use in all your household cleaning chores. It’s effective, and you’ll love the fresh scent.
- You can use a lemon instead of vinegar to clean your microwave. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a glass bowl of water. Add the rinds to the water and microwave until the water boils. As before, after the water boils leave the mixture in the microwave for a few minutes until things cool down. The steam from the water will dissolve cooked on food, and all you have to do is wipe it clean.
- You also can use lemons to deodorize your stinky garbage disposal. Cut a lemon in half and grind it (rind and all) in your disposal with the water running. Grind it for at least 30 seconds with the water flowing to fully pulverize it, and it will cut the grease and grime that are causing the odors.
Three percent hydrogen peroxide is an excellent eco-friendly disinfectant. You can use it anywhere you would use bleach. An easy way is to just pour it into a spray bottle, spray the dirty items, and wipe clean.
You can use hydrogen peroxide on glass and floors, and it’s a smart choice for kitchen and bathroom counters because of its natural anti-bacterial properties. If you’re trying to remove stains in sinks or toilets, you can utilize a stronger peroxide, such as 35 per cent.
It takes longer to work than bleach, but it’s just as effective and much kinder on the environment. If you use hydrogen peroxide repeatedly in the bathroom, it will reduce or even prevent mold and mildew from growing on your grout and tiles.
Old T-shirts and Towels
Instead of using wads of bleached paper towels or spending money on buying cleaning cloths, you can find a cheap and environmentally-friendly rag solution right in your closet. Instead of throwing out your old cotton T-shirts or cotton towels, cut them up into squares and using them as cleaning rags.