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Green cleaning, natural cleaning, eco-friendly cleaning – it’s got quite a few different names, but they all mean the same thing- kicking toxic cleaners to the curb. Natural cleaning means using natural ingredients to basically create your own cleaners. It could be as simple as putting some white vinegar in a spray bottle or as complex as blending individual ingredients for a custom homemade product. Natural cleaning spans the gamut.
In this guide to natural cleaners, we’re going to break down some of the most popular tips, ingredients, and methods for a safer, cleaner home. Natural cleaning is attainable for many households, so let’s get started and figure out how.
History of Household Cleaners
So first things first- why the recent surge towards more natural eco-friendly cleaning supplies? While the reason to use natural cleaning supplies may differ for each family, many cite the Toxic Substance Control Act, which Congress passed in 1976. This act basically grandfathered in between 63,000 – 100,000 chemicals that were on the market at the time. These chemicals, once grandfathered in for public use, did not require any testing. Many many people questioned the regulations, or lack thereof- of these chemicals.
In addition to allowing potentially toxic chemicals in today’s widespread products, the act also protected manufacturer’s from posting complete ingredient lists on some of their products, in the interest of “trade secrets”.
Some toxic chemicals that some people believe may have carcinogenic properties includes: alcohol, aluminum, DEA/TEA, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl Sulfate, TALC, parabens and more.
How to Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products
Many homemade household cleaners use many of the same ingredients regardless of what you’re cleaning. If you’re interested in starting a more natural cleaning method, here are a few pantry staples you should keep on hand.
Distilled white vinegar is one of the most versatile, affordable, and accessible cleaning products that you can find. Its cleaning capabilities include glass, floors, bathrooms, dishes, fabrics, stains, and more. You can use white vinegar in its pure form or diluted with water or baking soda for more natural cleaning.
2. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another one of those pantry staples that can really pack a punch. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s also extremely inexpensive. Many recipes for green cleaning combine white vinegar and baking soda for dual power eco-friendly cleaning. This tiny box of white fluff can be way more than a decoration in the back of your fridge.
3. Castile Liquid Soap
Castile liquid soap is a common ingredient in many green cleaning products and originally made from olive oil. It typically contains no fragrance so it’s a gentle solution for sensitive skin. This soap can be used to make a homemade dish soap, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, household cleaner, soft scrub, a face wash or even toothpaste!
Borax is probably one of the most unique ingredients on this list, but can be found at many natural cleaning stores. Although natural, it is recommended that you avoid eye contact and undiluted skin contact with it, as well as ingestion of it. Most of the recipes that use borax use it in a diluted form which makes it a very usable natural cleaning ingredient.
5. Essential Oils
Using essential oils for organic cleaning products is another way to have a more natural home. While there are a variety of oils you can try, below we’ve listed a few that are well known for cleaning properties and anti-bacterial crud-kicking powers.
Essential oils can be mixed with water and or vinegar for an easy household cleaner. You can also use an essential oil diffuser to help purify the air and fill it with a clean scent. Oil diffusers can range in price and features.
A small essential oil diffuser can be as low as $15 and is best used for small rooms. A small diffuser will typically run for anywhere from 2-4 hours. Large essential oil diffusers have a larger capacity, which is useful for larger rooms, and can run for 6-8 hours.
- Thieves (Young Living Exclusive) – Thieves is a blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata and Rosemary essential oil. Its formulation is inspired by the legend of 15th century thieves who would use this blend to protect themselves as they robbed plaque-ridden homes.
- Lemon – Lemon oil is highly refreshing and one of the most common scents used in cleaning products. Diffuse lemon oil to help eliminate odors, or add a few drops to any of the green cleaning recipes found below.
- Orange – For similar reasons as lemon, orange essential oil provides a nice citrus boost when cleaning your home! You can diffuse orange using an essential oil diffuser to purify the air or add it directly to your household cleaning recipes for a fresh orange scent.
- Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus essential oil has a minty fresh smell which is perfect for combating stale odors. You can also diffuse it for a stimulating and rejuvenating boost during the day.
- Lavender – Lavender essential oil is great for cleaning thanks to its mild and relaxing scent. Add it as a laundry booster, a carpet refresher, or just diffuse it to help eliminate stale odors.
- Tea Tree – While tea tree oil is commonly found in skin care and cosmetic products, it also makes a great natural cleaning ingredient due to its highly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
In addition to the pantry staples, you’ll also need a few bottles and brushes. If you plan to add essential oils, be sure to use a glass bottle for your cleaning blends. Essential oils should not be used in plastic bottles or added to a humidifier.
- Glass spray bottle – A bottle like this could be used for household cleaners, glass cleaners, stain remover spray, or a degreaser.
- Scrubbing brushes – Using a good scrubbing brush will help your homemade scrubs tackles stains or set-in grime. A surface scrub brush would be great for scrubbing floors, showers, or a sink basin. A traditional toilet brush is best for… well, you know… toilets. Lastly, a detail scrub bush set can be used for nooks and crannies like dirty grout lines or spotty sink drains.
- Carpet shaker – For carpet refreshers, try using a glass cheese shaker. Although unorthodox, this glass is the perfect size for allowing the baking soda and essential oils to evenly distribute into the carpet fibers.
- Microfiber cloths – Microfiber cloths are great for organic cleaning products and more eco-friendly than disposable paper towels. These small cloths are non-abrasive so they won’t scratch paints, coats or other surfaces and they help to capture lint as they clean. Once you’re done with a cloth, simply throw it in the laundry and it’ll be ready for the next clean.
- Wool dryer balls – For more eco-friendly cleaning, consider swapping traditional dryer sheets with wool dryer balls. These balls can be used as is for a scent-free finish or you can add a couple drops of your favorite essential oils.
Below we’ve listed 12 quick and easy natural cleaning recipes. These simple recipes can take care of most everything you might want to clean in your home. Best yet? All of them use the same simple green cleaning ingredients!
- All-Purpose Cleaner – Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar with water. Add essential oils if desired.
- Floor Cleaner – Mix 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar with one gallon of warm water in a bucket. Sweep floors then apply vinegar mixture using a mop. Let air dry.
Don’t forget the glass spray bottle for these recipes!
- Bathroom Scrub – Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with one tablespoon of Castile liquid soap. Add distilled white vinegar and mix until the texture is creamy and smooth.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Pour one cup of borax in the toilet bowl and let sit overnight. In the morning, give it a quick scrub with a brush and flush for a quick and easy toilet clean.
Don’t forget the scrubbing brush for these recipes!
- Silver Cleaner – Mix three parts baking soda with one part water and rub on silver to restore shine. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
- Goo Remover – Mix two parts borax with one part water. Rub on sticky labels or residue until clean.
Don’t forget the microfiber cloths for these recipes!
- Carpet Refresher – Mix one cup of baking soda with 10 drops of your preferred essential oil (lemon or lavender are great options). Sprinkle over the carpet and let sit overnight. Vacuum it up in the morning for a refreshing clean. For small messes, like pet urine, try using a handheld vacuum to make the job quick and easy!
Guide: Not sure which vacuum to use? Check out our complete list of vacuum cleaner reviews here!
Don’t forget the carpet shaker for these recipes!
- Washing Machine Cleaner – Add one cup of distilled white vinegar to the drum of your washer. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda (to the detergent area if using a front-load washer). Run cycle as usual to clean the machine.
- Towel Refresher – Mix one cup of baking soda with one cup of vinegar and add it to a load of smelly towels. This natural cleaning combo will help to get the funk out of old towels and add a little extra softness.
- Laundry Booster – Mix 1/2 cup of borax with a gallon of warm water. Pre-soak laundry in the solution for about 30 minutes before running your cleaning cycle as usual.
- Coffee Maker Cleaner – Run one cup of distilled white vinegar through the water reservoir of a coffee maker to purge the machine of grime or bacteria.
- Drain Deodorizer – Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Wait 15 minutes and then pour hot water down the drain to clear residue.
What do you think? Got your own secret green cleaning tips and natural recipes? We’d love to hear what you think! Drop us a comment below.