make your own green cleaners — they work!

greencleaners

A few months back, I finally learned how to mix up my own green cleaners. I did have a little help — I attended an event hosted by CoolMom, an organization focused on combating global warming by making small changes in our everyday lives. And one of those changes is to stop using harsh chemicals and instead mix up our own cleaning supplies out of water, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. We brought our own jars and spray bottles, and for a $5 fee, CoolMom supplied the rest. Within a half-hour, I was ready to go with surface spray for countertops and windows, a soft scrub for tubs and sinks, and even some disinfectant.

greenrecipe
Four months later, I can report that the cleaning supplies are a revelation! I’m serious! My toilet is just as clean using the disinfectant I made as it ever was using Comet. My glass surfaces and stovetop are even cleaner — Mom, I’m sorry I ever forgot that you used to use vinegar on everything; it cuts through grease like nothing else! The only slight issue was with the soft scrub. It works great on my tub and sinks, but I’ve noticed that my tub seems to get dirty faster. (Not to be gross, but it doesn’t look dirty, it just kind of feels dirty under my feet — but this is after about a week, at which time I should probably be cleaning my tub again anyway.) I’m going to experiment with some vinegar and see if that makes a difference. Click for the best part of all this — and get all the super-easy recipes for making your own green cleaners! — Mary T.

The most pleasant upside to all of this is that I can clean my bathroom without my eyes watering and my head starting to hurt from spraying who knows what chemicals. Why did I think for so long that feeling horrible while cleaning was okay? So if I seem a little overly enthusiastic, it’s just because this really was a win-win for me. So try making your own green cleaners (or share your recipes or tips in comments) and let us know how it goes. And click to learn more about CoolMom — perhaps you’ll be inspired to start your own group. Happy Earth Day!

To make any of the following cleaners, simply add the ingredients to a glass jar or (in the case of the spray) a spray bottle and shake or use a spoon to mix.

All-Purpose Cleaner (Great for Glass)
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
2-4 drops essential oil (optional)
2 drops liquid dish detergent

Creamy Soft Scrub
1 cup baking soda
1/3-1/2 cup liquid castile soap (to desired consistency)
2 tsp. vegetable glycerin (acts as a preservative)
2-4 drops essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, rosemary or other (optional)
Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar; shelf life of two years.
(Recipe via womenandenvironment.org)

Natural Disinfectant Spray
1 cup distilled water
1/2 cup white grain vinegar
4 drops lavender oil
4 drops tea tree oil
(Recipe via www.natural-healthy-home-cleaning-tips.com/natural_home_cleaning_recipes.htm)

Non-Toxic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1 cup borax
1/2 cup white vinegar
Directions:
Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then drizzle with vinegar. Leave for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
(Recipe via www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/vlnon.htm)

From our partners
Daffodil

These sound remarkable! I can see a weekend project coming on. Thank you for sharing!

One question: Do the oils in the natural disinfectant spray have to be lavender and tea tree? Or can you use whatever floats your boat?

Mary T

Whatever floats your boat, I’m sure! I think the idea is they make either the cleaners smell like something, or they help to mask the vinegar smell (didn’t work *that* well). So it’s totally optional to even add them, though it’s fun.

Pencils

We got our hardwood floors done not long ago, and the floor guy was adamant that we should only use vinegar and water to clean them–and even that not all that often. I thought I’d try it before discounting his advice. I was surprised to find that the vinegar & water actually works really well when used with a microfiber mop. I haven’t put any fragrance in there yet, but it’s a good idea. Not lavender though, I hate the smell of lavender. Maybe citrus of some kind.

we use vinegar and lavender oil set out in bowls as a natural air freshener. works great!

these recipes are fab, mary. thank you!!! xo

both tea tree and lavender oils offer some amount of anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. i don’t know how effective they are in these sorts of mixtures, but they do have some benefits. i believe (but don’t know) that citrus oils also offer some cleaning boost as well.

kimosabe

I have been making my own similar cleaners for years. Cheaper, just as effective and nicer for us all. I love a citrus smell, so I often use orange/citrus oil for the liquid soap. No essential oil needed for fragrance, bugs don’t like it and I almost always have it on hand because I use it for organic garden recipes, too. I have also used Dr. Bronner’s peppermint and lavender castile soaps with good results. I’m so glad this trend is catching on.

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shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things we learned last week

[…] 1) Green floor cleaners are also the way to go. Pencils says: “We got our hardwood floors done not long ago, and the floor guy was adamant that we should only use vinegar and water to clean them — and even that not all that often. I thought I’d try it before discounting his advice. I was surprised to find that the vinegar & water actually works really well when used with a microfiber mop. I haven’t put any fragrance in there yet, but it’s a good idea. Not lavender though, I hate the smell of lavender. Maybe citrus of some kind.” We’re adding that to our list of green cleaning recipes! […]