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Green Cleaning - Natural, Non Toxic Ways to Clean Your Home

Updated on March 18, 2012

Why Green Cleaning?

The chemical soup we use to clean our homes may keep our homes spotless, but the harsh chemicals found in modern household cleaners are some of the most toxic products in our homes and major contributors to indoor air pollution.  The aim of green cleaning products is not only to reduce our exposure to these chemical toxins.

The chemicals used are, at best, responsible for mild respiratory discomfort and chemical sensitivities, and at worst, cancer.  The EPA lists indoor air pollution as one of the top five threats to human health, and OSHA regulates the usage of some of the chemicals used household cleaners.

Given that the everyday chemical household cleaners we use did not exist prior to World War II, the solution is as simple as asking ourselves; what did our grandparents use for cleaning products?

Better still, the products used historically for cleaning are economical, environmentally friendly, and probably staring at us from our pantries.

What are Green Cleaning Products?

Thanks to advertising, though, we have been conditioned to believe that our homes aren’t clean unless we’ve used harsh anti bacterial chemicals. 

The average kitchen pantry already contains many ingredients for mixing natural green cleaning products, with antibacterial and disinfecting properties.  And they are affordable.

The top four ingredients used in green cleaning, and probably already located in your pantry are:

Green Cleaning with Baking Soda

  • Make a paste with water and use wherever you would use a commercial abrasive cream cleanser.  Fizzes when added to vinegar or lemon to speed cleaning and remove stains.
  • Allow stainless steel pots and pans to soak in mixture of baking soda and warm water to assist cleaning and leave stainless steel pots and pans shiny.
  • Removes tarnish from silver.
  • Add to rinse cycle of your laundry as a replacement for fabric softener and to remove odors.
  • Mix baking soda and your favorite essential oil for an natural carpet deodorizer.  Sprinkle on carpet, leave for 15 minutes then vacuum up.
  • Soak coffee and tea stained cups and mugs in a solution of baking soda and water.

Green Cleaning with White Vinegar

  • Vinegar is an effective antibacterial disinfecting agent.  Shines and cuts through grease.
  • Use dissolved with equal parts water to clean and disinfect hard household surfaces. This mixture will also dissolve mineral deposits on glass and windows.  A vinegar rinse through your coffee maker will clean it.
  • Add half a cup of white vinegar to your washing’s rinse cycle as a fabric softener and deodorizer.
  • Mix ¼ cup vinegar with 2 cups water.  Add splash of tea tree oil and you have a mold and mildew preventer.  To remove moild and mildew use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
  • Vinegar can also be used in the garden as an effective weed killer.

Green Cleaning with Salt

  • Add to baking soda mixtures as an abrasive.
  • Use salt to soak up wine spills.
  • Add salt to cast iron pans to assist cleaning

Green Cleaning with Lemon Juice

  • Dissolves soap scum and hard water deposits.
  • Mix with baking soda to remove stains from plastic storage containers (Tupperware).  Also makes a good copper cleaner.  The acid from the lemon juice cuts through tarnish and the baking soda behaves as an abrasive.
  • Mix with olive oil for a natural wood polish.

Green Cleaning your Home - Getting Started

One word of caution though, like any new cleaning product, try these mixtures out carefully first to be sure no lasting damage is being done. Don't use vinegar or lemon juice, undiluted on tile grout. They are both acidic and may damage the grout.

Next time you clean your home, instead of reaching for harsh chemical cleaners, give baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and salt a try. If not for the health or our planet, do it for your family and budgets health.

And get that lemony fresh clean smell, that chemical cleansers try so hard to emulate, naturally.


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    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks, Carly! Speaking of having a child, I have a dog in the house... so I try to keep the chemicals up out of her reach. It sounds like the threats to children and pets are greatly reduced with these products, too (assuming mass consumption doesn't take place. I love regular baking soda for cleaning/scrubbing, too. For messiest dried-on messes, I'll dampen the mess first by sprinkling baking soda over every inch and then laying a wet (not just damp, soggy) sponge over it for about 1/2 hour. Then I scrub off what I can and, on the rare occasion it's needed, repeat the process.

    • profile image

      Carly Wyatt 5 years ago

      Good Luck with the recipes Laura. My personal all roundcleaner is baking soda. I'm not asthmatic, but found alo of chemica cleaners gave me contact dermatitis and irritated my ariways (much as Mulberry1 above noted). That, and having a young child in the house sent me looking for alternatives.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      I have asthma so this is really a big help! I'm off to my kitchen cupboards to try some of these non-conventional "recipes". Thanks for the tips! Voted up and useful

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      Good tips. A lot of commercial cleaners seem to make me cough and so forth so I try to avoid them as much as possible.