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How To Clean It Green

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning

Chemical allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. The more chemicals that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis the more likely we are to become sensitive to them. Production of chemical cleaning products is hard on the environment in several ways. The actual production process leave a heavy carbon footprint, and then there is the transportation, disposal of packaging materials, and the chemicals themselves. Reading the packages is a frightening thing with all of the warnings not to swallow, not to get it on your skin, and not to breathe in the fumes.

I ask you, how does one clean without getting up close and personal with the cleaner? I understand about the not swallowing. In fact there was a big news thing last year in my area because one of the cleaning products that is popular locally was produced in bright colors and children were mistaking it for kool-aid type drinks!

We all want a clean home and we are willing, for the most part, to work hard to get it that way. Is it possible to have a clean home and a clean environment at the same time?

Baking soda is an eco-friendly cleaner, that is effective and inexpensive
Baking soda is an eco-friendly cleaner, that is effective and inexpensive

Homemade Cleaning Products

Sure! Think about it. For centuries women have been cleaning their homes with things like salt, vinegar, baking soda, and various combinations of these. Beeswax and lemon oil were used for polishing, lavender was used to keep insects out of linens, and vinegar had, as it has now, a thousand uses. Homemade cleaning products are safe for the environment, work as well as the chemical ones, and best of all, they are frugal. Most can be made for pennies with things you probably all ready have around the pantry.

Storage is easy. Canning jars with lids are good reusable containers for powdered things like cleanser, dishwasher soap, and laundry soap. You can buy spray bottles at nearly any store for glass cleaner and all purpose cleaner. Save those baby wipe containers because you can make your own convenient cleaning wipes as well! Read on!

Three Recipes For All Purpose Cleaner

This is a heavy duty spray cleaner for counters, appliances etc. You can leave the essential oil (available at most health-food stores or online) out if you like. It is mostly for scent although some essential oils have antibacterial qualities. I have given my favorite combination, the signature scent for my home, if you will. You can use any combination that you like.

All Purpose Cleaner

2 Tbs White Vinegar

1 Tbs borax

1/4 c Dr. Bronner's Peppermint oil soap

12 drops of eucalyptus essential oil

6 drops lemon essential oil

2 c hot water

Shake together in a spray bottle

All Purpose Cleaner 2

1/4 c baking soda

1/4 c lemon juice

2 Tbs borax

1 tbs liquid soap

6 drops rose otto essential oil

6 drops tangerine essential oil

1 gallon warm water

shake together in large container. Use in a spray bottle or directly from container

All Purpose Cleaner 3 (disinfecting)

1 c Dr Bronner's Sal Suds

10 drops tea tree oil

2 1/2 c warm water

Mix together. Makes 22 oz of concentrate. Shake well before use. Add 1/4 c per gallon of warm water.

Scouring Powder

Scouring Powder 1

1 c baking soda

1 c salt

1 c borax

10 drops rose otto essential oil

10 drops tangerine essential oil

shake together. Use as you would cleanser.

Scouring Powder 2

actually this is more like soft scrub

1/2 c soap flakes

2 tsp borax

2 tsps whiting

1 1/2 c water

Soft Scrub

Equal parts baking soda and warm water plus a few drops of essential oil

Dish Soap

Dishwasher Soap

3 c borax

3 c baking soda

Mix and add 2 TBS per load. Pour 1/4 c vinegar in the rinse cycle to make dishes shine.

Dishwashing Gel

1/2 lb of plain soap like Ivory.

1/2 gallon of water

4 drops rose otto essential oil

4 drops of tangerine essential oil

Grate soap into water. Boil, stirring, for 10 minutes or so. Add essential oil.Pour into jar. Let cool. Store covered. This is very concentrated. Add a bit to sink and fill with hot water.

Glass Cleaner

If you really need it to be blue then add a few drops of food coloring.'

Glass Cleaner 1

1 c white vinegar

1 c water

3 drops rose otto essential oil

3 drops tangerine essential oil

Glass Cleaner 2

2 Tbs rubbing alcohol

2 quarts water

Clothing Care

Color safe bleach

1 c hydrogen pyroxide

4 c water

Mix together. Soak fine washables in this solution 15 minutes or so.

Laundry Soap 1

2 c soap flakes

4 tbs washing soda

Laundry Soap 2

1/2 c borax

1/4 c baking soda

1/4 c Dr Bronners Sal Suds

Add 1 c to full load of laundry

A Cute Cartoon About Clean Cleaning

Tips For Using Cleaners

This is by no means an all inclusive list. There are thousands of other cleaning recipes out there, just waiting for another post about Eco Friendly Cleaning. Be sure to keep these cleaning products away from children and pets. Store in covered containers in dark places. I am planning on posting more eco-friendly recipes so check back often!

Save your commercial containers to hold your homemade products- recycling at it's best. Save baby wipe containers to hold your won convenient cleaning wipes. Just cut up an old towel or similar scraps to fit and put several pieces in the container. Cover with any of the all purpose cleaners and use as needed. When done cleaning, just throw towels in the laundry!


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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I love natural ways to do everything. And these cleaning recipes are excellent..Think I will get some plastic containers and whip up a few brews. Great Hub. Voted UP.

    • MKayo profile image

      MKayo 5 years ago from Texas

      Marye - Thanks so much for providing this very informative article on green cleaning. Let's hope more and more people are made aware of just what these chemical cleaners are doing to people and to our world. m

    • profile image

      CookiesNoCrumbs 6 years ago

      Marye Audet this is quite useful information; having children who are hyper-sensitive and has eczema. I am firm believer in safe products as well; I have been using Borax, baking soda and vinegar and yes they do work wonders. Thanks for sharing

    • Kenorv profile image

      Kenorv 6 years ago

      Awesome hub. Very informative. Green cleaning is something that hopefully becomes more and more popular. I'm not sure how many people really realize just how harmful toxins found in a lot of store cleaners are. So hopefully more people can become educated about green cleaning thanks to people like Marye.

    • profile image

      cleaners colchester 7 years ago

      Awsome Power of Green Cleaning

    • profile image

      xiro25 7 years ago

      i agree that we all should try and use eviromentally friendly cleaning solutions

    • profile image

      House Cleaning 7 years ago

      I always recommend eco cleaning products for the house cleaning needs of my clients since this is the best option for them.

    • profile image

      Cleaners in Manchester 7 years ago

      If you think about the fact that our body is made up of millions of pores then its obvious that any cleaning chemicals our skin comes in contact with will end up in our body. This cannot be good for us. Our cleaning company started using natural cleaning products and the results have not been compromised one bit.

    • profile image

      Carpet Cleaning London 7 years ago

      We only use organic products, but when you do this home made it's great to see that the effects work, we have used it for professional cleaning, what we like is the scented soap that you can adjust to taste that leaves a unique mark for great scents and carpets. so thats for the tips, we learned something.

    • profile image

      Christy Zutautas 8 years ago

      Great recipes, I regularly clean with baking soda and vinegar, it's amazing how well simple household products work, and they're safe for people, pets, and the environment.

    • profile image

      Green Cleaning London 8 years ago

      My cleaners in London Home Cleaning London have always used green cleaning products to avoid damaging the environment when they clean my house.

    • profile image

      Carina 8 years ago

      I'm new to this homemade stuff, but with the Economy the way it is I need to start pinching pennies. I'm excited to start trying some of these ideas.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      thanks for these homemade cleaning recipes to avoid harmful chemicals in our homes.

    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 8 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      Love this hub - I am all about eco-friendly and home made is fabulous!

    • profile image

      Michelle 8 years ago

      Simply green, while it may be safe for granite, is not safe for small aquatic animals. Therefore, not eco-friendly

    • Traemae profile image

      Traemae 8 years ago from boston area

      These are great tips! I am always looking for safer products to use around my family and pets.

    • profile image

      dawne 9 years ago

      I was wondering about using alcohol on granite, can you using basic rubbing alcohol? And does anyone have any good cleaning recipies for stainless steel appliances? I've tryed baking soda and water but boy was it hard to get off.


    • Laurie Stroupe profile image

      Laurie Stroupe 9 years ago from Ararat, VA

      My mother and I are both chemically sensitive individuals. My mother's condition is far worse than mine, requiring her to take early retirement from a job she loved. For years, we've shied away from commercial cleaning products. It's great to see these recipe. We may be able to discontinue the few remaining commerical products we still use (like dishwasher detergent).

      Anyone can become chemically sensitive with enough exposure. Once that happens, your ability to live your life the way you do now can change. It's not worth the risk just to use the cleaners that are sold to us with high dollar advertising.

      I really appreciate the good job you did on this page.

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 10 years ago from United States

      Great tips! Do you know if water and white vinegar is okay to clean wood floors with?

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      Thanks, Marye. I was looking in the cleaning aisle and it wasn't there. I'll check the laundry aisle! Also, good news for drunken housewives... After reading somewhere else that rubbing alcohol was solvent based, I learned that vodka will do the trick. I tried it and indeed the clear stuff cut the grease! Now isn't that special!

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Lela-Borx is available in mos american grocery stores next to the laundry stuff. It is in a box and usually goes by the name, 20 Mule Team Borax.

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      Hi Marye! Where can I get Borax? And thanks for the tip on granite.


    • profile image

      bradentonfuntoy 10 years ago

      Where do i purchase Soap Flakes

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Thanks Chemist..I was wondering about that.

    • profile image

      Chemist 10 years ago

      Simple green is solvent base cleaner. It contain Glycol Ether EB aka 2-butoxyethanol.

    • profile image

      global warming freak 10 years ago

      really useful tips, thank u for sharing!

    • profile image

      guest 10 years ago

      Simply Green makes a good granite cleaning spray.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas


      You have to stay away from acids with granite, or any vinegar is out. The best hting, with a neutral ph is 1 cup of rubbing alcohol , 1 tsp of organic dish soap, and fill container with water .

    • Lela Davidson profile image

      Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

      What is safe for granite countertops?

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful Hub, I hope others read it, I am learning this stuff, the chemicals sold in the store are too strong. I have bookmarked this, I will definitely try this homemade stuff. Thanks.

    • Jennifer profile image

      Jennifer 10 years ago

      Great tips! We use a lot of homemade cleaners too.