Kitchen Ingredients That Double as Green Cleaners
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Ever wonder what’s in your everyday household cleaners? Even if you can easily find out, you may not want to know. Lots of cleaners can have unnecessary and toxic ingredients that can pollute the surfaces and air in your home. But there’s good news (great news even!) — you can make effective home-cleaning solutions with a few simple ingredients from your cabinet. These old-fashioned ways of shining things up are surprisingly effective, cheap, and green!
— Brooklyn Supper, Babble
Everyday salt can team up with lemon juice, or just half a lemon, for a potent sink, counter, or cutting board scrub. Salt can also help you cut through the grease on oily pots and pans, and can even absorb grease stains on wooden tables or counters.
Here are even more ways to put salt to work.
Image: Romain Behar
Think that bag of sugar is just for sweets? Think again! Sugar is a mild exfoliant that's perfect for cleaning hands that have been doing greasy kitchen work — just mix some sugar with a bit of olive oil, gently massage for a few minutes, and then rinse. Sugar can also be used to clean your spice grinder — add a few tablespoons of sugar to your grinder, grind for two minutes, and then carefully wipe out any tiny bits.
Gentle and non-toxic yet tough enough to use when you really need to scour a surface, baking soda is a fantastic and inexpensive household cleaner. You can use it to scrub anything from pots and pans to tiles and grout. Its odor-fighting properties also make it great for freshening rugs and carpets and cleaning really smelly things like trash cans.
Learn more about cleaning with baking soda here.
Image: Ken Irwin
Lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, lemon, and peppermint oils have disinfectant properties, some can even kill bacteria and mold. These powerful oils can also give a variety of natural cleaners a boost. But beware — these oils are very concentrated and should be kept well away from little hands.
Get to work cleaning with essential oils.
Image: Keith Weller, USDA
You've likely got cornstarch around for its thickening properties, but did you know cornstarch is great for fighting grease stains, cleaning silver, and washing windows?
Check out these unusual uses for cornstarch.
Click here for more common ingredients that double as green kitchen cleaners.
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32 Brilliant Homemade Cleaning Recipes for a Frugal Household
Homemade or “Green” cleaners are all the rage, particularly by people who are looking for safer ways to keep their homes clean without the use of harsh chemicals. There are so many recipes out there that it can be hard to find the one that you need for your specific cleaning tasks.
We have gathered a great list of homemade cleaners and categorized them into different rooms and areas of cleaning so that they are easy to find. These recipes use natural ingredients that are safer and actually work better than some of the more expensive products on the market. The best part is that most of them can be made from ingredients that you probably already have on hand, so they are much cheaper than traditional cleaning products.
Incidentally, if you have a favorite homemade cleaning product, we’d love to hear about it. If you don’t, you may just find a favorite in our list.
Recipes for Non-toxic Alternatives
1 tsp. liquid soap (castile, peppermint)
1 tsp. borax
Squeeze of lemon
1 qt. warm water
¼ c. baking soda
½ c. borax
½ c. vinegar
1 gal. water
For surfaces that need scouring, try moist salt or baking soda and a green scouring pad.
2 tsp. vinegar
1 qt. warm water
2 tbsp. borax
3 c. water
Rub dry with newspaper to avoid streaking.
¼ c. borax
½ gal. hot water
A DIY Alternative with All of Bleach’s Cleaning Power, and None of Its Dangers
- 1 1/2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. of citric acid (this is an optional ingredient. It naturally whitens clothes and helps to soften water. If you’ve got hard water, try it.)
- Slightly less than 1 gallon of distilled water
- 10-30 drops of lemon essential oil or another essential oil of your choice
- Pour all ingredients except water into a gallon jug. Swirl until citric acid is dissolved.
- Add distilled water to fill the jug.
- Use in place of bleach around the home and in the laundry room.
This homemade green cleaning product is perfect for softening clothes, tackling tough stains, and using almost any way you would regular bleach.
NOTE: Test a little on any fabric before using for stain removal – just like regular bleach, this is a powerful cleaning agent and germ killer. Don’t use it on anything you wouldn’t normally bleach.
Two easy all-purpose cleaner recipes
“All-purpose” means these DIY cleaners tackle dirt and grime everywhere in the home! (Exception: laundry and windows. See my top nine “green” cleaning recipes for those jobs.) And they’re so safe, kids can clean, too.
You can shop smarter to avoid harmful chemicals in store-bought options, but why not try and make your own?
Cleans tubs, tiles, counters, high chair trays, microwaves, floors and more.
Time to make: five minutes
Shelf life: about six months
- 1.5 L (6 cups) water
- 60 ml (¼ cup) liquid castile soap
- 5-10 drops (optional) essential oils, e.g., thyme
Combine ingredients in a big bowl or jug. Stir and pour into labelled spray bottle(s). (This is a massive batch. Keep a bottle under kitchen and bathroom sinks, in the dining room, etc.)
Note: Choose liquid castile soap that doesn’t contain palm oil. You can also use liquid castile soap that already contains organic essential oils.
Which essential oils are best?
Thyme inhibits bacterial growth. Cedarwood, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary and tea tree are anti-fungal. You can also try lemon, lime, and patchouli essential oils.
Note: For people with environmental sensitivities , scents (including essential oils) can be painful, debilitating and isolating. Choose unscented liquid castile soap if someone you care about is scent sensitive.
C leans tubs, tiles, toilets, sinks and more. Tackles mould and mildew, too.
Time to make: five minutes
Shelf life: about six months
- 420 ml (1 2/3 cups) baking soda
- 60 ml (¼ cup) liquid castile soap
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Stir until the mixture is the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or store in a labelled, air-tight container. Rinse well after applying.
Note: Buy baking soda in bulk and get liquid castile soap from a local refill or zero waste store!
How to clean mould and mildew
That yucky black stuff on bathroom surfaces is a colony of moisture-loving mold spores. It grows on caulking (the squishy stuff that seals your tub to the wall), in grout lines (the hard material between tiles), on shower curtains, tubs and tile surfaces. And it can affect air quality.
Three ways to tackle mold and mildew
Make all-purpose scour
Follow the recipe above. Apply with a sponge or rag, let sit for 15 minutes for heavy duty jobs, rinse and wipe clean.
A spray bottle of undiluted white vinegar also works, but be careful. Vinegar is a strong acid that can etch tile or grout. Use it only on the caulking and rinse off well. Do a test patch first.
Use liquid oxygen bleach
It’s diluted hydrogen peroxide, found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store. Apply it with a spray bottle or follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
If mould has worked its way behind the caulking, you may have to re-caulk. If you do, choose non-toxic, 100 per cent silicone.
Mould and mildew prevention is key. Get a handle on bathroom humidity. Make sure the fan is Energy Star–rated, fits the size of your bathroom and working properly.
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19 Green Cleaning Recipes to Make Your House Sparkle
When you have kids and pets, the chemicals found in most commercial cleaners can be a real concern. But what can you do when you have tough stains on your carpet or in your clothes? You can make environmentally friendly alternatives to your current cleaners right at home, and most diy cleaners are really cheap to make. We’ve found the BEST green cleaning recipes on the web and put them together in this handy list for you. Let’s make your house sparkle!
Don’t miss our post on homemade laundry recipes. You’ll find everything you need for clean, fresh smelling clothes!
Get your windows spic and span with a homemade glass cleaner made with just 3 ingredients.
This all-purpose degreaser will have your surfaces clean and lemony fresh.
Cleaning wipes are a lifesaver for getting spills and messes up quickly. Instead of reaching for the commercial wipes, make your own green disinfecting wipes. They’re reusable!
Clean just about any surface in your home with a simple Vinegar Lemonade cleaner. The citrus peels make the vinegar smell much better!
If you’re looking for a single cleaner to tackle most of your cleaning needs, an all-purpose cleaner is what you need. Here’s a simple 4-ingredient solution.
Vinegar and baking soda – while one by itself is powerful, just watch when they combine forces! Here they descale a shower head, make your grout sparkle and help restore your shower doors to their original crystal clear state.
And here’s one you can purchase if you’re short on time and can’t make your own all-purpose cleaner.
Don’t forget to clean your makeup brushes once in a while with this DIY makeup brush cleaner.
Sometimes, a surface needs a little extra elbow grease. Try this all natural scrubbing powder to tackle tough cleaning tasks.
Most of us probably associate a citrus smell with clean, but those cleaners you buy in the store are anything but natural. This DIY citrus vinegar cleaner smells amazing, but it’s completely safe to use around little ones and pets.
If your stove tops look grimy, try The Pinning Mama’s miracle stove top cleaner.
To clean your oven without harsh chemicals, try Carbona Oven Cleaner. It’s biodegradable and doesn’t cause terrible fumes like some cleaners.
Looking for a substitute for bleach in your cleaning routine? Try this all-natural bleach alternative. Wow, does it really get things white! You can also use it for cleaning and disinfecting lots of surfaces in your home.
via One Good Thing by Jillee
Mandarin Mint countertop spray makes a great housewarming gift, but you’ll want to keep some for yourself, too!
via Hostess with the Mostess
Keep your furniture shiny and dust-free with homemade dusting spray. It smells divine!
via Pins and Procrastination
You can even make your own dishwasher detergent. How cool is that?
Seventh Generation Dish Pacs are unscented and will leave your dishes streak-free and clean.
This homemade wood polish also works as a substitute for goo-gone. And it’s only .87 a batch!
And, yes, there’s even a green cleaning solution to the dirtiest thing in your house: the toilet! Try these toilet freshener bombs to get yours clean and fresh.
via One Good Thing by Jillee
Frosch Lemon Toilet Cleaner removes dirt, limescale and urine stains without harsh chemicals.
Remember, most homemade cleaners can be made using the same ingredients. So while you’ll spend a little upfront for things like vinegar, borax, essential oils, etc., you’ll save money because those ingredients will make lots of batches.
4. Cleaning the Garbage Disposal and Kitchen Sink Drain
Your garbage disposal can get awfully stinky over time – and even if it hasn’t started to smell, it’s important to prevent disgusting build-up and keep everything running smoothly. The solution described below both cleans and disinfects your drain and disposal.
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- One whole lemon
- Make it Fizz. With the drain catch removed, pour a half-cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down your drain. You should hear the mixture fizz.
- Boil Water. While the baking soda and vinegar solution is doing its job, boil several cups of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the drain after the baking soda and vinegar solution has had a few minutes to work.
- Add Ice. Fill your drain with ice and add up to one cup of salt over the top. While running the faucet with cold water, turn on your garbage disposal and run it until all the ice and salt are gone.
- Add Lemon. Finally, cut the lemon into two halves and add them, one half at a time, to the garbage disposal (with the faucet still running). If you know your garbage disposal is finicky about size, you may have to cut the lemon into smaller pieces.
These 15 lemon cleaning products use lemons and other green ingredients in combinations that clean great:
- Naturally Clean, Deodorize and Condition Wood Cutting Boards – Lemons perfect for cleaning cutting boards. They clean and disinfect PLUS you never have to worry about contaminating food with dangerous chemicals. Get the full tutorial from The Kitchn.
- All- Natural Furniture Polish – Lemon juice, olive oil, and white vinegar make a great cleaning staple that can be used to dust, polish wooden furniture, clean stainless steel, remove sticky labels, and more. Get the full tutorial from Bren Did.
- All-Natural Bleach Substitute – This homemade bleach recipe is great for for naturally removing stains, cleaning your tub and shower, and disinfecting counter tops. Get the full tutorial from One Good Thing by Jillee.
- DIY Garbage Disposal Refresher – Kitchen sink smells? These homemade disposal refreshers cost pennies to make and pack a serious deodorizing punch! Get the full tutorial from Pop Sugar.
- Lemon Infused Disinfectant Spray Cleaner – This all-purpose disinfectant spray is a great surface cleaner that helps protect from germs during cold and flu season. It can also be used to clean cutting boards and kitchen counters while cooking. Get the full tutorial from Bren Did.
- Fresh Lemon Microwave Cleaner – This great DIY tutorial will get your microwave fresh smelling and spotless! It also leaves the kitchen smelling heavenly. Get the full tutorial from Simply Stacie.
- Natural Laundry Stain Remover – This all-natural cleaner can get rid of nasty yellow underarm stains and more. Try it on your clothes. Get the full tutorial from Mom 4 Real.
- Fresh Lemon Bathroom Scrub – Did you know that a lemon and salt is all you need to remove hard water stains, soap scum and more? Get the full tutorial from Life With the Littlers.
- Lemon Infused Vinegar for Cleaning – Vinegar is a great green cleaner, but it smells like… well… vinegar! Use lemon peels to make this simple vinegar cleaner that smells great and cleans even better. Get the full tutorial from Bren Did.
- Reusable Lemon Dust Cloths – Lemon peels are the star ingredient in these household cleaning cloths that leave wooden furniture shiny and your home smelling fresh. Plus you can use them over and over again. Get the full tutorial from Apartment Therapy.
- Natural Lemon Metal Polish – This simple metal cleaning hack uses lemon to get copper and brass gleaming. Get the copper cleaning tutorial from Martha Stewart and the brass cleaning tutorial from Apartment Therapy.
- Lemon Plastic Stain Remover – Food storage containers can harbor stains and smell. Use lemons to naturally remove the odors and discoloration. Get the full tutorial from Real Simple.
- Fresh Lemon Homemade Dishwasher Detergent – This all-natural dishwasher detergent uses just real lemons, salt and vinegar to make liquid detergent that is great at removing water spots. Get the full tutorial from Bren Did.
- Easy Citrus and Borax Toilet Cleaner – Lemon is a great stain remover and deodorizer. Teaming lemon juice with Borax makes toilet cleaning a cinch. Get the full tutorial from Make It Do.
- Easy Rust Remover for Metal – This simple and inexpensive cleaning tip helps you remove rust stains from silverware and metal tools with almost no effort. Get the full tutorial from Fabulessly Frugal.
I hope you try cleaning with lemons! These easy lemon cleaners can help you rid your home of harsh man made chemicals and make you a green cleaning pro… all you need is a few pieces of citrus fruit. I love that I don’t have to buy a lot of new cleaners or ingredients to clean naturally.
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9 Green Cleaning Products for a More Sustainable Scrub
Green cleaning products may seem weaker or less potent than their non-green contemporaries, but these eco-friendly cleaners (just like a good homemade weed killer) pack a powerful punch. Modern green cleaning products are just as strong as traditional cleaners, and they tend to smell better: Imagine replacing all those strong chemical scents with hints of essential oils, herbs, and fruits.
There&rsquos more to it than just natural ingredients, though: Most green cleaning products also come in refillable containers, which mean less plastic use. Using them often means keeping waste out of landfills. (Anyone embarking on a zero waste lifestyle will want to invest in some glass cleaning containers.) Other eco-friendly cleaning products come in recyclable containers, so recycling them is possible and relatively easy.
Transitioning to a green clean may sound challenging, but it&rsquos really not. This list highlights eight great places to start: cleaning products that can make everything from dishes to floors and tiles sparkle. Next time a go-to glass cleaner or everyday disinfecting spray is used up, look for a green alternative that accomplishes the same task. By working piece-by-piece through your cleaning supplies, you can make your to-do list a little better for the environment without wasting a drop of the cleaning products you already have. At the end of the process&mdashand there&rsquos a chance it might take a while, especially if you just stocked up on your older cleaning supplies&mdashyou&rsquoll have a whole new cleaning repertoire that you can really feel good about.
Once you&rsquove started using green cleaning products, you&rsquoll never go back. These cleaning supplies are healthier for everyone in your home and the environment, and they can still get the job done. A freshly cleaned home feels cleaner&mdashand smells more natural&mdashwhen it&rsquos free of harsh chemicals, and the right green cleaning products can get you that feeling every time you use them. Stock up with these essentials, then keep an eye out for green versions of your favorite cleaning supplies: You may be surprised by how many green cleaning products are already on shelves.
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Homemade Window and Glass Cleaner
Get a streak-free sparkle with this simple homemade cleaner, and enjoy a better view through your windows. Invest in a small stack of soft cotton or microfiber cloths for best results.
What You Need:
Add all ingredients to a 24-ounce spray bottle. Shake to combine. Use on windows or glass fronts of appliances. Beyond this basic recipe, you can also call on rubbing alcohol and even dish soap for alternative homemade window cleaners.
I love the smell of furniture polish, but in Cambodia? It’s over $6 for one can! I would rather spend my money on something else like really good coffee! Here’s a green and frugal way to keep your wood shined, clean, and smelling lemony fresh.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon water
Cut lemon in half and squeeze all the juice into a container, straining all pulp and seeds. Add the oil and water and whisk or shake. Now, you’re ready to polish!
This is a fresh polish and cannot be stored for further use. However, it’s quick and easy to make. The money you save and the chemicals you keep away are worth whisking up this easy cleaner.
Now that you have all the natural, frugal-friendly homemade cleanser recipes in your hands, start making your home sparkle!