Natural Cleaning Essentials
Baking soda is one of the most versatile home cleaning ingredients. It’s a natural deodorizer, softens water, and cleans up proteins, grease, and animal messes. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, which makes it a safe option for scouring, plus it’s pretty inexpensive.
Unscented liquid or bar soap, like castile soap, will clean just about anything. Castile soap starts with a vegetable oil base and is biodegradable. Look for one without petroleum distillates.
Lemons and Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a strong acid and is effective against most household bacteria.
4 ways to use lemons
- Rub a slice of lemon over a cutting board or chopping block to reduce bacteria
- Toss a halved lemon in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh
- Use lemon juice to clean discolored utensils
- Remove scratches on furniture or buff marble tabletops
Distilled White Vinegar
If you had just two natural cleaning products in your home, go with baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Use to wipe away grease and soap scum and to prevent and remove mold and wax build-up. As a mild acid, it can remove coffee, tea, and rust stains as well. Vinegar will be the base for many of the homemade cleaning products in this blog post.
Vegetable or Olive Oil
Use vegetable or olive oil in homemade hardwood and shoe polishes.
You probably already have hydrogen peroxide in your first aid kit for disinfecting wounds. You can use it to disinfect surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom too. It also has a mild bleaching effect making it a good stain remover option for fabrics and grout. It may cause some skin or respiratory irritation, so handle with care. That being said, it’s generally considered safer to use than bleach and will break down into water and oxygen, unlike bleach which can form dangerous fumes when mixed with common ingredients in other cleaning products.
It’s almost grilling season, which means it’s time to dust the ‘ol grill off after its long winter nap! Using a long grilling fork, rub half of an onion back and forth along the hot grates to remove grime and grit.
Essential oils aren’t strictly essential, but they can enhance many home cleaning products. Tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, lemongrass, and orange essential oils are the go-tos, but you can incorporate many others in your home cleaning routine. Some, like tea tree oil, are naturally antibacterial.
Homemade Cleaning Products
These recipes are intended to be less harmful alternatives for commercial cleaning products. In many cases, they’re less expensive too. Before applying any cleaning solutions, test in small areas. Always label homemade cleaning products and keep well out of the reach of children.
All Purpose Cleaner
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ½ gallon water
- Spray bottle
- Optional: 20 drops lemon or orange essential oil
Mix together and transfer to a spray bottle. Use for removal of water deposit stains, chrome bathroom fixtures, windows, mirrors, etc.
Granite and marble: Use castile soap and water for everyday cleaning. If you need a disinfectant, use hydrogen peroxide. Avoid using acidic cleaners like lemon and vinegar.
Other countertops: The all purpose cleaner recipe above works on surfaces other than granite and marble.
Bathroom Mold Deterrent
- 1 part hydrogen peroxide
- 2 parts water
- Spray bottle
Mix together hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle. Spray on areas prone to mold. Wait one hour before rinsing or using the shower.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 20 drops of your favorite essential oil
Mix together baking soda and essential oil. Sprinkle liberally on carpet. Vacuum after a few hours.
Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner
Daily cleaning can be done with castile soap and water or the all purpose cleaner above. To remove tough bits of blackened food, wet the area with hot soapy water, sprinkle with baking soda, and cover with a damp towel. After 30 minutes, wipe away with a clean damp cloth.
Clothing Stain Remover
Not all stains are created equally. However, vinegar can be used to remove many food stains. Spray thoroughly prior to washing. A 1:1 hydrogen peroxide and water solution can be used for grass and underarm stains. Use the same process as vinegar stain remover.
Drain Cleaner (metal pipes only, do not use with plastic pipes)
Light cleaning: Heat 1 gallon of water and ½ cup salt on the stove. Do not boil. Pour down the drain.
Heavy cleaning: Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, then pour ½ cup vinegar. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Do not use this cleaner after trying a commercial drain opener as the resulting chemical reaction can create dangerous fumes.
Garbage Disposal Cleaner
Run garbage disposal with hot water and a handful of citrus peels for 20 seconds. Use heavy cleaning method above to remove fatty acid build up.
Cleaning Walls and other Painted Surfaces
Ink spots and marks from pencils, crayons, or markers can be cleaned using baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, wipe, and rinse.
Floor Cleaner and Polish
Vinyl and linoleum: Mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of olive oil in a gallon of warm water. Use conservatively on linoleum.
Wood: For regular cleaning use a solution of ¼ cup vinegar and ½ a gallon of warm water. Be sure you know what finish was used on your wood floors before using water. Test a small area first and use a barely damp mop to avoid harming finish. For polishing, apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar.
Brick and stone tiles: Mix 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon of water. Rinse with clean water.
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Spray bottle
Mix lemon essential oil, warm water, and olive oil. Spray lightly onto a soft cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with cloth. Finish by wiping furniture again with dry soft cotton cloth.
Dry citrus peels in a 200 degree F oven for 2-4 hours, flipping every 30 minutes. Place citrus peels in cheesecloth and secure in your closet.
Oil and Grease
For spills on the garage floor or driveway, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and scrub with a wet brush. Rinse with water.
- ¾ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup water, plus more
Mix baking soda, salt, and ¼ cup water to make a thick paste. Dampen the oven interior with water using a clean sponge. Apply paste to the oven interior, but avoid bare metal and any openings. Allow the paste to sit overnight. Remove with silicone spatula and wipe clean. Fine steel wool can help remove tough grime.
For your stovetop, fridge, and other surfaces that should not be scratched, apply baking soda directly. Rub gently with a damp sponge.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- A few drops of lemon juice
Apply solution to shows with a thick cotton towel. Leave for a few minutes and wipe away with a clean, dry rag.