I mentioned a few weeks ago that I make a lot of my own all-natural cleaners. After receiving a number of questions about them, I figured I should put together some of my favorite green cleaning recipes.
Not only are these homemade cleaners green for the environment, but they also save me green. Their ingredients are incredibly inexpensive, making them a fraction of a fraction of store-bought cleaners – even the ones I buy on sale with coupons. Most of these recipes are based on white vinegar, which you can buy super duper cheap at Costco or Sam’s Club.
Plus, these homemade recipes are safe for kids and pets. (Which means you can ask your kids to help clean the bathroom without the slightest bit of guilt. ;-)) And, I’ve found that the recipes I’m sharing today work just as well as the store-bought stuff.
All Purpose Cleaner
I keep at least two bottles of this APC in my house at all times – one in the bathroom and one under the kitchen sink. The recipe is very easy (and forgiving – don’t freak out about exact measurements) and works great on anything you would have used a spray cleaner on.
I use it on my glass stove top, on countertops in kitchen and bathroom, for a quick bathtub clean-up, and to disinfect the seat and sides of the toilet (don’t get me started on the gross-out factor of little boys and toilet seats!)
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup of white vinegar (the more vinegar, the most grease-fighting power) – did you know that vinegar is naturally antibacterial?
- 4 cups of warm water
- a squirt of dish detergent or Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (I love the Peppermint Scent)
Mix everything together in an empty spray bottle and start cleanin’!
The vinegar smell dissipates almost instantly, so don’t worry about your house smelling like salad dressing. A few drops of your favorite essential oil will also mask any initial odor, if it bothers you.
Volcanic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
This is my sons’ favorite cleaner – it’s part science experiment, part boy-explosion, all wrapped into one!
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup baking soda (also dirt cheap at Costco)
Pour the baking soda into the toilet bowl and swish it around with the toilet brush. Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the vinegar and stand back – the toilet will start to bubble! Once the bubbling stops, use your brush to thoroughly scrub the toilet bowl. Then use your All Purpose Cleaner and a sponge or microfiber cloth to clean the seat and sides of the toilet.
Hard Water Spot Remover
Straight-up white vinegar is the best thing I’ve found to deal with hard water spots and build-up. In Israel, I ran vinegar through our Shabbat kettle (mei cham) and was always amazed at all the grey flakey bits that magically disappeared.
To get rid of the hard water build-up on my shower heads, I just unscrew them and soak them overnight in a bowl of vinegar. I also spray vinegar straight onto my glass shower doors to remove those icky spots. And, I run it through my dishwasher to prevent build-up on the filter.
You can also use a glug of vinegar in your laundry in place of fabric softener – it’s all natural and works just as well as Downy.
Miracle Glass Cleaner
This is the “recipe” that first got me hooked on green cleaning. It could not be easier and my windows look just as good as if I’d cleaned them with Glass Plus. You can also use this for shining up bathroom mirrors and chrome faucet handles.
- Club soda
- Empty spray bottle
Pour the club soda into the spray bottle, spray and wipe. That’s it!
Seriously, I told you it was easy. The club soda can be flat – it doesn’t matter. Just use a lint-free cleaning cloth so you don’t wind up with fuzz all over the window.
Liquid Laundry Detergent
I have used this recipe on and off for the last three years. It takes a bit of effort, but the recipe makes a ton, so you should have plenty to use for at least two months, if not much longer (we do a fair amount of laundry).
I worked it out once and using this detergent costs less than $.01/load – and you get to avoid petroleum and phosphates. Priceless.
Disclaimer: I will admit that I also buy detergent when I can get it for less than $2/bottle. But this detergent really does clean quite well. If your loads are especially soiled, I recommend that you boost the stain-fighting power by adding a scoop of Oxiclean to your loads.
- 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha Bar Soap or 1/2 bar Ivory soap, grated (see below for instructions)
- 1/2 cup washing soda (found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores)
- 1/2 cup borax powder (also found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores)
- 2 gallons water, divided
- large bucket with a lid (you can get these from food supply stores or even Walmart or Kmart)
1. Use the grater attachment of a food processor (or a cheese grater) to grate the soap. Put shavings in a large pot together with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil until the soap is fully melted, stirring frequently. The water will be very sudsy.
Add washing soda and Borax, stirring constantly until powder is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour four cups of steaming hot water into a large bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir thoroughly.
Add 22 cups of water (1 gallon + 6 additional cups) of warm tap water to the mixture and stir again. I use a really long-handled wooden spoon.
Put the cover on the bucket and let it sit – away from curious pets and children – for 24 hours. The mixture will become very gelatinous, especially on the top. It will look a bit like egg-drop soup, but with more lumps.
Use 1/2 cup per load for a top-loader, or 1/8 cup for a front loader.
** Note that while Borax is all-natural, it is poisonous to humans and pets if ingested. Make sure you lock away any left-over powder.
Do you clean with homemade cleaners? What are your favorite recipes?
Are you at least a little bit intrigued by my egg-drop soup / laundry detergent? Or will you be sticking to Tide?