Common household products such as vinegar, ammonia, and baking soda can be used alone or in various combinations to create effective cleaning solutions that are more environmentally friendly than come commercially available products. Home-made products may also cost less.
Green Cleaner Ingredients
Vinegar is acidic and is useful in removing dirt, soap scum, and hard water deposits from surfaces. Vinegar can be diluted with water to clean everything from bathroom counter tops and sinks to hardwood floors. Undiluted vinegar may be used to eliminate stains and odors from the toilet bowl, to clean soap scum from shower walls, and to remove hard water deposits from kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Place vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on surfaces, then wipe with a microfiber cloth or combine vinegar with warm water in a bucket for mopping. The vinegar odor will go away when the solution dries. For a non-allergenic fabric softener, add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to the washing machine’s rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.
Used on a damp sponge, baking soda is mildly abrasive and can be used in place of harsh scouring powders for bathtubs and sinks.
Ammonia is an alkaline solution, so it is stronger as a window or all-purpose cleaner than vinegar. Sudsing ammonia is available, but choose a non-sudsing type to avoid having to rinse after cleaning.
Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
Rubbing alcohol makes a good base for cleaners that will evaporate from shiny surfaces.
Green Cleaner Recipes
Below are a few recipes for homemade, environmentally friendly cleaning products that use common household ingredients. Try one today!
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 20 drops of essential oil (optional)
Use in any location where you would use a commercial spray cleaner. Wipe dry with a reusable cloth.
- 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Spray on windows or mirrors and wipe dry.
- 2 tablespoons non-sudsing ammonia
- 1 teaspoon clear dishwashing liquid
- 4 cups water
No rinsing necessary.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 20–30 drops lemon essential oil
Combine in a small container. Dip a clean, dry cloth into the mixture and rub onto real wood furniture in the direction of the grain.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl, then add 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes before scrubbing the bowl with a toilet brush and flushing.
For your safety — Never mix ammonia-based cleaners or ammonia with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach. The fumes that are created can be extremely dangerous.