Conventional cleaners are usually toxic, but cleaning products shouldn’t be more dangerous than the problem you’re trying to solve, right? Here are several DIY solutions to cleaning your whole home naturally – without harmful chemicals. Yes, it’s possible. Making your own cleaners is a simple and inexpensive way to clean your home naturally, and it’s not complicated.
Several simple ingredients to start with, and what they’re good at doing:
- White vinegar – shines, removes hard water stains, and degreases
- Dish soap – lifts dirt, degreases, and disinfects
- Baking soda – mild abrasive to scrub away stuck-on messes
- Washing soda – scrubs away messes and degreases
- Hydrogen peroxide – disinfects and lifts away dirt
- Essential oils – have antimicrobial properties
- Olive oil – (or other vegetable oils) shines and protects wood
- Castile soap – lifts dirt, degreases, and disinfects
Before you mix, take careful note that some ingredients DON’T work well together and should NOT be mixed.
Here’s a quick guide on what natural cleaners to avoid mixing in the same container (or at all):
- Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (creates peracetic acid)
- Vinegar and castile soap – the vinegar unsaponifies the soap creating just a goopy mess.
- Baking soda and vinegar – this is ok to do on a surface (like the oven), but don’t try to mix them in a container to store unless you’d like to create your own little volcano!
1. SOFT SCRUB
A heavy duty cleaner, but still gentle enough for kids to be part of, simply mix baking soda in a small bowl with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Use with a scrubbing sponge. Wear rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin. Works well on rust stains, soap scum, and dirty grout lines.
2. DISINFECTANT SPRAY
Want to sanitise without toxic chemicals? Many essential oils (like Tea tree (aka melaleuca) have antimicrobial properties and are a great addition to natural cleaners. Add some to water in a spray bottle and away you go. Most would agree that these natural ingredients are effective enough to handle typical household germs in regular day-to-day needs, but they don’t create a 100% sterile environment.
These also work well as a spray:
- Vinegar (disinfectant, acidic to break down dirt)
- Rubbing alcohol (disinfectant, effective solvent, evaporates quickly)
Other good essential oils for cleaning include:
- Pine or fir needle
Remember that essential oils are potent and should be kept away from the little one’s hands.
3. ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER
Most anything can be cleaned with a bucket of warm water with either a good squirt of a non-toxic dish soap or vinegar. These solutions are effective for cleaning cabinets and walls, inside the refrigerator, and most hard household surfaces, including glass windows and mirrors. This can be used as a spray.
Cleaning products shouldn’t be more dangerous than the problem you’re trying to solve . . .
Vinegar as is works very well, and you can also add some essential oils for that magic covering scent.
Natural dish soap, some vinegar, and hot water works perfectly for cleaning vinyl blinds. An alternative to cleaning each blind individually is to clean them in the tub.
A good dose of vinegar and several drops of your favourite essential oil with a bucket of warm water usually do the trick.
Hydrogen peroxide works amazingly on tough stains. Just be sure to do a test patch on an out of sight piece of carpet to ensure the color stays. To freshen carpets, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda and vacuum it up the next day.
Mattresses and Furniture
Mix baking soda and a few drops of your favourite essential oil into a shaker jar or a mason jar with nail-holes in the lid. Shake well to combine. Sprinkle the magic mixture onto your mattress, upholstered furniture, or carpet, and leave it for an hour or so before vacuuming up.
Wood and Leather
Both sealed wood and leather can be polished with a soft cloth and a tiny bit of diluted vinegar and olive oil.
Undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle wipes down stainless steel surfaces very effectively. A touch of vodka or rubbing alcohol helps the mixture dry fast and avoid streaking.
Sinks and Drains
A little baking soda and water (and some dish soap if need be) work wonders. Follow this by spraying some vinegar and scrubbing, and finish by drying with a microfiber cloth until you have a good shine.
Several cups of warm vinegar help to remove stinky drain smells.
- Add ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of water in a glass microwaveable bowl. Or use a few tablespoons of lemon juice in water.
- Microwave on high until it’s boiling and has covered the walls of the microwave in condensation. 5 minutes usually is enough.
- Let sit for 3 minutes before removing the bowl and wiping the surface clean with a dishcloth.
To descale your kettle, add enough vinegar to cover the limescale and mineral deposits. Boil the vinegar in the kettle, and then rinse the kettle well. Voila!
Cleaning the oven can be a challenge. It’s been suggested that Shaklee’s Scour Off is the best natural cleaner available. The Soft Scrub above works pretty well with a very good dose of elbow grease.
There are plenty of brands that boast “naturally derived” ingredients, “simple ingredients” or just use natural colors like green in their labels and packaging. Note that this does not automatically make them safe and non-toxic.
Always look at the ingredient list, and remember that green cleaning products might still contain ingredients that can cause unwanted health effects. Look for products that work for both the environment and people.
The Environmental Working Group is a good resource for finding safe cleaning products. The EWG considers ingredients and rates the product by how safe it is for us and our planet.
Photo by Robert Collins