Home Made & Eco Friendly Cleaning Solutions

A great question arrived recently via ‘Ask Suzanne’.  Here is a snippet:

“My kids love helping me clean the house, but I usually tell them that I am happy for their help but I don’t want them handling all those yucky cleaning products.  Do you know any good recipes for home made, eco and kid friendly cleaning solutions?”

I could not agree more.  I would love to hand my kids a rag when they follow me around wanting to help clean, but I don’t want them inhaling toxic products.  We all probably know the most common home made cleaning product – vinegar, but I’ve also included recipes that include baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil, and rubbing alcohol.  If anyone has other home made cleaning recipes that are favorites, please post them using the ‘comment’ feature.

I’m giddy after researching this question, because I had no idea vinegar has so many different uses.  I had no idea you can use it to kill weeds!  The front of my house is in need of a dandelion bombing, but I didn’t want to use toxic weed poison so this information is timely!  I’ll just fill up some squirt bottles with vinegar and let my boys have target practice….another eco friendly kid’s project.  Here are some other uses for vinegar:

Glass/window cleaner.  Mix 2 teaspoons white vinegar with 1 litre warm water to clean glass.  Use a soft cloth or crumbled newspaper to clean.  

Ant Repellent.  If you’re looking for an ant deterrent, white distilled vinegar is a natural product for this purpose when used to wipe counter tops, cabinets and floors.

Stainless steel appliance cleaner.  Apply vinegar to shammy or soft cloth and apply.

Fabric Softener.  Vinegar works great as a fabric softener substitute because it cuts detergent residue.  Add 1 cup of undiluted white vinegar in the rinse cycle – this is a good tip if you have a person with sensitive skin in your family.

Vinegar works as a deodorizer.  1 cup of apple vinegar set in a glass in the fridge will remove smells in 2 days.  Boil 1/4 cup white vinegar and mix with 1 cup water in the microwave and use to loosen food and it will deodorize at the same time.

White vinegar can be used to clean soap residue, bathtub film,  and toilet bowl stains.  3 cups of white distilled vinegar will deodorize your toilet if left for 1/2 hour.  Here is a recipe for toilet bowl cleaner:

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar.
Pour into bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub.

This has nothing to do with cleaning, but I thought this was brilliant!  Apparently vinegar can fix a worn DVD that has begun to skip or suffers from freeze-frame (seriously!).  You apply vinegar to a soft cloth and wipe the DVD, ensure it’s dry, then insert into DVD player.  Good god, could it be this easy?  This one I’ll be trying tomorrow…stay tuned.

Baking soda is another commonly used home made cleaning product.  Get your child to sit on your kitchen floor, give him/her cups of vinegar and a box of baking soda.  They will believe they are mixing a ‘magic potion’ because of the fizzle/mild explosion effect.  The bigger the mess, the better, because you can clean your floors with the spills after play time is over.  Angelo washed his pennies doing little potions for over an hour last week.  It was a great way for him to pass the time and it forced mommy to wash the floors.

Baking soda is a great replacement for cleaners like comet, where you need the scouring action.  Sprinkle baking soda to tackle hard to clean bath rings, tile grout or food deposits in the kitchen sink.

All purpose cleaner recipe:

Mix 1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax)
2 litres of water
Store, label and keep for everyday use.

Rubbing alcohol provides a great base for an evaporating cleaner.  Great use for cleaning glass, mirrors, fixtures that you want shiny.  Here is a recipe for home made glass cleaner:

1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Mix and put into a sprayer bottle.

Many of us like the look of furniture polish, but don’t want the toxic polishes and sprays.  Here is a home made recipe to replace polishing products for unvarnished wood that uses lemon juice (removes dirt) and olive oil (shines and coats the wood to protect it).

1 cup Olive Oil
1/2 lemon juice
Mix in a sprayer bottle.  Shake well and apply to flannel cleaning rag or cloth, spread evenly, then use dry side of the cloth to polish dry. 

For varnished wood add a few drops of lemon oil into 1/2 cup warm water.  Use a small amount on a cleaning cloth, wipe furniture to clean and to complete the polish, wipe with a soft, dry cotton cloth.

Another use I have for olive oil is it removes all markings from our stainless steel kitchen appliances.  We apply a healthy amount to a cleaning cloth and wipe along the grain of the stainless steel.  This method works better than any of the toxic store bought wipes, designed to clean stainless steel.  I would make my Italian mother-in-law very proud with this discovery!

If you miss having a ‘scent’ after cleaning your floors try this recipe:

Mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water.  Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil.  Shake to mix.

I like this recipe because I love having a ‘clean smell’ to the floors after I’ve cleaned them, but with the peppermint oil I won’t have to finish my day having a cleaning product induced headache.

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32 Responses to Home Made & Eco Friendly Cleaning Solutions

  1. Hannah May 7, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Hi,
    I recently came upon these amazing cleaning cloths that has a silver agent embedded in it. Yes, i googled it and silver is a chemical free antibacterial. ( same material as odor free ski and sporting socks)

    http://www.norwex.ca/norwex/

    Now I can clean my windows and my tub with my daughter. It only uses water to clean.

  2. suzanne May 7, 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    Thanks for the comment Hannah! I recently attended a cleaning ‘party’ by a Norwex representative and the information is remarkable. Imagine…cleaning without products! I’ll post an article about my cloths after they arrive. Yes, they contain silver that actually traps bacteria. Thank you for the post!

  3. Hannah May 8, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    i attended a cleaning party too…tried the cloths and was blown away. We have significantly reduced our consumption of paper towels, sponges and disposable cleaning/mopping cloths, and totally eliminated bleach, lysol wipes and vim from our cleaning cupboard! and guess what??? I signed up to be one of the friendly Norwex lady and get the products for free!

  4. Darrell Brown October 13, 2008 at 8:47 am #

    This website is totally awesome

  5. Darrell Brown October 13, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    this website is so eco-friendly

  6. Emily March 11, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I just started making my own eco-friendly laundry soap and hanging my clothes to dry instead of drying. I am very interested in using the vinegar fabric softner you suggested but wonder if this will leave my clothes smelling like vinegar? I already make my own vinegar cleaning products and it very much leaves a vinegar smell afterwards for a while. I am just wondering if this smell would be worse on clothing.

  7. suzanne March 19, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    Hi Emily! Thanks for the post – how is the line drying working for you? There might be a scent from washing using vinegar with cold water washes. If this bothers you, I would source the ECOS laundry detergent which is eco-friendly and has a soy fabric softener.
    Suzanne

  8. Akse April 23, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    Thank you for this useful info!
    Any eco-friendly or home made 1. dishwasher detergent & rinse aid
    2. bleach for clothes or tough stain remover

    Many thanks

  9. kiye September 11, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    fabulous website some good tips i’m going to make some of your potions and completely get rid of all bought-in cleaners.. hope it works!!!

  10. jessica September 13, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    o my this is so great im starting a biz all about eco friendly chems and you gave me a lot of insight i did not relize be for thank you

  11. Cedric Solargreen May 27, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Hai,

    Thank you for the information and tips you provided.I like to see more of your blog post about eco-friendly stuffs. Keep it up!

  12. Katie June 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    This is the best website in the world! It works great! I love the effect the all purpose cleaner has. The air freshener smells delicious.

  13. Norma Duquette November 8, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    `fabulous website some good tips i’m going to make some of your potions and completely get rid of all bought-in cleaners.. hope it works!!!

  14. Craig Buckley November 27, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    Great post. I especially liked your home made recipes for olive oil and lemon furniture polish.

    Cheers,

    Craig

  15. Raven Fyre January 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    What are good ways to store these mixes? Should I go out and look for plastic spray bottles and similar things? Or will glass salad dressing bottles like oil and vinegar.

  16. Pat March 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    This recipe for laundry stain remover was given to me by a friend who survived WW2 in Germany. I have used it for years. Removes Grass, fuel,grease and oil,chocolate, blood,and many others. You will need 1 cup SUNLIGHT dish soap, 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup ammonia.Mix in a clean container,then put it in a spray bottle. Put a little water on the stain,spray, and rub a little, let sit about 2 minutes.Wash as usual. If stain is not fresh, scrub area with soft nail brush,let sit 5 minutes.

  17. Marie March 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Here is a link for an amazing DIY Silver Polish, using baking soda, salt and aluminum foil. The Martha Stewart website has lots of great non-toxic cleaning tips.

    Check it out here:

    http://www.marthastewart.com/goodthings/diy-silver-polish

  18. kc May 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I am cautious about your rubbing alcohol mixture. I have read that mixing vinegar with either rubbing alcohol or peroxide can have irritating properites.

  19. Central Fl Cleaning Co December 25, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and for my part recommend to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

  20. Kathy January 19, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    Just came across your site. Very good green cleaning ideas but you always need to be cautious even with ‘green’ cleaning. For example there are many different grades of wood laminate flooring and if you used vinegar to clean as is often recomended, you could damage the surface. Or granite counters which should never be cleaned with vinegar as it is an acid, granites is very soft, it will eat your granite counter tops yet many online sites still recommend using vinegar, lemon and water in a spray bottle to clean them. I am a huge supporter of green in all areas, but with caution. Keep up the great work !!

  21. kelly February 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I have tried the vinegar in the washing machine cycle as a way to get rid of the smell of accidently leaving the clothes in their wet for too long. It got rid of the mildew, and there was no smell on the clothes from the vinegar. I have done this with 1/2 cup and also a full cup, still no smell.

  22. Lilly August 5, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I LOVE you for this info! I’ve been trying to find eco-friendly ways to make cleaners for my home. I just do not want to use any chemicals anymore. Thank you!

  23. kelly February 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Hello my dear friends,I love to use home made products.Is any one can give me the tip for white clothes to get more white and bright.

  24. kim March 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi there! Great tips and recipes…another savvy idea – rather than pay Norwex for the rather expensive cloths…visit your local fabric store and buy lots of fabric for you and your friends. make your own. They have the same fabric:) Nothing against Norwex products, sorry- just trying to save a dollar.

  25. Melanie November 6, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Keep in mind that the process of mining silver is not eco-friendly. And all the polyester clothes…not eco-friendly either (every time they are washed, micro particles of plastic end up in the waste water. In my case, that goes into a river, which eventually goes to the sea. They are too small to be filtered out by the filtration plant.
    Love all the ideas in the post and after it. You are all awesome!

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