Natural Cleaning

kittysmith(z9Houston)September 7, 2007

Let's share our tried and true ideas / mixtures / techniques for natural cleaning. I am so happy that my cats aren't walking through toxic chemicals after I "disinfect" the countertops anymore and that I'm not dizzy from bleach fumes after cleaning the bathroom. No more toxic soup. For the most part I'm using vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap in various combinations along with borax and salt.

What do you use to clean / shine / polish various items in your household?

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I use a lot of soda crystals. They clean baths, sinks, toilets and most hard surfaces extremely well. You can also wash the plates with them, a teaspoon or two is enough. They also descale kettles and coffee makers realy easily, and without using expensive acids that tend to damage the metal. Only thing you can't use soda crystals on is aluminum, it does something bad to it.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 2:52PM
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Translating English to Texan:
Bonnet = Hood
Biscuit = cookie
Lorry = Truck
Soda Crystals = washing soda (not that I've seen that around, either!) But, I just did some reading, and it looks like Arm & Hammer sells it over here.
Thanks Bry, I appreciate the tip and will try it!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 5:31PM
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steve_o(4a MN)

Lemons/lemon juice and salt also are effective cleaners/mild abrasives. Toothpaste is a good polish for metals. Borax softens water, making soaps more effective. It also can act as a mild disinfectant. And you can use essential oils (lavender, grapefruit) as stronger disinfectants. Sunlight is effective against mildew and some molds. Common cooking oils (corn oil, canola oil, even olive oil) can be used to clean up after painting with oil-based paints, working on a grimy car or such, or to remove makeup.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 11:50PM
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rosebush(z7 NC)

Herbed vinegar works great for kitchen cleanups. I make my own, using lemon-scented leaves like verbena and lemon grass. Strain, then dilute a bit with water and put in a spray bottle. Voila! Works on counters, stovetops, sink and even the floor.
Baking soda is another useful cleanser. I mix with salt to make a scrubbing powder for the bottom of pans.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:32AM
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If you need to deal with stains but don't like bleach, look to the medicine chest for some hydrogen peroxide.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 12:45PM
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I mostly use vinegar and baking soda. I bought a small steam carpet cleaner (cats and carpets:)and use white vinegar and very hot (not boiling) water ... found this trick on the internet :) Does a fantastic job.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 5:22PM
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I love vinegar and baking soda for cleaning the toilet. The vinegar disinfects and the baking soda neutralizes odors.

If you have kids that won't clean the bathroom, let them make a "volcano" (vinegar + baking soda causes a foaming reaction) in the toilet for cleaning and suddenly they LOVE cleaning the bathroom! =D

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 7:48PM
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cateyanne(zone 5/6 Northern Ohio)

I have been thinking of purchasing one of those steam cleaners you see advertised everywhere. Does anyone use one? What brand and what are the features you like, or don't? Do they really clean well? what about scale build up from hard water? and what do you like using them for the best?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 5:46PM
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I like Seventh Generation cleaning products, also Ecover Cream Scrub. Other brands I like are Caldrea and BioKleen.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 3:02PM
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j_nail(5 Eastern WA)

I have several recipes, which I'll post later (not at 1 AM...tee-hee). The ones I use the most are (therefore have memorized!):

All Purpose-
In a 16 oz spray bottle mix:
2 Tsp Dr Bronner's Castile Soap (whatever flavor you prefer)
30 drops Tea Tree Oil
Fill bottle with Distilled Water
Spray direct on counters (other hard surfaces at your discretion) and wipe with rag. I've also used it to clean leather car seats and dashboards by spraying on rag and wiping down surface. Also great for sticky child prints on walls and doors.

Kitchen Cleanser (dry abrasive)-
Plastic Flip top container (empty spice container)
Baking Soda
Essential Oil (Lemon, Orange, preference)
Fill container halfway with baking soda, add 15-20 drops essential oil, fill the rest of the way with baking soda, shake well. Use like Ajax/Comet.

Kitchen Cleanser 2 (above kicked up with some soap)-
Baking Soda
Dr Bronner's Castile Soap (Plain or "Flavored")
Essential Oil (If soap not scented)
Fill an empty container (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc) about 1/2 way (or more) with baking soda, mix in soap until it's a slightly runny paste.

Floor Cleaner-(also windows, counters, chrome)
16 oz spray bottle
White Distilled Vinegar
Filtered Water
Organic Essential Oil (your fav flav)
Fill bottle with equal amounts Vinegar and Water, add 15-20 drops essential oil, shake before use. Squirt on floor and wipe up with rag or mop. Use on linoleum, tile or finished wood. Works great on bathroom fixtures, don't have a glass shower door, but I imagine it would work pretty well!

I've also included a link to the "Green Tips" page for the place I volunteer at. More great tips and links there! Have a good one!

Here is a link that might be useful: Living Green with SNAP-Green Tips

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 4:16AM
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Vinegar and baking soda clean my whole house. I add essential oils for an extra boost. Tea tree is probably my favorite. I polish my wood with jojoba oil. I like to keep it simple.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 11:00AM
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finnbiker(Z 5 PA)

I like Method lavendar floor cleaner. It is concentrated so I have a spray bottle I just put mostly water in and a small amount of the concentrate, and it works great! I use it on the bathroom fixtures, floors, etc.
For tubs and other surfaces you'd use Comet or whatever, I like baking soda. Works great.
Vinegar takes off hard water stains.
I still use bleach in the toilet, though- haven't found an alternative.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 11:04PM
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I use grapefruit seed oil or oil of oregano as my disinfectant base. I add lavender or rose geranium oil for scent. I put together a couple of spray bottles each month. I use about twenty drops of the disinfectant oils per cup of water, and ten drops of scent per bottle. The odor of the oil of oregano is a bit strong--might be unpleasant for some people. Grapefruit seed oil has almost no odor. I also make up a spray bottle of half water, half white vinegar.

I use my homemade sprays for general cleaning, including disinfecting sinks. Spray on and let it work for about ten minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

For grungy looking grout around a tiled bathroom sink, I pour on hydrogen peroxide and let it set for about fifteen minutes, then scrub and towel dry without rinsing. The tiles gleam.

Like another poster, I use white vinegar and water in my carpet cleaning machine. I also use white vinegar in the washing machine as a deodorizer (pet bedding) and a softener. Vinegar is good for grease on stoves, fingerprints on refrigerators, mirrors and windows. For mirrors and windows I use a rag for washing and crumpled newspaper for polishing dry (an old wives' trick).

I recently tried the white "magic" erase sponges. They do a marvelous job of removing tea stains, wall marks, etc. However, I have no idea what these sponges are made of. Does anybody know how they fit into a green scheme?


    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 1:27PM
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finnbiker(Z 5 PA)

I found a tip somewhere for a great way to "stretch" out use of any dishwasher detergent, but especially the more expensive natural ones, Seventh Generation or whatever you like.
Use Baking soda for the pre-wash cycle, and just use the detergent (little as possible) for washing. Have been doing it a couple of weeks now and it appears to work great! Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 9:10PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

My coop carries many commercially made natural cleaners. My favorites are dishwashing soap (I don't have a dishwasher) with essential oils. I just got some Mrs. Murphy's Clean Day with rose geranium oil, and my kitchen smells wonderful!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 3:20PM
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I've just about used up all my chemical stuff (didn't want to waste it; it did cost money). All I use now is baking soda, vinegar, dishwashing liquid (organic, which I can afford because I'm not buying any of those chemicals), alcohol, ammonia (sort of on the line, but still, not as toxic as some), hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice. I think that's it.

Didn't have time to read all the replies, and I'm sure some of these are on here already, but no harm repeating good news.

- Baking soda is great for cleaning ceramic stove tops with no scratching. For stubborn burnt on stuff, sprinkle with baking soda and spray on vinegar and let sit.

- Equal parts alcohol, plain ammonia, and water make a great window and countertop cleaner.

- Lemon Juice will take out almost any countertop stain, and if it won't, Hydrogen Peroxide will. You may have to leave it sit overnight, or treat more than once.

- Baking soda is GREAT for scrubbing soap scum off of bathroom walls and fixtures. I usually rinse it off with diluted water and white vinegar to get off the residue.

I'm still working on the laundry soap problem, still using liquid for that, and I do use bleach from time to time, more to sterilize than anythign else, but not nearly as much as I did, and I use less of each when I do use them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:16AM
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for laundry soap i use the liquid kind, i tried all the different kind of recipies, but i didn't really like them, so i kinda came up with one i like, i use in the huge jugs, like 200oz i think.
2 gal vinegar
2 cup WASHING soda
8 cups water (i think) warm
i had used the 1 oz essential oil (fake) of your choice
1 (2qt) ammonia
i mix it all together

for the softner i use the
2 gal vinegar
1 oz essential oil,
but now walmart is out of it. they quit selling it **boo hoo** so now i use 1 cup of the regular fabric softner still smells awesome!! it will last forever!!! LOL
the washing soda you can get in dillions, iga, i "think" aldi's, dollar general, some walmarts, don't be afraid to ask a manager!!! make sure its washing soda! :'))

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 11:12PM
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p.s. i use 1/2 cup per large load. thought i'd add that in there.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 11:14PM
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gayle0000(zone 5-Normal IL)

I transitioned to eco-friendly cleaners about a year ago. I've been an advocate of bleach all my life.

My biggest obstacle was the mindset that the product chemical smells equals "clean". I went from non-eco products to using vinegar. People say the vinegar smell goes away when it dries. Seriously, I could smell it all the time...even a couple days later. I experimented with different dilutions. Bottom line, I smell the vinegar and didn't/don't like it. I think of easter eggs and clean.

Currently, I'm using Shaklee Basic H (I think they've re-named it H2 in recent years...or something like that). I have a quart bottle of Basic H I bought years ago, but only used it for specific cleaning jobs. I started using that according to the directions on the bottle and I'm sold. The smell is a light clean soapy smell when using, then goes away when it's wiped up.

I kind of laugh at myself because I was so set on fragrance & chemical smells. I realized my strange mindset when it was happening & really thought it would take me longer to come to terms with no more smells of chemicals & fragrances. Now, if my house has no product smell....that means clean to me. Complete turnaround for me.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 7:51AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Gayle, it funny that you mentioned the smell of most commercial cleaners.

I switched to organic laundry detergent about a year ago, when the local store started carrying it (it was too heavy and therefore had too-expensive shipping charges to order on-line, as I did with some other organic products).

Anyway, my son spent the night over his aunt's last week. He spilled something on his shirt, so she washed it for him and he wore it home the next day. I could barely go near him because of the strong detergent smell. Even after I washed it, I could still smell her detergent.

I guess we do get used to not having those "fake" smells around the house!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 3:57PM
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I just have to add my thoughts here. I use natural cleaners around my house as well. Mostly Seventh Generation cleaners. I hear alot of people mention steam cleaners for floors and vinegar. Steam cleaners are not good for wood floors. Wood floors should not be left wet, which is exactly what steam cleaners do. They don't leave them dry like they claim. Even a little wet is too wet for a wood floor. And as far as vinegar, although an eco-friendly product, is the worst thing for alot of things around your house. The worst thing is on any tile surface. Vinegar is very acidic and slowly destroys grout. If you do some research about grout you will learn alot. And not research on using vinegar, but researching tile forums. One that is very good is

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Can you use the homemade laundry soap in a HE Front Loader?

Sometimes I use Allen's Naturally and just use less, but I've heard that it's suds too much and that it can damage the machine.

I'd really like to try something homemade though.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:07PM
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i do, i like it, and it works great, and very easy to make!! :'))

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 12:06AM
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gayle0000(zone 5-Normal IL)

Hey diggerdee...

You said: "Anyway, my son spent the night over his aunt's last week. He spilled something on his shirt, so she washed it for him and he wore it home the next day. I could barely go near him because of the strong detergent smell. Even after I washed it, I could still smell her detergent."

I'm that way with fabric softeners. I switched from commercial brands to Seventh Generation a while back & noticed the smell phenomena like you describe. Now, I don't use any softeners, and I can smell the softeners on strangers I walk by in the store.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 7:30AM
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I started a small amount of water to boil, for eventual hummingbird food; long story short, the water burned off & I ended up with a nice gray coating across the bottom !
The kettle has a coating - previous to the one I burned on - so I'm hoping for a way to clean it as they are still somewhat new.
I tried salt & water to a boil, let sit 12 hours, then tried to scrub off the gray, to no avail - any ideas are much appreciated!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 2:46PM
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I used a mixture of vinegar and salt on a very badly burnt pan. I was about to throw it out when I decided to try this. After soaking for 10 minutes the pan came up like new. I am now using salt and vinger mixed with water as an over cleaner and it really works.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 6:05AM
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There is a reason why cleaning chemical manufacturers don't use vinegar (acetic acid). It' because it smells, it is a very poor cleaner compared to other surfactants, and is very limited in its cleaning ability.

Ammonia is anything but green. It is a nasty, nasty VOC (volatile organic compound). California has enacted regulations trying to reduce and eliminate VOC's in cleaning and other products.

For those who like to use a ecofriendly and household safe ready to use shower cleaner, there is a new "green" cleaning chemical manufacturer that has an excellent shower cleaner that dissolves soap scum. The company is They are coming out with a full line of household cleaners. Their goal is to have green cleaners outperform the best non-green cleaners. I tried just about every shower cleaner known to mankind trying to remove nasty soap scum buildup in my kids shower. With this, a corn based product, the heavy layer of soap scum dissolved like butter. I now use it on a regular basis not because it works, but because I have had skin cancer a couple times and I hate the thought of showering with toxic residue from regular cleaning chemicals.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Wow j_nail that all purpose blend seems infallible! Thanks for sharing.

I have a tip for tough wine stains or any tough (fresh) stain on clothes..

Salt. The stain has to be fresh though, grab a pinch of salt and rub it thoroughly on and against the stain until it disappears. It might take a while, to speed up the process try using some white vinegar or some lime/lemon juice, or water in worst case scenario.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 7:16PM
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Well, using natural cleaning products to clean our home is easier than we ever think. The use of lemons, baking soda, and vinegar does a great job as a cleaning agent without doing any harm. I even make my own Scouring Powder using 2 parts baking soda, 1 part salt, and 1 part borax that even cut toughest scum.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:29AM
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