Get a Sparkling Home with Natural Cleaning Products
The first thing to keep in mind when creating your own natural cleaning products is to never mix ammonia and bleach because the resulting fumes are toxic. Most cleaning revolves around scrubbing and cleansing, and DIY cleaning products are here to help.
For scrubbing, baking soda and salt are mild abrasives that can easily take the place of commercial scrubbing powders. Salt is slightly more abrasive but still gentle enough for most surfaces. To mix your own general-use scented cleanser, stir a drop or two of essential oil into baking soda or salt using a wire whisk. Store the mixture in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. As the fragrance fades, refresh it with another drop of oil.
Now to tackle that grime: Use this all-purpose, all-natural vinegar cleaner: mix 1 cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons borax, 4 cups hot water, 5 drops liquid dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil, and if desired, 10 drops your favorite essential oil.
Read on for more natural cleaning ingredients to put to use in your home. And before you dive in, know that some cleaners (especially acidic ones) should not be used on certain surfaces and materials, such as marble and granite. Follow specific care guides for these materials, and when in doubt, always test a cleaner in an inconspicuous spot before cleaning.
What Are Natural Cleaning Products?
Travel down the cleaning aisle and you’ll find labels touting all sorts of claims and buzzwords—from organic to non-toxic, plant-based to natural. Deciphering these can be tricky, especially since there aren’t a lot of regulations around the use of these terms. If you’re thinking twice about what cleaning products you’re bringing into your home, tap into the Environmental Working Group’s body of research. The organization analyzes the ingredients of hundreds of products and make their research available to the public on its website.
Natural Cleaning with Lemon
Not only does cleaning with lemon lend a fresh scent, but it’s also hard-working, especially when combined with another green cleaning product, borax. Both are known for their cleaning and whitening powers, but each works differently. Because it is an alkali, borax is good for cutting grease, oil, and dirt. Lemons are slightly acidic, so they work well at eliminating soap scum and hard-water deposits. To get the benefits of both, dip a lemon half in borax and use it as a scrubber for the bathroom, kitchen counters, cupboards, and appliances—any surface that is likely to have both alkali and acidic dirt.
To remove rust or food stains on countertops, rub a cut lemon over the spot or squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the area and let it sit for up to 30 minutes.
4 Things You've Never Cleaned with a Lemon Wedge (But Should!)
When life hands you lemons, make natural cleaning products! Tap into a lemon's natural bleaching, degreasing, antibacterial, and fresh-scent properties to successfully tackle all sorts of household jobs in an earth-friendly manner.
Natural Cleaning Products for Glass
This homemade solution is one of the best natural cleaning products for glass. For streak-free glass, mix a solution of 2 cups water, 2 cups rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 cup ammonia. Put the cleaning product mixture in a spray bottle (32 ounces or larger) and use a clean, absorbent lint-free rag (soft cotton is ideal) to wipe the glass. The ammonia does most of the cleaning and the alcohol speeds up the drying time to help eliminate streaks.
Clean Green with Baking Soda
Natural cleaning products with baking soda work best on proteins, grease, and animal messes. Because baking soda is slightly abrasive, it can be used for scouring—and, of course, it's a natural deodorizer. Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the soiled area and scrub with a damp cloth. Use the effervescent combination of baking soda and vinegar to go to work on stains and spills on fabric. (Always test in an inconspicuous spot first.) For added eco-friendly cleaning power, mix baking soda with water to form a paste the consistency of peanut butter, then scrub.
Natural Cleaners with Distilled White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a mild acid that works on alkaline substances, dissolving scale, inhibiting mold, and cutting soap scum. It's also terrific for stains such as coffee, rust, and tea. Dilute distilled white vinegar in water for a natural cleaning product that cuts through dirt, soap scum, mineral deposits, and wax buildup. (Add a drop of essential oil to diffuse the vinegar odor.) For heavy buildup, soak a rag in distilled white vinegar, lay it over the area, leave it for an hour, and then scrub.
Clean with Salt
Cleaning from your pantry can be a more natural way to tidy up, and salt is one pantry staple not to overlook. Salt is a cleaning powerhouse, thanks in part to its abrasive nature. Use this natural cleaning product to scrub away baked-on grime on oven racks or stove grates or partner salt with lemon wedges to clean copper. For a paste that removes hard-water stains, mix 1/4 cup salt with 2 tablespoons vinegar.
Must-Try Homemade Cleaners
Ditch the chemicals for all-natural cleaning products! These homemade cleaners will help you achieve a sparkling space with ingredients you already have in your pantry or in your cleaning closet.
Clean with Vodka
Keep a bottle of vodka on hand for cleaning and you’ll be ready to tackle any number of chores. It performs many of the same jobs as vinegar, but without the unpleasant odor. Use vodka to clean mirrors in lieu of a store-bought window cleaner, cut down grease on surfaces such as countertops, appliances, and backsplashes, and event put vodka to use in the laundry room. Simply add vodka to a load of laundry to banish pesky odors.
Consider Simple Soap
Looking for green cleaning products that are tough on dirt? Try cleaning with castile soap made with olive oil, or a vegetable-based soap. Both attach to soil at the molecular level, so you can rinse dirt away with water.
More Natural Cleaning Products
Commit these cleaning recipes to memory and you’ll be prepared to tackle any number of messes, the natural way:
Ammonia: Dilute 1 tablespoon of ammonia in a pint of water for a strong grease-cutting solution.
Liquid Dish Soap: To create a single-use homemade cleaning solution, dissolve a teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a quart of water, then add a teaspoon of vinegar. (Do not add the two at the same time; the acid in the vinegar will neutralize the alkali in the soap.)
More Natural Cleaning Ideas
It's simple to clean the natural way. And by saying “no thanks” to harsh chemicals and one-time-use bottles, not only are you doing good for your home and family, you’re doing the Earth a favor, too. Check out more green cleaning recipes and product ideas.