Homemade Cleaning Products
Combinations of the above basic products can provide less harmful substitutions for many commercial products. In most cases, they’re also less expensive. Here are some formulas for safe, alternative home care products.
Note: These formulas and substitutions are offered to help minimize the use of toxic substances in your home and reduce the environmental harm caused by the manufacture, use, and disposal of toxics. Results may vary and cannot be guaranteed to be 100% safe and effective. Before applying any cleaning formulations, test in small hidden areas if possible. Always use caution with any new product in your home.
Make sure to keep all homemade cleaning products well labeled and out of the reach of children.
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc. Or use a citrus-based natural all-purpose cleaner.
Another alternative is natural fiber cloths, which lift off dirt, grease, and dust without the need for cleaning chemicals because they are formulated to penetrate and trap dirt. There are a number of different brands. A good quality cloth can last for several years.
Commercial air fresheners mask smells and coat nasal passages to diminish the sense of smell. In contract, the formulas below absorb and remove odors for a healthier breath of fresh air.
- Baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes absorbs odors around the house.
- Houseplants help reduce odors in the home. Some are also capable of removing toxins.
- Prevent cooking odors by simmering vinegar (1 tablespoon in 1 cup water) on the stove while cooking. To get such smells as fish and onion off utensils and cutting boards, wipe them with vinegar and wash in soapy water.
- Keep fresh coffee grounds on the counter.
- Grind up a slice of lemon to freshen the garbage disposal.
- Simmer water and cinnamon or other spices on stove.
- Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in room.
Bathroom Mold Deterrent
Mold in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using the shower.
Combine 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil with a cup of baking soda and sprinkle liberally on carpet. Allow to sit for a few hours before vacuuming.
Carpet Stain Remover
Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water. For fresh grease spots, sprinkle cornstarch onto spot and wait 15 – 30 minutes before vacuuming. For a heavy-duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.
Lemons are one ingredient to keep in your house
- Rub a slice of lemon over a chopping block to reduce bacteria
- Toss a halved lemon in your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh
- Use lemon juice in preparations to clean discolored utensils
- Remove scratches on furniture, or buff marble tabletops
Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner
Day-to-day cleaning can be done with simple soap and water or vinegar spray. To remove stuck-on food, wet the area with hot soapy water and sprinkle with baking soda. Cover with a damp towel and allow to stand for half an hour, then wipe with a clean damp cloth. Use a silicone spatula to help loosen food. Be sure to remove all residue.
Chopping Block Cleaner
Rub a slice of lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface. For tougher stains, squeeze some of the lemon juice onto the spot and let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe. For cleaning bamboo or wooden cutting boards, Bamboo Goo conditioner is another excellent non-toxic option.
Clothing Stain Remover
Different types of stains respond better to different types of stain removers. Straight vinegar can be used for many food stains, as well as sweat and set-in stains. Just spray the stain thoroughly prior to washing. A 1:1 solution of water and hydrogen peroxide can be used to soak out grass, underarm, and many food stains.
Coffee and Tea Stains
Remove stains in cups by applying vinegar to a sponge and wiping. To clean a teakettle or coffee maker, add 2 cups water and 1/4 cup vinegar; bring to a boil. Let cool, wipe with a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly with water.
For surfaces other than granite or marble, an all-purpose vinegar solution is a good choice, and undiluted vinegar works for disinfection when necessary. Stick with soap and water for granite and marble, which can get etched by acids like vinegar. Use hydrogen peroxide if you need to disinfect.
Plastic food storage containers: Soak overnight in warm water and baking soda
In-sink garbage disposal units: Grind up lemon or orange peel in the unit
Carpets: Sprinkle baking soda several hours before vacuuming
Garage, basements: Set a sliced onion on a plate in center of room for 12 – 24 hours.
Soaking soiled diapers in water with a ½ cup of baking soda for a few hours before washing can help with odors and stains, though longer soaks are not recommended. Avoid conventional detergents and fabric softeners, since additives may build up and make the diapers less absorbent in addition to exposing little ones to potentially hazardous chemicals.
Mix equal parts washing soda, baking soda, and kosher salt. Increase the washing soda slightly if your water is hard. If you prefer to buy a commercial dishwashing soap, try CitraDish or Nellie’s All-Natural dishwasher powder, which contain no bleach or phosphates.
Commercial low-phosphate detergents are not themselves harmful, but phosphates nourish algae, which uses up oxygen in waterways. A detergent substitution is to use liquid soap. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the warm, soapy water for tough jobs. Or use a citrus-based, natural dish soap.
Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, and 3 cups hot water. For stronger cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use non-aerosol spray bottle. (This is not an antibacterial formula. The average kitchen or bathroom does not require antibacterial cleaners.) To disinfect kitchen sponges, put them in the dishwasher when running a load.
For light drain cleaning, mix 1/2 cup salt in 1 gallon water, heat (but not to a boil) and pour down the drain. For stronger cleaning, pour about 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear residue. Caution: Only use this method with metal plumbing. Plastic pipes can melt if excess boiling water is used. Also, do not use this method after trying a commercial drain opener–the vinegar can react with the drain opener to create dangerous fumes.
A commercial alternative is CitraDrain Build-Up Remover, which uses natural enzymes to safely eliminate grease, oil, soap residue, and more to keep pipes flowing properly.
To reduce static cling, dampen your hands and shake out your clothes as you remove them from the dryer. Line-drying clothing or using dryer balls are some other alternatives.