Many homeowners strive for a healthy home that is free of toxins and chemicals, from building materials, all the way down to the ingredients they use to clean their kitchen countertops. A reader recently wrote in asked us if we would be interested in sharing some eco-friendly cleaning tips. And naturally, we said that we’d love to!
In our own home, Cliff and I try to be conscious of the products we buy and what they are made of, ranging from our food, to our clothes, to our furniture. But after our son was born, we wanted to make sure we were cleaning with natural ingredients, so that our baby wasn’t coming into contact with any toxic chemicals. After all, babies do spend an awful lot of time on the floor, and they love to touch all of the things. Here are some amazing all natural cleaning ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.
One of the most versatile and effective cleaners, vinegar can be used to clean nearly every surface in your home. It’s naturally antimicrobial and in combination with table salt or hydrogen peroxide, can even inhibit the growth of E. coli. Pretty amazing, right? If you don’t care for the smell, it will disappear when the vinegar dries.
For a great all-purpose cleaner, mix ¼ cup distilled white vinegar with 1 cup water in a spray bottle. This mixture can be used to clean bathrooms and kitchens. For windows and glass, change the ratio to ½ cup vinegar to 1 cup water.
You can use baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, for more than making cookies. It’s also a nontoxic and versatile cleaning ingredient. We use it primarily around our house as a deodorizer. Place an open box in the fridge, in your closet, or even near the cat’s litter box to help eliminate odors. We also sprinkle a bit on the inside of our trash cans and the oh so smelly diaper pail to keep things fresh.
Baking soda, much like vinegar, can be used as an all purpose cleaner in kitchens and bathrooms. Combine ¼ cup of baking soda with 1 quart of water. You can also sprinkle it directly onto sinks and counters and scrub for tough stains. For laundry, add 1 cup to your wash to brighten clothes.
This little yellow fruit is a staple in many kitchens, and is also a natural, mild disinfectant. Clean sink drains by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it around the opening. To freshen up your garbage disposal, use a combination of ice cubes, a handful of kosher salt, and a few lemon peels. Throw them all in, turn on your disposal, and voila!
You can also use lemon to clean your microwave. To do so, put ½ cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the bowl, and then put the rest of the lemoin the bowl too. Microwave the lemon juice in the bowl for 3 minutes, and then let stand for 5 minutes. The water will boil and then will loosen gunk and food. Remove the bowl and wipe down your microwave with a dry dish towel or rag.
We started using salt as a cleaning product when we switched over from non-stick to cast iron skillets. When we first got them, they were a mystery to clean. Now we use a little salt, a nylon scrubber brush, and water to get the grease off. Then we dry the pans by heating them on the stove for a few minutes.
Around the house, use a paste made of salt and vegetable oil to remove water rings on wooden surfaces. You can also use a sprinkle of salt near windowsills to deter ants from sneaking into your house, since they don’t like to walk on it.
Liquid Castile Soap
We have been huge fans of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap for a while now, and just recently have discovered its cleaning abilities. (If you ever take the time to read all the small print on the label, there’s a multitude of uses listed there!)
To clean marble countertops, mix 1 tbsp. soap with 1 quart warm water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe the counters down. RInse, then dry with a clean cloth. To clean stovetops, add a few generous squirts to 2 cups of hot water and wipe down surfaces to cut through accumulated grease.
I haven’t actually used borax yet in our home, but I’ve heard great things about it’s grime fighting power. Even though it is a naturally occurring mineral, keep in mind that it can be harmful to kids and pets if they swallow it, so keep it locked up and out of reach.
To clean mold from showers and tiles, mix 2 tablespoons borax, ¼ cup vinegar, and 2 cups warm water in a spray bottle. Then spray and scrub!
Or you can use it to make this awesome slime stuff to clean hard to reach crannies in cars and things like keyboards.
Do you have other all natural cleaning solutions that you use around your home? We would love to hear them! Leave us a comment below to add to the list.