Green Housecleaning

Published on April 27th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans

Natural Cleaning Recipes

Why spend a fortune on cleaning products that introduce toxic chemicals into your living space? You can use simple ingredients, such as baking soda, lemons, and vinegar, to make effective natural cleaning supplies that work in every room of your house.

Why spend a fortune on cleaning products that introduce toxic chemicals into your living space? You can use simple ingredients, such as baking soda, lemons, and vinegar, to make effective natural cleaning supplies that work in every room of your house.

Besides being a snap to make, natural homemade cleaning recipes cost mere pennies!

Common Natural Cleaners

Combined in various ways, these common household items work just as well as the most expensive and noxious cleaners on the market — and these natural cleaners don’t leave your living space smelling like a freshly sanitized hospital.

  • Baking Soda – The cleaning powers of baking soda reach far beyond its role as a natural fridge deodorizer

    Baking soda works as a non-abrasive scouring cleaner on countertops and ovens, and in bathtubs and sinks. It also rids clothes of perspiration odors when used in conjunction with laundry detergent in the washer.

    • The next time you do laundry, try adding 1/2 cup to a cup to your load.
    • Before you vacuum, sprinkle it on your carpet as a deodorizer.
  • Super Washing Soda – Also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda is a caustic cleaner that is far safer than other solvents. Wearing gloves when you use it, however, is still recommended.
    • Washing soda is great at cutting grease, getting wax or lipstick out of clothing, and neutralizing odors.
  • Lemon Juice – The acid in lemon juice neutralizes hard water deposits, dissolves buildup and dirt on wood, and tarnish on silver.
    • White Vinegar – can be used in place of lemon juice. The infamous strong smell dissipates as the vinegar dries.
  • Antifungals/Disinfectants – Grapefruit seed extract and essential oils such as lavender, clove, and tea tree oil have antiseptic properties and operate as natural fungicides.
    • To keep mold at bay, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of essential oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, or 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract to 1 quart of water.

Natural Cleaning Recipes

Here are a few quick and simple natural cleaning recipes to help you on your way to a spick-and-span, non-toxic living space. You can mix-and-match many of these natural products for use on a variety of surfaces…

Always perform a test for allergies before using new ingredients or essential oils. Simply dab a bit of the item on the underside of your wrist and watch for any indicators of inflammation.

All Purpose Surface Cleaner Mix together equal parts white vinegar and salt. Scrub surfaces with a natural cleaning cloth.

Cookware Cleaner Coarse salt does wonders for scouring copper pans and ceramic baking dishes.

Disinfectant Mix 1/2 cup of borax powder with 1 gallon of hot water. Add a few drops of fragrant essential oil such as thyme, rosemary, or lavender. Store the mixture in a labeled spray bottle.

Floor Scrubber To scrub out tough messes and stains, use washing soda and rinse well. For lighter washing, dilute 1 cup washing soda in 1 gallon of warm or hot water. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice for extra shine.

Furniture Polish Mix 1 cup lemon juice with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp water; lightly apply to furniture using a soft cloth. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then buff.

No-Streak Glass Cleaner For sparkling mirrors and windows, combine 1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, and 1 quart warm water. Divide into spray bottles. For a lint-free shine, wipe dry with a sheet of crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter.

Tile and Grout Paste 1 cup water and 3 cups baking soda mixed into a paste works great for cleaning tile and grout. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into grout.

Wallpaper Shiner Rub wallpaper marks with a piece of white bread until they disappear.

Wood Buffer Hide wood scratches by rubbing them with the meat of a walnut.

To dress up your homemade cleaners, use a pretty spray bottle or container and add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil. These all-natural cleaning products smell so sweet and work so well that you can even give them as gifts!

Post-Cleaning Hand Soak

Once you’ve done your eco spring cleaning, you won’t need days of moisturizing lotion therapy to smooth out your hands again, but… it’s always nice to treat yourself after a hard day’s work!

For moisture treatment:

  • Microwave or oven-warm a small bowl of olive oil. Kick back and soak your hands.
  • Add some granulated sugar and scrub away the extra layer of dry skin that accumulated over the winter.

For an invigorating handwash:

  • Place a tiny bit of powdery ground mustard in a bowl with some other herbs and essential oils, such as rosemary and thyme or lavender and mint.
  • Add hot water and wait for the tingling sensation of mustard to warm your skin.

You’ll be so invigorated that you may be tempted to join in helping to clean your friend’s or neighbor’s house!

Photo from Shutterstock

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85 Responses to Natural Cleaning Recipes

  1. Guest says:

    Mix about 1 quart extra warm water and about 1/2 cup water softener. Just dip it or dip and scrub with brush. Try it. It works.

  2. Guest says:

    Using lemon juice – does that mean fresh squeezed lemon juice or is bottled lemon juice ok? Thank you!

  3. Donna Farrell says:

    [quote=Guest]Using lemon juice – does that mean fresh squeezed lemon juice or is bottled lemon juice ok? Thank you![/quote]

    I’ve never tried using the bottled, but I did notice that the bottled lemon juice often has other ingredients in it, so I’m not sure if that would affect its ability to clean or not.

  4. Juans says:

    I’d love to know ,where to get those green products near me ;by the way I live in Fairfax County Va. Honestly I couldn’t find them ,so you can help me out ,would be great.
    Thank you.

  5. Paula says:

    I’d like to know if there is a good recipe for a carpet shampoo to eliminate urine stains and smells from carpet. Our dog is old, and is starting to revert back to puppyhood and is peeing on the carpets. If anyone knows one that would work with a steam cleaner I’d appreciate if you could help.

    • Ria says:

      I found that by absorbing as much of the urine as possible with a cloth first (remember to always dab and not rub), and then applying white vinegar on that spot helps to neutralize the odours. Worked with my puppy while I was still training him and no one ever knew he had had accidents. I hope this helps

    • Fidget says:

      We’ve been using Vodka. Yup Vodka. it’a been getting all sorts of Smells out that nothing else was hitting. PUt it in a spray bottle, spray liberally, let dry. Once it’s dry, all the smells are gone. You can use the really cheap stuff, which makes it pricer then vinegar, but way way way cheaper then the stuff from the pet store.

      I’ve also noticed my cats are avoiding the floor that’s been sprayed down…

    • Valerie T says:

      Best SMELL remover (even for skunk) is a whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a half cup of baking soda (mix well) a dab of Dawn dishwashing soap and add water until you fill a gallon container. For pee spots, blot the original stain by standing on a paper towel. Then soak the stain completely with this solution. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use a towel or two and stand on the spot until liquid is well removed into towel. It will dry without a smell. You can use this directly on dogs who have been skunked. But you must keep applying the liquid over and over for 5-10 minutes. I use a bucket and a plastic cup, catching the excess in the bucket as I pour a plastic cup of it onto the dog. DO NOT RINSE DOG afterward. For a bad skunk spray, you might have to apply again in 24 hrs.

      • NanoNymph says:

        Dawn antibacterial dish soap contains the chemical Tricolsan, which is not a natural ingredient and is thought to cause various toxic effects to humans, animals and the waterways.

  6. Sally says:

    Your blog was very helpful. Thanks for the great cleaning recipes.

  7. Kelly says:

    Paula – white vinegar and hot water works good in a steamer. The vinegar breaks down the proteins in the urine to remove the smell and the original stain from the urine. The dog then does not smell the original urine and should not repeat going to the bathroom there. I use about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in my Little Green steamer. The smell can be overwhelming so be sure to have your windows open to air it out or you can try diluting the solution down more with water. I don’t mind the smell as long as I know its clean and non-toxic!

    • Cindy says:

      I’ve tryed this and it works well.My puppies kept going in the same spot too.Now they don’t go potty on the floor.I heard they don’t like the smell???

  8. sharkies! says:

    vinager taste good but it has a wierd smell πŸ™
    but how the heck is vinager gonna help out planet??? and how is One little enviorment frendlt product gonna help us get outta this huge hole we dug ourselvs???????

    • GLI Editors says:

      The general idea is that there’s potential benefit in using substances like vinegar in lieu of less human- and environmentally-friendly cleaning product options.

      – Eds

    • kathy says:

      because it starts with one person doing it and then another and then another and so on. One person CAN make a difference.

    • Lois says:

      It must start from the bottom up. If all the people on here tell 2 people and so on. It may seem like we are digging with teaspoons right now, but if we all work together and try to inform and educate others. I myself take the time to email large corperations about thieir responsibilities. 7/11 in Canada now at least uses recycleable coffee lids and no longer uses plastic stir sticks. Macs Milk (cant remember the name in the U.S)several years ago changed to metal carafs for the milk and flavored milk for coffee. Many stores have changed to much larger dispensers now. Not only does hugely reduse the plastic waste, it must save a lot of money.I know this recycling and not cleaning but it is all about the poisons that we are throwing or pouring into the enviroment. In the U.S alone a million barrels of oil are used each year just to produce the plastic for water bottles. I just turn on the tap. My children opened my eyes to recycling many years ago and as the adult took it to the next level and produce a small bag of waste each month. I live in a 20th floor penthouse in downtown Vancouver and have worm composts on my patios. I am just about to go out and plant the rest of my garlic and repot my raspberrys with the finished compost as they are heavy feeders and I would like to enjoy them on my cereal into November again as I did last year I better go before it starts raining πŸ™‚

  9. Jenny L says:

    Besides the “green” aspect of making your own cleaners, there is also a monetary benefit. We have saved a ton of money making our own homemade cleaners.

  10. Sally says:

    What a comprehensive list of recipes, thank you. Having just bought a brand new eco home (have a look at my house in hayle) I now have a great collection of enviromental cleaners to go with it and it hasn’t cost the earth. Thanks.

  11. Melissa says:

    Please, please, please make sure that if you add essential oils to these products that you use a true therapeutic/medical grade (and a warning – all companies are going to say there’s is therapeutic grade!!). As a veterinarian, I often recommend going green for your pet’s health. We see many problems related to repeat chemical exposure in pets.

    However, animals are injured by synthetic or poorly collected essential oils (often those that you find in the health food store or grocery store). These are for perfume use ONLY. And, although we may think they smell nice, might be toxic to your pet.

    I use a lot of essential oils in our practice – and there are only three companies I trust. Original Swiss Aromatics, Creer Labs, and Young Living.

    Other than that warning – I love your recipes, and can’t wait to try them for our animal hospital – of course adding great quality essential oils to them!

  12. Anitra says:

    These are some great recipes. I’m new to Going Green and I’ve created a website chronicling my journey From Normal to Green. This weekend I’m going to post a video of me making my own natural cleaners. Please come buy and let me know what you think!

  13. Terrific post, many fascinating points. I remember 7 of days ago, I have discovered a similar article.

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  15. frenchbebe says:

    I use a deoderant called Take A Wiff from Whole Foods. It says to powder under arms with baking soda. SO I place baking soda in a jar with a poof and powder away after deoderant. This deoderant lasts me 4 months. The baking soda works! I never have any scent. With out the baking soda it does not work as well. Purhaps baking soda alone would work, but I think the deoderant adheres it well.

  16. Green Living says:

    We can use lemon peel for polishing the chrome vessel.

  17. Stephanie Stone says:

    Does anyone know how to get the yellowing out of old tub from age. No longer white,also yellowing off sewing machine. Anything will help. Thank you.

  18. I use lemon essential oil in place of fresh lemons. I also add cinnamon, clove and rosemary oil to many combinations to increase the antibacterial properties. You can check out for more ideas on adding essential oils to your home made combinations. There are even blends of oils to eliminate pet odors!

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  27. Clean freak says:

    This is great. I can’t wait to try them. I’m eliminating for my health they mess with my hormones, I work as a house cleaner. Any tricks for hard water on toilets and showers. I know vineger works if you can get it to sit on the surface like the bottom of the shower. Yet I can’t get it to stay on the verticle surface long enough.

    • Make a paste of borax and vinegar, rub it all over the tub. For the toilet use a pumice stone toilet scrubber, I found mine at the grocery store, make sure you keep it wet and it doesn’t scratch the surface, just takes everything off

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  32. Veneta says:

    I love the idea about the wood buffer!
    Thank you!

  33. Michael says:

    Awesome post! There is no need for chemicals and never was. Vinegar alone is really cheap and has so many uses as well along with being an all purpose cleaner. For some cool and unique ideas on how to use white vinegar check out

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  35. denise says:

    Thanks for this . We have a small cleaning business and do commercial cleaning one of our subs recently got sick after 14 mos of Drs finally got her diagnossis she has burnt her lungs with the commercial cleaners and white board cleaners, also toilet bowl cleaner I stongly suggest to read the warnings on all cleaning lables and viniger has always been our number one product!

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  37. Green Cleaning Girl says:

    For cleaning urine-stained carpets as well as general cleaning. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the water tank and The juice of 2 lemons, 2 limes and 10-15 drops orange essential oil (Strain the citrus juices) Fill to the line with extremely hot water. You can pretreat dried urine/feces stains with vinegar/water or lemon juice/vinegar mixture in a spray bottle. Saturate well and let sit about 1/2 hour before cleaning with the machine. Your house will smell great and the urine/feces smell will be gone. Not just masked like the commercial cleaning solutions seem to do. No sticky residue either. You can always add other essential oils for the aroma you’d like. Rosemary and Lavender, or Orange and Clove just for some ideas. It doesn’t take much so go lightly.

  38. My method of carpet cleaning is white vinegar and baking soda. It works great for any type of carpet cleaning. And it’s also very easy!!

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  45. Jenny says:

    Love getting new ideas for natural cleaning solutions and I love this site. Can’t count how many posts I’ve read now. We’ll be sending my friends over:)
    The mobile mom

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  52. Thank you ! These easy recipes for cleaners are just what I was looking for!

  53. 3kids2dogs says:

    looking for an alternative laundry detergent thats more earth friendly. i do ALOT of laundry. i’v read ur recipes for removing stains & odor as well as using baking soda as a fabric softner. since the washer adds the water how much white vinegar, borox should i use? and is this the best combination? Also, i’v tried the vinegar recipe to clean sealed hardwood floors…… not a big fan. it left my floors looking dull. is there any suggestions on how i can clean my floors w/o the dulling effect.

    • Hi! I’ve used anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vinegar per load of laundry; I just mixed it into the fill water with my regular soap (seventh Generation, which I love); the vinegar is a great fabric softener and odor eliminator. I’ve used baking soda too but didn’t like the results, but I’ve not had experience with Borax yet! As for the floors, I think you can use some natural cleaning (vinegar, castile soap, etc.) and then polish with some oil. Check out this post for more information about floor options: Thanks for reading!

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  55. Michele says:

    Let me point out that most white vinegar is synthetically manufactured ( It is typically about 5% acetic acid, and it is caustic meaning it damages live tissue. I learned this the hard way when I was cleaning the bathroom and I had the lining of my throat burned from inhaling the vapors. Luckily that is an extremely fast healing part of the body and I was back to normal the next day. Treat your “natural” home cleaning products with all the same precautions you would a store bought cleaner: ventilate, use gloves, keep it away from your face/eyes, and be extremely cautious if you’re mixing anything (do your research first). The problem with “natural” home cleaners is that there are no warning lables or instructions, and every blog espouses how safe they are but that’s just not true. I’ll be trying Apple Cider Vinegar next time since it’s supposedly fermented, but I’ll still be taking all the same precautions. Some more info from the CDC:

    • Hi Michelle-
      you are correct in that ‘natural’cleaners can also affect the body in many ways. Try to find white vinegar that is truly natural (like spectrum of 365, Whole Foods brands). Other are mostly acid, as you say. Apple cider vinegar is my vinegar of choice! Thanks for reading!

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  66. Mini Clean says:

    It was great to know that alot of people now are having their DIYs in terms of cleaning. Except for the fact that it can really save money, you can make sure that the products that you use are environmentally friendly and child friendly. I can start my own cleaning using these recipes. My all time favorite? the power of baking soda and the scent of lemon! Indeed superb!


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  68. Alice Sander says:

    For tile and grout cleaning I use a paste of baking sode and vinegar for scrubbing. It’s a little more effective than water and baking soda paste scrub. Your recipes are great and I’m definitely including and using some of them in cleaning my house. Thank you for this article. Greets!

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  71. Barbara Huhgins says:

    We do similar diy recipes for our cleaning service at

    Good things to share to other people that might not know it Stephanie.

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