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  • Writer's pictureKimmer Collison-Ris, MSN, FNP-BC, MS CAM

Easy Earth Friendly Household Cleaning Ingredients

Updated: Mar 7



Long before there was a grocery store in every neighborhood, our grandparents used to make their own cleaning products.  Today individuals are concerned about the health hazards cleaning chemicals pose to their families and pets. With rising inflation and concern over climate change, people are looking for affordable ecofriendly methods of cleaning. Knowing this, companies market to these concerns by creating green cleaning products, useful in decreasing exposure to harsh chemicals, but expensive (Temkin et al., 2023).

There is a need to be concerned about the chemicals we use around our home and expose our pets and small family members to.  Everyday pollutants are washed down the drain, which harms local wildlife, pets, children, the elderly, and us. As much as we'd like to believe that these chemicals are treated out of our water supply by the local water department, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Exposure to everyday cleaning products is associated with harm to the respiratory, neurological, and reproductive systems and elevates the risk of acquiring cancer (Temkin et al., 2023). The creation of cleaning products is big business involving a wide variety of harsh chemicals designed to disinfect and eliminate dust and dirt. Unfortunately, exposure to commercial cleaning agents contains toxins and poisons, hazardous to human health, often causing allergies and asthma. Most cleaning products are toxic and can easily seep out of bottles or be inhaled, becoming dangerous to pets, children, and the environment (Mohapatra et al., 2018; Wolkoff et al., 1998).

However, understanding the few ingredients that go into making home cleaning products might inspire you to make your own. Most ingredients can already be found in the average kitchen cupboard (unless you're an person who just doesn't cook at all). Utilizing basic ingredients, measuring utensils, and ecofriendly storage containers, you can quickly create these earth friendly cleaning recipes for pennies on the dollar.

Some common earth-friendly ingredients include any combination of the following: filtered water, baking soda, borax, castile soap, corn starch, citrus fruit, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, olive oil, salt, soap nuts, vinegar, and even vodka!  Remember, as you get excited about using your green cleaning products, consider the surfaces you'll clean, as even earth friendly ingredients aren't for every surface and can cause damage.

Most DIY cleaning recipes use fresh filtered water which is excellent for diluting solutions. Never underestimate the power of sunlight as it can remove dust, viruses, and bacteria from laundry hung on the line outside. Sheets and towels always smell fresher when they're dried outdoors.


Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and mild abrasive and the reason its included in many of the DIY recipes that follow.  Borax, castile soap, and essential oils are all valuable ingredients for cleaning and disinfecting kitchen and bathroom floors, counters, sinks, and toilets (Mohapatra et al., 2018). Borax is a natural mineral often used for household cleaning, laundry, and insect control (Hills, 2022).

Castile soap is a time-honored natural soap and great ingredient for dish washer detergent and dish liquid, as well as shampoo, cleaning solution for surfaces and floors, and makes wonderful laundry soap.

Some people prefer natural soap made from saponins, which are plant-based products often derived from soap nuts, soapwort, horse chestnut, and ginseng. These are great sustainable options that are useful for cleaning and are a gentle choice for persons with allergies and sensitive skin (Everything You Need to Know about Soap Nuts and How to Use Them, 2022).


Besides being useful for cooking, olive oil serves as a key ingredient as a cabinet and wood furniture polish. Adding a small amount to soft cotton or flannel rag is an excellent way to remove dust, water stains, and brighten a dull appearance. Olive oil also works well to clean cast iron pans and preserve wooden utensils and cutting boards.

Diluted Hydrogen peroxide has been used in medical kits for a long time but makes a great toothbrush soaking solution and can brighten and whiten stains on light colored fabric. It also works well as a paste for stubborn stains when combined with baking soda and left to sit for half an hour.

Lemons and limes can be put to good use as they are natural disinfectants. Used in a recipe or applied to the counter or cutting board, they effectively remove stubborn tomato stains. You can brighten and disinfect cutting boards in the sunshine to fade stains too. Lemon juice also brightens pots, pans, and chrome. Use lemon juice in recipes below to shine mirrors, glass, and disinfect surfaces.

A commonly forgotten cleaner, coarse salt makes an excellent scrubber to remove stubborn food grime from pots and pans. Add a touch to the bottom of the wet pan and utilizing cloth and elbow grease, that gritty material lifts right off. Cast iron pans only require wiping down with a cloth and adding a little bit of olive oil.


Vinegar has a reputation as a versatile cleaner and often included in most recipes. It disinfects, deodorizes, and cleans shiny surfaces like glass and mirrors. Placed in the laundry, it breaks down dirt and grime, and is a useful fabric softener.

Not just intended for alcoholic drinks, vodka is a common disinfecting ingredient and cleaner. Added to home recipes it helps polish and shine chrome and added to a glass solution prevents window and mirror streaks (Scheuerman, 2023).

Along with non-toxic cleaners, don’t forget the importance of using your natural fiber T-shirts, socks, or dish towels. These recycled materials serve as cleaning and dusting cloths and keep commercial cleaning wipes and paper towels out of the landfill.

Caring for your health and the environment can be inexpensive or easy. With a little creativity and inspiration, you can create green home cleaning products for a fraction of the cost. See the recipes that follow.


Natural Household Cleaning Recipes

All-purpose cleaner

-2 teaspoons of baking soda

-6 tablespoons castile soap

-15 drops lemon essential oil

-7 drops tea tree oil

-4 tablespoons of white vinegar

-2 cups of warm water

-stir and mix and put in a squirt bottle for usage

 

Glass cleaner

-1/4 cup of vodka

-1/4 cup of white vinegar

-10 drops lemon essential oil

-2 cups warm water

Direction: stir and mix and use in a  squirt bottle

Bleach Alternative

-1 1/2 cups of hydrogen peroxide 3%

-half a cup of lemon juice

-one gallon of fresh filtered water

 Directions: add 1 cup to the laundry

Grout cleaner

-half cup baking soda

-quarter cup vodka

-quarter cup vinegar

mix and apply paste using a brush allow to sit for 5 minutes before rinsing

Kitchen laminate floor cleaner

-2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap

-10 drops orange essential oil

-10 drops tea tree oil

-one gallon hot water

Cabinet wash

-1/2 tablespoon olive oil or soap nuts

-five drops cedarwood or pine essential oil

-one to two cups of warm water

Drain Cleaner

-Hot water

-1/2-1 cup baking soda

-1 cup vinegar

Baking soda scrub

-two cups baking soda

-10 drops orange essential oil

-10 drops pine essential oil

Laundry Detergent

-2 lbs super washing soda

-8 cups Borax

-2 lbs of baking soda

 

Linen spray

-2 tablespoons witch Hazel

-10 drops lavender essential oil

-10 drops lemongrass essential oil

-5 tablespoons water

Sink/toilet bowl cleaner

-1/4 cup of baking soda

-quarter cup Borax

-One Cup white vinegar

place ingredients directly in the sink or toilet mixed gently with a bowl brush. You may want to let sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing in the toilet if it's grimy.

Soft scrub

-1/4 cup baking soda

-1/2 tablespoon liquid castile soap

-little bit of water to thin the mix

-five drops citrus essential oil

 

Tub cleanser

-half a grapefruit

-quarter cup of kosher salt

-place salt on grapefruit inscribe the tub

Tea Tree bathroom cleaner

-one tablespoon liquid castile soap

-1/4 teaspoon tea tree essential oil

-1/8 teaspoon peppermint essential oil

-One Cup of water

Wood Floor Cleaner

-¼ cup white vinegar

-1 tablespoon Castile soap

-1-gallon warm water

Wood furniture spray

-2 tablespoons of olive oil

-3 drops of lemon essential oil or pine

-4 tablespoons of white vinegar

 

Dusting spray

-2 teaspoons of olive oil

-1 teaspoon of lemon juice

-1/4 cup of white vinegar

-1/4 Cup of warm water

Carpet deodorizer

-One Cup baking soda

-animal friendly essential oils

Goop cleaner

-1/2 cup of Borax -1/4 cup vinegar

Silver cleaner

-3/4 cup baking soda

-1/4 cup water

 Mosquito outdoor repellant tricks:

Install a mosquito misting system that uses natural chrysanthemum extract.

 

Make bug-repellent luminaries with essential oils and floating tea light candles.

 

Grow mosquito-repellent plants like lavender, marigolds, and catnip around your outdoor spaces.

Hardwood floor Polish

-1 cup of vegetable oil

-1 cup vinegar 

-1/4 cup water

 

Original recipes with inspiration by:


References

Everything you need to know about soap nuts and how to use them. (Nov 25th 2022). Green Virgin Products. Retrieved February 13, 2024, from https://greenvirginproducts.com/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-soap-nuts-and-how-to-use-them/


Hills, J. (2022, June 17). If You Don’t Own Borax, Go Buy It Right Now. It Will Make These Tasks So Much Easier. Healthy and Natural World. https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/borax/


Mohapatra, C., Panda, S., & Kumar, S. (2018). A REVIEW ON NATURAL FLOOR CLEANER AND INSECT REPELLANT. Mohapatra et Al. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 7, 125. https://doi.org/10.20959/wjpr20189-12088


Scheuerman, F. (2023, June 21). What Proof Vodka For Cleaning - Vodka Doctors. Vodka Doctors: #1 Vodka Newsletter. https://vodkadoctors.com/what-proof-vodka-for-cleaning/


Temkin, A. M., Geller, S. L., Swanson, S. A., Leiba, N. S., Naidenko, O. V., & Andrews, D. Q. (2023). Volatile organic compounds emitted by conventional and “green” cleaning products in the U.S. market. Chemosphere, 341, 139570. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.139570


Wolkoff, P., Schneider, T., Kildesø, J., Degerth, R., Jaroszewski, M., & Schunk, H. (1998). Risk in cleaning: chemical and physical exposure. Science of the Total Environment, 215(1), 135–156. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(98)00110-7

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