Green Cleaning: Easy and Natural Ways to Clean and Freshen Your Home

How would you like to clean and freshen your home without harsh chemicals? No more fumes choking your breathing, no more harsh chemicals drying out your skin. Well, you can! It’s easy, economical, and good for the environment. You can make these recipes in large batches and put them inside air tight containers.

My advice is to print out this article and try a new one each week.

Glass Cleaning

  • Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Clean with rags, paper towels, or newspaper.

Air Fresheners

  • House Plants! The all natural air freshener!
  • Open your windows!
  • Baking Soda in fridge and garbage can to absorb odors.
  • Boil and then simmer a few sections of a citrus fruit or cinnamon or cloves in a pot with water for an hour.
  • Add drop or two of your favorite essential oil on the inside of your toilet paper roll. Each spin will release a fresh scent to your bathroom.

Furniture Polish

  • Combine 1 tspn lemon oil and 1 cup vegetable oil. Apply with clean dry cloth.

Polishing Silver

  • Combine 1 quart/liter water, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp baking soda and 1 piece aluminum foil. Add sterling silver items to be cleaned. Boil for approximately 3 minutes. Remove and polish with dry soft cloth. Do not use on silver plated items.

All Purpose Cleaners

  • Vinegar and salt mixed together make a good surface cleaner.
  • Baking soda (4 Tbsp) and warm water (1 quart/liter) is a good general cleaner.
  • Baking soda on a damp sponge. This will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
  • Mix 3 Tbsp white vinegar, 1 tspn vegetable oil soap (such as Murphy’s Oil Soap), 3 cups hot water. Use from a bucket or a spray bottle. Use and wipe clean.

Scouring Solution

  • Use dry table salt or baking soda with a damp sponge to scour and then rinse.

“Soft Scrub” Solution

  • Mix 1/4 cup Borax and enough Vegetable-Oil Soap (such as Murphy’s) to make a paste. Then add 1/2 tspn lemon oil. Use with a sponge and rinse well. Important Note: Borax is poisonous if swallowed so keep stored safely away from children and pets.

Toilet Cleaner

  • Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet. Next add vinegar and then scrub with brush. This will clean and deodorize.
  • Tough stains: Pour 1 cup Borax into toilet bowl and leave overnight. Scrub and flush in the morning. Important Note: Borax is poisonous if swallowed so keep pets away if you have one that drinks out of the toilet.

Drain Cleaner and Freshener for Disposal drains

  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Then pour in 1 cup of vinegar. Let the mixture foam for a few minutes. Then flush with a gallon of boiling water. Lastly if you have a disposal, finish up with some ice cubes to sharpen the blades and old citrus rinds to freshen up.

Tub & Tile Cleaners

  • Depending on the level of dirt, grime, use either diluted or full strength vinegar to clean and baking soda for scouring. Rinse well. Vinegar alone can be used if scouring is not required.
  • Cleaning Grout: make a paste of baking soda and warm water and scrub with sponge or old toothbrush. Rinse well.
  • Hard Lime Deposits on chrome: soften up for easy cleaning by covering with vinegar soaked towels. Let soften for 1 hour before cleaning.
  • Rust & Hard Water Stains: apply white vinegar or lemon juice. Leave on until spot disappears. May need to be repeated.
  • Mildew Removal: dissolve 1/2 cup borax with 1/2 vinegar in some warm water. Use sponge to apply and wipe clean. Pure white vinegar alone can work also.

Cleaning Pots

  • Soak pots and pans in warm water and a couple teaspoons of baking soda in the water. Then clean normally with liquid dish soap.

Carpet Cleaning

  • Stain remover: soak the stain with club soda and blot until the stain is removed.
  • Dog/Cat Urine on Carpet: use towel to absorb as much as possible. Wash using warm water and liquid dish soap. Rinse with 1/4 cup vinegar in 2 cups warm water. Soak up with towels and apply pressure to absorb as much moisture as possible. Leave towels in place for a few hours. Then remove towels and allow to dry completely. A fan can be used to speed up the proces.
  • Freshen Carpets: mix 2 cups baking soda with 30 drops of lavender essential oil in bowl. Make sure any clumps are broken up and mixed well. Next, before vacuuming, sprinkle this mixture from a shaker type container. Let stand for 15 minutes. Then vacuum.

Floor Cleaner

  • Mix: 1 cup vinegar, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil based soap, and 2 gallons of hot water. Use with a mop.

Removing Wax

  • Dip cotton cloth in rubbing alcohol and sponge off.

Removing Sticky Labels and Adhesives

  • Use vinegar. Be sure to soak as much as necessary to loosen first. Only use this on surfaces that are washable.

Laundry

  • Try adding one or all of these to your laundry: white vinegar (1/2-1 cup), borax (1/2 cup), and/or baking soda (1/2 cup). Borax is said to be a better whitener for clothes while creating far less damage than bleach. Remember to keep Borax away from children and pets as it is poisonous if swallowed.

Additional Resources

Basic Cleaning Tools and How to Use Them – how to handle green cleaning agents.
How to Green Your Cleaning – many links to Tree Hugger articles on green cleaning.
62 Little Known Uses of Vinegar – some very practical and some interesting uses for this all purpose substance.
Homemade Laundry Detergent – If you want to really get into green cleaning. I’m going to stick with Arm & Hammer for now.

Image Source: via Flickr

Please Share!

What are your favorite Green Cleaning tips? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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Comments

  1. 1
    digitalnomad
    September 11th, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Hey you have vinegar and water on there as a glass cleaner twice. I think.

  2. 2
    Greg Butler
    September 12th, 2007 at 11:24 am

    We have used your suggestion for citrus in boiling water to help cleanse our environment. Thanks. Sage burning works well too.

    Greg and Maggie

  3. 3
    Brooke
    September 12th, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    These are all great tips, some which I already use. However, if you find you don’t have time to make your own cleaners I reccommend BabyGanics. It is completely all-natural and non-toxic. Best part is all the cleaners are on sale at Babies R Us, but two get one free!

  4. 4
    agentsully
    September 12th, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Thanks Digital Nomad! I fixed that!

  5. 5
    agentsully
    September 12th, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    What is everyone’s favorite green cleaning secrets?

  6. 6
    Monograms | TerryG
    September 12th, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Hello Sully,

    Well done on such an informative post. The information you have here will come in ahndy as I have been searching for ways to make my cleaning easier.

  7. 9
    Jason Fox
    September 17th, 2007 at 4:42 am

    I move into my new “green” high rise condo in Nov 2009… ;)

  8. 10
    Basement Flooded
    September 28th, 2007 at 12:56 am

    ^okay, my last comment was not completed befor I accidentally hit the submit button.

    what I meant to say:

    lol wut? For silver, if you are cleaning coins, just drop them into a small glass of orange juice. After a few hours, the acid will clean off the outer layer of grime and when you rinse the coins with water they will look great.

  9. 11
    Lisa
    September 30th, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Great Stuff! I tried a lot of them. Club soda also works great for cleaning glass. And a spray-able furniture polish/cleaner is equal parts vinegar and olive (or vegetable or mineral oil) with some lemon oil. (You just have to shake it frequently)

  10. 13
    Mont Tremblant skier
    February 15th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    thx for the tips. one question for you: how much baking soda is needed for a whole house cleaning? :)

    It is great that many families are following these tips. Green cleaning should be shared to the industrial community too.

  11. 14
    Carpet Cleaning Las Vegas
    February 25th, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Baking soda can also be used on carpet for spills and orders. Just sprinkle the baking soda over the spill and it will soak up a lot of the oder of it. I am always amazed at how much baking soda can do.

  12. 15
    Tina Anderson
    February 27th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I think we are making major progress towards cleaning up our planet by so many people catching on to the whole green movement. I especially like these tips for natural ways to clean your home. Thanks so much for posting them!

  13. 16
    Troy
    March 7th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    To clean windows and mirrors do this… Spray the window or mirror with vinegar and crumble up large pieces of newspaper. Then use the crumbled newspaper to clean off the vinegar. It will be more streak free then any other commercial cleaner that I have seen yet.

  14. 17
    Music Light
    March 12th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Good tips for how to make our home neat and clean.
    thanks a lot!!:)

  15. 18
    vacuum better
    March 16th, 2008 at 11:37 am

    We’ve used baking soda on carpets for a long time now, but adding the lavender oil really leaves a wonderful scent that lasts. We’ll be sure to pass this on. Thanks.

  16. 19
    Jillian
    March 24th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks a lot for the infos. I’ve seen an article on the net on getting rid of rust stains. Hope this also helps!

  17. 20
    Carpet Auctions
    April 9th, 2008 at 4:32 am

    I would not use vinegar and a newspaper to clean glazes, kitchen paper of toilet paper would be better because they do not contain any inkt.

  18. 21
    Carpet Cleaning Guide
    April 15th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    The only thing that’s hard to get out of carpets is blood, chocolate and motor oil.

    Most other substances can be cleaned rather easily with the proper types of brushes.

  19. 22
    Sandi
    June 7th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I have a pot bellied pig. Certain times of the year I have to use a fly spray on him. I know it is toxic and hate using it. Does anyone know of anything that will keep the flies off of him and isn’t toxic?? Thank You!!

  20. 23
    agentsully
    June 7th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    @Sandi – have you ever tried Avon’s Skin-So-Soft lotion? It supposedly repels bugs. Maybe that would work?

  21. 24
    Tami
    June 23rd, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I used vinegar on travertine tile and it etched it. Who knew? That was an expensive mistake.

  22. 25
    Fiona - SAHM of a healthy family
    August 4th, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Hi

    Im fiona a stay at home mom, I just got married last year and had our first baby. I accidentally got your site while searching for tips on house cleaning and i find your site helpful. Thanks again and more power

  23. 26
    LinkGuru Web Directory
    August 19th, 2008 at 12:32 am

    //digitalnomad

    Hey you have vinegar and water on there as a glass cleaner twice. I think.//

    Yup! I’ve tried it. Its a nice tip the whole glass wall was shining.

  24. 28
    Wendy Mundy
    February 4th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    HI, great tips. Copper cleaning can be a pain(stinky too) Cleaning tip: cut a lemon in half and shake salt on it them rub the copper, need a bit of elbow grease but it works.

    Wendy

  25. 29
    Proven Air
    February 13th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t think I say this one mentioned: put half a piece of a lemon in a small container of shallow water and microwave for 30-45 seconds then wipe down inside of dirty microwave for an easy clean that smells great.

  26. 30
    Laura
    April 21st, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I just had a cleaning company in my local town (charleston, sc) come out and clean my home. They (Castle Keepers)were really good and used green cleaning practices. I am so glad for your blog post, b/c I think it’s such an easy thing to switch to and makes a huge difference, especially when children are in the home.

  27. 32
    Debbie
    May 26th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Try using some of the natural drain cleaners before using the chemical cleaners.

    Even the hand held plungers or the pipesnakes are a great way to avoid the chemicals part of the time.

  28. 34
    Cleaning Tubs
    July 28th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    The worst thing is trying to clean bathtubs and keep them clean!

  29. 35
    natural soap
    August 5th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Home cleaning by natural products are great. Due to echo friendlyness now natural products have great popularity.

  30. 36
    EcoGirl
    August 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am

    I personally use vinegar for the majority of my cleaning and i will incorporate some of your ideas into my everyday cleaning. Thanks for the tips

  31. 37
    EcoGirl
    August 9th, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    With today’s recession most are trying to save money and this could help do just that. Not only that, but if we all adopt just a few of these ideas we will help lower our carbon footprint.

  32. 39
    Nicole
    November 17th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Those are some great tips! Here’s one for an easy air freshener that I’ve found: In a spray bottle, add water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil and spray your room!

  33. 41
    Air Cleaner
    January 27th, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Its happy and comfortable if you are sure and safe inside your home. The most tough household for me is cleaner the toilet, Odor control and the whole place disinfect.

  34. 42
    Houston Window Cleaning
    April 19th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    For window cleaning use 1 gallon of water and 1/2 tsp dish soap. Wipe on and squeegee off. Quick, easy and depending on what type of dish soap you use, green.

  35. 43
    Mont Tremblant Accommodations
    April 22nd, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I came across a great article in yahoo the other day talking about how people use way too much laundry detergent and it recommended using 1/3 the suggested amount or to even make your own. If you decide to make your own you can save up to 90%

  36. 44
    vegetable rack
    April 29th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    great old information here, thanx for sharing.
    Just onther usefull way to deal with unwanted veges.

  37. 45
    John
    May 12th, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Thanks for the tip! This is better than using conventional air freshener.

  38. 46
    Jesse the Best Motor Oil Review Guy
    August 14th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I was searching for a good natural way to get used motor oil out of carpet. My wife does everything she can to eliminate chemicals from our house and as you can imagine used oil in the carpet does not make her happy :(. Thanks for any tip you can offer.

  39. 47
    AgentSully
    August 21st, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Jesse, For real? My suggestion is to remove work shoes before walking into the house.

    I’m sorry but I don’t have any suggestions. If anyone else would like to come forth with an answer, let us know!

  40. 48
    Carpet cleaner Devon
    September 10th, 2010 at 7:10 am

    White wine’s really good for getting rid of red wine stains

  41. 49
    Dry Cleaning Business
    September 15th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Don’t forget to put your kitchen sponge in the microwave for about 2.00 minutes every now and again to kill germs… Those things are gross.

  42. 50
    Elba
    September 16th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Hi! I have tried bowling the cinnamon, orange and other spices. They do freshen the air. It is also soothing and calming.

  43. 51
    Jay the Carpet Cleaner
    October 21st, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    The vinegar on the pet stain is an old solution, which is not necessarily accurate.

    The idea is that the acidic nature of vinegar will neutralize the urine.

    Actually the urine is acidic. Due to bacterial
    processes the urine is converted into food; for the bacteria; carbon dioxide, and ammonia.

    The ammonia can be neutralized by vinegar.

    Furthermore, roughly 2% of urine consists of lipids. Over time these lipids will build up a water, and vinegar, resistant barrier which needs to be disolved befor the actual stain can be dealt with.

    A mild solvent can, carefully, be applied to the stain thereby disolving the lipids and then the vinegar can be used.

    If the spot is new I suggest flushing the spot with roughly 1.5 times as much water as the animal eliminated. Then using a wet-dry vac to suck up the water, blotting dry, and placing a fan on the spot to dry it as quickly as possible.

    for more information on pet stain, and odor, treatments please visit my web site

    http://cleaningcarpetinlasvegas.com

    Best of luck,
    Jay the Carpet Cleaner

  44. 52
    AgentSully
    October 24th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    White wine to get out red wine stains? Never heard that before!

  45. 53
    Home Carpet Blog | John
    November 10th, 2010 at 6:54 am

    You are 100% correct: Baking soda is fantastic.

    I’d be careful about adding lavender oil to it though.

    This may leave an oily residue which will attract dirt and stains (and will be nearly impossible to get out.)

    If one of your readers DOES add lavender oil to the mixture, it’s wise to minimize the dose of oil (certainly don’t add any more than the recommended mixture above.)

    -JM

    P.S. Green cleaning isn’t just friendly for the environment – it’s also friendly for your carpet too! (Chemical cleaners can damage the fibres in the pile of your carpet – just like harsh chemicals will damage your hair.)

  46. 54
    How to get rid of problem
    November 12th, 2010 at 11:30 am

    great article , but you should also write an article about how to maintain a fresh clean house:) . That’s the big problem will all face

  47. 55
    kerrie G
    November 19th, 2010 at 7:10 am

    You can clean silver plated items by using 4 tbs of baking soda in a bowl with tinfoil, don’t boil this over the stove but add boiling water from the kettle and allow to stand for a few minutes. Rise off the solution and dry.

  48. 56
    The Baking Parchment Queen
    November 29th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Another way to remove sticky labels or adhesives is to wipe them with a cloth dipped in cooking oil. It breaks down the adhesives and wipes them right off.

  49. 57
    AgentSully
    December 19th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Baking – great suggestion!

  50. 58
    Teak Meubelen
    December 26th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Nice and usefull post! Thanks for sharing! Another suggestion, try to write one for wooden furniture!…

  51. 59
    water damage long beach
    January 6th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I was just examining useful blog posts for your project research and my spouse and i happened to stumble when yours. Thanks for this helpful material!

  52. 60
    Upholstery Cleaning
    March 16th, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Its the time to clean the house and your list is awesome and helping so much in doing my work. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge over here.

  53. 61
    house cleaning Knoxville TN
    April 6th, 2011 at 4:18 am

    You would want your home to be clean just the way you would want it. By following these green cleaning tips, you are sure to benefit highly. http://anewapproachcleaning.com is another source of house cleaning tips and services.

  54. 62
    charles kidd
    April 8th, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Good stuff some of the resources I need to get because I have been starting to get into the habit of going more green, financial reasons.

  55. 63
    MyGetRidofGuide
    May 16th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I love the vinegar one. We have not only used that one for the glass for the longest time, but it works great on the countertops as well. Not only that, it helps you save a decent amount of money!

  56. 64
    Steam Cleaning Tips
    May 24th, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Even though this article was written 3 years ago, all of the tips still apply to this day. Maybe even more than back then, because we’ve become so dependent on all the chemicals to do the job for us. Natural cleaners need to make a comeback!

    PS. I know, I know, I made it sound as if 2007 was 3 decades ago, but it honestly does seem like an eternity.

  57. 65
    Gretchen
    August 30th, 2011 at 6:26 am

    A few more good tips- A mix of 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 water in a spray bottle is a great natural and fragrance free substitute for febreeze. The alcohol kills the bacteria that causes bad smells, and it is safe to use on any kind of clothing/upholstery. I always just use really cheap bottom shelf vodka.

    Another good one is putting some coffee beans into a sock and sticking it inside particularly smelly shoes. The coffee beans absorb all the bad odors- great for if there are any smelly teenage boys in the house! ;)

  58. 66
    AgentSully
    August 31st, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    @Gretchen – neat ideas! Thanks for adding them!

  59. 67
    How To Get Rid Of Whatever
    October 19th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    That’s an interesting idea to use house plants for as “air fresheners”. I believe they can also help produce oxygen too.

  60. 68
    cleaning service Nashville
    November 16th, 2011 at 4:48 am

    We need not to spend much on cleaning products after all. With the availability of ‘green’ cleaning products these days, we have better chances of fighting global warming as we avoid the use of chemicals just to maintain the cleanliness of our living or working spaces. The same goes with professionals or maid service providers who support eco-friendly products.

  61. 69
    cleaning Oahu
    January 23rd, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Great suggestion. Making use of eco-friendly cleaning products that can be found in your house can help save money. You will no longer be having a hard time removing all the dirt in your place for there are various techniques that you can do to maintain your abode’s spic and span condition.

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