Green Cleaning: How to Make Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products For All Kinds of Uses!

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Green Cleaning: How to Make Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products For All Kinds of Uses!


Green Cleaning
How to Make Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products
For All Kinds of Uses!

In this article we talk about the ingredients you can use to make 'green' cleaners and give you lots of great recipes for home made environmentally friendly cleaners!

The products we use around the house have an effect, not only on the toxic load inside our homes, but on the environment beyond as well.  Most commercial cleaners contain harmful ingredients that we don't need to expose ourselves to.  We can easily make our own household cleaners using a few simple ingredients.

The benefits of home-made cleaning products include:

  • Less toxic and you know what's in it!
  • Usually a lot less irritating to chemical sensitive people.
  • Cheaper- the ingredients are much cheaper than a pre-made commercial product and they go a long way.
  • You can choose the fragrances you add to complement your current mood, season, decor and specific use.
  • For those sensitive to fragrances, you can choose to make your products fragrance free.

Green Cleaning: How to find and use green cleaning products

Some of the handy ingredients to have on hand for environmentally friendly cleaning include:

  • White Vinegar: a great non-toxic disinfectant, ideal for using around children and animals... or anywhere!  Helps remove bathroom scum, tarnish and hard water stains.

  • Lemons: fresh smelling, disinfecting, deodorising and helps remove stains and inhibit mould.

  • Salt: scouring power, as well as disinfecting properties.
  • Borax: disinfects, deodorises, inhibits mould, dissolves grease and removes stains.  Borax is toxic if eaten, however the toxicity dissipates quickly in the environment.

  • Washing Soda: consisting of sodium carbonate, this cuts through grease, removes stains and softens water.

  • Soap Flakes: a mild cleaning agent.  Buy pre-made soap flakes, or grate your own from your favourite environmentally friendly bathroom or laundry soap.  Pure soap has low toxicity, is biodegradable and unlike detergent, does not contribute to algal blooms in rivers.

  • Bicarbonate of Soda: also known as carb soda, bicarb and baking soda, this is great for absorbing odours, as well as giving a cleaning boosting fizz when mixed with liquids such as lemon and vinegar.

  • Dishwashing Liquid: this is usually a fairly mild cleaning fluid and useful for adding grease cutting power to some cleaners.  Find an environmentally friendly one.  In fact, dishwashing liquid can be used alone, if you wish, for many cleaning jobs.

  • Eucalyptus & Tea Tree Oils: natural disinfectants and useful for removing sticky residues.  Not to be swallowed.

  • Lavender Oil: anti-bacterial and anti-mildew.

  • Essential Oils (if you want fragrance- omit if you have a fragrance allergy/sensitivity): wide range of delightful, natural fragrant oils available to give your cleaners, and your rooms, a lovely scent.  A lot of these oils also help in the cleaning process itself, having disinfecting properties, among others.

Below are some easy to make green cleaner recipes for a variety of applications.  There are also some videos with basic cleaner making instructions.

Note: To avoid potential damage to areas, it is always advisable to spot test a cleaner first in an inconspicuous area.  This especially is recommended for old, damaged or sensitive surfaces.  Also, be aware that mixing products can create staining or damage potential and even effects harmful to you, so use one thing at a time, rinsing well before trying another if you need to do more.

General Cleaners

Bicarb Scouring Paste

This can be used for scrubbing baths, tiles, kitchen surfaces etc.  Use it on a toothbrush to scrub in nooks and crannies, grout and around taps etc. (Toothpaste is also great for this!  Safest to use white toothpaste to avoid the possibility of staining.)  Use this also on a small scrubbing brush to scrub mouldy shower curtains.

Place about 8 tablespoons of bicarb in a bowl.
Mix in approx 2 tablespoons of water, until a stiff paste is formed.
Store in an airtight container.
Rinse or buff off surfaces after cleaning.

Borax Scouring Paste

Use this in a similar way to bicarb scrub, however spot test first on more sensitive areas.

Place 1/4 cup of borax in a bowl.
Mix in lemon juice and/or vinegar until a paste is formed.
Rinse after cleaning.

Bicarb Spray Cleaner

Place 2 cups of warm water in a bowl.
Add 2 teaspoons of pure soap flakes, 2 tsp of bicarb and a large dash of lemon or vinegar.
Mix well until all dissolved.
Transfer into a spray bottle.
Shake well before each use.

5 Homemade Cleaners

Homemade Cleaner Recipes


Green Bathroom Cleaners

Bathtub and Hand Basin Cleaner

You can just do this on the fly.  No need to pre-mix.

Sprinkle bicarb lightly over the surface of your tub.
Next, sprinkle in some coarse salt.
Use a spray bottle containing either vinegar or lemon juice to liberally spritz the area.  You will see a chemical reaction taking place as the substances meet, shown by a fizzing action.  Leave to soak a few minutes, if desired, or scrub immediately.  Rinse when cleaned.

You can also pre-mix this to slap onto upright surfaces, such as tiles or shower screens, but use immediately as the fizzing effect won't last long.  Mix in a deep container, so the mixture doesn't fizz out of control, over the top and onto the bathroom floor... although it won't harm the floor and can be used to clean this also, if you wish.  Can also be used on kitchen sinks and surfaces, laundry areas etc.  Test first if you have a very sensitive surface.

Rust or hard water residue can be removed with this also- scrub vigorously.

Half a lemon, sprinkled with coarse salt, can be rubbed around plug holes to help remove grease and scale.

Shower Screen Cleaner

Removes soap scum.

Mix 2 parts salt and 1 part vinegar.
Rub the shower screen vigorously with a scourer or rough cloth.
After clean, rub screen with almond oil.  This will help deter future build up.

Simple Toilet Cleaner

Sprinkle your toilet with borax.
Use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to the surface.
Allow to sit for an hour or so, if possible.
Scrub with a toilet brush.

If you have stubborn stains, soak overnight with a paste of lemon juice and borax.  Scrub in the morning, then flush before use.

Mould Inhibiting Spray

Place 1 cup of white vinegar in a spray bottle.
Add 2 tsp of borax.
Add several drops of lavender oil.
Skae well until mixed, and before every use.
Spray on tiles, shower screen, bath etc.
Allow to sit for about half an hour, then wipe off.

Home Made Bathroon Cleaner

Green Kitchen Cleaners

Dishwashing Detergent

Bring 1/2 a cup of water and 1 cup of soap flakes to the boil.
Reduce heat and stir until dissolved and smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of washing soda, until fully blended.
Add 1 cup of lemon juice or vinegar and a few drops of your choice of essential oil.
Store in a sealed bottle.
Use 1-2 teaspoons in a sink of hot water.

Home Made dishwashing detergent

To Clean a Microwave Oven

Juice and skin (cut up) of 1-2 lemons, placed in a small bowl of water.
Microwave on high for 5 minutes and wipe clean.

To Clean an Oven

While still warm, wipe out with a damp cloth sprinkled heavily with bicarb.  Allow to sit for a few minutes, then wipe with clean damp cloth.

If this isn't powerful enough for the job, make a paste with bicarb and lemon or vinegar, wipe over oven surfaces, then leave for an hour.  Wip clean with a damp cloth.

These methods can also be used on your stove-top.

I find vinegar and bicarb, with added salt for extra scrubbing power, quite good on a stove-top.  Don't over-scrub too hard though or use a very coarse scourer, or you may remove damage the enamel surface.

Cleaning Burnt Cookware

If you have food burnt on to your saucepans or baking dishes etc, sprinkle with washing soda, then add boiling water.  Leave for 1/2 hour- 1 hour, then wash as usual.


Use eucalyptus or tea tree oil to wipe your kitchen surfaces.

To disinfect your sponges, scourers, dish brushes etc soak overnight in boiling water to which is added a large dash of vinegar and a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil.  Rinse in the morning.


Homemade Laundry Luquid Detergent


Using Vinegar as a Fabric Softner

Air Fresheners and Deodorisers

Fridge Deodoriser

Place 1/4 of a cup of carb soda in a small bowl or dish.  
Add a few drops of vanilla essence across the surface.
Place in the fridge, somewhere out of the way where it isn't likely to get knocked over.
Leave in fridge and allow it to do its work.
Replace every month or so, or as often as you feel is needed.
The carb soda will absorb the odour, while the vanilla gives a fresh, non-harmful fragrance to your fridge.

You can also use vanilla essence in the water you use to wash your fridge interior.

Drawer or Wardrobe Deodoriser

Mix carb soda with drops of scented oil and tie up in little sachets of tight weave fabric.
Place in drawers, or hang in wardrobes.
The carb soda will help absorb damp and mildewy smells and the fragrant oils will give your clothes a lovely scent.

Air Fresheners

Mix scented oils with distilled water in a spray bottle.
Shake well before spraying.  
The distilled water will help with lessening bacteria, but only make small amounts at a time so that it doesn't go off.

Burn candles scented with pure essential oils (not chemical fragrances) or aromatherapy oil burners.  Be aware of fire safety!

Have bowls of pot pourri located in potentially smelly areas, such as the toilet and laundry, near cat litter trays, rubbish bins etc, or anywhere you'd like to make fragrant.

Bowls of crab soda and essential oil can also be placed in these locations, to help absorb odours and add fragrance.

Bin Deodoriser

Mix carb soda and fragrant oil, or vanilla.
Sprinkle in the bottom of your bin.
You can also add some as you fill your bin, as desired.

Green Carpet Cleaners

Carpet Deodoriser

Place a cup (adjust if you want to make more or less) of carb soda in a bowl.  Mix in drops of essential oil, adding however many you think will give the strength of fragrance you wish.  Put the mixture into a container- an old carpet deodoriser container is ideal- and leave for a few hours for the fragrance to soak into the carb soda.
Sprinkle on carpet, leave for a few minutes or so, then vacuum as usual.
The carb soda will absorb odours from your carpet, while the scent from the oils will fragrance it.

Carpet Cleaning Foam

Combine 1/2 cup of warm water, 2 cups of soap flakes, 1/4 cup of washing soda and 25ml of eucalyptus oil, either by whisking or shaking in a jar until dissolved.  This will become quite thick.  Add a little more hot water if it becomes too hard to mix.
Store in an airtight container.
When you wish to use this mixture, ass 3 tablespoons to 1 litre of very hot water and whisk until foamy.
Rub this foam onto the carpet stain or dirty areas and leave for around 15 minutes.
Next, use a sponge dipped in vinegar to wipe area, then blot dry with a thick clean cloth until as dry as you can get it.

Carpet Cleaning Tips

Soda water is great on pet accidents, spills, vomit etc to remove odour and to lift the stain.  The bubbles act on the stain and bring it closer to the surface for easier removal.

Sprinkle bicarb or cornflour on heavy greasy spills to help remove them.

On a red wine spill, speed is of the essence!  Mop up the spill then saturate the area with white wine.  Allow to soak for about 15 minutes then rinse with lukewarm water on a clean cloth.  Blot dry.

For wax spills, first scrape off as much as you can.  Cover with paper towel or blotting paper.  Hold a hot iron above the paper, pressing down on the paper with your hand, every now and then, being careful not to get burnt!  wearing gloves may be advisable.  Repeat with new paper until wax has been removed.

Green Floor Cleaners

Simply add 2 cups of vinegar to a bucket of water to mop tiled or lino floors.

Bicarb Scouring Paste can be used to scrub marks off tile floors and lino.

Half a lemon sprinkled with salt can be rubbed on rust and other stains on lino.

Eucalyptus oil or a pencil eraser can be used to erase scuff marks.

Tea tree and eucalyptus oils can be used for sticky hard to lift residues on floors.

A finished wood floor can be washed with 1 part methylated spirits to 10 parts water, then buffed dry with a clean cloth.  Note: methylated spirits can be harmful to the environment, especially the marine environment, so don't tip leftovers into the drain.

I find that a mild 'green' dish-washing liquid can actually do a good job on any kind of floor surface.

Heavy Duty Floor cleaner

For a really good floor wash, try this recipe.  
** Not to be used on wood floors!

Dissolve 1/2 a cup of washing soda, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, a few drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap or dish-washing liquid in 6 litres of hot water, in a bucket.
Mop floor, scrub any tough areas.
Mop again with plain clean water.

Windows, Mirrors and Glass

Window or Mirror Cleaner

Simply mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 2 litres of water.  The vinegar helps stop streaking.
Using balled up newspaper to rub windows and mirrors dry is also often suggested.

To stop bathroom mirrors from fogging, apply glycerine then buff with a clean soft cloth.

Home Made Glass / Window Cleaner

Hope this has helped you with finding some great recipes for 'green' cleaners you can make at home.  It's easy, it's cheap and it makes you feel better about what you are putting into your home environment... and the world!


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