There are many reasons to go green when it comes to cleaning your home. Maybe you have a new baby and you don't want to expose her to the toxic fumes of chemical-laden cleaners. Or maybe someone in your house has been diagnosed with asthma and you don't want to aggravate the condition. Perhaps you want to save some money by not having to buy multiple specialty cleaning products.

All these issues can be solved by turning to all-natural products to clean your home. There are a growing number of products you can buy off the shelf that are free of the toxins, chlorine and phosphates that make traditional cleaners a hazard. But there are even better solutions right in your kitchen that cost about one-tenth the price of traditional products.

Say hello to these familiar products, any combination of which can clean your home effectively and safely.

Green-cleaning ingredients

Baking soda: Sodium bicarbonate, usually called baking soda in the kitchen, is a natural disinfectant and mild abrasive.

White vinegar: This distilled vinegar has disinfectant properties; studies have shown that it kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold spores and 80 percent of viruses. It can also be used as a degreaser and deodorizer.

Lemon juice: This highly acidic fruit juice has antibacterial properties to kill germs. It can also be used as a degreaser. It can sometimes be used in place of vinegar – and smells much better! When using lemons for cleaning, wipe or rinse with water afterward to avoid stickiness.

Hydrogen peroxide: This is a stronger disinfectant than vinegar, killing germs by oxidizing them. Light breaks down the reaction quickly so it's difficult to store a mixed solution. Keep it in its original brown bottle.

Olive oil: You can use olive oil to soften, clean and shine.

Essential oils: These are optional, but many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal or antiseptic qualities and they make cleaning more pleasant with their fresh scents.

Tools: You will need containers for holding the mixtures (spray bottles, jars), a stiff brush, sponges and old towels or T-shirts to use as cloths.

How to use common ingredients for cleaning


  • Mix a general disinfectant spray by mixing equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray on your countertops or tile, wipe with a cloth or sponge and let dry. Depending on what you have handy, here are two other recipes to try:
  1. In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups water, 3 tablespoons liquid soap and 20-30 drops tea tree oil.

2.In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups water, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide and ¼ cup lemon juice. It's best to use the whole mixture in one day because the peroxide breaks down when exposed to light and then becomes ineffective.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on grimy areas and scrub off with a moist towel or sponge. Kosher salt may work on tougher spots on tile or counters. Mix water with baking soda to get a paste to work out stains on your counters and in your oven (leave on overnight).
  • Spray lemon juice or vinegar on mildew stains and grease streaks. Let it sit for a few minutes then scrub with a stiff brush.


  • Clean out a sink or shower drain with ½ cup of baking soda followed by 2 cups boiling water. If that doesn't work, dump ½ cup baking soda followed by ½ cup of vinegar and let bubble for 15 minutes. Follow with a full gallon of boiling water.
  • Apply a paste of baking soda and water to grout and scrub with a brush or toothbrush.
  • Shine glass or chrome fixtures and mirrors with a towel moistened with hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Spray vinegar on moldy areas, let sit then scrub clean. Spray the shower every day to prevent mold from forming.
  • To clean the toilet, pour in 1 cup of vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the toilet brush with baking soda then scrub.


  • Pour club soda on stains in carpet or cloth, let sit then blot. Alternatively, use equal parts vinegar and water to get the stains out.
  • Try this recipe for a spot cleaner for your carpets: Mix ¼ cup liquid soap or detergent with 1/3 cup water in a blender until foamy. Spray on and rinse with vinegar.
  • Deodorize carpets by sprinkling about 1 cup of cornstarch or baking soda on a room's carpet and vacuuming half an hour later.
  • Mop wood floors with a mixture of ¼ cup vinegar and 3 ¾ cups water.


  • Use vinegar wiped off with crumpled newspaper to get the shiniest, streak-free windows.


  • If you don't want to launder a piece of clothing but need to freshen it up a bit, hang it up and spritz with vodka (yes, vodka!). This will kill smelly bacteria and not leave behind a scent.
  • Add a cup of hydrogen peroxide to a load of whites to brighten them. Peroxide doesn't wear out clothes they way chlorine bleach can.


  • For wood furniture polish, combine ¾ cup olive oil with ¼ cup lemon juice or vinegar. Apply to a cloth then swipe the wood furniture. Buff with the clean side of the cloth.
  • Clean a leather couch or chair with ¼ cup olive oil mixed with a few drops of lemon oil and apply with a cloth.

These are just some of the uses for these common, natural cleaning ingredients. If one of these techniques doesn't work, don't give up on green cleaning. Try an alternative recipe and attack the problem again. With a little elbow grease, you can save money and make your home and environment much safer for everyone.

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