The Green Way to Spring Clean

I love the idea of spring cleaning. A time to open the windows, dust off winter, and shake out the chill. Ahhh, let the sunshine in. Rejuvenate, refresh, revitalize. There is nothing like starting a new season with a bright and clear home.

This year I was reading various blogs on the best way to approach “spring cleaning.” They offered tons of information, ranging from where to start in your home to the best way to remove buildup from behind your fridge. However, only one touched on how to clean while keeping the environment in mind. Between the hazardous ingredients we breathe while cleaning and the waste we produce, store bought household cleaners are causing quite a threat. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) names phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia and chemicals grouped under the term “Volatile Organic Compounds” (or VOCs) as the worst environmental hazards in household cleaners. VOCs are found in a wide range of cleaning products. Most commonly, you’ll see them in bathroom disinfectants and kitchen degreasers, among many other concoctions. Multipurpose household cleaners contain ammonia, which is also found in many cleaning products that do everything from sanitizing to removing allergens and stains. Floor cleaners contain the chemical nitrogen, which is also found in glass and surface cleaning products. Yikes! Not only are we breathing these chemicals into our lungs when we clean, but these dangerous VOCs are being emitted into the environment via the air and in water waste.

Now that I know all that, I’ve made the switch to homemade household cleaners. This year, I’m spring cleaning the clean way. Below you’ll find three homemade and eco-friendly household cleaners, best of all (besides, you know, saving the planet) they’re extremely easy to make — you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen! Happy cleaning!

greenspringclean

Easy Lemon Multipurpose Cleaner

Ingredients:

Juice of one lemon (you can also add juice of a lime too)

1 cup water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

Directions:

Juice the lemon. Use a strainer to keep pulp out. Add juice, vinegar, and water to a spray bottle. (Learn how to make your own spray bottle here!) Shake well. Spray onto cleaning areas. Let sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a damp cloth. If cleaning windows there is no need to rinse. Just wipe away with a dry cloth.

The acidity in the lemons and vinegar helps loosen mineral deposits such as lime and calcium. This cleaner also disinfects due to the low pH in the lemons and vinegar, which kills bacteria and microorganisms. Use the cleaner on soap scum and tough coffee stains. This spray is great for kitchen and bathroom sinks!

*For added cleaning power, add some baking soda to mixture and scrub the area. However, do not use this cleaner on marble surfaces.

greenspringclean

Super Simple Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup baking soda

1 cup vinegar

Directions:

Mix baking soda and vinegar. Pour into basin and let it set for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse with water without flushing. (Have you read this water-saving article yet?)

A mixture of Borax (2 parts) and lemon juice (one part) will also work.

greenspringclean

Your Mop’s Best Friend Floor Cleaner

Ingredients:

1 cup distilled white vinegar

½ cap-full liquid castile soap

2 gallons warm water

Directions:

Add vinegar and soap to bucket, then add water. Mix well. Use reusable mop to wash floors with one coat of cleaner. Let air-dry.

I suggest testing the cleaner on one small area of your floor before mopping the entire space.

+ Please share any green cleaning tips with us — we want to hear them!

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karina

if you mix baking soda with vinegar you just get water and co2, so it’s pretty pointless to use that to clean. better to use them separately!!!

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=4147

I make all of my own cleaners and love it. They are healthier, better for the environment, easy to make and A LOT cheaper than store bought cleaners!

I recently read that you shouldn’t mix Castile soap with any acid (such as vinegar) though. The vinegar (or lemon juice) will actually reduce the saponified soap into its original oils and cancel out it’s cleaning properties. I thought I would share this because I too was mixing Castile soap and vinegar until recently.

Here is a post on it by Lisa Bronner (of the Dr. Bronner Castile soap family)
http://www.lisabronner.com/a-word-of-caution-about-vinegar-and-castile-soap/

I adore this post – all of the cleaning chemicals definitely make me nervous. It’s frustrating that they are so much more affordable.

Warm Regards,
Alexandra
http://www.littlewildheart.com

I don’t really like the smell of standard cleaners, either! Too artificial…these are perfect!

Thanks for sharing this. It’s not only good for the environment and our health, but our pocketbooks as well!

I admit this is a great post but I’ve a much easier way to clean your toilet. The one you suggested is also good, but mine’s just marvelous in its simplicity. You may not believe me but I use Coca Cola instead of a detergent. Try it yourself and the result will stun you. Here’s how it works:

Kit

While the idea of using environmentally friendly cleaning products in our homes is sound and laudable, some of these recipes won’t actually do much, like the castile soap and vinegar (all you’ll do is break down the soap into it’s composite oils) and the baking soda/vinegar mixture, you’ll just end up with water and carbon dioxide.

What a great idea!!

debra

i used mixtures like this for years – and then realized it is not safe to use on marble or even tile surfaces. The vinegar eats the grout pretty quickly. I opt for natural cleaning products sold by reputable names – there are so many out there now :)

Green is always the best way of doing cleaning related stuff. Baking soda IMO is something that can help in almost everything that must be cleaned. It’s clearly “magical”. Thanks for the great post and all the help you provide with it :) I already shared it with some of my friends.

Rebecca

Using natural cleaning products is always better than harsh chemicals. But it’s important to remember what debra pointed out. Too much acidity can strip away sealers on counter tops. I once dripped lemon juice on my concrete counter top and it burned right through the beeswax sealer, it still has marks on it. And vinegar can ruin wax jobs or the finish on some laminate or cork floors.

I have three kids and stains are common thing. I am so glad that i have found your blog. It was so helpful last week when my son made the whole window into mud.

Jeff Price

Sure, baking soda and vinegar will do the trick. But I am not up to playing chemist in my kitchen. I use professional cleaning products that are guarantee to work every time.

Carpet Cleaner

kelli

Hey Jeff, perhaps your comments are better suited to a chemical laden website. Obviously they mean nothing here. Go troll somewhere else and let us who care about the world make our own cleaners!! :)

Using natural cleaners is a always the best choice! I have very few toxic cleaners at home that I still use. I love the recipes that you suggest trying! I love cleaning with lemon and baking soda, so I’ll try them! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

Thanks for the tips. I can now finally eliminate those nasty cleaning chemicals. Good to know that there are still lots of alternatives you can use. Budget-friendly and nature friendly.

Conway

If people realised how toxic and dangerous are most of the industrial household cleaners, they wouldn’t even think of buying them any more but that’s the last thing the economy needs – cheap, simple and natural solutions that are just as efficient.