Friday, September 24, 2010

Green Cleaning Recipes

On Monday I posted about Fall Cleaning and mentioned a few of my favorite cleaning methods and products. I cited vinegar, baking soda, lemon oil and Bon Ami or Barkeeper’s Friend as good choices.

The last two are commercial products that contain oxalic acid, which works great for removing rust stains and polishing glasses and dishes. Though oxalic acid is found in many plants, including spinach and rhubarb, in high doses it’s quite toxic. It’s an irritant to skin as well, and should never be inhaled. As a result I’m turning to baking soda more and more.

Baking soda is an effective polish for sinks and dishes, deodorizes carpet when sprinkled and then vacuumed up, and can be made into a paste to clean anything greasy or messy – like ovens and stovetops. It also will remove stains from counters if you make a paste and let it sit on the stain a bit, then use the paste as a scrub.

Vinegar, especially when combined with water and a few drops of liquid soap, is a great all around surface cleaner and works well to clean glass and floors, too.

Here are a few other recipes for green – and inexpensive – homemade cleaning products.


1229534_bathroom_cleaning_spray Since my immune system is hardy, I’m not a fan of anti-microbial soaps and the like. Soap and water will do the trick in most cases, but every once in a while there’s need for disinfectant. The first that comes to mind is when wiping down the kitchen counters after working with raw meat. Another is toilet bowls. A few drops of bleach in a spray bottle full of water is one way to go. Even better is a combination of 1 cup water, 1 Tablespoon liquid soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castile soap) and 15-20 drops of tea tree essential oil in that same spray bottle. Smells better than bleach, too.

A Cool Trick for Polishing Silver

583475_silverware Line your sink or a large container with aluminum foil. Pour in 1 cup of baking soda and a sprinkle of salt. Add your the silver you want to shine up and pour boiling water over it all. After a few minutes the tarnish will transfer to the aluminum foil. How cool is that? Just remove your silver and dry it off.

Furniture Polish

1226244_tropical_fruit_on_white Straight lemon – or orange – oil works great as a furniture polish, but you can also combine one part olive oil to three parts lemon juice and shake thoroughly. If there’s any left over after cleaning you can always dress a salad with it.

Dry Cleaning

More like in-between dry cleaning. A spritz of vodka on sweaters or other clothes won’t do anything for stains, but will kill any bacteria and then quickly evaporate without leaving a scent behind. Great to quickly freshen clothes between trips to the dry cleaner or even between washings.

Do you have any favorite green cleaning methods? I’d love to hear about them.


  1. I'm using baking soda more and more, as well. It's versatile and cheap. It doesn't make my nose burn or my skin itch. And I can add it to some vinegar and make a volcano, too!

  2. Lol -- love the volcano idea, Jenny. Someone told me if you combine baking soda and vinegar in the kitchen drain it will freshen and clean the disposal. Worth a try, if only for the fun factor!