June is Healthy Homes month, and one of the easiest steps to making your home healthier is to use green cleaners. Common household cleaners can contain chemicals that are harmful for both people and the environment. Ingredients—like ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus—can cause all sorts of health issues for the user, and then make their way into the air and water, where they cause environmental problems.
Green cleaners, on the other hand, can make your home healthier, won’t harm the earth, and will save you money. You can create surprisingly simple, cleaners with a few ingredients that you can find at your local supermarket! The following list of ingredients, based on Jill Potvin Schoff’s Green Up Your Clean Up, is all you need to create your own supply of green cleaners!
Liquid Soap: In this case, we are talking about an old-fashioned soap rather than most current soaps, which use surfactants. You want to look for either a castile soap or a plant-based nontoxic soap. These are very concentrated and will last quite a while!
Borax: Borax is similar to baking soda but is slightly stronger. It is capable of killing mold and mildew. You can often find borax in the grocery store with the laundry detergents.
Baking Soda: If you bake, you are likely familiar with baking soda. It is commonly used in baked goods, but can also be used to remove odors, unclog drains, or clean tough stains. You can usually find this in the baking aisle of the grocery store.
Washing Soda: Washing soda is a very powerful cleaner that can be used for tough cleaning jobs or laundry. Be careful, as it can irritate skin! Also, it should not be used on fiberglass, aluminum, or delicate fabrics.
White Vinegar: Another very common kitchen item. This works well for cleaning glass, removing soap scum, and much more. You can find it in the grocery store (usually with the condiments). You will want to make sure you are buying white vinegar (as opposed to apple cider or red wine vinegar).
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is a great stain remover and also leaves a natural and pleasant smell. Fresh would be ideal, but bottled works as well.
Oxygen Bleach: This is different from chlorine bleach and is friendlier for the environment. It is great for removing stains in laundry, grout, or other areas.
Club Soda: The sodium citrate in club soda helps clean dirt from glass, fabric and more. Avoid low sodium options for cleaning. The sodium is part of what makes this an effective cleaner!
Essential Oils: These can help to give your homemade cleaners a pleasant smell! There are some oils that are thought to disinfect, but it is up to your preference on the smell to decide which you would like to include.
Using these simple ingredients, you can make the following cleaners that the University of Georgia Extension has put together:
All Purpose Cleaner
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon washing soda
- ½ teaspoon castile soap
- 2 cups hot water
- A few drops of your favorite essential oil
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle or bucket. Apply and then wipe clean. Make sure to test the strength of the smell by spraying on a counter or some other surface. A little goes a long way with essential oil!
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 1 cup borax
- ½ cup white vinegar
Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
- 2 tablespoons of castile soap
- 2 tablespoons borax
Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.
Non-Abrasive Soft Scrubber
- ¼ cup borax
- Castile soap
- ½ teaspoon lemon essential oil
In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rise well.
Excited to try these? You can also print them, and other recipes, in booklet and recipe card formats for easier referencing in the future!