Eco-friendly Cleaning

Posted by Sheela Cooper

Cleaning house isn’t fun for most of us, but it is absolutely necessary. And while I’m not about to tell you that using eco-friendly cleaning products makes cleaning more fun, I will say that it makes it, well, cleaner. After all, most commercial cleaning products have lots of ingredients in them that aren’t so good for us; they can be fumey, smelly, and definitely take their toll on the environment. Not to mention that they can be quite expensive over the long term.

So what’s a good alternative? I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but good old-fashioned vinegar and baking soda can do wonders in your home without any toxins or risk of harm to you or the environment. And even better? These two products are very inexpensive! 
Get started with your eco cleaners by purchasing a 16 ounce (or larger) spray bottle – I think I bought mine at a home improvement store. Buy a box of baking soda (found in the baking aisle at the grocery store), which typically costs about 50 cents. Finally, get some basic white vinegar. I buy mine at a warehouse club store, and pay around $3 for more than a gallon! That’s a definite bargain. 

Making a good all-purpose cleaner is as simple as mixing equal parts of water and vinegar in your spray bottle. You’re done! Now go use it on your kitchen counters, mirrors, bathroom counters, shower, toilet seat, etc. It definitely has a strong smell when you’re using it, but it will quickly dissipate, and the best part is that the vinegar takes any other odors with it as its smell fades away. My bathroom has never smelled better! Here’s another interesting way that I’ve used this cleaner: last summer, we had a lot of spiders because of the previous mild winter. The spiders were all over the house’s siding, making webs and lots of mess. I read that vinegar repels spiders, so I sprayed this natural cleaner all over the siding. It did seem to help a little bit. It wasn’t perfect, but I do think we had fewer spiders as a result.

Plain vinegar is also great as a fabric softener/sanitizer/color catcher in the washing machine. If I’m running a load where I would like some softening (like towels), I’ll add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in the washer. If I’m washing sheets after someone has had an illness, I’ll add vinegar to the wash to help disinfect the sheets. And if I’m running a mixed load of colors and whites, I’ll add vinegar to prevent any red shirts from turning white socks pink. 

Vinegar and baking soda are a fantastic combination for making stainless steel shine. I sprinkle a good layer of baking soda in my kitchen sink, and then follow that up with a small amount of vinegar to make a paste. I then scrub my sink with a sponge, working the paste all over it, and rinse it with hot water. The sink comes out clean, shiny, and sanitized. (Vinegar has some sanitizing properties, but it’s not effective at killing bacteria like salmonella or e.coli. When I’m wiping the counter after handling raw meats, I’ll use an eco-friendly purchased cleaner that is proven to disinfect these types of germs.)

I have a stainless steel tea kettle that really benefits from baking soda and vinegar. Since the kettle always sits on the stove, it gets greasy and dusty. To clean it, I dampen a paper towel, sprinkle the baking soda onto it, and scrub the kettle.  Then, I add just a little vinegar to the paper towel and continue to scrub. After giving it a rinse in hot water, my 17-year-old kettle looks brand new!

Here’s my kettle before cleaning (and no, I can’t believe I’m showing my dirty tea kettle to everyone!):

And after:

If you want to freshen up a drain, pour some baking soda down the drain, follow with a splash of vinegar, and allow to foam. Use an old toothbrush to scrub out the drain and then run hot water down it. (The toothbrush is usually disgusting after this process, so it goes straight into the trash.)

If you have a vinyl floor with those annoying small pits in it, baking soda works really well to scrub the dirt out. Sprinkle some baking soda on the floor and use a soft cloth or brush and hot water to work the soda into the floor. You’ll then need to rinse with clean water to remove any grit. My vinyl floor is light colored, so I haven’t had a problem with scratches. Definitely test a small area before you commit to cleaning your entire floor this way, just in case it does scratch.

These are just a few ways to clean your house with cost effective, eco friendly products. Let us know how you use these cleaners by leaving us a comment. Thanks for reading!

NOTE: Always use caution and common sense when using any cleaning products. Never mix vinegar with any other cleaning product (such as bleach, etc.) I have no affiliation with any products shown or mentioned in this post.
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