5 Green Cleaning Essentials – Everything you need to keep your home clean on a budget without using harsh, dangerous chemicals.
Ever since I started learning about “green cleaning,” I’ve been trying to slowly phase out my traditional cleaners for healthier alternatives. Everything from toilet bowl cleaner to toothpaste can be made at home with materials that you probably already have.
There is so much out there suggesting that we shouldn’t use bleaches and chemical cleaners for reasons ranging from a danger to kids and pets, to environmental damage. Little by little, shifting from commercial chemicals to these easy to find, easy to use alternatives is both healthy and frugal!
I use citric acid in so many different ways in my house. It’s safe to keep under sinks if you have little ones (still, make sure the kids don’t eat it). It’s not expensive, and you can use it almost everywhere. I don’t know what I’d do without this in my house!
In my dishwasher.
We have hard water and it just makes my dishes look so dingy. I started using citric acid when our plumber told us to give it a try. The hard water got so built up that not only were my dishes dingy, but the hard water build up was coming off in chunks. Yes, in chunks. It’s so gross!
2 tbs. in my dishwasher on the highest temperature cycle, and there was no more build up! It was incredible! Plus, I’d much rather use citric acid than any of the harsh chemicals that are in the stores. Give it a try, and I guarantee you’ll love it.
In the toilet.
I live in a house of boys. Boys who sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and don’t flush and then leave in sitting in there until morning. Gross, right? Yes. So what the heck am I supposed to do with a nasty toilet bowl to get it clean?
I put 1 tbs. in the toilet with 1 drop of tea tree oil (antibacterial purposes), and swish it around with the toilet brush. Let it sit for an hour. If you forget that it’s in there and leave it for longer, it’s not a big deal. Just do a little scrub with the toilet brush and flush. Nice and clean!
You probably know by now that I LOVE my essential oils. But I use them for more than just rollerballs and diffusing. They can be used in a lot of places around the house to help things smelling lovely and to keep them free of germs.
In the washing machine.
I use both tea tree oil and thieves oil in with my cloth diapers when I wash them. Just 1 drop of each does the trick. Both oils are antibacterial, so they help to get any nasty germs out of the diapers. I do the same for my regular loads of laundry, especially if someone is sick!
In the dryer.
I put one drop each of tea tree, thieves and lavender essential oils on my wool dryer balls to keep my clothes smelling lovely and to add some germ protection during the winter especially.
Related: 5 Easy Ways to Save Money on Laundry
In the dishwasher.
I put 2 drops of sweet orange essential oil in along with the citric acid to keep the dishwasher smelling nice. It’s my replacement for “citrus scented” detergents.
In a spray bottle.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I just love having my home smelling nice. Before I started paying attention to labels or added chemicals, I was an avid Febreze user. And I mean every room in the house had a spray bottle. I needed to find a healthier replacement for Febreze in my house, so I found some little tips to use essential oils for a nice replacement. I like to use these bottles since they’re glass, but you can use any spray bottle you’d like. For the 2 oz. bottle, use 1/2 oz. witch hazel, then fill the rest with distilled water, and add 8-10 drops of whatever essential oil you’d like (I have some different blend ideas here and here).
Using baking soda (you can get it in bulk here) seems like it might be a pretty basic idea, but I’ve used this so much around my house, it’s a little crazy! It’s non-toxic, it’s so inexpensive, and you can get it almost anywhere.
In the bathtub.
Take some baking soda, add some water, grab the scrub brush and scrub the bathtub if it gets discolored or gross. Works every time. Might take a little bit of elbow grease, but the results are worth it.
On the stove.
Every time I clean my stove there are patches of stuck food or grease that just don’t want to come off. Put enough baking soda on top of it to cover the spot, add a little vinegar (just enough to get it wet), let it sit for a few minutes and you can scrub it right off. You’ll want to wear gloves when you scrub this. It’s not like a chemical burn, but it’s just better to not have to worry about having sensitive hands.
In our toothpaste.
I make our own toothpaste. No, it’s not that weird or even that tough! 1 part baking soda, 1 part melted coconut oil, 1 drop tea tree oil, 1 drop peppermint oil, 2 drops thieves oil, add to a squeeze bottle. I’m looking to add bentonite clay to our next batch, but we all love this one. Our kids even use it.
In the laundry.
Stinky socks? 1/2 cup baking soda in the washer.
On the floor.
More specifically, the tile. Scrub the grout the same way you scrub the stove. It takes a little elbow grease, but it really works well!
On the carpets.
Kids and pets are never a combination that will make a carpet smell “fresh.” Mix about a cup (or more depending on the size of your rug) with a few drops of your favorite essential oil and sprinkle it on the carpet. Brush it into the carpet as best you can. Let it sit, preferably overnight. Then vacuum it up.
This really goes hand in hand with the baking soda. We’re talking basic white vinegar that you can get at Walmart. There’s no need to go overboard looking for the top of the line cleaner here.
A really great multi-surface cleaner is 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, 6 drops wild orange essential oil (because I don’t feel like smelling vinegar all the time). I’ve used it on everything from my kitchen counters to the bathroom.
In the laundry.
Stinky towels? Add 1 cup vinegar to the laundry and the clothes won’t be stinky. It also helps to make towels fluffier.
I started using hydrogen peroxide to clean back when I had my first homebirth. My midwives suggested I get hydrogen peroxide for my birth bag. They told me that it was to help get out any stains after the birth. I didn’t really believe them until I saw it work. I use it frequently now, so much that I have a little sprayer head on my hydrogen peroxide bottle.
This is another one where you’ll want to use gloves. Treat hydrogen peroxide the same way you’d treat bleach. It’s definitely not the same as chlorine bleach, but it can still leave you hands raw if you’re scrubbing with it.
Pro tip: while you can get a lot of stuff at the dollar store, don’t get hydrogen peroxide there. It’s a dollar there (stating the obvious), but at Walmart, it’s $.80 for 16 oz.
On clothes and fabric.
Hydrogen peroxide is a very powerful bleaching agent. I use a cup in my washer in a load of whites and I let it sit for a while. It’s incredible how much whites the clothes get! Blood on your clothes? Or on the couch? Hydrogen peroxide gets it right out (as long as it’s not a dark couch… you don’t want to bleach your dark fabric).
In the bathroom.
I have a boy bathroom. I spray the outside of the toilet and the floor with hydrogen peroxide each day to keep it from stinking and to kill any germs.
On the counters.
With my handy little spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide, I spray down the kitchen and the bathroom countertops every day to keep them disinfected.
In teeth whitening.
Did you know that hydrogen peroxide can be used as a very effective teeth whitener? Just swish it around in your mouth for a minute, then brush your teeth. This is a 2-part benefit: it not only whitens your teeth, but it kills bad breath, too.
What do you use to keep your house clean without chemicals?