Green Cleaning

Christine Emming

With an arsenal of cleaning supplies handily available on aisle seven, plus the fact that I abhor cleaning, it hadn’t crossed my mind to make my own natural products. Yet when my wobbly nephew recently chewed the edge of the coffee table, freshly smeared with jelly, I raced to the rescue. I want him to be able to lick every surface in the house in a gross-yet-worry-free spree of toddlerness. But I’ve used commercial cleaning agents throughout my home with unspellable and potent—even poisonous—components. What residues have I—and others—been unintentionally inhaling, absorbing through the skin, or even eating?

Switching from commercial to natural products was painless. Natural cleaning supplies are easy to make, nontoxic, and effective. While many recipes for household cleaners include caustic ingredients that require careful handling (such as borax or washing soda), I adapted the recipes to meet my criteria. I use only simple, multipurpose components with big cleaning biceps—and they are all ingredients that I already have in my kitchen.

Supply List:

Lemon Juice
• The high acid content in lemons dissolves oily residues and grease, whitens on par with bleach, and naturally leaves a fresh scent. Diluted lemon juice is safe to use on nearly every surface in your home. It’s OK to replace fresh juice with bottled, but you’ll need to use more to achieve the same results.

White Vinegar
• Vinegar is a natural sterilizing agent, and white vinegar’s clarity is preferred for cleaning. With similar acid content and purpose, it can replace lemon juice in most cleaning solutions, and essential oil may be added to mask the scent. Vinegar has thousands of household uses.

Visit for hundreds of uses for vinegar that will benefit your health, home, garden, and even your car and pets.

Vegetable Oil
• A protective layer of oil saves metal from harmful elements in the air and maintains the
surface integrity of wood. Brush oil on squeaky hinges, use it to shine iron or brass fixtures, and wipe onto metal tools to keep rust at bay. Use the cheapest vegetable oil for general cleaning, but upgrade to olive oil for polishing wood.

Baking Soda
• Baking soda adds scrubbing power and can be used to clean your entire kitchen and more.
Already a renowned deodorizer, did you know baking soda also dissolves wax and other solvents from fresh produce?

Vegetable-based Liquid Soap
• Find an economical (preferably unscented) liquid soap made from vegetable oil in your local grocery store. The liquid provides a base for mild, general-purpose cleaners, and you can also use it as everyday hand soap.

Dabble with these recipes to develop your own natural products, and you’ll enjoy breathable cleaning conditions. And whether you celebrate by lapping jelly puddles straight from the counter or throwing a dinner party, you can relish the shiny sparkle of natural clean as long as it lasts.

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