Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Non Toxic Cleaning Solutions

In our continuing effort to get plastics, toxins and industrialized things out of our life, we are moving rapidly to non-toxic cleaning supplies.  You can purchase these, but it is really easy and inexpensive to make them.  If you have some basic supplies, some knowledge of the chemistry involved and a desire to save a lot of money, here are some recipes that will be tried out here:

This is a somewhat new step for me.  We switched to "green" cleaners, but really need to switch to homemade.  The green are just a little pricy, and the plastic and trash issue bothers me.  I'll let you know how it goes as I try to implement these cleaning products, one at a time.  I think laundry soap is going to be first - my friend Sherri makes hers regularly and has offered to help me.  She has been doing this for quite a while and has some good practical suggestions.  I would recommend you go read through her suggestions.

This page here is going to have to be a work in progress as I stumble and bumble through this process.  I have now tried a couple of these, and love the dishwasher soap, the general cleaning soap, the vinegar rinse for the laundry and the toilet bowl cleaner (my friend Lynette flushes before she puts her stuff in, then turns off the tank valve under the toilet while she cleans it.)

Now.... if I could JUST find that magic cleaning solution that does the work by itself..... still looking.  Guess I still have to do it myself.  Drat!

  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • White distilled vinegar
  • A good liquid soap or detergent
  • Tea tree oil
  • Fresh Lemon

Baking Soda:  Cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours
Washing Soda:  Stain remover, non-staining solvent, descales of mineral deposits,  tough cleaning jobs (use baking soda to neutralize if you get burned by it - this stuff is soda ash and is caustic - use gloves)
Soap or detergent:  unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything.  Avoid using soaps that contain petroleum distillates, synthetic scents, colors or other additives..  Grate bars to dissolve more easily in hot water.
White Vinegar or lemon juice: Cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
Borax:  (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.

The Solutions:
Make them up and LABEL them
Store properly

General Household cleaner:
1 tsp. liquid soap
1 tsp. borax
Squeeze of lemon
1 qt. warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup vinegar
1 gallon water

For surfaces that need scoured, try moist salt or baking soda and a green scouring pad.

Soft Scrubber:
Put 1/2 cup baking soda into a bowl and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting.  Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerine and store in a glass jar.  You don't need the glycerine if you just make up as much as you need each time.

Window Cleaner:
Mix together:
2 tsp. vinegar
1 qt. warm water
2 tbsp borax
3 cups water
rub dry with newspaper to avoid streaking

Mix together:
1/4 cup borax
1/2 gallon hot water
spray straight 5 percent vinegar at night.  You can leave it or wipe in the morning.

Liquid Soap for washing your hands with:
In a pot, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil.  While it is coming to a boil, shave a bar of Ivory or Fels Naptha soap into the pot.  Stir the soap into the water until the soap dissolves.  Once it cools, pour it into your old soap dispenser.  It is not as thick as the store bought stuff, but it works great.  You can use a little less water if you would like a thicker soap.

Laundry Soap:
1 approximately 3 oz bar of either Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
5 Gallon Container
Pot large enough to hold 5 cups of water
Long stirring stick/spoon for the 5 gallon container
Shave the soap into small strips and place in the pot with 5 cups of water.  Heat to a simmer - not a boil and stir until the soap is completely melted.  When it is almost melted, add 3 gallons of hot water to the 5 gallon container.  When the soap on the stove is is totally melted, add it to the hot water in the 5 gallon container and stir.

Add the 1/2 cup of washing soda and stir until dissolved.  Once it has dissolved add the borax and stir until that is dissolved.  You may add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance if you would like.

Let it sit until it cools - it will gel.  It might be lumpy and watery - not pretty, but it works.  Use 1/2 cup per laundry load

Fabric Softener:
1 Quart White Vinegar
1 Cup dried lavendar
Steep together for one week - strain and store.

Spot Remover:
1/4 cup liquid dish detergent
1/4 cup glycerin
1 - 1/2 cups water
Pour all into a bottle and rub a little onto the spot at least 5 minutes before washing items.  For tougher or set in stains you might try using a toothbrush to work the spot remover into the stain.

Dishwasher Soap:
Put into the dispenser:
1 Tablespoon Washing Soda
1 Tablespoon Borax
Into the rinsing gel section add:
Distilled white vinegar
If your water is hard add a little more washing soda

Oven Cleaner:
Mix together:
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tbsp salt
Hot water as needed to make a paste.
Let the paste sit for 5 minutes - KEEP OFF WIRES/HEATING ELEMENTS!
2 Tbsp. liquid soap
2 tsp. borax
1 quart warm water
Spray on oven and wait 20 minutes, then clean.  For tough stains, scrub with very fine steel wool and baking soda.

Drain Cleaner:
1/4 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar
Cover and drain and let sit for 15 minutes.  Follow with 2 quarts boiling water.

Toilet Bowls:
Pour:  1/4 cup baking soda into bowl and drizzle with vinegar.
Let sit for 1/2 hour.  Scrub and flush.
Use borax for stains

Mildew Remover:
Dissolve together:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup borax in warm water.
Apply with sponge or spray bottle.
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, spray on problem area.  Do not rinse.

Lime Deposits:
Squeeze lemon juice onto affected area and let sit for several minutes before wiping clean with a wet cloth.

Marks on walls and painted surfaces.oil and grease spots:
Use baking soda on a damp sponge.  Rub gently and wipe, then rinse.  This is an abrasive.  If you are trying to clean oil off of concrete, try the baking soda and a scrub brush.  You can also do this on a stove or fridge.

Cutting Board Cleaner:
Rub a slice of lemon across the chopping block to disinfect the surface.  For tough stains, squeeze some of the juice onto the spot and leave for 10 minutes, then wipe.

Coffee or tea stains:
Use vinegar and a sponge.
To clean a coffee pot use 2 cups water and 1/4 cup vinegar and run through the cycle.

Dish Soap:
If you are using a non toxic dish soap and it doesn't work very well, add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar to your water.

Furniture Polish:
1/2 teaspoon olive oil (or jojoba)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
mix and store in a glass jar.  Use a soft rag to wipe onto wood surfaces.

Floor Cleaners and Polishes:
Most floors can be cleaned with vinegar and water.  You can add a few drops of essential oils for scent if desired.  The following formulas can also be used.
vinyl and lineoleum -Mix 1 cup vinegar and a few drops of baby oil in 1 gallon warm water.  Add 1/4 cup borax for tough jobs.  Use sparingly on lineoleum.
wood: -1:1 vegetable oil and vinegar.  Rub in well
painted wood: - 1 tsp washing soda into 1 gallon hot water
brick and stone tiles - 1 cup white vinegar into 1 gallon water.  Rinse with clear water.

Rust Remover:
Sprinkle a little salt on the rust, squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked.  Leave the mixture for 2-3 hours.  Use leftover rind to scrub residue.

Sticker residue remover:
Sponge vinegar over the spot several times and wait 15 minutes, then rub off the stickers.  This should also work for price tags on hard things (tools, toys, etc.)

To be continued........


  1. I love using homemade cleaners! Here's another one for you...Fabric Softener: 1 quart white vinegar, 1 cup dried lavender. Steep for 1 week, then strain. Use as you would regular softener.

    Just don't do what I did and use a mixed lavender/rose combo...it turned the vinegar bright pink so it couldn't be used for clothing...instead I diluted it and made it window cleaner! hehe...That could've been very bad..

  2. I am going to try this. Do you think it would matter if I used fresh lavender? I have huge bushes of that right outside. I guess if it didn't work, I could just break down and dry some :)

    I added it to the list. I should probably break this list down, shouldn't I.

  3. i also add baking soda to my dishwater and it makes my detergent (costco environmentally friendly brand) clean better. as in less soap, more cleaning power. i've also used the costco stuff for hair soap and we use it for hand soap.

    i've used vinegar for a long time as a fabric softener... never added lavender though. i think i might give it a whirl!

  4. I've been using vinegar for soaking the dirty diapers (neutralizes the urine) and borax for washing and soaking. I had a sneaking suspicion about borax and OxyClean, checked the ingredients and learned they are pretty much the same thing but Borax is SO much cheaper!

  5. Have you ever heard of Norwex? I love it for most everything - just a silver laced microfiber cloth, and some water. Their window cloth and dust cloth are two of my favorites!
    I generally use their everyday clothes to clean off toys and things that shouldn't be immersed in water, but if you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them! :)

  6. I have never heard of Norwex. If you spray the toys with 5% vinegar and leave them out to dry and dissipate the smell, that should help.

    I will pass on the info on the diapers... I think my daughter in law is going to try out cloth diapers, so the vinegar and borax is good info.

    Please keep the suggestions coming!

  7. I've been using 1 Tablespoon Borax and 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda in the dishwasher for 1 1/2 years now...Works great!! And I've spent $13 TOTAL for the entire 1 1/2 years worth of dishes. I still have about 6 months supply left.

    Also, I've searched for "Washing Soda". In my search I discovered that it can be made from scratch from Baking Soda. Evidently, you can also buy it as Soda Ash in the pool section at someplace like WalMart. I am going to attempt to make some laundry detergent soon, now that I've figured this out. Here's a link:


  8. Mary, You can get washing soda at Wal Mart, it is just called something else. We found it at PriceCo.

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  10. I will go check at Price Co. SO good to know. :-) It is one of the few place in Sonora I didn't check. In the meantime, I think I'm gonna try making some myself...I hope I don't blow the oven up or something like that. LOl

  11. Does the laundry soap work well in front loaders? I tried powder in mine when I first got them and it always left a lot in the dispenser. Thanks so much!!