Saturday, October 01, 2005

Natural Cleaning and Green Cleaning Solutions by Miah

I promised awhile back to put up the list of cleaning supplies on the web. It's a compendium of a lot of other people's ideas. If you search the web, you'll find thousands more whatever you do, since you’re already reading this on the web, don't go out and buy a book on making your own cleaning products. If you don't like my list, go out and search for others.

My proposal here is to post this, and then every couple of months I'll let you know how I'm doing: which mixtures I've nixed, which I like, and any tips I've found.

My primary problems so far have been:
  1. If I put a mixture of powder (Borax or Baking Soda) and water into a spray bottle, the bottle clogs. I am going to go buy a few garden bottles, which I think are meant to house chemicals, and see if this doesn’t clear up my problem.

  2. Powdery residues left behind. The obvious solution is to clean the powdery residue…but I’m aiming for making the simplest of solutions in terms of ingredients and use.

Any hints or recipes from readers would be very welcome…


VG[inegar]— naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner.VGis a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Always test on an inconspicuous area. Improperly dilutedVGis acidic and can eat away at tile grout. Never useVGon marble surfaces. The smell disappears when it dries. Helps break down detergent in laundry. Use it to clean coffeepots, glass, paintbrushes, grout, windows and fireplaces.
LJ[lemon Juice] – Another natural substance used to clean your home. Can rot after 2 weeks.
Baking Soda [BS] – Cleaning agent even after used up as fridge deoderizer. Cleans, deodorizes, softens W, scours.
Soap – unscented natural soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything.
Borax [BX] - cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens W, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
WhiteVinegar [VG]- cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
Washing Soda[WS] - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens W, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
Ethanol or 100 proof Alcohol & water[RA} - is an excellent disinfectant.
Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
Citrus Solvent - cleans paint brushes, oil and grease, some stains.
Murphy’s Oil Soap, Bar Keeper’s Friend, Bon Ami



Benzene (paint, plastic, ink, oil): English ivy, chrysanthemum, Gerbera daisy
Formaldehyde: (plywood, pressed-wood, furniture, fire retardants in mattresses): Spider plant, golden pothos, bamboo palm, azalea, Aloe vera, Philodendron
Trichloroethylene: (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives): Peace lily, warneckei, Dracaena marginata

CLEANERS (Kitchen/Bathroom):
All Purpose:
1. Simplest: 1 p. VG, 1 p. W in a spray bottle
bathtub, toilet, sink, and countertops. stovetop, appliances, countertops. floor. will eat away the soap scum /hard W stains/degrease.
2. Bleach-like: BX and LJ highly effective mixture for bathrooms. Sprinkle this combination on the surfaces of the sink, toilet bowl and bathtub and then scour with a brush.
3. Degreaser: Mix 1/2 c. VG and 1/4 c. BS into 1/2 gal (2 liters) W. Store and keep. Use for removal of W deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc. Degreases & Deoderize.
4. Mix 2 Tb BS with 1 pnt W in spray bottle. squeeze LJ orVGto cut grease.
1. BX, LJ, sunlight
2. Mix a quarter c. of BS with a few c.s of warm W and wash down the outside of white appliances. Allow it to stand for 15 min before rinsing clean and it will help remove yellowing of the appliances and restore the whiteness.
Carpet: Simplest All-Purpose. Let sit 5 min. Scrub.
Decal or Sticker Remover: VG. Really soak it in.
1. compound of 3% HPX andVG
2. Mix 1/4 c. BX into 1/2 gal hot W. Use for wiping surfaces.
3. Soap!
4. Dryness. Bacteria can’t live where it’s dry.
5. Alcohol.
Lime Deposits: You can reduce lime deposits in your teakettle by putting in 1/2 c. (125ml) VG and 2 c.s W, and gently boiling for a few min. Rinse well with fresh W while kettle is still warm.
Mildew Remover:
1. HPX
2. White VG full strength. Don’t rinse.
Midlew Inhibitor: BX
1. 3% HPX with V
2. Mix one p. HPX (3%) with two p. W in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least 1 hr. before rinsing or using shower.
1. Moisten oven surfaces. Sprinkle several layers of BS and let sit set for 1hr. Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots.
2. Salt on Stain when it spills.
Scouring Powder:
1. Apply BS directly with a damp sponge for top of stove, refrigerator and other such surfaces that should not be scratched.
2. Vinegar and Salt. Mix together for a good surface cleaner.
3. LJ andVGand/or BS.
Soap scum/Hard W dissolver: LJ
1. Flush the toilet to allow the W level to go down. Pour the undilutedVGaround the inside of the rim. Scrub.
2. Mix 1/4 c. BS and 1 c.VG pour into basin and let it set for a few min. Scrub with brush and rinse.
3. A mixture of BX (2 p.) and LJ (one p.) will also work. A paste will eliminate stains.
4. Flush. Sprinkle BX. Drizzle over w/V. Leave overnight.
Refinishing Old Furniture: Vegetable Oil Soap, a simple, nontoxic solvent. Follow label directions.
Water Rings on Wood: Moisture is trapped under finish. Try toothpaste or mayonnaise on a damp cloth and rub into the ring. Once the ring is removed, buff the entire wood surface.
Window/Stainless Steel/Chrome:
1. ½ c.VGin 2 c. W
2. 1 c RA, 1 c W, 1 Tb.VG Using Rol and VGtogether makes a quickly evaporating spray glass and mirror cleaner that competes with national brands. a nice shines hard tiles, chrome etc
3. 1/4 cVG 1 Tb cornstarch and 1 quart W.

Dishwasher Cleaner: Pour 1 c. of BS into the dishwasher and run it through the rinse cycle. It will help get rid of some of the grime that collects on the inside of the machine, as well as freshen the smell of the dishwasher.
Dishwasher Detergent: Mix together 1 1/2 Tablespoons of BS with 2 Tablespoons of BX.
Dishwashing soap:
1. Sea salt, LJ, hot W, few drops of orange essential oil
2. Mix equal BX and WS, but increase the WS if your W is hard.
Dishwasher scrubber/stain remover: ½ Lemon w/ BS poured on it

1. Flexible metal snake, a plunger, salt
2. Pour 1 c. of BS down the drain followed by 1 c. of hot VG. Wait 5 min before flushing the drain with 2 quarts of hot W. Repeat.
3. 1 C. of BS and 1/2 c. of salt down the drain. Let this mixture sit in the drain for several hours, overnight is best, before flushing the drain with 2 c.s of boiling W..
Garbage Disposal Freshner:
1. 2 T. BX. Let sit 15 min, then run.
2. Citrus peels
3. BS down the drain without rinsing when you are going on vacation or even just a weekend trip. Flush the BS out of the drain with hot W or hot VG followed by hot W when you return.

1. general: VG, W, 5 drops eucalyptus oil, 15 peppermint, shake
2. vinyl and linoleum: soap. add a capful of baby oil to the cleaning W to preserve and polish.
3. wood: a.)apply a thin coat of 1:1 vegetable oil and VG and rub in well. b.) oil soap
4. painted wood: mix 1 tsp. WS into 1 gal hot W. (see POLISH)
5. brick and stone tiles: mix 1 c. VG in 1 gal (4L) W; rinse with clear W.
6. ceramic tile: Mix 1/4 VG (more if very dirty) into 1 gallon W.

Special problems:
1. black heel marks: the heel mark with a paste of baking soda and water.
2. crayon marks: Toothpaste. Will not work well on wallpaper or porous surfaces.
3. remove grease from wood floors: immediately place an icecube or very cold water on the spot. The grease will harden and can then be scraped off with a knife. Then iron a piece of cloth over the grease spot.

FRAGRANCE: Essential oils. You need a lot to cover the smell of vinegar…eucalyptus works well in small doses, though.

Fabric Brightener:
1. Add a 1/2 c. of BS to the wash when you add your regular liquid detergent. The BS has been known to give you whiter whites, brighter brights, and odor free clothing.
2. LINENS: Add ½ c to wash w/old, age-stained linens
3. 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle
Fabric Softener:
1. ½ c. VG in the rinse cycle. Breaks down detergent.
2. And Odor remover: ½ c. BS in the rinse cycle.
Stain Remover (Clothes):
1. Rub a paste of 6T of BS and 1/2 c warm W onto stained clothing before laundering. Be sure to check for colorfastness first.
2. BX and W
Acids: Drain Opener, Battery Acid, Toilet Cleaner, VGomit, Urine: Quickly rinse acid spills and then sprinkle BS on your clothing to neutralize the acid and prevent damage to your clothing.
Blood Stains: BS rubbed onto a dampened blood stain can help lift the stain from the fabric.
Crayons in the Wash: Crayons accidentally washed with clothing, there may still be hope. Rewash in the hottest W allowable for the fabric, adding a 1/2 box to a box of BS.
Fruit/Wine Stains: Treat immediately, in a hurry, pour a little BS on, and then later run hot W through the back of the stain.
Sweat: A BS paste. Rub onto the clothing. Tough stains may need to let the paste sit for 1-2 hours before laundering.
Vomit: BS.

Aluminum: using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and W. brass or bronze: polish with a soft cloth dipped in lemon and baking-soda solution, or VG and salt solution.
Brass, copper and aluminum: Paste of LJ and cream of tartar
Chrome: polish with baby oil, VG, or aluminum foil shiny side out.
Copper: soak a cotton rag in a pot of boiling W with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 c. VG. Apply to copper while hot; let cool, then wipe clean. For tougher jobs, sprinkle BS or LJ on the cloth before wiping.
Gold: clean with toothpaste, or a paste of salt, VG, and flour.
1. Line a pan with aluminum foil and fill with W; add a tsp. each of BS and salt. Bring to a boil and immerse silver. Polish with soft cloth.
2. Aluminum foil, BS, Salt, Very hot W (boiling, maybe). Combine in clean sink. Put tarnished silver and silver-plated items in and let set a few min. Watch tarnish disappear, reappear on foil. Natural chemical reaction kids love & teaches them science!

Air Fresheners: Commercial fresheners coat nasal passages to diminish sense of smell.
1. Absorbtion. BS or VG with LJ in small dishes absorbs odors around the house. Houseplants help. Prevent cooking odors by simmering VG (1 Tb in 1 c. W) while cooking.
2. Vanilla. Soak vanilla in cotton ball place in car or anywhere. Reported to even remove skunk smell.
3. Ventilation. Open windows or doors in the house for at least a short period every day. This will also help to reduce toxic fumes that may be building up indoors.
4. Potpourri. Make your own potpourri from your
favorite herbs and spices. Place the potpourri in a small
basket or jar or in small sachet bags. Boil for more effect.
5. Sprays: Mix water and your favorite essential oils in a spray container. Freshens clothes, air, etc.

Odor Removers:
Carpet: a.) Sprinkle the carpet with a mixture of 1 cup Borax and 2 cups cornmeal. Let this mixture stand for an hour before vacuuming. b.) Use baking soda in same way.
General: BS.
Garbage: Put at bottom of garbage in newspaper to soak smells.
Laundry Hamper: BS at bottom of bag or BS sachets.
Musty Smell: Try mopping an uncarpeted floor/shelf with one gal warm W, 1/2 c. of VG, and 1/4 c. of BS.
Refrigerator: Put a box there. Wash w/BS & W. Sprinkle in bins.
Shoes: Sprinkle BS.
Baking Soda: Soaks up musty smells in fridge, garbage, etc.

1. 2 p. olive oil, 1 p. LJ.
Mix together in a clean new spray bottle. Use another clean cloth to polish the surface dry.
2. Mix three p olive oil and one part vinegar.
1. Banana Peel
2. Olive oil with a few drops of LJ can be applied to shoes with a thick cotton or terry rag. Leave for a few min; wipe and buff with a clean, dry rag.


Jessi Louise said...

Removing Wax from Carpet or Upholstery - (a technique from my grandma) Scrape off big pieces with butter knife, then use a dry cloth or paper towel and iron to remove the rest. I have had to do this a few times and it always gets all of it off.

Nina said...

Marble and Granite: Make sure not to use vinegar (or acids such as lemon juice found in many natural detergents) on marble or granite. It can pit these natural stones and ruin the finish. A gentle, slightly soapy solution with water is best.

Shrijnana said...

Great, comprehensive list. Thanks for posting it.

cammie said...

I use a steam cleaner and add a drop or so of any essential oil that takes my fancy. It works on almost everything and no residue! I just use an old towel (white only) to wipe up the gunk.

David said...

I don't actually understand the "Air purifiers" section of this list: how can benzene be an "air purifier"?

Benzene, is, however, extremely toxic, and carcinogenic. So it might worth clarifying how it should be used, or removing it altogether.

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kimrysk said...

THe best thing I have found for WOOD FLOORS is a mild tea solution. I brew a few tea bags in a small amount of warm water - then add cool water about 1 gallon or so. THen I just mop - doesn't need to be rinsed. This works better than any other commercial cleaner or anything else i have tried. I just use regular Lipton. There is something about the tea reacting with the tanins in the wood.

Sommer said...

To David:
The benzene mentioned in the air purifiers section of this article is referring to the substance as an air pollutant, not the purifier. Purifiers are listed after the pollutant to which they are effective at absorbing.

Benzene (pollutant): English ivy, etc. (purifiers)

The same goes for the formaldehyde and tricholorethylene. These are the pollutants, not the purifiers.

Anonymous said...

You are invited to learn more about toxic products!!!
Wellness presentations: on-line

Monday May 5th at 10am or 4pm

Tuesday May 6th at 10am
Wednesday May 7th at 4pm
Thursday May 8th at 4pm or 5pm
Friday May 9th at 9am if non of these work then let me know

This is not a sales presentation; it is information about switching stores and buying better, safer, natural products that you already use for less money.
Please let me know which on you are interested in so I can send you the website and I can log in with you!
contact liz at
DO YOU KNOW>>>>>>>>>>
The EPA reports toxic chemicals in our home cleaning and personal care products are 3 times more likely to cause cancer than outside pollutants.

The President's Toxic Substances Strategy Committee warns 90% of all cancers are triggered by toxic chemicals in our home environment.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission connects 150 toxic chemicals in our homes to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.

The EPA warns toxic chemicals in household cleaners cause women working at home to have a 55% HIGHER cancer risk than women working outside the home.

The EPA warns the nation's worst pollution is inside our homes. A number of homes tested have toxic chemical levels 70 times higher inside the home than outside.

The Mayo clinic warns Formaldehyde in our household and personal care products can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions, and trigger heart palpitations.

The Harvard School of Public Health warns Formaldehyde can cause headaches, depression, joint pain, chronic fatigue, chest pains, ear infections, dizziness, and loss of sleep.

The California Public Research Group warns Phenol, which is used in most household disinfectants, can cause cancer, deactivate the sensory nerve endings, damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.

Dove Beauty Bar: Quaternium 15: Formaldehyde-Carcinogen. Causes cancer, dermatitis, neurotoxic, sensitizer-poisonous, irritant to the skin, eyes,
and mucous membranes. Butylated Hydroxytoluene, (BHT) Carcinogen.

Johnson's Baby Shampoo: Quaternium 15: FD&C RED 40: Carcinogen, and causes dermatitis.

Crest Tarter Control Toothpaste: Saccharin: Carcinogen, contains Phenol Fluoride: Carcinogen.
If you accidentally swallow more than a pea-sized amount of this, you must contact the Poison Control Center immediately. This warning does not appear
on the tube.

Tide & Cheer Detergent:
Detergent: Can cause temporary respiratory tract irritation. Symptoms include stinging, swelling, or redness.
Sodium Silicate: Can be corrosive. Can cause burns to the eyes and tissue damage to the skin, as well as cause burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach
if swallowed.
Sodium Sulfate: Corrosive, Severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Can cause asthma attacks.
Trisodium Nitrilotriacetate: Carcinogen

Clorox: Sodium Hypochlorite: Corrosive. Sensitizer: Can be fatal if swallowed. Eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Especially hazardous to
people with heart conditions or asthma.

Cascade: Sodium Hypochlorite
Sodium Silicate: Can be corrosive. Can cause burns to the eyes and tissue damage to the skin, as well as cause burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach
if swallowed.

Fantastic, Formula 409:Butyl Cellosolve: Neurotoxic. Eye and skin irritant. Damages central nervous system, kidney, and liver. Readily absorbed through
the skin. Damages blood and body's ability to make blood.

Windex Aerosol Glass Cleaner: Butyl Cellosolve (see above)
Isobutane: Neurotoxic

Lysol Disinfectant: Dioxin; Carcinogen. 500,000 times more deadly than DDT
Ethyl Alcohol: Eye, skin, respiratory tract irritant.

Details on the above data are available in "The Safe Shopper's Bible" by Dr. Samuel Epstein, MD. & David Steinman. Macmillian, 1995. Lysol data from "The Environmental Health Newsletter."

barb said...

I have found that if your dissolve the borax it warm water first it won't clog the spray bottle.

Cindy said...

a great way to make your own furniture polish is by mixing olive oil and lemon juice! If you're concerned about what your children's school is using to clean (esp. now that schools are stepping up disinfection thanks to H1N1), there is a great report here that rates cleaning solutions: EWG Report and some questions to ask your school administrators here: H1N1 Schools

Anonymous said...

I have been making my own natural cleaners like these recipes for a long time but I now have something better! Norwex Enviro products! Their flagship item is an antibac microfiber cloth that you can use to clean almost anything using just WATER!! Saves time, money, the environment and health. No chemicals are needed! Visit my website for more info or email me:
No more clogged spray bottles for me!