Buy or DIY: Green Cleaning Ideas to Buy or Make Yourself

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One of my readers, Meredith, asked me a question about natural furniture polish, so I was inspired to write this post.

I have always resisted the idea of making homemade cleaning products.  I barely have the time to clean let alone make the cleaning products too.  But I am slowly coming around.  I still have my arsenal of tried-and-true, store-bought, green cleaners.  And for some things, store-bought is all I use.  However, I am realizing how easy and cheap it is to make things like furniture polish and stovetop cleaner with ingredients that you already have in your kitchen.  So here is what I use for cleaning, both the store-bought and the homemade versions.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Buy – I like to use Bi-O-Kleen Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner.

DIY – Although not everything in this recipe is readily available in your kitchen, it is still super simple:

  • Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar with 1 teaspoon borax in a clean spray bottle.
  • Fill with 16 ounces hot water and shake until borax has dissolved.
  • Add 1/4 cup liquid soap ( I recommend Dr. Bronner’s castile soap) and shake to mix.

Furniture Polish

Buy – I was using Method’s Wood for Good Spray.  It received a really good 8.9 out of 10 rating from Good Guide and it has a nice almond smell.  Although Good Guide does not believe it poses any health risks, I’m not crazy about the fact that it has not-so-natural ingredients such as dimethicone, polyacrylic acid and synthetic fragrance.

DIY – Fortunately, it is super easy to make homemade furniture polish.

  • Mix 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup white vinegar.
  • You can also add 20-30 drops of an essential oil (I like lemon, peppermint, tea tree, lavender or eucalyptus) for extra germ-fighting power and a nice smell.  Alternatively, you could use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice but then you would have to refrigerate it or make it fresh each time.
  • Store in a reused spray bottle.  Shake each time. Spray and wipe to use.

Kitchen Cleaner

Buy – I usually use Seventh Generation’s Disinfecting Wipes.  I am a big fan of Seventh Generation – their products typically earn 7+ ratings on Good Guide and they work well.

DIY – My go-to remedy for stuck-on stains on my counters and stovetop is baking soda.  I just sprinkle a little on the surface and scrub with a damp washcloth.

Laundry Detergent

Buy – I have used Seventh Generation’s Free & Clear Powdered Laundry Detergent for years.  I chose their powdered formula in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic that I use.  It works great and doesn’t leave that horrible fragrance on clothes that conventional detergents leave.  It has an 8.2 rating on Good Guide.

After seeing a recent post on Soap Nuts from Crunchy Betty, I am eager to give them a try.  Soap nuts are dried fruits from the Chinese Soapberry tree, so there is no question about how natural they are!  And they can be used to make everything from kitchen cleaners to insect repellant.

DIY – Or you could make your own laundry detergent using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap – try this recipe from Apartment Therapy or this recipe from Re-Nest.

Fabric Softener

Buy – I alternate between using Seventh Generation’s Natural Fabric Softener Sheets and Nellie’s Dryerballs.  The Dryerballs make the most sense because they can be used again and again and they work pretty well.

DIY – Although Dryerballs are a cheap option for fabric softener, they drive me crazy because they are always getting lost in my towels and sheets.  Homemade fabric softener is amazingly easy to make.  I found this recipe at Crunchy Betty’s website:

  • Mix 2 cups of white vinegar with 3 teaspoons eucalyptus essential oil.  Store in a spray bottle.
  • Shake before using.  Spray laundry in dryer with 10-15 pumps and dry as usual.

Bathroom Cleaner

Buy – I tried cleaner after cleaner trying to find something that would clean the ring in my toilet and the soap scum on my tub.  Seventh Generation’s Tub & Tile Cleaner and Toilet Bowl Cleaner do a decent job but require a lot of scrubbing.

DIY – I have found that baking soda or borax do a great job at removing soap scum or anything else stuck on in your bathroom.  I keep baking soda in a mason jar with a couple of layers of cheesecloth on the top.  Whenever I am ready to clean, I sprinkle some of the baking soda on the tub, sink or whatever and then use a damp washcloth to scrub the gunk away.  For cleaning toilets, pour about 1 cup of borax into the toilet, let sit overnight and scrub.

Antibacterial Spray or Cleaner

Buy – I use Herban Essentials Towelettes.

DIY – To save money, I refill my spray bottles with a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar and 1 teaspoon essential oil (such as peppermint, lavender, rosemary or tea tree).  Another good recipe can be found at Healthy Child Healthy World.

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