The Ultimate Natural Cleaning Guide

Nancy W. Potter

More than ever before, people are becoming aware of the number of chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Whether it be through air pollution, our beauty products, or even our workout gear, there are quite a few things that we’d prefer to stay away from if we can. This, combined with increasing awareness of plastic use, has led to many people wanting to shift how they clean their homes: simplifying, finding refillable options, and using natural ingredients.

With this in mind, I decided to scour the internet to cover all the best cleaning options I could find, including DIYs and products you can buy, to allow you to look at them all and come to your own decisions. Hopefully this list will be helpful!

(Disclaimer: I personally do not rate Ecover or Method, and don’t recommend them to people. You can read why here)

Useful ingredient info

Alcohol

Cheap, plain vodka works well, no need to go for anything extremely fancy. Avoid isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol.

Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is best for cleaning. Apple cider vinegar can leave a residue on glass or countertops, and cleaning vinegar may just be water with added acetic acid, so keep with distilled white.

Castile Soap

Don’t mix with acidic substances like vinegar or lemon juice, as they will react with each other and cancel each other out, as the vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap. Instead, use the soap to clean and vinegar as a rinse agent. Sometimes castile soap can leave a white film when you clean with it. This isn’t the soap itself, but certain salts left behind caused by the soap reacting with minerals in the water, vinegar is a great way to remove this. If you find you’re getting a white film, dip your dishes in vinegar water after cleaning, or spray a vinegar solution after using a castile soap based cleaner if you need it.

Also, check out this article on why you can use vinegar and baking soda in conjunction, but you shouldn’t mix them.

All-purpose cleaner

For an all-purpose cleaner, I would recommend DIY over buying a specific product. I feel like seeking out a specific all-purpose cleaner to buy is just a waste of money when they’re so cheap to make, and the most simple recipes can be put together predominantly with things you’d have at home anyway. Honestly, I think you can clean almost anything with an all-purpose cleaner, and it’s good to streamline and minimise what you’re using. I’ve included lots of other options in this post just in case, but my loyalty lies with all-purpose.

You can, of course, use any spray bottle for these recipes. However, if you need to buy one, I love the glass bottles from Cleaning Essentials.

My favourite recipes:

Citrus cleaner

  • One cup white vinegar
  • One cup water
  • Citrus rinds: lemon, lime or orange
  • Rosemary sprigs or lavender

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and leave to infuse for a few days. Once done, use like a normal spray cleaner. The acidity from the citrus rinds should add extra clout too.

Castile based cleaner

  • One cup water
  • 1 tbsp castile soap
  • 20 drops essential oil

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and it should be ready for immediate use.

Vinegar based cleaner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 20 – 30 drops essential oil

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, shake, and it should be ready for immediate use.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D all-purpose sanitiser.

Reusable Cleaning Wipes

For wipes, you can buy reusable wipes from Cleaning Essentials or simply cut up old t-shirts, dish towels, or something similar, and keep them in a large jar or container.

For each recipe combine the ingredients then pour the mixture into the container with cloths, so it can soak in. They’ll then be ready to be used as wipes. When they get dirty just wash them in the laundry and reuse.

The best recipes:

All-purpose

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 25 drops essential oils of choice (I like lemon)

Heavy duty

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup alcohol
  • 24 drops essential oil

Gentle

  • 1 tsp castile soap
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 12 drops essential oil

Kitchen

General kitchen cleaner

  • 50ml alcohol
  • 100ml vinegar
  • 12-14 drops essential oil

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, fill the rest of the bottle with water, and it should be ready for immediate use.

Oven cleaner

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp water (ish)

In a bowl gently mix the baking soda and water (adding more if needed) until you make a spreadable paste. Spread on the inside of the oven and let it sit overnight. The next day scrub down with a damp cloth, you can follow by spraying vinegar as a ‘rinse’ too if you feel it’s necessary.

Washing up

Simply mix these ingredients, squirt on to a scrubbing brush and wash, follow with a vinegar rinse if needed.

For the actual washing I use: the LoofCo washing up pad, washing up brush, and the washing up scraper.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D Washing up liquid. They also have a ton of refill stations, so check out if there’s one near you!

Dishwasher

I haven’t found any recipes for washing powder that people can universally agree that they like (many of them tell you to combine bases and acids, which only produces salt water and is ineffective), however I have found one recipe for a dishwasher liquid that some seem to swear by if you want to try it:

  • 3 tbsp castile soap
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup washing soda

Combine the ingredients in a container of your choice, close and shake. This should transform into a gel consistency that you can use like dishwashing liquid.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D dishwasher powder and rinse aid, or dishwasher tablets by Ecozone or Ecoleaf (I can’t guarantee that the tablets don’t come individually wrapped in plastic though, as I haven’t used them).

Drain cleaner

Many people will tell you to combine baking soda and vinegar to clean your drain, but don’t do it. One is a base and one is an acid, so they will also cancel each other out and won’t be effective. I’ve seen other recommendations for mixing hot water and washing up liquid and pouring it down the drain, or dissolving one cup of salt into one cup of vinegar and pouring this down the drain, leaving it to sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with by hot water (I wouldn’t recommend fully boiling). Both of these seem to do a better unclogging job.

Descaling

There are a few methods you can use for this

  • Cut a lemon in half and rub it directly onto the affected areas (eg taps)
  • Soak rags in a cup of lemon juice, place onto the affected areas, leave for at least 2 hours and then remove and scrub
  • Use citric acid:
    For kettles fill halfway with water and boil, then unplug, add 80g of citric acid and leave for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly, also wiping down the outside of the kettle.
    For dishwashers fill the detergent tablet container with citric acid, and add the rest of a 250g box to the base of the empty machine, then run it on a normal programme.
    For washing machines this can only be done with stainless steel drums. Add a full 250g box of citric acid to the empty machine and run the machine at 60 degrees.
    For irons first check if the manufacturer recommends descaling, then unplug. Mix two tablespoons of citric acid in hot water to half fill the iron, hold iron over the sink and switch on steam. Refill with fresh water and flush through (including the spray) until clear. Check it’s clear by ironing an old piece of fabric.

Bathroom

Glass & mirror spray

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup alcohol
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake to mix. On windows spray and then wipe clean. For mirrors, spray on to a cloth before wiping.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D glass & mirror spray

Laundry detergent

  • 1 solid bar of castile soap, about 150g (try and find palm oil free if possible)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup washing soda

Grate the bar soap into flakes, then mix with the other ingredients.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D washing powder or consider using organic soapnuts as an alternative.

Laundry liquid

You can use 1/3—1/2 cup of liquid castile soap for a large load in a normal washer, along with 1/2 cup vinegar added to the rinse cycle (use half of these amounts for HE).

Alternatively, after a long search I found a good recipe for a liquid detergent created by Brendid here.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D laundry liquid.

For spot removing stains, I use this laundry stick from BLANC. It’s not completely zero waste, but it lasts for a really really long time.

Also, consider washing your clothes in a microfibre catching bag, and eliminate fabric softener because you don’t need it at all! Read why here.

Toilets

Castile soap toilet cleaner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup castile soap
  • 1/4 tsp tea tree oil
  • baking soda

Mix the water, castile soap and tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Squirt the toilet bowl thoroughly, sprinkle baking soda on your toilet brush and scrub the bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes and then flush.

Vinegar toilet cleaner

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda

Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet/around the bowl, leave for 30 minutes and then scrub with toilet brush and water. Rinse by pouring vinegar into the bowl and scrubbing again. Flush when clean.

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D toilet cleaner, this is another one that has a lot of refill options.

Baths/Sinks

You can use the same drain cleaner as the kitchen, and an all-purpose cleaner should generally be fine for cleaning these areas.

Grout cleaner

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

Cover grout with baking soda, then spray with hydrogen peroxide until wet. Leave for 10 minutes then scrub, and wipe clean.

Showerhead cleaner

Either wet a towel with vinegar, wrap it around your shower head and leave for at least 30 minutes or fill a container with vinegar, remove the showerhead and submerge overnight (unless your showerhead has a brass or gold finish, then remove after 30 minutes) before scrubbing clean with a toothbrush. Then use a clean dry cloth to polish.

Air freshener/room spray

I have a zero waste air freshener that just requires 12 drops of essential oil, but I also have a room spray recipe that I really love:

  • 4 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 12 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 1/2 tsp vodka
  • distilled water

Put the vodka and essential oils into a spray bottle, then fill the rest with distilled water. Shake to mix, and it’s ready to use.

Living Areas

Floor cleaner

  • 1/4 cup castile soap
  • hot water
  • 10 drops tea tree oil (optional)

Mix ingredients together in a bucket, and use as you normally would with a mop. (Don’t use on waxed wood floors as it will break down the wax).

If you want to buy instead: try Bio-D floor cleaner, which can also be used on wooden floors.

Dusting spray

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray onto a clean cloth and wipe or spray onto surface and wipe.

Carpet freshener

  • 1 cup baking soda

Vacuum the carpet to remove any lingering particles. Sprinkle baking soda around the carpet and leave for a few hours, then vacuum it up. The soda should absorb any smells, so leaving it for longer is better.

Brass cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Table salt

Dampen a sponge with the lemon juice or vinegar, then sprinkle on salt. Rub over surface, rinse with water, then dry with a clean soft cloth.

This is every cleaning option I could find that I thought would be helpful, and I hope you’ll find it useful too. Of course, there is no requirement to make thousands of different solutions, but I thought it was good to include the recipes that seemed most useful in case you need something specific one day.

I hope it helps as you develop you new natural cleaning routines. Happy cleaning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

5 Ways To Eco-Up Your Labor Day Weekend

My daughter, our puppy and I spent a month on the road this summer, hanging out with friends and family on the East Coast. One thing became jarringly clear — it’s tough to travel green in a plastic-filled world. We tried best we could to eco it up by buying only what […]

Subscribe US Now