4 tips for an eco friendly house cleaning
Have you ever thought about what’s in your cleaning products?
We got so used to buy all the plastic bottled harsh chemicals to clean our bathroom, kitchen and living room.
We got so used to the extreme smell of these products too, so we think if somethings not smelling extreme it can’t really clean.
We buy cheap plastic brushes that break easily and needs to get replaced often and we clean our dishes with plastic sponges and scrubs that shed plastic micro fibers that pollute our wild water.
If we just look a few years back to our grandparents or even parents childhood it has been different. But clean too.
They didn’t use a lot of chemicals to scrub the floors or wash clothes.
Yeah I know it sounds weird, and I am not saying we should all go back to wash our clothes by hand like they did then, but we should rethink if we actually need all these stinky chemicals and plastics in our life’s.
The easiest way to avoid plastic cleaning products is to chose other natural materials like wood, cotton, natural bristles, stainless steel, etc.
And then try to switch from chemicals to organic cleaning products or even use the simplest cleaning product ever: Vinegar or soda….
(Some Links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you buy from one of those links I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you)
4 alternatives to harsh cleaning products
1) White vinegar
Vinegar cleans almost as well as most all-purpose cleaners. You just need to mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and you have a cleaner that will clean most areas of your home.
Vinegar is an awesome natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer.
(Note: I talk from a healthy person kind of view here. I am not a doctor, so if you have any kind of immune system disease/weak immune system, etc. please talk to your doctor if you might need to take bleach or anything or if DIY natural cleaning is enough.)
Be aware that it could discolor or damage some surfaces/materials, however, so test it on a hidden area first to make sure no color will change or damage occurs. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can also eat away at tile grout. On marble surfaces, vinegar isn’t a good idea to use either.
On ceramic, stainless steel you can use it easily, and don’t worry about your home smelling like vinegar. The smell disappears quickly when it dries.
You can even use vinegar as a natural fabric softener for your laundry which can be especially helpful for families with sensitive skin issues.
Add1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener. Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively. Try it to clean your washing machine as well!
For the bathroom:
Clean the bathtub, toilet, sink, and countertops.
You can use pure vinegar in the toilet bowl to get rid of colorful rings. Pour the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl.
You can also mop the floor in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution. Vinegar will also eat away the soap spots and hard water stains on your fixtures and tile, leaving them shiny like new.
Your shower head: if you can take it down put it in a pot with vinegar water mix and let it soak for a few hours before you clean it, if you cant take the head of put a reusable plastic bag and fill it with a vinegar water mix and tie it around the shower head, let soak and clean easily.
In the kitchen:
You can clean the top of your stove with equal parts vinegar and water. Most appliances can be cleaned with this mix of vinegar and water.
Countertop surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected with the same spray. Use vinegar to clean floors and be amazed at the fresh shiny results.
If you have a water kettle that has lime spots, just leave a vinegar water mix in the kettle over night and you can clean it easily.
2) Lemon juice
Lemon is one of my favorite allrounder. To cook and clean!
It can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits and it’s great for shining brass and copper and silver.
Try mixing lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda to make cleaning pastes.
Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section of the lemon. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces and stains.
Be aware that lemon juice can act as a natural bleach, so it’s a good idea to test it out on a hidden area first.
Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice and you have a polish for hardwood furniture. I heard some people with a dishwasher put half of a lemon, after squeezing out the juice, into the dishwasher to clean the dishes….
Lemon juice can also be used to treat stains given its natural bleaching qualities.
I also use the juice as conditioner for my hair.
3) Baking soda
Baking soda** is one of the most versatile cleaner on the planet and can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial non-abrasive cleansers.
It is also great as a deodorizer. Place a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors, like coffee. In fact, put it anywhere you need deodorizing action: trash cans, laundry, and even sneakers.
Baking soda makes a great addition in the laundry room as well. Just sprinkle it over the clothing.
And if a drain is clogged, put a teaspoon full of baking soda into the drain and then pour a small glass with a vinegar-water mix. Then watch the magic, and pour a big glass of hot water into the drain. No need for chemicals anymore.
4) Castile soap
The original castile soap (Aleppo soap) was made of olive oil and laurel oil. Nowadays many soaps are made with palm oil, so please keep an eye on it and try to find a palm oil free soap** (if palm oil, it must be at least sustainable, organic…).
The liquid soap always comes in plastic bottles, so if you don’t have a place where you can refill those bottles, make your own liquid soap.
If you have a castile soap bar just grate it if you need it, or just grate it all while watching a movie and then take when you need it.
You can make cleaning pastes mixing the soap with soda, or make a laundry soap, you can even use castile soap (unscented) to wash your dishes.
For a floor cleaner you can mix 1-2 tbsp grated castile soap with 1 gallon of warm water and if you like a few drops of essential oils (like tea trea or mint).
For a toilet scrub mix 2 cups of war, water with 1/4 cup grated castile soap and 3 tbsp baking soda. Stir until dissolved and pour into the toilet, let sit for 10 – 15 minutes, scrub and flush
If you wash your dishes, rub your wet cotton scrub** on the soap and then scrub the dishes. Clean with water and that’s it.
A few asked me about what to do if you have a dishwasher.
All the tabs are single wrapped in plastic, they are mostly not environmental friendly, you need clear rinse that comes in a plastic bottle, etc. Normally a dishwasher is actually more environmental friendly because the new ones do use less water than if you wash by hand, but the non environmental friendly dishwasher soap and stuff…. if you don’t want that you can chose to make your own dishwasher tabs or detergent.
And my parents now always buy tabs wrapped with a biodegradable foil. Take a look around your store if they might have them (or look online).
I found this recipe on many many DIY blogs:
- 300g citric acid (powder)
- 300g soda (washing soda/Natriumcarbonat
- 300g Bicarbonate of soda (Natron/Natriumhydrogencarbonat)
- 125g dishwasher salt (no table salt!!)
Mix it and use 2-3 Teaspoons for one load.
Another mixture I read about would be:
- 1 cup citric acid (powder)
- 4 cups washing soda
- 1 cup dishwasher salt
If you like make smaller badges to try out whats working better for your dishwasher.
You can use vinegar essence instead of the clear rinse liquid. I also heard about a mix of 300ml methylated spirits, 200ml hot water and 50g citric acid. Mix the hot water and citric acid together until everything is dissolved and fill into a bottle to cool down. If it is cold pour the alcohol into the mix. Use like the other bottled clear rinse liquid.
If you can’t find the ingredients plastic free go for the biggest bag! They won’t get bad and preventing toxins going into our wild water is more important.
Have you tried DIY dishwasher detergent or tabs at home already?
Other natural cleaning products
If you are lucky to live in a city with a zero waste store you can easily just buy your cleaning products there.
Bring an empty jar and refill!
There are also a few great companies out there making natural- organic-eco friendly cleaning products (Frosch** (they have laundry detergent in a cardbord box now, and their plastic bottles for liquids are made out of recycelt plastic), Ecover**, etc…). Some of them have even refill stations available.
For laundry, make your own laundry detergent or use use chestnuts!
If you stay away from liquid and use dry laundry detergent (just check that there are no micro plastics/micro beads in the dry detergent) you will find some brands using carton instead of plastic bags.
Plastic free cleaning utensils
Alternatives to plastic brushes, plastic scrubs, micro fiber cloth are all common finds in many stores already.
You will find brushes with wood handles, natural bristles, dish scrubs made out of natural materials, and cotton fiber cloth for cleaning.
Most plastic cleaning utensils are not recyclable so buying them made from natural renewable materials is a great choice if you like to live more eco-friendly
Do you have any experiences with natural cleaning products already?
And if you have more inspirations for natural cleaning products please tell us in the comments!!
thehappychoices.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We are also affiliate partner for other programs/stores like shareasale, lifewithoutplastic.com, etc.
Any purchases you make help to support this blog at no added cost to you.