Non-toxic household cleaners

I was reading a post at Apartment Therapy about avoiding chemicals in household cleaners, and I noticed a comment that I thought summed it up perfectly.

Back in the old days, folks used vinegar, lemons, baking soda, borax, soap and hot water to clean their homes until chemical companies convinced everyone that we had to have strange pink, blue and green liquids in plastic bottles…

…and it turns out that all we really ever needed was vinegar, lemons, baking soda, borax, soap and hot water.

I haven’t totally switched to all-natural products yet, but I am completely on board with using baking soda and vinegar.

spraybottle.jpgMy favorite simple spray cleaner is homemade, and it doesn’t leave me gasping for breath when I use it. I mix these 3 ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap

It works great on glass and countertops, especially with microfiber towels.

I like using baking soda to scrub my stove, sink and bathtub. It makes a really good carpet freshener too. Once or twice a year I sprinkle it over the carpet and use a broom to sweep it in. I let it sit overnight and then vacuum it up the next morning.

I also find the Shaklee products appealing, but even with all the recommendations I still haven’t tried any yet.

Really, when did “clean” start to be equated with toxic fumes and skin rashes?  
Cleaning does not have to be so painful. I want better.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I would recommend a book by Karen Logan entitled Clean House, Clean Planet. Check it out here:

  2. Catherine says:

    I think it’s great that you’re talking about green cleaning products. It’s so important that we get all the toxic chemicals out of our houses. There’s a great summary of what toxins are in “traditional” home cleaners at this website. Pretty scary stuff!

    And if you’re looking for a good source for buying Shaklee Get Clean products, I can recommend this website

  3. I’ve been doing a bit of reading here and there regarding green cleaning. These recipes that call for “liquid soap”….ummm… (Stupid Question Alert) what is that exactly? Do you mean like dish soap? Or hand soap? Or is there something on the grocery store shelf that specifically says “liquid soap” on it?
    I’m dumb.

  4. smallnotebook says:

    That’s not dumb Jill. I just use a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap. Dishwashing soap is my go-to cleaner when I need something that can cut a little grease or oil. I use it sometimes with a scrub brush and some baking soda to clean the bathtub, and it smells so much nicer than my old bathtub cleaners that had a lot of chemicals in them.

  5. I’m currently using a Shaklee product for most of my cleaning, which is nice to just have 1 bottle for most everything. But I’d love to know what people use for their toilet bowls. Is Comet considered “green”? Does baking soda work there as well? Just curious. :)

  6. Well, I can just speak for me — I tend to just use a plain spray or liquid soap and a toilet brush to clean the toilet. I think most any kind of soap or cleaner works, so I don’t have something special for the toilet. I’ve even used some body wash that we didn’t like.

    Now if there are hard water stains or some other challenge, you might want something extra. Baking soda could help. Comet seems a little harsh, and I’d be concerned about it etching the surface. For most cases, any kind of general purpose cleaner and a toilet brush work just fine.

  7. I use baking soda and vinegar in my toilet bowl and it works great, I also clean the seat with vinegar in a spray bottle.