Natural Household Cleaners

Clean with Green from Floor to Ceiling

Focus on what creates the biggest impact on your health and environment while also respecting your crunched time and budget.  Pick ONE household cleaner at a time and change over slowly, as your current cleaners run out.  Determine which cleaner you use on the most surfaces or most times per week, or the one you spend the most money on. Pick THAT one. Change it this week. Then figure out another change to make another week.

Ceiling to Floor 

Streak-free (and Toxin-free!) Mirrors/Glass

  • Water and a microfiber cloth – no product needed, it gives a perfect shine, every time.
  • Be sure to wash microfiber cloths withOUT other towels in the same load, and hang them to dry for best absorbency retained.
  • For tougher dirt, vinegar and water in a spray bottle (or in a bucket for outside windows) always does the trick.
  • No more than 1/4 cup vinegar to a quart ( 1.1 litre) of water should be needed, usually much less.
  • Use old newspapers to wipe clean if no microfiber around.

No Chemicals in the Bathtub/Shower

  • Spray with straight vinegar as an after-shower spray that you just leave on.
  • The smell dissipates as soon as it’s dry.
  • Some people add a few drops of essential oils for a nicer scent.
  • Especially effective for hard water stains, like on the shower curtain.
  • Let it sit for 10 mins. before scrubbing the curtain, and for taps, soak a rag in vinegar and wrap around the affected area for a 10-minute soak.
  • Do not use on tile and grout as it may eat away the grout.
  • Scrub with baking soda when you get scum that needs some extra elbow grease
  • Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda / baking soda onto damp walls and it’s good for grout too – use an old toothbrush to scrub each line.

Cleaning Toilets without Bleach

  • Straight vinegar in a spray bottle does a fine job cleaning the bowl (double duty for one bottle if you use it in your shower).
  • Using a spray bottle, squirt under the rim as well.
  • Baking soda / bicarb and lemon juice make a paste for nasty stains.
  • A 50/50 hydrogen peroxide solution to clean and sanitize the outside of the toilet. 
  • Important note: always keep hydrogen peroxide in an opaque bottle (so no clear glass obviously!).
  • Make sure you dilute the peroxide to avoid bleaching out your clothes whilst working. 

Non-Toxic Counter Scrubs and Cleaners

  • For a quick clean in the bathroom, wipe down with a microfiber cloth only.
  • When you want to disinfect and really clean, a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, followed by a good shine with a microfiber cloth.
  • To scrub nasty stains: use straight Bicarbonate / baking soda, sometimes with a bit of water. Keep your bicarb in a flour shaker for easy dispensing. 
  • Try an old toothbrush to really get stains out of grout and around sinks and taps.
    • Make sure you have disinfected the toothbrushes once you no longer need them to brush your teeth, before using on home surfaces
  • Essential oils offer other options for sanitizing.
    • A few drops lemon, orange or tea tree oil in a bottle of water acts as a disinfectant. (Directions: Mix 10-20 drops oil in a half cup witch hazel, or vinegar. Allow to sit a few hours. Add water to fill at least a 2-cup bottle, up to a quart (32 oz. or 1 Litre).
  • Drain clogs don’t need harsh chemicals either! Use the reaction between baking soda and vinegar to your advantage.
  • Pour some baking soda in – jam it down there if you have to.
    • Pour at least half a cup of vinegar and CLOSE the drain as fast as possible so the bubbles have to go DOWN and push the clog, not UP.
    • Follow with at least a few cups of boiling water (teakettle, pot – have that ready before you start). This work for partially clogged drains.

Keep That Oven/Stove top Clean With No Chemicals

  • Straight baking soda or salt make the perfect scrub for the stovetop. You’ll be amazed at all it gets out.
  • If you have a spill inside the oven, the best line of defense is to sprinkle salt on while it’s still hot, then tackle it as soon as you can touch it while it’s still warm.
  • Green Cleaning Dishes – Hand Wash.
  • Remember to conserve water as best you can especially in drought-stricken areas.
  • Make sure your dishsoap doesn’t have bleach or triclosan in it.
  • Use straight baking soda to scrub ceramic mugs, slow cookers, etc. and even glass casserole dishes. Use salt to clean out cast iron if it gets food caked on, or to freshen up wooden cutting boards.

Non-Toxic Furniture Polish

  • The simplest option is just a microfiber cloth, sometimes with one corner dampened, then polish with the dry part.
  • You can use a touch of olive oil for polishing, mixed with lemon juice or lemon essential oil if you love that Pledge smell
  • Vinegar and water (no more than 1/4 cup to a 32 oz. (1 Litre) spray bottle) with an old towel for wiping.
  • Your mop bucket is another place for warm water and a half a cup of vinegar.
  • No vinegar if you have hardwood floors – vinegar can strip the finish and water really isn’t the best idea either.
  • If you feel the need to disinfect a bit (crawling baby, perhaps?) you can use quick sprays of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water.
  • Just use a microfiber cloth on a mop with any spray for simple green cleaning!

Adapted From , as many of the American “natural” cleaners are not available in South Africa

For more information on how toxic our lives are – visit our You Should Know page: