Healthy Housecleaning


As I've stated before, my husband and I have been on a journey to eradicate dangerous chemicals and pesticides from our home and lifestyle as much as we feasibly can. In the beginning, that simply meant making the effort to try to eat organically. (I say try, because they were feeble attempts at first.) But as we've become more and more informed, we have more fully embraced an all-natural lifestyle. Recently, (and especially with a two-year-old underfoot and another babe on the way) that means I'm making the effort to clear chemical cleaners from our home in favor of natural, homemade alternatives.

There are a wealth of resources on this subject online, but to help you weed through it all, here are some of my staple cleaning recipes.A few are compliments of Passionate Homemaking; Earth Easy also has a fabulous exhaustive list of recipes.

A few notes: Though I initially thought the switch would be difficult, it was quite easy. Simply stock up on your supplies, then mix your needed cleaners into spray bottles and label. I chose to purchase spray bottle from The Container Store and then made labels using my MAC word processing. I know making labels may seem silly, but I use these every day, and I wanted to be pleased with the aesthetics every time I pulled them out. Plus, I included the recipe on the label, so my hubbie can re-mix a solution if necessary. The more responsible method would be to simply re-use old cleaning spray bottles; just rinse well first.


All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 gallon water. Vinegar is a natural antimicrobial, so it works as a disinfectant. I sometimes add a few drops of tea tree oil to scent the water and further enhance the antimicrobial properties. Use on kitchen counters, floors, showers, tubs, mirrors and windows.

Tubs and Showers: For tougher tub/shower jobs, sprinkle with baking soda, then spray with the all-purpose cleaner. Baking soda acts as a scouring agent to remove soap scum.

Carpet Stains: Spray hydrogen peroxide onto the stain and let set for a few minutes (screw a spray nozzle directly onto the bottle), then pat dry. Because hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, be sure to test for colorfastness first. For tougher stains, mix equal parts salt, Borax and vinegar. Rub in and leave for a few hours or until dry, then vacuum. (Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent, so spot test first.)

Window Cleaner: Mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar with 1 liter warm water. Use crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth to clean. The all-purpose cleaner (above) also works well on windows. Straight club soda is another good alternative.

Hardwood furniture: Mix 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup lemon juice and you have a polish for your hardwood furniture.

Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits.


Vinegar can be used as a natural fabric softener. Add 1 Tb - 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store bought fabric softener.

Laundry Detergent: I'm looking for a good homemade laundry detergent recipe ... please comment if you have one!

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10 Response to Healthy Housecleaning

April 21, 2010 at 12:28 PM

I should add that I'd love to hear ANY recipe for homemade laundry detergent, so if you know of one, please do share! But I'd especially love one suitable for high-efficiency machines, since that's what we have. Thanks lovelies!

April 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Love this post! It's so nice having a clean house without having to use dangerous chemicals. Thanks for sharing!

April 22, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Glad you like the post! Keep checking back for more healthy ideas!

April 22, 2010 at 9:48 PM

Here is a good laundry detergent recipe. I have not used It myself, but only because we cloth diaper and the Fels Naptha soap contains fragrance. I've also seen Zote soap and Ivory soap suggested in place of Fels Naptha, but Fels Naptha is the golden standard. Ingredients are readily available at your local grocer (laundry section). This is a huge money saver and from what I hear, a wonderful cleanser.

1 bar Fels Naptha soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer washing soda

Grate the Fels Naptha soap with a box grater on the super fine side, so it is a powder. Mix the soap powder with the cup of borax and washing soda. Store in a tupperware container or large mason jar.

Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.
Note: It will not sudse up like regular soap.

April 22, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Vinegar - I read, can't remember where now, that Vinegar is also a natural disinfectant. I mixed half water and half vinegar in a spray bottle to spray down the toys after playtime. My little girl was putting everything in her mouth at that time, and so I wanted to use a safe disinfectant. It doesn't smell great, but it does the job.

It also works great in the laundry as you said for a fabric softener, but also disinfects too. We use it when we are laundering our cloth diapers, kills two birds with one stone (especially since you can't use fabric softener with cloth diapers).

April 22, 2010 at 11:02 PM

Polishing Silver - This is a good one, and is a fun experiment to do just to amuse yourself to watch the tarnish dissolve away. There is a chemical reaction that occurs between the salt, baking soda, and the aluminum that causes the tarnish to remove. The dish you would use to put the materials in depends greatly on the item you are polishing. So, let's say you want to polish a silver spoon (you could use a small pot for this).

Cooking pot (or dish that is oven safe)
Aluminum foil
Baking Soda
Boiling hot water
Silver item(s) (we'll use a spoon here)

Instructions: Boil water in a tea kettle or separate pot. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the Small Cooking Pot and sprinkle salt and baking soda all over (tsp of each or so). Lay the spoon on top. Pour the boiling water into the aluminum lined pot and just let it do it's thing. Use tongs to remove the item after it has soaked for a while (5-10 minutes or so) and set aside. If you pull out the aluminum you will see that most of the tarnish has transferred from the silver to the aluminum. (Recycle the aluminum after you are through, and you can just pour the liquid down the drain.)

If the initial dip in the mixture didn't give you the gleam you were wanting, then you can form a paste out of baking soda and scrub the metal too (but only scrub with the paste and your fingers, so as not to damage the metal surface).

April 28, 2010 at 10:04 PM

I have not tried this yet, but my friend said it was good for eczema.
It's very similar to the other one posted.

Homemade Laundry Soap

6 c. Water
1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated (available at Dillons in laundry aisle)
½ c. Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (also at Dillons)
½ c. 20 Mule Team Borax (Dillons or Walmart)
2 Gallon Bucket or bigger (I use a 3 gallon)
4 c. Hot Water
Hot Water

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 6 cups of water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 4 cups hot water to 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water and mix well. Let set for 24 hours or until cool. Use ½ cup of mixture per load.

You may substitute any bar soap for the Fels Naptha (I used Oil of Olay. Only difference was mine was sudsier.)

Mixture separates a bit after sitting, simply shake jug a couple of times and use.

April 29, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Thank you all for your recipes! I love hearing from you! I'll have to give these recipes a try and report back on the findings!

August 20, 2010 at 5:22 PM

We've recently discovered that Calvin is allergic to laundry soap, so we are in search of a recipe. Thanks for sharing ladies!

PS Grapefruit is naturally a disinfectant, so add a few drops of grapefruit seed extract to the vinegar solution to not only add some "green" germ killer but make it smell even better :-)

August 21, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Thanks for the grapefruit tip! I use tea tree oil, because it's a natural disinfectant as well, but grapefruit would smell loads better!