Guide to Green Living

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Natural Cleaning Products

This is a list of some natural products that are great for cleaning and can replace most of your chemical cleaners. With these products you'll be able to make everyday cleaning more environmentally friendly.

Vinegar – Because vinegar is a strong acid, it can cut through wax and grease as well as kill moulds and mildew. It also works great on stains. It can therefore replace harsh chemical cleaners that wreak havoc on the environment and can be dangerous to your health. Because it is a natural substance, vinegar can be used safely on many surfaces. For example, vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect cutting boards, dishes (including china and fine glassware) and pots and pans. It is also strong enough to get rid of grease and grime from your refrigerator, microwave, oven, sinks and countertops. Vinegar can be used to clean tile floors and to get rid of soap scum and hard water stains on bathroom fixtures and tiles (however keep in mind that it shouldn’t be used on marble surfaces) and to dissolve rust from metals. Vinegar is especially great on glass (such as windows and mirrors) and on stainless steel.

Pure soap – Pure soap is the basic compound found in all soap, but contains no added chemicals or scents and therefore has a minimal impact on the environment. Although it may not be strong enough for all cleaning needs, it is safe to use on any surface and works simply by scrubbing and rinsing with water.

Lemon juice – Like vinegar, lemon juice contains acid which is great for cutting through grease and killing bacteria. Many people prefer using lemon juice for cleaning over vinegar (or adding lemon juice to vinegar) because it has a much nicer scent. Lemon juice is usually just as effective as vinegar for cleaning and is environmentally safe. It can be used on the same surfaces and for the same purposes as vinegar; for grease, stains, soap scum, and hard water deposits on porcelain, metals, tiles, and plastics.

Baking soda – Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a natural powder that can be very useful for cleaning. It acts to neutralize both acids and bases and so can eliminate odours. You can sprinkle some baking soda on your carpet before vacuuming to help deodorize it. Many people also put some baking soda in the fridge to get rid of smells. Baking soda is also great as a mild abrasive cleaner for scouring and polishing, and can be used as a natural fabric softener. It also works great to declog drains because baking soda is a base just like brand name drain decloggers.

Borax – Borax is a natural product that deodorizes, removes stains, removes mould growth and can increase the performance of soaps and detergents. It can be used with vinegar to make a paste that is great for removing bad stains from surfaces such as porcelain.

Ammonia Ammonia, though natural, is a dangerous substance. It works on tough stains such as on carpets and rugs, linoleum, enamel, and most appliances. However, it shouldn't be handled without gloves, a mask and goggles, and should always be used in a well ventilated area. It should also never be mixed with any other cleaning products because it is very reactive.

Our next post will describe some cleaning recipes for these products that you can use on various surfaces in your home.

Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!


  • Thanks for these tips. I tried using baking soda to declog my kitchen drain, but I think it actually clogged it more? Ideas?
    I prefer not to get a chemical declogger... thanks!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/15/2008 9:01 p.m.  

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