Spring [Green] Cleaning

This past weekend Aaron and I received a small twin bed from his brother, Adam. We were very excited to finally have an extra bed for guests to sleep on. However, because we only have one very small (very unorganized) guest room, we realized that we would have to embark on a very strategic adventure into the realm of organization. BRING.IT.ON.

I also decided to do some spring cleaning along the way, and, since I received a request from a friend to share some homemade cleaning products, I thought I'd make a whole post of it.

My Reasons for Going Chemical-free
Throughout my life I have suffered from random allergic reactions to all kinds chemicals and medications.
Example: When I was young I was stung by a bee. I took Benedryl to ease my swollen hand, and guess what? I had an allergic reaction to the Benedryl. Also, out of the three antibiotics I have taken I have had allergic reactions to two of them (hives ALL over my body for 4-7 days). I am weary of chemicals and medications, I just never know which ones will cause an allergic reaction. I have even resorted to using coconut oil for lotion because too many lotions have caused rashes on my skin.
One possible explanation is that I inherited a kidney weakness from my grandpa  (according to my childhood doctor) and sometimes my kidneys don't do the best job of filtering chemicals out of my body and, as a result, I get itchy rashes on my skin. It could be an over-reactive immune system, but I don't have any other allergies (food, seasonal, etc). I have no idea why I am so sensitive to chemicals medications, all I know is that in order to prevent rashes and hives I stay away from them.

I have researched quite a few chemical-free cleaning product recipes, and I have combined them into the recipes that I use everyday. I regularly use all the recipes below  (except the oven cleaner, I haven't had a chance to use that one yet). I feel that all the homemade recipes work better than store bought cleaners.

Making your own cleaning products also saves a lot of money. Do the math, you'll be surprised.

  • Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap
    I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap for EVERYTHING. I use it for face wash (it works better than anything else I have tried), body wash, laundry soap and other homemade cleaners . It is made out of plant oils and foams just like any other soap, but doesn't try out my skin. You can get it at Target, Azure Standard, or any other health food store. 
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Washing soda (optional)
  • Essential oils; tea tree oil, rosemary, or eucalyptus (you can find these at any health food store)
  • Spray bottles

Cool Trick
You can create a better smelling vinegar for use in cleaning products by adding orange peels (or any citrus peel) to a quart of white vinegar in a closed container and let it sit for two weeks. Use in any of these recipes.


All-Purpose Cleaner
1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (if you don't like the smell you can decrease it to 3 Tbsp)
2 squirts of castile soap
3-5 drops of essential oil (I use tea tree oil because it is a natural disinfectant)

Pour ingredients into spray bottle and shake.

2 cups water
2 Tbsp castile soap
20-30 drops of tea tree oil

Pour ingredients into spray bottle and shake. For heavy duty disinfecting on my cutting boards, counter tops, and around the toilet, I will screw a spray bottle top onto a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray on the area.

Window and Glass Cleaner
2 cups water
1 tsp white vinegar (you can also use lemon juice)

Spray on surface and wipe off with paper towel.

Porcelain and Tile
  • Sprinkle baking soda onto surface and scrub with wet sponge or cloth. Another option is to make a paste out of baking soda and water and place on steel wool (hard stains) or sponge and scrub shower and bath.
  • For mildew and hard water stains, spray the area with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit for a few minutes and scrub with hard-bristled brush.

Oven Cleaner
  • Make a paste out of baking soda and water. Scrub oven and let sit over night. Next morning, use moist cloth to wipe clean.

Clogged Drains
  • Get as much junk (hair, toothbrush, etc) as you can out of the drain before using anti-clog mixture. 
  • Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Cover and let fiz for a couple minutes. Uncover drain and flush with one gallon boiling water. 

Toilet Cleaner
  • Castile soap and/or oxygen bleach (Oxyclean) along with a stainless steel scrubby work great for everyday cleaning
  • For heavy duty stains use a pumice stone (the kind you use for your heels) to scrub the inside of the toilet

1 cup castile liquid soap
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup washing soda

Warm the salt and baking soda in water until mostly dissolved. Transfer to a one gallon container. Add your soap fill the rest of the jar with water, this giving you 1 gallon of detergent. Use 1/4 -1/2 cup per load, depending upon how dirty the load is. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle. This works as an effective fabric softener and disinfectant (trust me, you cannot smell this afterwards). Depending upon the hardness of your water, you may want to decrease the water quantity or increase the soap quantity.

Please note: do not add essential oils to your detergent. These oils will break down the fiber in your clothing. If you want a particular fragrance, try putting a few drops of essential oils on a rag and throwing it in the dryer. This will add fragrance but not transfer to your clothing.

I love this recipe! I was afraid that my clothes would not smell clean, but they were a lot softer and cleaner than when I was using store bought detergents. I even used it on my brother's clothing and had all my family members smell and feel the clothes afterwards. They didn't know which clothes were washed with regular detergent and which clothes were washed with the homemade detergent. They couldn't tell the difference!

Another cleaning tool that I have just recently used is a steamer. Aaron's mom is letting us borrow her steamer for a while and I have used it to deep clean our entire house. It is an appliance worth investing in.


  1. Hey Jessica, How long have you been using homemade laundry detergent? I've been looking into it, but I'm worried my clothes will fade faster. Does it work well in "HE" machines? Also, what section at Target do you get your castile soap? Do you have to use your cleaners the same day you make them? I've heard some natural cleaners loose their effectiveness over time. =) I'm interested, can you tell!? =) I'm a huge fan of vinegar for a fabric softener and my pumice stone for the toilet.

    1. I used the homemade detergent for about 6 months before I was married and I didn't see any fading (right now we are trying to use the rest of the eco-friendly detergent that Aaron bought as a bachelor).
      I have seen recipes that include a bar-soap called "Fels-Naptha" and people have said that that particular soap fades dark clothes, but I did some researched and found out that castile soap is more gentle and does not fade clothes. So, I use castile soap instead of the other stuff. This homemade soap recipe is safe for HE washers because it does not create a lot of suds.
      Also, if you need to do some heavy duty cleaning (e.g. cloth diapers), you can substitute the salt in the recipe for 20 Mule Borax. Washing Soda and Borax are in the detergent aisle in most Wal-Marts. The castile soap is usually in the natural beauty section at Target (by the Burt's Bees products).
      I only make enough cleaner to fit in a spray bottle, and it takes about 6 months to use it all. I haven't seen a difference, but it makes sense that it would start to lose effectiveness over time. I would suggest making the cleaner in smaller batches, just in case :)

    2. Thanks! I've only seen recipes that use the fels-naptha, so I'll feel much for confident using your recipe. I might just have to print this entire post..... =)It's so nice that you've already done all the research and know what's best.

    3. K, so amazon has 4 oz of tea tree oil and 32 oz of castile soap for about $15.50 each. Are those good prices or do I have to leave to house to get them. =)

    4. No problem! Let me know if it works, or if you notice that it starts to fade your clothes. Also, I put 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar in the "fabric softener" cup of my washer for all clothing except Carinessa garments. I was told not to use softener on them because it will damage the fabric. I'm not sure if vinegar will affect them in the same way, but I'm not going risk it :)

    5. I use the vinegar for our whites all the time and it hasn't damaged any fabric. Sometimes I still need a dryer sheet though to help with static.

    6. Alicia, the tea tree oil is a great deal (most 4 oz bottles are around $35). The castile soap is $16.99 at Target, so it is cheaper on Amazon!

  2. Cleaning an oven is often a problematic and chaotic process, but with the right approach you can get through it effortlessly. As you may have imagined, the best way to keep your oven clean is to have it regularly scrubbed and maintained. That way, when it comes time to bake that cake, you won’t have to scrape off months of buildup.

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