Eco-Living Magazine

Non-Toxic, Green Cleaning

Posted on the 23 April 2011 by Livinggreenor

If you’re new to green cleaning or new to DIY, homemade cleaners, you may be overwhelmed and unsure on where to start and what products to use.  The good news is, you most likely won’t have to run out and buy anything new as you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.

What I love most about homemade cleaners is that you don’t need a plethora of products or anything hard-to-find.  The most basic cleaner can be used in virtually ever room and on every surface from the floor to the ceiling!

To create virtually every green cleaning product, I’ve found that the following four items are the ones I use the most.

Four Pantry Staples Every House Needs for Non-Toxic, Green Cleaning

White Distilled Vinegar

This is probably the single most used and versatile, non-toxic cleaner available.  Once I realized how often vinegar showed up in green cleaner recipes, I started buying it in bulk!  White distilled vinegar removes soap scum, grease and mineral deposits and acts as a deodorizer.


  • Vinegar can be used just about anywhere and on almost any surface including windows, glassware and floors (except for porous surfaces such as marble or granite).
  • It’s an excellent degreaser.
  • Shine up stainless steel fixtures and remove stains on carpet and rugs.
  • Use it in your dishwasher to disinfect or remove hard water spots.
  • Add it to the rinse cycle of your wash to repel static cling and act as a natural fabric softener.
  • More uses for vinegar can be found here and the massive list of over 75 vinegar uses can be found here.

If you can’t tolerate the smell of the vinegar, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.  If you don’t have any on hand, just open a window; after the vinegar has dried, the smell dissipates.

Did I mention how inexpensive vinegar is, too?  Purchase it at a warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco where you can buy it in bulk and save on packaging.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another wonder product that I can’t imagine being without.  It’s an abrasive and absorbs odors.  To make it easier to pour, try keeping it in an old parmesan cheese container or any other shakeable container.


  • It’s a natural deodorizer so use it on the carpet to help with any lingering odors.
  • I use baking soda along with vinegar to scrub my toilets for a green cleaner that’s better than anything I’ve ever bought at the store.  Just sprinkle some baking soda in the toilet, scrub, add some vinegar, fizz and let sit.  Before you flush, give the toilet one last scrub and you’re set!
  • Use it on the stove or your pots and pans to remove any caked on food.
  • Use it as a natural oven cleaner.

As with vinegar, you’ll want to keep more baking soda on hand than you think you’ll need.  I also buy my baking soda at a wholesaler such as Costco or Sam’s Club.  You’ll save on trips to the store and packaging by buying in bulk.

Four Pantry Staples Every House Needs for Non-Toxic, Green Cleaning

Liquid Soap

Liquid soap is a vegetable-oil-based soap sometimes referred to as castile soap.  You can find it in most health food stores and even stores such as Fred Meyer (health food section), Trader Joes, Whole Foods and New Seasons.  Dr. Bronner’s is a popular brand.


  • Use it along with vinegar and water to make a multi-purpose cleaner.  Add essential oils such as tea tree oil, peppermint or lavender for even stronger disinfectant and odor fighting properties.
  • Make your own dish soap with water and lemon essential oil.
  • More uses for liquid castile soap can be found here.

Four Pantry Staples Every House Needs for Non-Toxic, Green Cleaning

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant and natural bleach.


  • Spray counters with vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide (kept in it’s original bottle) to disinfect and kill germs.
  • Disinfect and clean your keyboard.
  • Use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains (see my post on how to remove cat urine from your mattress using hydrogen peroxide).

These are the very basic green cleaning ingredients found in my home.  What are your top products?

{green cleaner image credit: Chiot’s Run via creative commons; baking soda image credit: fokal; dr. bronner’s liqud castile soap image credit: capitolhemp via creative commons}

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