Best Green Cleaners: What I Use to Clean Our Home (DIY and Green Products)

By Julie Sews - 5:23:00 PM

I usually do a deep clean of our house in January and July because that's our hottest and coldest time of the year since I'm usually indoors a lot.  But this year I've been busy working on new products for my store Ornute I didn't have much time to clean.  I'm finally taking a week off to clean and blog.  So I figured why not blog about what I use to clean our house?

Why I Use Only Natural Cleaning Products

Around the time I started this blog I stopped buying anything that wasn't natural in all things (personal items, bath and beauty, pest control, gardening, cleaning, etc).  The catalyst for this change was reading the book "What's in This Stuff?". As you can see in my review I was horrified to not only find out how many chemicals were in so many seemingly benign products, but also that many of them are known to actually cause chronic diseases such as cancer and are yet allowed to be sold. The reason is the FDA only regulates what can cause acute damage not chronic.  Or in other words it only prevents things being entered into the market place that could cause sudden damage or death when used as instructed, not possible negative outcomes at a latter time.  Or in other words you cannot trust the government to protect you from dangerous chemicals you need to protect yourself by learning about what is in the products you buy or make them yourself.

You need to be very careful about cleaning products because many do not disclose their ingredients in order to protect their formulas.  It can be easy to think well I'll just look for natural cleaning products next time I shop, but unfortunately even some "green" products can have concerning ingredients in it.  Green cleaning products is a big trend and a big money maker too, so many large companies that produce cleaning products are trying to market to the green marketplace but that market place is unregulated and as stated before does not have to disclose all it's ingredients so obviously it's possible for a product to be labelled natural and green but still have some disturbing ingredients.  According to Dr Mercola, " a recent study of natural and nontoxic consumer products found the suspected cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in roughly half of 100 tested products -- including several dishwashing liquids with words such as "Earth friendly" and "eco" in their brand names."

I try to either make my own cleaning products or buy products from companies that I know are using only safe ingredients.   Below is a snap shot of what I use to clean my house, both natural DIY, tools, and products.  

DIY Natural Cleaning I Use 

I have found that making your own DIY natural cleaning products doesn't actually mean that you need to make any.  I actually have found that using the ingredients often used in making natural cleaners such as vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide, in it's pure form can be very effective.  And the best thing is you don't have to worry about recipes or anything. You also don't have to worry about mixing the wrong things together.  For example NEVER mix vinegar with hydrogen peroxide it creates parectic acid.  According to BuzzFeed, "You can use them on the same surface separately while cleaning, but don’t mix them in the same container. You’ll create paracetic acid which, despite being an effective sanitizer, is potentially corrosive and irritating."

My Fav Tools For Cleaning
  • lots of good brushes for scrubbing (don't forget to check the dollar store and save old tothbrushes
  • squeegee for the shower, I got mine at the dollar store and I just take  30 secs after each shower wiping down the walls to prevent mold and mildew. This trick allows me to only have to clean our shower every 6 months.  
  • magic eraser I get mine 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree.  They are non toxic and erases marks on walls and many other places like magic.  When wet the sponges turn into a super fine nonabrasive sand paper like material.  

I use vinegar to:
  • Clean/disinfect food prep areas (counters and surfaces) in our kitchen.  
  • Clean/disinfect tables/ coffee tables   
  • clean mirrors and windows
I will warn you using vinegar does stink, but it's worth it considering it's easily accessible, cheap, safe to eat, and disinfects.  It can be tempting to use a chemical disinfectant on your counters, cutting boards, etc., but keep in mind you also prepare food on those surfaces.  I feel much better knowing I'm cleaning my food prep area and surfaces I eat on (tables, coffee table) with something I would eat myself!  

Hydrogen Peroxide
In other words even though hydrogen peroxide is natural you still need to keep it away from kids!

 I use hydrogen peroxide to:
  • treat laundry stains
  • as a laundry booster
  • shower/mold/ mildew cleaner
 Hydrogen peroxide is like natures bleach.  It works similarly to bleach just not as strongly.  A weaker version if you will, without the danger of using bleach. Hydrogen Peroxide is basically the same chemical make up as water but with an extra oxygen atom (H2O2). Because of this it breaks down quickly and harmlessly into oxygen and water. Hydrogen peroxide like ozone, kills disease organisms by oxidation, so it is a powerful disinfectant.  I usually use vinegar instead as a general disinfectant since I would drink vinegar but not hydrogen peroxide. You can turn any hydrogen peroxide bottle to a spray bottle by simply adding the top of any spray bottle to the hydrogen peroxide bottle.

I had a white cotton shirt that I loved that I got from my days in fashion retail that was expensive and had sentimental value but had gotten a rust stain on it. I think it was next to something in storage that stained it.  I didn't really want to get rid of it so I figured I'd spray it with hydrogen peroxide and see if it works. What have I got to lose? I figured.  After the first spray settled for awhile and dried the stain was noticeably lighter. So I tried it again, still there but better
I think it took 3-4 times of spraying hydrogen peroxide the rust stain and letting it dry until the stain was completely gone.  I've sense tried it with other stains and some have worked and some have not.  But I figure it's worth a shot.

You can also use hydrogen Peroxide as a color safe bleach.  Add 1/ cup to 2 cups to the bleach container or when you normally add bleach. 

Mold /Mildew/ Bathroom Cleaner
I deep clean our bathroom about every 6 months. I typically start cleaning our grout of mold by spraying hydrogen peroxide on any areas with mold. I let it sit for awhile (30 mins or more). I then spray the area again and scrub it with an old tooth brush. It works surprisingly well. Every few years I use the bleach bathroom  cleaner I had before going chemical free just to get rid of the few pesky stains I can't get rid of with hydrogen peroxide.

Cleaning Products I Use
While it's nice to make your own cleaning products, sometimes I've found it's worth it to buy green all natural products instead. I've found making my own dish washing soap to not be as effective as buying some green dish washing detergent, and I've found that it's good to have some green products for the heavy duty cleaning tasks.  Below are the products I use for those tougher tasks.

Branch Basics For General Cleaning
Image via Branch Basics
Branch Basics all natural cleaning concentrate can be diluted with water at different amounts for different cleaning tasks. So one bottle of concentrate can work for general cleaning tasks, bathroom, kitchen, laundry, floors, mirrors and windows, and even your hands and body.

Branch basics is so non-toxic it's actually safe to ingest it (not that I would suggest drinking it LOL). So you don't need to worry about children accidentally ingesting it.  Which is nice to know even if you don't have kids, cause you still never know what a kid visiting could do.  Branch Basics is also 100% plant and mineral based, free of synthetics fragrance, parabens, preservatives, harmful VOC, SLS, no triclosan, BPA-free.  Biodegradable in 30 days or less. It's also GMO free and cruelty and vegan free. It's made from a combination of soap and plant enzymes

To create your cleaning solution you pick the corridinating empty bottle you want to use then fill with concentrate to the line then fill with water to the water line on the bottle and shake.  I chose to make mine at the bathroom cleaner concentration, but use it as a general purpose cleaner. I figure I'd rather have only one bottle at a time that's stronger.  I used it to clean doors, handles, and light switches yesterday and it worked great.

JR Watkins Coconut Home Care
image via J.R. Watkins

JR Watkins was started in Plainville, MN in 1868 and later moved to Winona, MN.  If I ever go to Winona MN (which I might someday to genealogy research), I plan to visit the Watkins Heritage Museum, which was The Watkins Print Shop that was in operation for 88 years. Its most famous publication was the 1948 “Watkins Almanac, Home Doctor and Cook Book".
Vintage J.R. Watkins "Pure Enough to Eat Soap"Ad Image via J.R. Watkins
 JR Watkins has a new coconut home line exclusively available with Target.  It smells very good, I love the smell of coconuts!  And it works great too.  I also love that the bottles look cute on a counter or shelf.  The J. R. Watkins Coconut Home line is free of parabens, phthalates, and dyes. J.R. Watkins I especially like the Coconut All-Purpose Cleaner because it is never tested on animals, is non toxic, 99% Natural and free from ammonia, bleach, parabens, phthalates, glycols and dyes. Use to clean appliances, sinks, countertops and more.
Bon Ami For Scouring
How I Clean Our Oven Without Toxins
I use Bon Ami in place of Ajex for cleaning our oven, fridge/freezer, stove, baking sheets, pots and pans that need serious scouring, and our bath tub.  Bon Ami is made from a waste product of quartz, feldspar mineral.  Buy waste product I mean the part of quartz that is filtered out in producing it.  Feldspar creates abrasion without scratching any surface and it's an all natural product. Bon Ami is made of a combination of soap and feldspar to create cleaning with abrasion for your toughest cleaning jobs. You truly don't need chemical cleaners to do your tough cleaning jobs!

Disclaimer: Branch Basics and JR Watkins gave me samples of their product for review, but I was not compensated in any other way.  I only accept products for review I would buy myself and my opinions are my own.

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Related posts:
How I Clean Our Oven Without Toxins
Does DIY all Natural Dishwashing Detergent Really Work?

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