Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products

Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products--Just 10 household items mixed 10 different ways can make 10 different awesome cleaners! (Includes FREE printable chart for making all 10 products!)Hopefully all this de-cluttering is getting you all excited for the deep, deep cleaning that is going to happen soon!  I don’t know how it is for you, but with every box of stuff I get rid of I feel like another little load has been lifted off my shoulders.  We are still going to take some time in the next week for more weeding and purging, but in the meantime I thought it would be a good idea to also start gathering some of the necessary tools you’ll need to get your space spic & span.

I have always had a bad habit of thinking that more cleaning supplies would result in a cleaner house.  At one point we had so many mops and brooms in our broom closet that my husband finally exploded in exasperation: “You do realize that none of them actually clean the floor for you, right?” he snapped.

The thing is, until he said that, I actually thought they might.

As hard as it was to finally accept the sad reality that there are no magic mops, I am happy to report that we are now down to one broom, one dustpan, and one mop in our broom closet, and that is just exactly enough.

A key component of The Big Spring Clean is to STOP bringing in more things, so I am going to challenge you to use the supplies you have on hand as you complete this challenge.   If you–like me–have accumulated mass quantities of cleaning supplies, use those up before you run out and buy something new.  Using what you already have is about as green & thrifty as you can get.

For anything you do still need, you might be surprised to discover that you probably already have the right ingredients right in your own kitchen or laundry cabinet.   I have been amazed to find that a combination of just a few common household products that can tackle almost every cleaning task.  In fact I’ve discovered that just 10 different products–most of which I already have on hand–can be combined in 10 different ways to make 10 different awesome, green, & super thrifty cleaners.  10x10x10….how cool is that?

10x10x10 Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products--this is really cool! Just 10 different household items mixed 10 different ways can make 10 awesome cleaners (enough to clean your whole house!)

Here is my magic list of 10 essential green & thrifty cleaning products:

white vinegar
baking soda
lemons and/or lemon juice
salt
olive oil
Ivory bar soap
liquid dishwashing soap 
washing soda
borax
essential oils (I like lemon, lemongrass, & eucalyptus)
 

{P.S. These tools are also handy to have around}

clean rags
scrub brush or sponge
squeegee
empty spray bottles & lidded containers
broom
mop
vacuum
 

And here is how to use them!

1. Bathroom Cleaner: 

3/4 c. baking soda
juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 1/4 c)
3 tablespoons salt
 3 tablespoons liquid dishwashing soap
1/2 cup vinegar
10 drops essential oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl to make a paste; use scrub brush or sponge to apply to tub, shower walls, & sinks.  (Be sure to test a small area to make sure paste does not scuff tub surface; if so, eliminate the salt from the mixture!  Rinse well with water and a wet rag, then dry with a clean rag or old towel.

*   *   *

2. Toilet Bowl Cleaner:

1 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
10 drops essential oil (optional)

Turn off flow valve to toilet & flush 1 or 2 times until water is drained.  Pour in baking soda, then slowly pour in vinegar, being sure to get vinegar to cover as much of the bowl surface as possible, then add essential oil.  The baking soda will react with the vinegar–this is normal!  Use your toilet brush to scrub surface & remove any rings or stains.  Turn water back on and flush.

*   *   *

homemade furniture polish

3. Furniture Polish

3/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1/4  lemon
1 tablespoon vinegar
3-4 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Dampen rag & squeeze out excess water.  Dip damp rag into furniture polish, the wipe on surface of furniture.  Buff off with an old dry towel.  Can also be used to polish stainless steel!

*   *   *

4. Glass Cleaner

1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2  cups water
5-10 drops essential oil (optional)

Mix vinegar, water, & essential oil together in spray bottle.  Spray on glass & use squeegee, crumpled newspaper (Tip: use newspapers that are at least 2 weeks old to avoid black fingers!), or a lint-free rag to get a streak-free shine.  Also works well to shine chrome and countertops after you’ve disinfected them.

*   *   *

homemade cleaners5. All Purpose Cleaning Spray

1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda
1 teaspoon dishwashing soap
1 cup vinegar
4 cups hot water
25-30 drops essential oil (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together well in large bowl, then pour into spray bottle.  Spray on, then wipe surface clean with a damp cloth.  Can be used to clean and disinfect almost any surface!

*   *   *

6. Stainless Steel Cleaner

2 tablespoons baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
2 cups warm water

Mix ingredients in spray bottle.  Mixture will foam up; when it stops bubbling, put on cap and spray stainless steel surface, then wipe clean & dry with lint-free rag.  To add extra shine, use furniture polish above.

*   *   *

7. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

1 cup baking soda
1 cups borax
1/2 cup salt
vinegar (add to rinse compartment!)

Mix first three ingredients well & store in airtight container.  To use, add 1 tablespoon to each of the 2 compartments in your dishwasher and 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your rinse compartment.

*   *   *

8. Floor Cleaner

1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup baking soda 
8-10 cups hot water
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda
30 drops essential oil (optional)

Mix vinegar & baking soda together in bucket; add hot water, Borax, washing soda, & essential oil and mix until all powder is dissolved.  Use mop or sponge to wipe down floor; wipe dry with clean dry towel.

*   *   *

homemade laundry detergent

9. Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar Ivory soap
1 cup borax
1 cup washing powder

This homemade laundry detergent is so cheap and easy to make that you will kick yourself for not trying it until now.  Place Ivory soap in a large microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes, until soap turns to foam.  Quickly stir foam until it becomes small soap chips, then mix well with borax and washing powder.  Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight container.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  (Tip:  This detergent works best in warm or hot water; for cold water washing you may want to first dissolve in 1/4 c. of hot water.)

*   *   *

10. Fabric Softener

vinegar
essential oil (optional)

Add 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar with several drops of your favorite essential oil to the rinse cycle (or simply place in fabric softener compartment of your front load washer.)

*   *   *

So that’s it….10 ingredients mixed up 10 different ways to create 10 different cleaners.  Are you psyched yet?

And finally, I thought it would be fun to put together a little 10x10x10 green & thrifty cleaning products cheat sheet for you.  This printable page includes the list of all 10 ingredients plus all 10 recipes so you can hang it on your fridge or laundry room or wherever is most handy. You know, just ’cause I’m just nice like that!  :-)  Please feel free to Pin It on Pinterest or share it on Facebook!10x10x10 Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products--FREE PRINTABLE!  Just 10 cleaning products mixed 10 different ways can make 10 awesome cleaners--enough to clean your whole house!

{Get Free Printable Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products Cheat Sheet}

And here is a chalkboard version:

10x10x10 Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products

{Get free printable Chalkboard Green & Thrifty Cleaners Cheat Sheet here}

The Big Spring Clean {Spring Cleaning Series}

Miss something?  Check out the entire Big Spring Clean series:

Part 1: Clearing the Clutter
Part 2: Green & Thrifty Cleaning Products
Part 3: Cleaning from Top to Bottom 
Part 4: Conquering the Kitchen 

*   *   *

How’s your own Big Spring Clean coming along so far?  Are you ever guilty of buying more cleaning products in the hope that they will clean your house for you?  Do you have any green & thrifty cleaning product tips of your own to share?

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{ 116 comments… add one }

  • Michelle March 13,

    I am a former housecleaner, so I love this post! I used to spend alot of money on cleaning products that would come out of my profits. Now that I am home, I try to not buy so many cleaning products and am currently trying to use up the ones that I have. Thanks for the cheat sheet! I am a procrastinator at heart and this will help alot. Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup March 13,

      Yay! I am so glad to hear you like it Michelle! I’d love to hear your “professional” opinion after you give some of the recipes a try!

      Reply
    • tykera December 16,

      its stank

      Reply
    • Crustle July 15,

      Thinking frugal, one way to do this is to make homemade cleaning supplies by locating them in a specialised store. It is not easy but when you find them, it will be worth all your effort.

      Reply
  • carrie March 13,

    Just a comment to say: LOVE the new format. Very clean and organized!!

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup March 13,

      Thank you Carrie! :-)

      Reply
      • Gilied Brown March 29,

        I appreciate for the recipe of the tile and window cleaners you so wonderful send us some recipes l thank you

        Reply
  • Candace March 13,

    Love this list and the simplicity! :) I have been cleaning a lot with just a vinegar and water mixture. I want to try adding some lemon and baking soda to my repertoire! What are you using to dust? That is one thing I have still been buying that I’d like to replace.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup March 13,

      Thanks Candace. Truthfully, I usually use one of those Swiffer dusters most of the time for just light daily dusting. I know it isn’t super green, but I find that one little pad will last a long time–usually a month or two. I’ll also sometimes just use a damp cloth. The furniture polish recipe above is AWESOME for wood–makes it SO shiny!

      Reply
      • candace March 14,

        Maybe this is a dumb question, but would you dust with the polish??

        Reply
      • linda July 5,

        I bought micro cloths a few years ago and dampen, wring them out and dust everything, cleans glass and mirrors same way. Cloths look brand new and wash in washer.

        Reply
  • Jenny March 13,

    This is so great, thank you!

    Reply
  • Sarah March 13,

    Do you think these cleaners really work as well? It is hard to believe it could be this simple!

    Reply
    • Linda July 5,

      I use rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle to disinfect and clean countertops, hard surfaces in kitchen and bathroom. Leave on a minute and wipe off. I use a tsp of bleach in 2 cups of water with white rag to remove stains on porcelain. Vinegar is also a disinfectant and an air freshener, smell goes away and takes the household odors with it. You will just be saving money. I have been scrubbing collars and spots with brown bar soap for 5 decades, throw them in the washer and don’t add any detergent, leaves my hands soft too. I like, simple, easy and inexpensive.

      Reply
  • M March 13,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been wanting to make my own products forever, but there are SO many recipes! I have been having a difficult time figuring out where to start; this is perfect!

    Reply
  • Linda Grooms March 13,

    Visiting from Money Saving Mom. Love your cheat sheet!!! I use the same laundry detergent, though I usually use a different bar soap. I wash mostly in cold water. Is there something that you noticed that made you decide to wash in warm/hot or dissolve the soap first?

    Reply
  • Sheri Cost March 13,

    I have been making my own cleaners and soaps for a long time. I have found that if you add unsweetened lemonaide kool aid to the dishwashing soap you do not have to worry about white film. It is the cirtus acid that cuts that film. Thanks

    Reply
  • Suzanne Holt March 13,

    Although I use chemical free cleaning products I have considered using some of these homemade remedies. My concern is that the lavender oil (which I LOVE the scent) will leave spots. Has anyone experienced that before?

    Reply
  • kate@katemarrin March 27,

    As the mom of three (!) severe asthmatics I will vouch for the importance of keeping chemicals out of our homes and the lungs of our little ones. Thank you for promoting a green lifestyle Ruth! I cannot wait to try the home made laundry detergent and fabric softener!

    Reply
  • VelmaD April 7,

    I love the simplicity of your list and chemical-free cleaning has long been my personal goal. The recipe that caught my attention was the stainless steel cleaner and I will try it today!
    Do the essential oils serve a function other than the nice scent? I do 95% of my cleaning using only water and Norwex microfiber so anything with oils will have to be adapted. I’m curious whether the oils leave a film on furniture which will actually attract dirt.
    (Candace: I can recommend a product to solve your dusting woes. Contact me or check my website.)

    Reply
  • Claudia April 7,

    Hi,

    Love it when people make their own Cleaning products! I try and incorporate a lot off essential oils in my Cleaning it makes everything smell , but also has so many benefits such as clearing the air, several are antifungal, antiseptic, antibiotic etc. I do try and not use Borax, as it is proven to be very harsh for the skin and even toxic. In several european countries it is even banned, so I am surprised to find it in so many US recipies for natural cleaning products.

    Reply
    • Karin September 23,

      Hi Claudia,
      You are right about the toxicity of Borax! We use Borax and peanut butter for pest control in the hard to see crevices after a pest control guy suggested it. Our problem was that we lived in an apartment, and pest services weren’t normal. When somebody complained of roaches, the super would only spray that apartment, and the roaches would migrate. After this little recipe was put into effect, we didn’t really have a problem. :D We do not have pets, so this works for us.

      Reply
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  • produkty pszczele April 24,

    There is certainly a lot to know about this topic.
    I like all the points you have made.

    Reply
  • Joy April 29,

    Great recipes…I was looking for a homemade dishwasher soap…thanks so much :)

    Reply
  • Maureen April 30,

    Planning to clean our gigantic stainless steel barb-b-q this weekend. This will come in handy!

    Reply
  • Carissa April 30,

    Thanks for the great post and recipes! I featured you today on Creative Green Living

    Reply
  • Anonymous May 16,

    Thanks for the recipes. I am heading to the grocery store today.

    Reply
  • Catriona May 22,

    I read this on Wikipedia:

    Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child”.[22]

    I’d like to try and find some home cleaning solutions that don’t include Borax! In Germany they do not sell Borax – it is considered an unsafe chemical.

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup June 3,

      Hi Catriona,
      There are definitely varying viewpoints on the use of Borax! I personally have read several articles about the controversy, and I feel perfectly safe using it in my home as a cleaning product, particularly when it is compared with other chemical laden products. Borax is a naturally occurring substance that doesn’t get absorbed by the body and does not harm the environment. Furthermore, the EU study you are referring to was regarding Boran being sprayed on crops. I am definitely not suggesting we use Borax in our food! :-) Crunchy Betty has written a fantastic article on the subject: http://www.crunchybetty.com/getting-to-the-bottom-of-borax-is-it-safe-or-not.

      Reply
  • Laura June 3,

    hey! i loved reading your quick morning cleaning routine post and wandered over to this one next. i’m a mother of four who uses natural cleaning products in our home as well, but i noticed your cleaning formulas don’t make sense! for example, mixing equal parts baking soda and vinegar for your toilet bowl cleaner plus essential oil is pretty much like cleaning with water and oil since the baking soda and vinegar neutralize each other. if you’re interested, you can read more here: http://www.crunchybetty.com/diy-101-baking-soda-vinegar-not-so-much. the two products alone will be much more effective for you.

    again, thanks for sharing your cleaning tips! have a happy day! (:

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup June 3,

      Hey Laura, thanks so much for your comment! You are absolutely right that the vinegar will neutralize the baking soda….eventually! For this particular cleaning method, it is that neutralization process that is so effective in cleaning the toilet! You drain the water, add the baking soda and vinegar, and then let the reaction do its thing. You can’t pre-mix it ahead of time, since the reaction is what is doing the heavy cleaning action! :-) Hope that helps clarify!

      Reply
  • rusca web sitesi June 26,

    I do agree with all the concepts you’ve offered on your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for novices. May you please extend them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

    Reply
  • Melissa July 3,

    I have a High Effiency (HE) washing machine. Have any of you tried the homemade laundry detergent in an HE machine? These machines have a low-suds detergent requirement, because too many suds will damage the machine. It looks perfect for hand washables, though. I am looking forward to trying these out, and not having to quickly vacate my bathrooms due to the chemical smells!

    Reply
    • Ashley July 8,

      Melissa, I have an HE washing machine as well. I’ve been making and using the homemade detergent since last September without any problems whatsoever. The recipe that I use is the same as the one from above. I just happened to have found the recipe on another site first. It has saved us quite a bit. I’ve only had to buy more bars of soap so far. I’m still using the boxes of borax and washing powders that I purchased last year. :) I hope this helps.

      Reply
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  • JAMES R. July 5,

    These are cleaners I started using about 6 months ago & to be honest, I can not tell the difference between commercial cleaners & the ones I made…except of course in my wallet.

    The cleaners I made are about 1/10 the cost compared to commercial cleaners.
    They’re super easy to make too!

    I’m not a survivalist per se, but I do this to save money & it’s way better for the environment. I encourage everyone to make their own cleaners.

    Reply
  • Tiffany July 5,

    I started making my own laundry detergent, I love it. My recipe is a little different though, I use 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup borax, 1/4 citric acid, 1/4 biz and a handful of unstoppables f or a little extra nice smell. I got it from another site and tweaked it just a tiny bit. It makes 2.5 gallons of laundry detergent and it should be septic tank safe. Put warm water in 2.5 gallon bucket/jug, add washing soda and borax mix really good, then add more water about 1-2 inches from top add citric acid (it will fizz but that’s it), add biz and unstoppables. Mix very good. I can’t wait to try these cleaners though.

    Reply
  • Tiffany July 5,

    I just made a post about my homemade laundry detergent, I also wanted to add that I have a front loading HE washer.

    Reply
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  • Cathy Guns July 18,

    Looking for the recipe for homemade Febreeze. It uses fabric softener but I cant remember what else.

    Reply
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    I love this post and have had it saved on Pinterest for a while now. I’ve just referenced this post and your blog in my blog today and wanted to let you know! Thanks for the amazing information!
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  • Samantha R. July 24,

    I don’t like having to deal with hassle of making own so I get my already made natural organic cleaning products from http://www.naturalwayorganics.net. Theirs doesn’t harm the environment and is great for the household.

    Reply
  • Sara Taylor August 2,

    Love the ideas! I’ve been collecting one like this, I’m gonna need a bigger binder to put them all in..lol My favorite solution that I use is vinegar except since I don’t like the smell of it I always add a few drops of my favorite essential oil to it.

    Reply
  • Molly August 15,

    Excited to try some of these. Can some of them be made and stored in a spray bottle (like the glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaner) for a while?

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup August 17,

      Absolutely!

      Reply
  • Carolyn August 19,

    I just tried to use the floor cleaner but it left a residue on my laminate floor (even after wiping with towel afterwards)so I tossed it out before even finishing moping the whole area to be cleaned and just mopped with water and vinegar. I am thinking the baking soda is the culprit, what are your thoughts?

    Reply
  • Valerie Viele August 23,

    Hi!
    I know this is an old post.. But I’m curious about the floor cleaner. What kinds of floors do you use this on? We have laminate (I hate it), which can’t have ANY water on it and a variety of other things it can’t have on it. I have to use a laminate specific cleaner and have resorted to bona because we also have granite in our house and the stuff works great, so I don’t mind.
    And also, what about wood floors? (i don’t have them, but I might later) Would you use the furniture polish recipe?
    I grew up with carpet and that weird floor that isn’t even tile more like vinyl, that you can use anything on, so I vacuumed with homemade carpet powder, and we just mopped the floor with whatever.
    So yea, I’m ignorant. LOL

    Reply
  • cleaning products online August 24,

    This list of green & thrifty cleaning products is super impressive…we have so many ingredients in our home with which we can make these eco-friendly products…this is so helpful of you to have shared the recipes here.

    Reply
  • Homemade Cleaning August 24,

    Hi Ruth, Thanks for sharing your list of cleaning recipes. I love the laundry detergent recipe, our family has been using a similar recipe for a while. We use a simple recipe for removing tea and coffee stains from mugs: http://www.diycleaningproducts.org/diy-cleaning-recipies/kitchen-diy-cleaning-recipes/clean-coffee-stains-from-mugs/

    Reply
  • Sandy Hovatter August 28,

    I was so excited about the diswashing detergent recipe…and then so disappointed when I used it. It left a significant white film on all the dishes. Ran them through a second time with same results. Anyone experience this and solve it?

    Reply
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  • Arnica Rowan August 30,

    I’ve always wanted to try my own cleaning products… Now I’ll ask the husband to whip up a few next week and well give them a whirl! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Anonymous September 19,

    Does the floor cleaner work well on hardwood? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Anonymous November 7,

    I’m not a fan of chemicals — I’ve had breast and skin cancer. But the reason people switched to chemicals from old-school supplies is that they work better and don’t require as much elbow grease. That said, I don’t use them except for very limited applications. In particular, I’ve found bleach is the only way to get rid of mold. White vinegar has not worked for me in this department.

    Reply
  • Jacquie T. December 6,

    I add 10-12 drops of Tea Tree essential oil, Peppermit oil and/or Lavender essential oil to the all purpose cleaning spray. All are natural disinfectants and make my house smell wonderful! Side note on these: If you have pets, keep these essential oils away from them and the areas where they sleep, eat, etc. Tea Tree oil is especially harmful to cats. I keep my use of them confined pretty much to the kitchen and bathroom areas. Thanks for all of the great recipes and tips!

    Reply
  • danielle January 10,

    does this is work on hard water

    Reply
  • Terry February 12,

    Peroxide in a spray bottle is a great cleaner, disinfectant,stain remover. Great to have handy for pet wet spots on hard floors

    Reply
  • Anonymous March 8,

    I’m a professional independent housekeeper and am looking forward to trying since out… I’m picky so I’ll see how it works out and post

    Reply
  • Suzanne@FrugalOrganicMama March 13,

    I just ran across this list of homemade household cleaners and am really excited to try some of them. I’ve been wanting to make my own laundry detergent for awhile now and your recipe seems pretty easy. Do you know if it can be used in front loading washing machines?

    Reply
    • Ruth Soukup March 14,

      Yes, The homemade laundry detergent can be used in front loading HE washing machines. If you have further concerns you can contact the manufacturer. I hope this helps!

      Reply
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  • Amy March 14,

    I love these! I like the ideals adding the ivory soap to the laundry detergent. I was curious if you knew if it is safe to use in HE washers?

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    • Ruth Soukup March 14,

      Yes, The homemade laundry detergent can be used in front loading HE washing machines. :)

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    Hi Ruth! I love your site! I was wondering if you’ve used the furniture polish on cabinets? I have new cabinets with a very dark stain, and I’d love to try your formula for cleaning and buffing them. Thanks!

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