Green Cleaning Solutions

Page - April 19, 2007
If you read the packaging of household cleaning products, you've probably come across some words you don't recognize. Chances are, if you can't pronounce it, it's not good for the environment. Try these homemade concoctions instead.

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pure soap
  • 1 gallon (4 liters) hot water
  • For a clean scent and to help cut grease add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of lemon juice.

This solution is safe for all surfaces, should be rinsed with water, and is effective for most jobs. For a stronger cleaner, double the amounts of soap and lemon juice.


  • Mix 50-100 ml of eucalyptus oil with a liter of water.

This can be used in a spray bottle, but remember to shake the mixture before using to disperse the oil.

Scouring Powder

  • Use a firm bristle brush and scrub with pure soap combined with either table salt or baking soda.
  • Baking soda alone on a damp sponge is also effective on most surfaces. You can also personalize your scouring powder by adding an aromatic herb or flower. Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until the fragrance has infused the powder.
  • For oven spills, scrub using straight baking soda or combine with the stronger version of the all purpose cleaner.
  • Remember to wear gloves when scrubbing.

Air Fresheners

Commercial air fresheners work by masking smells and coating the nasal passages with chemicals which diminish the sense of smell by deadening the nerves. Avoid these products. Instead, try the all-natural air purifiers - house plants. Or try these natural recipes to diminish odor and add a fragrant smell to your house:

  • Use baking soda in your garbage or refrigerator to help reduce odors at their source.
  • Dissolve 1 tsp (5 ml) of baking soda in 2 cups (500 ml) of hot water, add 1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray as you would an air freshener.
  • Place a few slices of a citrus fruit, cloves or cinnamon in a pot with enough water to simmer gently for an hour or two.

Liquid Dish Soap

Grate a bar of pure soap into a sauce pan. Cover with water and simmer over low heat until they melt together. Add some vinegar to the water for tough grease and to remove spots. Pour into a container and use as you would any liquid dishwashing soap.

Mirrors, Glass and Windows

Wash with pure soap and water, rinse with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. Use washable, reusable cheese clothes instead of paper towels.


To fully clean and deodorize carpets: vacuum, liberally sprinkle cornstarch or baking soda, leave one hour, then vacuum again. For tougher stains, try cold soda water or repeatedly blot with vinegar and soapy water.


Most store-bought polishes contain solvents harmful to the environment. Aresol sprays are wasteful and also contain harmful gases.

  • Furniture Polish: Dissolve 1 tsp (5 ml) lemon oil in 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil. Apply with a clean dry rag.
  • Floor Polish: Melt 1/8 cup (30 ml) paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 1 quart/liter mineral oil and a few drops of lemon oil. Apply with a rag, allow to dry and polish.

Polishing Metals

  • Copper: Try lemon juice and a little salt or hot vinegar and a little salt on a rag.
  • Chrome: Try white flour on a dry rag.
  • Brass: Try equal parts salt and flour, with a little vinegar on a dry rag.
  • Silver: Bring to a boil in a large pan: 1 quart/litre water, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) salt, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking soda and a strip of aluminum foil. Drop in silver, boil for 3 minutes and polish with a soft cloth. Or polish with a paste of wood ash and water. *Note* These methods should be done on sterling silver only and not on silver plate.

Here are some basic cleaning items that will not only save you money but are also safer for you, those you care about and for the environment.