Baking soda and vinegar are staples in any natural cleaning arsenal, but what else can you use that is effective?
I’ve talked a lot about not being a slob and decluttering, but today I want to share what we use around the house to clean our clothes, our dishes, and…everything else. (You already know what I use to clean my face and hair.)
Aside from the environmental effects of using harsher chemicals, I have a toddler who likes to help me clean. He also likes to explore cabinets and play with whatever is in those cabinets. More natural cleaning products are safer to use around him (and around me when I was pregnant with him).
(I don’t use all homemade products, but I do use a bit. Semi-homemade, if you will.)
Save Money. Since we got married, I’ve been using baking soda and vinegar to clean almost everything. It saves use so much money and is only a few minutes of work a month.
Less Waste: I use the same bottles over and over to store spray cleaners.
Less Trips to the Store: When I run out of a cleaner, I don’t have to run to the store. For example, I can just refill the window cleaner spray bottle with vinegar and water.
But aren’t natural cleaners less effective?
I’ve been playing with what natural cleaners we use for five years in hopes to get the balancing point between affordability, effectiveness, and most natural. The following products are what I’ve settled on. In my experience, this combination is highly effective, affordable, and quite natural. (And I should note that we don’t need our apartment to be a 100% sterile place. I don’t use bleach, for example, but hospitals need to.)
Where I Use Them
Here’s what you will find in the cabinets in my house:
In the laundry room
I use soap nuts in our laundry and Trader Joe’s laundry detergent for Gabe’s diapers. Soap nuts are the ultimate hippie experience – they are biodegradable come from a tree, and have no packaging. They work well, but I’ll be real – if I have a super dirty load, I’ll sprinkle a little laundry detergent in, too.
A cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle makes diapers smell good.
We mostly line-dry our clothes now, but when we use the dryer, we use this freaking awesome product from Trader Joes – it reduces static and infuses a lavender scent into your clothes and linens. They can be used 10 times, the you open the pouch and sprinkle them on the carpet before vacuuming – a second life!
In the kitchen
We use pretty standard products for washing dishes – Method dish soap (with refill pouches) (I LOVE Method and am still incredibly bummed that they stopped making soy candles) and Trader Joe’s dishwasher soap. We also use vegetable cellulose sponges (instead of plastic).
Vinegar works well as a rinse aid in the little compartment in the dishwasher and diluted with water in this refillable spray mop.
The soap nuts concentrate with water in a spray bottle (just a teaspoon or so of concentrate – it lasts forever!) is used to clean cabinets, the fridge, and any hard surface.
With a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil, Mike polishes wood furniture.
In the bathroom
I use baking soda liberally in the sink against soak scum and in the tub. (Who cleans the tub? Uh, Mike. He just uses a lot of baking soda, I think.)
And, um, this is toilet bowl cleaner. Not sure what else there is to say about it.
Every day (or almost everyday) I spray the counter, sink, and toilet with the solution on the left, wait a minute, then wipe down with one of Gabe’s old prefold cloth diapers.
We were using bar soap for washing our hands, but the soap scum buildup was annoying. So we switched to using Dr. Bronner’s in a foam soap dispenser (I think it was a gift from Bath and Bodyworks) and voila! Very cheap, very effective handsoap that doesn’t cause any buildup in our sink. The ratio we use is 2-3 tablespoons Dr Bronner’s and fill up the dispenser with water.
So! That’s what we use. I don’t want to spend lots of time or energy creating elaborate cleaning potions these days, so our simple little methods are working well for us.