RECIPES FOR HOMEMADE NATURAL CLEANERS and Alternatives to Hazardous Chemicals

Posted at the GO GREEN! Labyrinth

Source of information: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Air Freshener: simmer cinnamon and cloves

Aluminum Spot Remover: 2 Tbsp cream of tartar + 1 quart of hot water

Ant Killer: Red chili powder at mound entry

Bleach: Use borax instead

Brass Polish: Worcestershire sauce

Car Battery Corrosion: Baking soda and water or carbonated beverage

Chrome Polish: Apple cider vinegar; then polish with baby oil

Cleaners (General): Baking soda and hot water

Coffee Cup Stains: Moist salt

Coffee Pot Stains:  Vinegar and hot water; let stand

Copper Cleaner: Lemon juice and salt

Decal Remover: Soak in warm vinegar

Dish Detergent, Grease Cutter: ½ cup baking soda + usual amount of liquid detergent

Drain Cleaner: ½ cup baking soda + ½ cup vinegar + 2 quarts of boiling water

Fertilizer: Use compost material

Fiberglass Stains: Baking soda and water paste

Flea and Tick Repellent: Pine Needles, fennel, rye or rosemary on or in pet’s bed

Fleas on Pet: Feed pet brewer’s yeast, vitamin B or garlic tablets.

Flies and Gnats: well-watered basil plant

Floor Cleaner: 1 cup vinegar + 2 gallons water

Furniture Polish: 1 Tbsp lemon oil into 1 pint of mineral oil

Garbage Disposal Deodorizer: Citrus peels

Grease Remover: Borax on a damp cloth

Hand Cleaner for Paint or Grease: Baby oil

Ink Spot Removal: Cold water + 1 Tbsp cream of tartar + 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Insects on Plants: Soapy water on leaves; then rinse

Laundry Pre-soak: Make paste of laundry powder, baking soda and water. Apply to spots prior to washing; let stand.

Linoleum Floor Cleaner: 1 cup vinegar + 2 gallons hot water

Mosquito Repellent: Burn citronella candles

Mildew Remover: Equal parts of vinegar and salt

Multi-purpose Cleaner: Mix ½ cup ammonia, 1/3 cup vinegar, ¼ baking soda into 1 gallon of warm/hot water

Nematode (worm) Repellent: Plant marigolds

Oil Stain Remover: Rub white chalk into stain

Oven Cleaner: 2 Tbsp liquid soap + 2 tsp borax and warm water

Paint (oil based): Use water-based, non-aerosol paints

Paint Brush Softener: Hot vinegar

Perspiration Remover: Baking soda

Pet Odor Remover: Cider vinegar

Porcelain Cleaner: Baking soda paste; rub clean and rinse

Roach Repellent: Chopped bay leaves and cucumber skins

Rug/carpet Cleaner: Club soda

Rust Removal (clothing): Lemon juice + salt + direct sunlight

Rusty Bolt/Nut Remover: Carbonated beverage

Scorch Mark Removal: Grated onions

Scouring Powder: Baking soda paste

Shoe Polish: Rub with banana peels

Sterling Silver Cleaner: 1 quart warm water + 1 Tbsp baking soda + 1 Tbsp salt and 1 piece of aluminum foil

Slugs/snail Repellent: Onion and marigold plants

Spot Remover: Club soda, lemon juice or salt

Stainless Steel Polish: Mineral oil

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Paste of borax and lemon juice

Tub and Tile Cleaner: ¼ cup baking soda + ½ cup vinegar + warm water

Upholstery Spot Cleaner: Club soda

Water Mark Remover: Toothpaste

Water Softener: ¼ cup vinegar

Wine Stain Removal: Salt

Window Cleaner: ½ cup of vinegar to 1 gallon water

More Natural Cleaning Alternatives

Sources: various Web sites

All-Purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup pure soap
1 gallon hot water
For a clean scent and to help cut grease, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice.

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

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 run 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 of baking soda in 2 cups of hot water, add 1 tsp  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 cloth 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 lemon oil in 1 cup vegetable oil. Apply with a clean dry rag.
  • Floor Polish: Melt 1/8 cup paraffin wax in a double boiler. Add 1 quart 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 (for sterling silver only; not for silver plate): Bring to a boil in a large pan: 1 quart water, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp baking soda and a strip of aluminum foil. Drop in silver, boil for 3 minutes and polish with a soft cloth.

Another silver polish: make a paste of wood ash and water.

Your drains can be kept open, clean and odor-free without the use of corrosive drain cleaners. There are two simple rules: never pour liquid grease down a drain and always use a drain sieve.

  • Use this preventive measure for drains once a week: mix 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup salt. Pour 1/4 cup  of this mixture into the drain. Follow with a pot of boiling water, and flush with cold water. Done once a week, your drain should remain open and odor free.
  • For clogged drains, pour in 1/4 cup baking soda followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Close the drain until the fizzing stops and flush with boiling water. As a last resort, use a plumber’s snake, available at most hardware stores, but beware, it can damage pipes.
  • If hair comes out while showering, don’t wash it down the drain,  Just put it at the edge of the drain and throw it out afterwards.

Tub and Tile
Most commercial tile cleaners do more harm than good because many contain chlorine, a serious irritant to the eyes, nose and skin, and one of the most dangerous chemicals found in municipal sewers.

  • For bathroom cleaning, use a firm bristled brush with either baking soda or the mild all-purpose cleaner and baking soda. Rinse with hot water.
  • For hard-water areas use vinegar or lemon juice to dissolve the mineral build-up. For really tough jobs, saturate a rag and lay it on the problem spot for a few hours before rinsing.
  • For mould and mildew, rub tiles and grout with a cloth which has been moistened with vinegar and scrub with an old toothbrush.

Add 1/3 cup  washing soda to water as the machine is filling. Add clothes. Then add 1  1/2 cups of soap. If the water is hard, add 1/4 cup soda or 1/4 cup vinegar during the first rinse. For heavily soiled items, try presoaking in warm water with 1/2 cup washing soda for 30 minutes. Rub the soiled areas with liquid soap or a solution of 2 Tbsp washing soda in 1 cup warm water.

Softening fabrics (including wool): Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to rinse water.

Wool de-shrinking: Dissolve 2 cups salt in hot water and allow to cool to lukewarm. Soak the garment for 3 hours.

Silk: Soak in approximately 1 cup pure soap and 2- 3 Tbsp baking soda. Squeeze garment gently and rinse thoroughly.

Bleach: Try adding 1/2 cup washing soda to each load of wash to whiten whites and brighten colors. Or add lemon juice to the rinse cycle and hang your clothes outside in the sun which will bleach clothes naturally and will also save energy.

Dry cleaning
Most dry cleaning solvents are toxic — including chlorine and formaldehyde which are highly toxic and carcinogenic. These chemicals can often remain in your clothes even after you bring them home. Try to buy clothes that you can wash rather than dry clean. Many of the clothes that are “dry clean only” are actually washable by hand with soap and cold water and can be ironed.

If the item can’t be washed by hand, call around for a cleaning service that practices wet cleaning. Wet cleaning uses heat, steam, vacuum, water and natural soaps to clean your clothes. Wet cleaning also emphasizes skilled workers who inspect and clean each item of clothing individually.

The first rule of thumb with stains is the sooner you treat them, the more likely you are to completely remove them. The second rule of thumb is to spot test any remedy on your fabric first. If the spot you are testing starts to discolor, you can stop it from leaving a stain by “neutralizing” the cleaning agent. For example, the effects of an acid like lemon juice or vinegar will be neutralized or reversed by adding an alkaline like baking soda and vice versa. Remember to wash after the spot test.

Soiled Diapers: Pre-soak in 3 Tbsp baking soda dissolved in warm water in either a tub or washing machine.

Fruit and Wine: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak in milk before washing. In general, it is a good idea to keep some soda water in the fridge as a stain remover.

Grease: Strain boiling water through white cottons and follow with dry baking soda or rub with washing soda in water. For other materials, blot with a towel, dampen stain with water, and rub with soap and baking soda. Follow by washing in water as hot as possible using extra soap. Note: make sure to check washing instructions before using boiling water or washing in hot water.

Ink: Soak in milk or remove with hydrogen peroxide.

Blood: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak in cold water before washing. For a more stubborn stain, mix cornstarch with either talcum powder or cornmeal in water and apply mixture. Allow to dry and brush away.

Coffee and chocolate: Mix egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on stain.

Chewing gum: Rub with ice. Gum will flake off.

Lipstick: Rub with cold cream or shortening and wash with washing soda.

Rust: Saturate with sour milk (add 2 tsp  of vinegar to a cup of milk to make it sour) or lemon juice and rub with salt. Place in direct sunlight until dry, then wash.

Mildew: Pour strong soap and salt on the spots, or spray with vinegar and place in sunlight. Keep the spots moist and repeat as often as necessary.

Scorches: Gently boil scorched article in 1 cup soap and 2 quarts milk.

Water marks on wood furniture: Using a dry cloth, rub the mark with vegetable oil or a mixture of butter and enough cigarette ashes to make the butter brown.