Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to keep the green in spring cleaning.
Sometimes it seems like the natural life can be a real drain on the finances. Organic food costs two to four times as much as conventional, natural health endeavors are never covered by insurance, and wooden toys are pricier than the cheap plastic stuff. The list goes on and on…which is why I distilled the Kitchen Stewardship® missions down into 10 priority baby steps, those new habits that will support all the pillars of stewardship at once: health, environment, budget, and time.
You may notice that the series only lasted 8 weeks instead of 10, partly because we smashed some of the topics together, partly because we took a break for Natural Health Month and are now coming back to finish up, and maybe even because we can’t count very well. Any which way, the last major point of the ten, and one of my favorites for its simplicity and frugality, is to make non-toxic homemade cleaners. Here’s why:
- Not only are most commercial cleaners full of toxins that can harm your family, but they’re far more expensive than simple, homemade cleaners using only a few ingredients.
- You can put perfectly nourishing food IN your bodies, but if your indoor air quality is making your family sick, it won’t matter. Don’t use bleach. Avoid triclosan (now banned by the FDA for products like antibacterial soap).
- As I mentioned, you’ll be spending plenty in your quest for natural living – cleaning is one place where you can be super cheap and it’s just as effective as the expensive stuff. *sigh of relief*
The Bare Essentials
If I learned one thing while living at my in-laws’, it’s how to live with less and what’s really important to have along for the ride. I told you about my favorite kitchen items, but I really pared down the cleaning supplies.
I’ve learned what really matters. Being here with only about 5% of my own stuff, yet still needing to live our lives and be normal (i.e. we’re not “on vacation”), I’ve realized that I don’t need very many fancy cleaners. I always knew that, but it’s like packing your carry-on for an airline flight: you can’t get everything you might want to have in there, but suddenly it’s clear which toiletries you’d actually need if you had to spend the night in a hotel.
Here are the top cleaning products every house should have, probably in triplicate if you have that many floors/bathrooms. I’m definitely plotting already to strategically place multiple bottles in various rooms in our new house:
- baking soda (what I’ve cleaned with it: my hair with the “no ‘poo” system, grimy bathtub, kitchen sink, baby toys (awesome for grubby-ness on hard surfaces like baby toys) carpet spill…)
- plain vinegar (what I’ve cleaned with it: my hair, carpet mud stains, stinky laundry…would have done the toilet but didn’t have it in a spray bottle undiluted)
- Biokleen Bac-Out – I realized just tonight that if I could only bring one cleaner, it would be this one. I use it to pretreat laundry stains (and it is FABULOUS), clean the counters/faucets, carpet stains, laminate floors, and even toilets, outside and in. Kills germs, fights stains, gentle on surfaces – what more do you need?
- for laundry: soap nuts, oxygen bleach
- for baby wipes and hand soap: castille soap (photo at right)
Here are lots of ideas for how to use these simple homemade cleaners. For the few places these basic cleaning supplies don’t cut it, here’s a short list of some other options:
- For laundry: soap nuts
- pretreat: Biokleen Bac-Out mixed 1/3 strength with water and/or a soak in oxygen bleach
- For the dishwasher: Ecover’s tablets
- Natural carpet cleaner for steam vacuums
- Gotta have some microfiber cloths for glass (and other things)
- See how Branch Basics (new formula, even better!) (product being reformulated, check back later!) cleans up stains on the carpet – I won’t use anything else!
To see what I use in the whole house, floor to ceiling, you’ll really want to check out the green cleaners round up post.
Again, there’s no need to spend big bucks buying fancy, name brand “all natural” cleaners. Many of them are probably green-washing you anyway and really aren’t as “green” as they seem.
If you can eat it AND clean with it, that has to be a good sign, right?
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.
Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.
10 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Get a Frugal, Natural Clean”
Hi Katie, the picture you post it, it’s yours?.
If it is, be carefull, because the hydrogen peroxide must be stored in a dark bottle, or it will decomposes with the light.
By the way, the mix (in different bottles of course) between vinager and hydrogen peroxide on a surface is a great desinfectant, as I read some time ago in .
I grew up in a house where my mom used bleach to clean everything. Sometimes it would smell way to string. My mother was a little OCD about cleaning. I never heard of triple threat but baking soda vinegar and peroxide are items I have around the house I will try it out and let you know how it goes.
I swear by malt vinegar! It’s the best kettle descaler I’ve ever used and I’m not afraid of drinking the water afterwards like I was with chemical descalers.
Bleach was always a smell i smelt growing up. My mom was always cleaning. I myself use bleach for the toilets but around the house it seems too strong especially around my children so i use normal stores products and sometimes caustic soda mix for stubborn stains.
Over a year ago I made my first batch of soap. 4 lb batch. Five ingredients – palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, lye, water. I also added some lavender EE for scent. I split it with a friend. We still have about 1/2 of ours left. Granted, we have been also trying to work through the last of our Ivory at the same time, but I figure that the 2 lbs would last us about a year just as our body/face soap. Next experiment will be making liquid soap and trying that on dishes.
It cost me about $20, and took an afternoon to make. I think it was a good investment…and I still have quite a bit of lye left. Next time I’m going to use lard instead of the palm oil, to get a harder soap. Just thought I’d mention it – soapmaking’s a lot easier than it seems!
Oh, and this is still the best thing I’ve found for removing stains. Got shoe polish out of the carpet.
one of my favorite products to use is organic tko, it is great stuff(it is a citrus cleaner/degreaser made from the peels of oranges). It is a bit pricey up front, but lasts a LONG! Time. You must dilute it and give it time to emulsify on tough stains. I n the kitchen I usually spray the counters and stove down them finish up the dishes or something and le t it “work” for about 5 minutes. We own a duplex and were staining some doors and stain on the carpet. We didn’t know what we were going to do, and I put the concentrated tko on the spot, rubbed it in a bit and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Voila, stain is gone.
I really like bleach. 🙁 I never use it in my kitchen… but I can’t seem to break up with using bleach in the toilets.
Hmmmm, I just use straight vinegar. I can’t stand the smell of bleach anymore now that I haven’t used it regularly in years, so that helps. I guess I also figure I don’t need a germ-free toilet bowl just for what ends up being put in there, you know? 😉 But at least you keep it localized, and hopefully you keep it ventilated.
Yep, I keep the bleach for the inside of the toilet bowl…otherwise it smells! I’ve tried vinegar and baking soda (use these everywhere else) and even tea tree oil, but still feel like I need the bleach inside the toilet to keep the smell at bay until next bathroom cleaning day (I clean 2x each week!) Maybe it is our hard well water???
I agree… the smell!! I feel ok about it because 1) it’s not somewhere it comes into contact with skin or food prep, and 2) it’s a small amount 3) that gets flushed away pretty quick so we’re not all breathing it. I remember from college chemistry class that bleach breaks down into salt and water so it isn’t bad for the environment either. Not trying to hijack her thread; I definitely want to be ‘green’ in my cleaning products so I agree wholeheartedly with this post, but (I do like my bleach).