Thursday, March 31, 2011

Simple Cleaners

It is the time of the year for spring cleaning. I don't see any point of washing windows at my house until we are done with the dry wall dust, but I still need to clean the bathrooms.

For years I've heard of using vinegar and baking soda for chemical free cleaners. I've wanted to try it and even asked for your suggestions for homemade cleaners several years ago. But, honestly, I wondered if they would work, or if I would like them. It doesn't sound difficult but somehow I just avoided taking the plunge of trying something new.

Finally, I just decided I wouldn't buy any more cleaning solutions. When I finished a bottle, I'd make something to replace it.

I still use dish soap and furniture polish but I'm quite pleased that for every other cleaning needs, two items is all I need. I love that both are cheap, quite easy to find, and safe. I'm sure you've guessed by now, the honor goes to white vinegar and baking soda.

This little bucket holds all my cleaning supplies.  I can keep this little bucket right under my bathroom sink. Formerly, I stored my cleaners (and all those chemicals) down in the basement out of reach of little hands.

In my bucket I keep:
a squirt bottle of white vinegar
an old paremesan cheese bottle of baking soda
a spray bottle with half water/half vinegar
a rag
a toilet brush

When I clean the bathroom, first I dump some vinegar into the toilet and allow it to soak a little. While waiting, I use the spray bottle to clean the mirror. I fill the sink with hot water with some vinegar. I use the rag and the sink water to scrub down the sink, counter, toilet and floor (in that order). If something is extra dirty, I sprinkle on baking soda. I use the brush inside the toilet. And I'm done!

For the shower, I have a brush hanging inside the shower. Our shower is one of those 30 year old grungy plastic never-looks-clean deals. I would use a high powered cleaner in the shower. The fumes were so bad that when I was pregnant with our first child, Ed took over cleaning the shower. I never took the job back. Can't believe I'm admitting this but my method of cleaning the shower was to totally ignore it. When the orange slime got too bad, Ed would take the fume producing cleaner and labor with the brush. Ed is my hero! 

I thought that nothing would work on shower build up but stinking cleaners but I just thought I'd try the vinegar/water solution. I sprayed it on one night before climbing into the shower. After I was finished showering, I grabbed the brush and started working on the slime. It disappeared! I couldn't believe it! Now I don't dread shower scrubbing and have been consistently cleaning the shower the last few months. (And Ed is always quick to notice and give lavish praise!)

I love that these are cleaners I can hand to my children without a gas mask. I sometimes give them the vinegar/water spray bottle and a rag and send them to scrub the door knobs and light switches. They think it is a blast. (We'll see how long that enthusiasm for cleaning lasts.)

I don't know if everyone would have the same success as I did. Water and circumstances vary. But it sure has worked for me. Once again, I love when simple, frugal and healthy all line up!

I don't think it has anything to do with it, but this is the first winter that our family didn't succumb to the stomach virus. We ALWAYS have one go-around every winter. I have no idea what to credit it with but at least my new cleaning routine didn't compromise our health. We've never had a winter of so little sickness and I didn't touch the Lysol or Bleach once.

I'd love to hear if you have any good ideas for simple cleaning solutions.


  1. I am going to try the vinegar in our shower, I usually use comet cleanser but I like using natural things, too. I use rubbing alcohol and water to clean mirrors and windows...

  2. I love baking soda and vinegar too and have been known to wash my dishes with just baking soda. ;)

    A friend of mine from church gave me this all purpose cleaner recipe. I love it and use it in my bathroom.

    In a gallon jug mix:

    2 cups rubbing alcohol
    1/2 cup vinegar
    1 tsp. dish soap
    (I also add a few drops of peppermint oil)

  3. Gina, I had to laugh about the shower part. Our shower was the same way. I had my hubby do it with stuff that would burn the hair inside of your nose! And the thing that always gets how can a place that receives more soap and water than any place in our house be so yucky?
    As I have run out of cleaners, I have switched to vinegar and baking soda too.

  4. I had to give up the harsh cleansers due to asthma, they literally took my breath away, here is another good one you might like....WOW cleanser.....1/2 cup dawn dish soap, 2 1/2 cups white vinegar, 24 oz. spray bottle. Add Dawn soap to the spray bottle, add vinegar to fill the bottle up, shake well.

  5. I totally forgot to finish the recipe

    oops....fill the rest of the jug with water, too.


  6. I'm with you on the homemade cleaners. I do not miss that overpowering chemical smell AT ALL!

  7. Just a note: This site was new to me. Has some things for baking with kids, too.

    Home Baking Assoc.

  8. I love cleaning with vinegar and baking soda that I don't use anything else. One trick I recently learned is to keep a spray bottle of half-vinegar/half-baking soda in the shower and spray it down every day right after my shower (I'm the last one). Since doing this I have not see any signs of my arch nemesis, orange mold.

  9. Nice post. We are all natural as well.
    Ma gave a wonderful recipe here too. I shall try it. Thanks Ma.

  10. Love baking soda and vinegar to do so many things around the house.
    I've made a paste from a bit of dish detergent, baking soda, and water to scrub really stubborn stuff and it always amazes me!
    Here's a link to some great ways to clean (and so much more) with vinegar and baking soda.

  11. One trick I recently heard was to keep a bath puff, those nylon things, in your shower with your cleaner and simply scrub down one wall while your in the shower. Rotate every time and then you never have to "clean" your shower. It will simply stay clean. I loved the thought of the bath puff, thought it worked better for me than a brush.

  12. I absolutely love natural cleaners! Vinegar and baking soda have also been a lifesaver for me. I often make a foaming mixture of the two to clean our shower and I also use them separately for other things around the house. I'll never go back to products full of unnecessary chemicals and unnatural smells!

  13. Great post Gina :) I love cleaning with vinegar & water on our windows & mirrors & baking soda for sinks, bathtubs, toilets. This week I made an all-purpose cleaner with leftover orange rinds mixed with white vinegar. Leave it for 3 weeks and then you can use it. I'll let you know how it turns out :)

  14. I use vinegar to clean the salt and build up on the shower glass. Though, everytime I use it the kids cant stand to use the bathroom for a while :)

    I am wondering do you have any bio-friendly ideas for pesticide?

  15. You all make me feel like I'm not strange and unusual! Thanks for all your tips and recipes!

    And Marcso - if you find a good homemade pesticide, I'd love to hear about it!

  16. My husband does the shower too for the same reason! :D I converted to natural cleaners years ago and love it. Windex was the hardest for me to kick because vinegar takes a bit longer to buff out, but my kids helped me one time wash windows and went through a whole bottle! Vinegar doesn't hurt the pocketbook quite so much.

    All natural pesticide? Just read about pyrethrum this winter and while I haven't tried it's supposed to be great. (Can't hurt that it's pretty too?)

  17. One of my new favorite cleaners is a homemade softscrub -

    • 2 to 3-cup food storage container
    • 1 1/2 cups baking soda (more or less as needed)
    • 1/2 cup environmentally safe liquid laundry detergent or soap, homemade laundry soap, or liquid castille soap.
    • Optional: Add 10 drops of Grapefruit seed extract for additional disinfecting power, or use 10 drops of tea tree or lavender or rosemary essential oil for the same effect.

    I can't for the life of me remember where I found this recipe, or I would give credit where credit is due, but I really love this stuff - especially for stainless steel sinks and bathroom fixtures!

  18. Here's what I have in my notes:

    Use as an insecticide at dark (wear gloves while processing) using dried powdered flowers. To make a spray, steep 4 oz. powder in 2/3 c. denatured alcohol. Dilute in 13 g. water

    I don't know if companion planting would work too.

    Wiki says yes:
    "Companion planting
    Because of the natural insecticidal properties of the pyrethrums, they are used as companion plants, to repel pest insects from nearby crops and ornamental plants. They are thought to repel aphids, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius), leafhoppers, spider mites, harlequin bugs, ticks, pickleworms and imported cabbage worms, among others that are in gardens and farms. For example, they are planted among broccoli plants for protection from several common insect pests."

    And it looks like a daisy... can't beat that!

  19. hi
    i use vinegar and water to clean for windows and mirror.
    your blog is very interesting for me
    have a wonderful spring weekend,
    greetings from germany,

  20. Here are mine:

    I love them and they really work!

    And Hi to commenter Ma - who goes to my church!

  21. that's a good goal: not buying new bottles, but just making something to replace. I could do that. I've been wanting to green up my cleaners for a while now and every year I take on a new goal (last year it was switching from tissues to hankies).

  22. Probably the greenest pesticides are birds, ladybugs and spiders. When that doesn't work, set your chickens free in the garden. Spraying water at high pressure also helps. Soapy water in a spray bottle suffucates some bugs, but it also can kill the ladybugs. This year I'm trying worm castings at the base of any plants with leaf hoppers because they are supposed to hate that (my grapes are full of them). Insecticidal soaps are considered organic as well, so that might work for you.

    Try looking at some o


I love to hear from you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails