Less Plastic Challenge Day 11: Green Cleaning

The majority of cleaning products don't disclose their ingredients. How is this a thing? I think that we as consumers have the right to know exactly what's in our products! Unfortunately, we have become very complacent, and many of us just accept or don't think about that fact that we're polluting our homes, bodies, and planet with toxic chemicals every time we clean. 

Chemical companies make billions telling us how much we need a variety of toxic products to maintain a clean household. What a scam! I keep my house clean chemical with only a few ingredients. My cleaners don't harm my skin, my lungs, or the environment. They're also affordable and easy to make! 

All Purpose Cleaner:

I use this to clean the majority of my house. It works on the windows, shower, toilet, mirror, sink, fridge, counter, and stove top. 


1 cup lemon infused distilled organic white vinegar

1 cup distilled water

The Steps: Combine the ingredients in a glass spray bottle and that's it!

Hot Tip: I infuse vinegar with lemon scraps because it helps to clean up grease. What about the vinegar smell?" Here's the deal, the citrus cuts the smell, but if you still detect vinegar, it will evaporate as soon as it dries, so no stress there. Using distilled water is crucial because tap water will cause streaking. 

How is vinegar effective for cleaning? White vinegar has a PH of 2.0 (acidic) which creates an "inhospitable environment," for microorganisms to grow. Not convinced?

If you would prefer to just use distilled white vinegar instead of infusing it with lemons, you can add 20-30 drops of an essential oil. Tea tree, oregano, peppermint, and eucalyptus are just a few essential oils that eliminate bacteria.

Infusing Vinegar: 

Simply place your lemon rinds in a 16oz. mason jar, fill with organic white distilled vinegar, and put the lid on. I wait 2-3 weeks before using. I've left my rinds in the vinegar for over a month, which eliminated the vinegar smell altogether! I've also used orange peels. 

Baking Soda: 

I have a mesh lid for a mason jar that was intended for sprouting, but it works just fine as a shaker for my baking soda too. Baking soda is so versatile and available to purchase in bulk (package-free) in most health-food stores or bulk sections. 

Drain: If your drain gets clogged, you're not obligated to use some kind of blue toxic drain cleaner. The plumbing in our house is pretty sad, mainly because we have two giant redwoods (which I adore) in our front yard, and their extensive root systems compromise our pipes. When our drain is clogged, I pour a pot of boiling water down it, fill it with a 1/2 cup baking soda, and let it sit for 5 minutes. I combine one cup distilled white vinegar with one cup hot water, and pour down the drain over the baking soda and cover. If you don't have a drain plug like me, a hand towel works well to close the hole. The baking soda will react with the vinegar--so cool. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes before pouring another pot of hot water to flush everything through. Super simple! If that doesn't work, then you probably have a bigger plumbing issue on your hands, one that drain-uh-oh (as I call it) is not going to fix. Call your plumber; they might need to snake your drain. 

Shower & Toilet: The baking soda helps remove soap scum and any discoloration in the toilet bowl. 

Fridge: I keep a little bowl of baking soda in the fridge to prevent any odor--it absorbs smell. My fridge is very clean, but sometimes leftovers can work up quite an aroma. 

Scuff Marks & Grease: If i'm frying something, oil often splatters on the floor. I sprinkle a hint of baking soda over any grease spill or scuff mark and then wipe up with a warm and damp towel. This works super well. I also use baking soda to remove any grease stains on napkins or clothing, by either adding it to the wash, or if it's a particularly nasty stain, making a paste of baking soda and water and applying it directly to the stain. 

Laundry Detergent: I use baking soda in my laundry detergent because it cleans, deodorizes, and brightens whites and colors! 

Floor & Outdoor Cleaner:

There are some things that I want to clean with a smidgen of soap, like my bike, the floor, or our outdoor table, because they seem to get the dirtiest. I used to buy Dr. Bronners castile soap in bulk for this recipe; however, a few months back I realized that Dr. Bronner's soaps contain palm oil, which is a deal breaker for me. Read all about palm oil here. 


1 tablespoon liquid soap (eco-friendly, palm oil free)

2 cups filtered water

20 drops of essential oil (optional) 

The Steps: Combine your ingredients in a spray bottle and store in a cool dry place.

Hot Tip: If you have any toxic cleaning chemicals, please don't throw them away. You can properly dispose of them. Just check your city's recycling guide to find a drop-off location. 

Cleaning Brushes & Towels: 

All my cleaning brushes are either vegetable brushes or toothbrushes that I upcycled (repurposed) to use for cleaning. It's possible to find some really nice plastic-free brushes and sponges at most natural food stores or at Life Without Plastic (link at the bottom of this page). Instead of buying single use paper towels for cleaning, I opt for flour sack towels. Any towel besides a paper one will do just fine.

Happy cleaning, and cheers to boycotting big chemical companies!