Eco-friendly Cleaning Products Basic Ingredients | Anyclean

updated: 13/11/2023

An easy way to be greener around your home (by which I don’t mean that your home should be looking greener because of slime and mould growing on it!) is to make your own cleaning products. A small stable of basic cleaning items are a must for any “green cleaner” as they crop up time and again in make-your-own cleaner recipes. These items are non-toxic or only minimally toxic, won’t make your skin dry and cracked and don’t give off any (or many) toxic fumes. Some of them, you can even eat.

Your eco-friendly cleaning product list should contain:

Baking soda (sodium bicarb or bicarbonate of soda): this one is used nearly all the time and for most purposes. It absorbs smells, scours and cleans without scratching and is gentle on your skin. Oh – and you can use it in baking and to treat beestings as well! An absolute staple.

White vinegar: Another staple that is suitable for glass, porcelain, plastic, metal, etc. It doesn’t leave a film behind like detergent-based products do, and it kills mould. If you combine the acidic vinegar with the alkaline baking soda, the two will react and fizz, which can “blast” off dirt and scum. A combination of the two (one cup of each) can unblock clogged drains. Other varieties are not so good for cleaning as malt vinegar can leave a small trace of brown, while the cider and basalmic vinegars are too expensive to use as cleaning products – save them for beauty treatments and for tasty salad dressings. However, if malt vinegar’s all you’ve got on hand and you need to unblock a drain, use it!

Lemon juice: This is a natural bleach, especially if exposed to sunlight. Two old beauty tips relying on the bleaching power of lemon are putting highlights in blonde hair and removing freckles. It can also get rid of some stains. Lemon juice can be expensive to use as an everyday home cleaning product unless you have a lemon tree that produces more than you need for lemonade, squeezing on fish or making marmalade.

Plain soap: Either in flake or bar form, this is a basic cleaning product that has been around for centuries without any problems. Soap cuts through grease and increases the “wetting power” of water so dirt and grime can be loosened. It is more drying to the skin if not rinsed off and it is not edible – but generations of the old “Don’t use language like that – go and wash your mouth out with soap!” show that ingesting small amounts of soap is not harmful. Bars of plain soap can be grated to make “flakes” and both flakes and bars can be melted with warm water to make liquid soap.

Essential oils: Use these to increase the antibacterial properties of vinegar, or just to add a pleasant scent. They can be mixed with any of the other cleaners in your “stable”. Good cleaning essential oils include thyme, tea tree, lavender, pine, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and oregano.

Table salt: Like baking soda, it cleans without scratching and washes away easily. It is a bit harsher than baking soda, and should not be mixed with soap – soap does not lather in salty water.

Beeswax and turpentine (preferably vegetable turps rather than mineral): Combine these two to make a good polish for all wooden surfaces. Various recipes for this exist, both with and without essential oil. Grate the beeswax and melt it in a double boiler before stirring in the turpentine and essential oil.

Vodka: This gives off more fumes than the other products, but they’re not overly toxic unless inhaled in quantity. Vodka (or any other strong spirit) is used for cleaning off grass stains and ink stains, and as a disinfectant. Rubbing alcohol or methylated spirits make other good options. Mix vodka with essential oil to make a very basic cologne or aftershave to prevent rashes after shaving.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.