Simple and Effective Homemade Cleaners: Green Cleaning on a Dime

homemade cleaner photo

About six years ago I gradually said goodbye to the toxic cleaners I had grown up with at home. It became clear that even if I wasn’t swallowing poison, direct contact was a close and dangerous second. But most recently, I began to realize that many of the so-called green cleaners that I had replaced them with were either overpriced or greenwashed.

The book “Homemade Cleaners, Quick-and-Easy Toxic-Free Recipes,” by Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford is a handbook for helping people like me move away from store bought products to homemade cleaners that are effective and much less pricey.

Not sure what’s in the conventional products that you’re buying? That’s the way manufacturers want to keep it. In fact, according to the book, only one percent of toxins are required to be listed on labels because companies classify their formulas as “trade secrets.” Additionally, manufacturers are required to list chemicals that are strongly linked to serious toxicity only if they account for more than one percent of the product’s weight. In an age of information, we’re completely in the dark about the ingredients used to clean our homes. From carcinogens to neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors, we’re chancing our health just by using conventional cleaners.

But greenwashed products make finding safe, plant-based cleaners difficult. According to the book, as long as a product doesn’t contain an ingredient specifically listed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as toxic, a company may label their product as nontoxic. A 2010 survey by TerraChoice found that of 5,296 products tested, only 265 of them actually lived up to their eco-friendly and safety claims. In all, 95 percent of companies were guilty of greenwashing. All the more reason to the make your own homemade cleaners and this book is a great resource for getting started. Below are two of my favorite recipes.

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

1 cup water
2 Tbsp. white distilled vinegar
2 Tbsp. castile soap
20 drops of lavender essential oil (you can also use lemon, thyme, or tea tree essential oil)


Mix together and store in an airtight container with cotton wipes.

Forest Fresh Hard Floor Cleaner

1 gallon hot water
2 Tbsp. castile soap
20 drops of pine essential oil


Fill a bucket with hot water and add in castile soap and essential oil. Soak your mop and get cleaning.

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