Get On Your Brightest Clean

When it comes to cleaning our homes, we most often think about wanting to rid it of dirt, dust and germs, so we reach for the closest cleaning agent. But regular household cleaning supplies are often filled with chemicals that can be harmful for our bodies and our homes. Here are 5 safer, natural and green substitutes to have on hand to make your own house-cleaning agents for your brightest, cleanest clean.

1. Borax

Basically a salt compound, Borax is very versatile for home use. Add it to laundry to add extra clean, pour some in your toilet boil give a swish of the toilet brush, let sit and flush. Make a paste and use as a scrub for the shower and bath. Borax removes carpet stains, deodorizes garbage bins, and the list go on. It is a household staple for a greener clean, and something that should always be under the kitchen (or bathroom) sink. You can typically find Borax powder at hardwares stores or in the laundry aisle at big-box stores.

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2. Essential Oils

Essential oils may be all the rage right now, but for good reason. Again, a very versatile product, essential oils do more than just help your body, spirit and mind, they are amazing for cleaning. They are full of anti-bacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties, making them kill the germs as powerfully as the toxic chemicals found in our regular cleaning supplies. A little goes a long way and they just smell so darn good. Essential oils are a must for adding to your “greener clean” list, especially; Lemon, Tea Tree (Melaleuca), and Peppermint.

Lemon: cold pressed from the peel, Lemon essential oil works well on stains and brightens whites in the laundry, gives a nice shine to white floors, removes stickiness, grease and grime, and gives an uplifting refreshing scent to any homemade room spray. You can find at natural grocery stores or below on amazon.

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Tea Tree: the most antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal of essential oils, Tea tree oil is ideal when it comes to those mold and mildew prone places in the home. The bathroom, kitchen sinks, windowsills, even toilet bowls and floors. Add to a spray bottle with water and spray down these areas. You can give a scrub if needed, and leave on the spray without washing off.  You can add this oil your laundry detergent for a therapeutic scent and to help kill off laundry germs. If you were to only have one essential oil to have on hand for cleaning, Tea Tree oil would be it.

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 Peppermint: A good overall antiseptic oil, Peppermint works well added to a spray bottle of water for surface sprays, like the kitchen or bathroom counters. It is also a pest deterrent; add a few drops around windows and doorways to aide in keeping those bugs out.

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3. Baking Soda

Similar to Borax, Baking Soda is a powdered compound with versatile uses. It is a deodorizer, it adds to whitening up laundry, and can be made into a paste for scrubbing tiles and tubs.  It also can help to whiten teeth! You can find baking soda at almost any grocery store, pharmacy or big box retailer like Target or Walmart.

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4. White Vinegar

White vinegar is large component to a healthier clean regime. It kills mold, takes out stains on surfaces & clothing, sanitizes surfaces, cleans windows and glass, it deodorizes…the list goes on. Add vinegar into a spray bottle with water and essential oils of your choice and you have yourself an easy (and healthy) ‘go to’ cleaning agent. Forget to move your laundry into the dryer? Re-wash your clothes with a couple tablespoons of vinegar and the musty smell is taken away. This is the staple to always have under your sink.

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5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Made up of only water and oxygen, Hydrogen peroxide is a super safe and effective disinfectant. Add either straight (3%) hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle to use inside your fridge or counters, or you can mix it 50/50 with water. Use on wooden cutting boards to sanitize. If your drains need a good little clean, sprinkle some baking soda and a tablespoon or 2 of hydrogen peroxide and watch it bubble away the drain grime. Hydrogen Peroxide is great as a toilet bowl cleaner too, because it’s gentle on septic systems. It’s also a great substitute for bleach in your laundry, to help whiten and remove stains. Just add a cup of it to your load. Or sterilize your toothbrushes by soaking the bristles for a few minutes, giving them a rinse after. All in all, Hydrogen Peroxide is a great addition to your healthier cleaning regime.

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These are just 5 basic alternatives for household cleaning supplies.  Many of them you may even have on hard already and can start to make our own, easy and cost affective cleaning agents. Keeping it simple, less expensive and more creative in what you can create, go with the single building blocks of the cleaning substitutes, then build your own personalized cleaning agent. Put a little fun into your clean!


Metta McNairn lives on beautiful Salt Spring Island in BC Canada. A mom of two, Metta strives to live an organic and ethical lifestyle and share those values with others. Read more of her writing here.