What are the Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products?

What are the Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products?

Are you fed up with looking for effective natural cleaning products? The search for synthetic-free cleaning products is hard. We hear you. Manufacturers are often untransparent about the ingredients of their products. The Environmental Working Group has uncovered that around 53 percent of the reviewed products contained lung-harming ingredients as well as ‘’carcinogens like formaldehyde and chloroform.”

As someone who fears for his family’s safety, I had to put an end to chemical products and switch to a healthy alternative. Therefore, I tried to compile for you the most effective natural cleaning products to share my successful experience.

Did you know that most house cleaning products harm your lungs? Neither did I...

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Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-cleaning bucket

The strong need to shift to using non-toxic products is actually threefold. Chemical cleaning products have health drawbacks, such as ‘’skin or respiratory problems, irritated eyes, asthma, burns, and even cancer.’’ Products labeled as ‘’corrosive’’ are even more dangerous, especially if you have children around.

These products cause skin and eye irritation, and if swallowed, can cause burns inside the body as well. In addition, many of those commercial products are often not budget-friendly.

Last but not least, chemical cleaning products can cause massive harm to our environment, for instance, petroleum-based cleaning products further strengthen our dependence on non-renewable oil, as for phosphate, a water pollutant commonly used in dishwasher detergents, it stimulates the overgrowth of algae which messes with the equilibrium of the aquatic plant life.

It is better to opt for eco-friendly cleaning products. Whether you prefer making your own or purchasing reliable products, this guide has got you covered!

Over-The-Counter Natural Substitutes

#1 White Vinegar

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-white vinegar in a cup

Vinegar is one of the most multi-purpose natural ingredients. You can use it to remove stains, grease, wax, and unpleasant odors. Vinegar is one of our favorite staples because it’s extremely effective and inexpensive, however, vinegar is acidic. So, bear in mind that concentrated solutions cannot be used on extra delicate materials or surfaces such as jewelry.

You will find various DIY recipes that include vinegar as one of their main ingredients, before attempting to try one out, make sure that the acidic properties of vinegar do not clash with other ingredients, for example, baking soda. 

#2 Lemon

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-lemons

Lemon, too, is extremely versatile. Its antibacterial effect makes it ideal for cleaning cutting boards and microwaves. It is also an excellent deodorizer and air-freshener. Lemon essential oil is a great disinfectant for all of your surfaces as well.

#3 Sea Salt

Salt is a super ingredient when it comes to cleaning stains and rust. Whether you wanted to clean your cooking tools and appliances, your refrigerator, or even water rings and wine spills, sea salt is your answer! 

#4 Cornstarch

Cornstarch is perfect for furniture and silver polishing, shampooing carpets, and cleaning fabric stains.
You can use cornstarch to clean almost anything. This video here illustrates how. 

#5 Baking Soda

Baking soda has somewhat similar properties to lemon. It will work magic in cleaning your bathroom floor, toilets, and kitchen sink.

#6 Castile Soap

When diluted with water, you can use it as an all-purpose surface cleaner. It also can be mixed with a few drops of essential oil (your preference) for a fresh clean scent! Or if you’re feeling extra lazy, we recommend that you give Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner a try. It’s a plant-based all-purpose cleaner with spruce essential oil.

#7 Sodium Borate (Borax)

Borax is a little controversial. While it has been proven safe to the environment, it is listed in this MSDS, that it is ‘’slightly hazardous in case of skin and eye contact (irritant), ingestion and inhalation.’’ No serious damage has been detected. 

#8 Essential Oils (an optional ingredient)

Essential oils are green cleaning’s best friend! Peppermint and tea tree oils are perfect for disinfecting. Lemon oil can refresh the air, polish leather (when combined with olive oil), and remove stains. Finally, my personal favorite, thyme. Thyme oil is a brilliant germ-killer that you can flexibly add to your surface cleaners.

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-bottles of essential oils

Natural Cleaners You Can Make At Home

So, what are the best DIY synthetic-free cleaning products out there? Buckle your seatbelts! There are a lot of homemade formulas that can save your tons of trips to the supermarket, without having to sacrifice on quality.

Here are all-natural cleaning formulas and products to use around the house:

#1 Sink Drain Cleaner

Use a mix of liquid dish detergent and hot water to remove grease from your narrow pipes or slow-draining sinks. Salt and hot water, on the other hand, will work on unclogging soap or fat from your drain.

To ensure an unclogged sink in the future, pour a mixture of salt and not-so-hot water regularly in your sink. This trick will prevent build-up grease. 

Commercial Alternative: If you're not into DIYs, there are plant-based biological enzyme cleaners such as Biokleen Bac-Out Drain Care. Enzyme cleaners work best with organic-based clogs. 

#2 Dirty Glass Coffee Pots

This might be one of the oldest tricks in the book. Add a mix of salt and ice to your coffee pot and shake it for several minutes, then rinse well. You can also clean it with 1:2 water-vinegar solution.

#3 Cleaning Tarnished Brass or Copper

You can either rub your pot or plate with lemon or place a cup of white vinegar in the pot along with a tablespoon of salt and leave over a stove to boil. Let it cool down for a bit then apply on your tarnished piece. In both cases, wait until the oxidized parts come off and then rinse thoroughly.

#4 Cleaning Cookware Safely

Cleaning cookware without damaging it can be hectic. Try out a mixture of lemon juice and salt and leave it for as long as you can to guarantee best results.

Commercial Alternative: Again, if you're not into DIys, one of the best natural cleaning products to use is Grab Green Naturally Derived Cookware and Bakeware Cleaning Pods

#5 Rust Stains from Metal Pots and Door Knobs

While the regular mix of lemon and salt should work fine on restoring the shine on your pots and knobs, a mixture of cream of tartar and salt or ¼ cup of baking soda is favored.

Another great time-saving option is this Stainless Steel Rust Remover & Cleaner Kit.

#6 Cleaning Glass

No more using old newspapers to clean up glass surfaces! Just fill up half a glass or a plastic spray bottle with white vinegar and fill the other half with lukewarm water.

Now let us discuss a more stubborn kind of glass cleaning: glass shower doors. Removing soap scum from glass shower doors was never pleasant, but, with a 50/50 water to vinegar solution, you have yourself a winner!

#7 Scratchy Fabrics

If you’re into homemade fabric softeners (you’re allowed to be), you can use a post-wash vinegar and essential oil spray mix, or just a bit of baking soda during the rinse cycle. Here’s an informative video on how to make your own fabric softeners:

Personal Recommendation

Everybody loves a fabric softener, especially if they’re non-toxic and naturally scented. Here’s my personal recommendation: Seventh Generation Fabric Softener

#8 Disinfecting Toilets

Most toilet-cleaning products are effective because they contain harsh chemicals, for example, chlorine or hydrochloric acid. White vinegar, borax, lemon juice and baking soda all can do wonders for your toilets.

One of the most effective formulas to clean your toilet is by combining a cup of white vinegar and ½ a teaspoon of tea tree oil in a bottle. Spray the mixture on your toilet seat and bowl. Let that sit for a while, then sprinkle baking soda, scrub your toilet, and dry it. It’s as simple as that. 

#9 Furniture and Silver Polishing

Make your own paste with a 2:1 solution of water to cornstarch and apply it to your tarnished silverware. You can adjust the formula to 1:2 water to cornstarch if you’re cleaning less delicate pieces.

We also recommend Wright's Silver Polishing Cream 3-in-1 that cleans everything from silver antiques and jewelry to DVDs and CDs. 

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-kid cleaning silver

#10 Harmful Laundry Detergents

Switching to all-natural laundry detergents is something we should consider. Not only do chemical products cause skin irritation but their components (petrochemicals, carcinogens, and optical brighteners) are actually toxic to marine life.

All you need to make your own detergent is to grab a bar of natural soap, to 250 ml of borax and the same amount of washing soda. Et voilà! You’ve just contributed to saving our planet. 

If you fancy making your own, you should get ½ a cup of unscented castile soap, another ½ a cup of distilled water, add in a few drops of your favorite essentials oils; I like lavender oil and tea tree oil. Mix your ingredients and put in a mason jar with a soap dispenser. Shake well before each use. 

Commercial Alternative: I suggest Dr. Bronner’s Natural Soaps, available here. You can get them scented with tea tree or peppermint essential oils. These soaps are the perfect alternative to your regular hand soap.

Special Hacks: The Best Green-Cleaning Products that Will Make Your Life Easier!

#1 How to Clean Your Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar.

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-baking_soda_box_white_powder_sodium_bicarbonate

Among all the household cleaning chores, this is probably your least favorite. The stubborn burnt food bits, the smell of the harsh chemicals and the constant scrubbing. Say no more! We’ve got this figured out.

Baking soda and vinegar and a little manpower are all you need.

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    Mix ½ a cup of baking soda with 3 tablespoons of water until you form a paste. Adjust your quantity accordingly. Set the paste aside.
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    Remove your cookware and oven racks and try to scrape off the burnt bits. 
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    Spread your paste inside of your oven using your most comfortable tool - I use a silicone spatula. 
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    Let the paste sit overnight.
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    Wipe off the paste with a warm tablecloth and scrape off the still-stubborn bits.
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    Finish off with splashing vinegar inside of the oven, leave it for a while, and then wipe off with a cloth again. The vinegar helps the baking soda paste decompose. 

#2 Citrus-Infused Vinegar as an All-Purpose Cleaner

We all love vinegar, or by now you should. However, it’s pungent smell might not be the most pleasant. Citrusy scents, on the other hand, are awesome!

So, how do you prepare it? For this recipe, you can either use regular white vinegar or Four Monks Aroma Controlled Cleaning Vinegar which has a higher acidity than traditional vinegar. 

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    Place leftover citrus peels (lemon, lime, and oranges) in a jar with a couple of cinnamon sticks and then cover them with vinegar.
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    Leave them to infuse for two weeks. Use a 1:1 ratio of the solution and distilled water for all of your cleaning missions.

#3 Natural Air-Fresheners? Yes, please!

Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-natural-air-fresheners

We’re listing out several Martha Stewart approved DIY air-fresheners. Let us know which one is your favorite.

  • 1
    Eucalyptus
    Stewart advises we put a branch of Eucalyptus (you can replace it with rosemary or bay laurel) in our bathroom to eradicate unpleasant odors. The steam from the shower will release the pleasant scents of the Eucalyptus.
  • 2
    Pomander
    Recommended for closets and drawers. Simply stud oranges with cloves and tie the oranges together evenly. 
  • 3
    Rose water plate
    Grab a plate, add a few drops of rose water oil, add a solubilizer and a few petals of roses on top. The roses will turn brown in a couple of days so make sure you replace them on a regular basis. 
  • 4
    Lemon
    Leave half a dozen of lemon and a few cloves over a low heat for around 10 minutes. This simple and quick infusion will help you eliminate unpleasant cooking odors. 
  • 5
    Vinegar
    Good ol’ vinegar is perfect for extremely strong odors such as cigarette smoke and dusty shelves. Fill a medium-sized glass bowl with half a cup of vinegar and leave it for several hours. (the longer the better!). 
  • 6
    Zeolite
    Zeolite is an underrated product that we should embrace more. This odorless volcanic rock does miracles when it comes to removing cooking, pet, and smoke odors. Get Zeolite here.

What About Products You Shouldn’t Mix Together?

As a homeowner who is bound to make mistakes when experimenting with the best non-toxic cleaning products there are, it is likely that you'll miss some of these important notes:

  • 1
    Don’t combine bleach and vinegar. When mixed together, the duo produces chlorine gas which can cause breathing problems and skin irritation.
  • 2
    Be careful when using baking soda and vinegar the two should neither be mixed together on the spot nor left in a closed places for a long time as they may explode.
  • 3
    Before attempting to clean/polish your silverware, do a small test on the bottom of your piece to determine the intensity of your cleaning product.
Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-cleaning_liquid-closeup

Our Advice

  • 1
    Double and triple-check your DIY recipe and if you don’t feel comfortable or sure of their effectiveness, you can use either of the products we recommended as they’re practical and affordable, too!
  • 2
    There is always more room to learn and try out different types of green products.
  • 3
    Get creative as long as it’s safe! Use your preferred essential oils. Add vitamin E to your soaps. Remember that you know best when it comes to your home’s needs. 
  • 4
    Raise awareness about the importance of green cleaning and share your successful recipes with us in the comments section below! 
  • 5
    Steer clear of scented chemical cleaning products. Artificial scents usually contain a lot of pollutants and toxicants.
  • 6
    Purchase your own set of mason jars, glass spray bottles, and silicone soap molds.
  • 7
    Use essential oils with unique antibacterial properties such as tea tree oil or lemon oil to disinfect surfaces accessed by children.
  • 8
    Read the ingredients used in making your toxic-free cleaning products. As we’ve mentioned before, cleaning products’ manufacturers are not as transparent as they should be. So, when it comes to our own safety and health concerns, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check!
  • 9
    Switch to non-abrasive microfiber towels and tablecloths, and as the rule goes: use wet microfiber towels for cleaning and dry ones for dusting.
  • 10
    Finally, use a checklist! Keep your cleaning chores in order. A checklist will always come in handy when you're in a supermarket purchasing ingredients to make your own cleaning products. 
Most Effective Natural Cleaning Products-cleaning products bucket

Conclusion

My purpose throughout the article was to familiarize you with the best chemical-free cleaning products and illustrate the numerous DIY formulas you can use. However, I realize that many of us would rather try all-natural commercial alternatives, which is why I’ve selected some of those as well in the article.

To commence your natural cleaning mission, follow this easy 5-step guide:

  • Identify your problem.
  • Explore your options.
  • Determine your most favorable option.
  • check
    Do a test batch.
  • check
    Use it!

I hope you've enjoyed this "Green Cleaning 101" post! If you have other DIY recipes, please do share. I’m always happy to receive your questions, comments, and suggestions.

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