There are many variations on the basic list of cleaning supplies, but here's mine. Most of these you might already have in your kitchen, and if not, they're easy to get and super-cheap (well, the essentials oil cost more, but they last a long time). If you feel more comfortable buying specific cleansers, there are many brands considered most effective and environmentally-safe, including Seventh Generation, Bi-O-Kleen, and Earth Friendly, among others. But be wary of the larger names and their new so-called "green" products -- many of them are not as green as they say they are.

Why use natural cleaning products? Most household cleaning supplies are toxic, containing phosphates, carcinogens, and other dangerous substances. When flushed down toilets or poured down sinks or dumped into trash or on the ground, they release their toxins into the environment and pollute soil and water resources, as well as affect the ozone layer. Phosphates, found in detergents, cause algae blooms and kill animals in the water or that drink the water. Chlorine bleach is particularly toxic to fish and other animals in the soil. The list is long and very disturbing. So prevent the harm, and use natural alternatives.

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Natural dishwashing liquid
  • Essential oils* (available at many grocery stores and health-food stores): I recommend lemon, orange, peppermint, lavender, evergreen, and/or tea tree oil (NOTE: tea tree oil is excellent, but it is toxic to cats -- use with caution if you have kitties in your house)
  • Spray bottles
  • Borax powder (no longer using -- use just baking soda instead)
  • Old cut-up t-shirts for rags, old dish cloths, microfiber cloths, old towels (toss in washing machine when done)
  • Ostrich feather duster


  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Brand products I also use:

  • Earth Friendly Wave dishwasher detergent
  • Earth Friendly dishwashing liquid
  • Seventh Generation Blue Eucalyptus and Lavender Laundry Detergent HE
ALL PURPOSE CLEANSER for surfaces such as counter-tops

Use in a spray bottle; give it a mix before each use. There are various recipes you can follow, such as:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp natural hand dishwashing detergent
  • 15-30 drops of essential oil (see info above*; i like the higher number of drops for that extra fresh scent)

Mix 1:1 vinegar and water. Add essential oil of your choice. You might need to start with straight vinegar to help remove build-up from commercial products. Some people use newspapers to wipe their windows and mirrors, but I prefer a micro-fiber cloth for glass. A little rubbing alcohol helps remove fingerprints.


A slightly damp cloth (we cut up an old flannel sheet to make a bunch that we can re-use) or an ostrich feather duster is all you need. Avoid spraying anything for shine -- it actually attracts dust to the surface. For those who insist on a shine, you can use olive oil or a combination of olive oil, essential oil, vinegar, and water, but I haven't tried this yet, as it's an accomplishment for us just to have the time to dust at all.


For mopping, mix vinegar and water 1:1 and add drops of your favorite essential oil. I often can't mop the whole floor, so having a spray bottle of the mix helps me to spot clean. For the big job, we dunk a cloth into a bucket and scrub the old-fashioned way, following up with a "scooch-along" with an old towel.


Make a paste with baking soda and essential oil.


Pour in some vinegar and scrub; or leave overnight and let it do its thing. You can also mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar (bubbles!), let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a toilet brush. Or mix baking soda with lemon juice and do the same thing.


I haven't had to try this yet, but I read that tea tree oil works great to remove mildew from grout. Apply, let sit a bit, then scrub.


I admit, I buy a detergent for our basic laundry. Currently my preference is Seventh Generation, Eucalyptus and Lavender. But I keep vinegar on hand for stains and freshening up the laundry or washer (add to the rinse cycle), and baking soda on hand to serve as a fabric softener (add to wash, not dryer). Lemon juice and vinegars are both natural alternatives to using bleach.


For handwashing, I use Earth Friendly or Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid, and for the dishwasher, I use Seventh Generation detergent packets.


Acting fast is key with any stain. Get up what you can. For vomit and feces, I quite willingly reach for the paper towels, because ewwww otherwise. But then for any stain I POUR a mixture of 1:1 vinegar and water onto the spot, and wipe inward toward the stain center. The vinegar breaks up the bodily fluids, and it's amazing how the stain will disappear. As the vinegar gets soaked up, I pour more on and continue, until the stain is gone, and my towel or cloth is clean. Once it is all done, I pour salt onto the wet areas to dry up any remaining liquid; once the salt is dry, just vacuum it up. Any remaining stain, spray a little hydrogen peroxide onto the carpet surface.

NOTE: I've had absolute success with vinegar/salt/hydrogen peroxide on our carpets without any effect on the carpet. However, as with anything, I recommend that you do a test in a non-visible portion of your carpet in case you have any concerns. FYI, the vinegar and salt technique was taught to me by our local carpet cleaner, because they are strongly against the use of carpet cleaners with soapy residues, which just attract more dirt.

One more tip: Avoid "scrubbing" the carpet, which could damage the fibers. Try to gently wipe in the same direction as much as possible.


I learned this trick from our favorite local carpet cleaner, and it has been FABULOUS. If your pet has a mishap, soak up what you can with old towels (step on the towels to get your weight behind it), then pour (don't just sprinkle) a dense layer of salt over the area. Let it dry for a day or two. The salt is a dessicant, and it draws all the urine out of the carpet and mat (assuming the urine didn't sit undiscovered for a few days). Once the salt itself is dry, vacuum it up, and voila! No leftover urine stain or smell.

The bonus to salt is that because it is a natural dessicant, it helps kill any fleas and other bugs from living in your carpet.

If your pet keeps peeing in the same area, it could be because of a behavioral issue (use gentle training methods, please) or because there is residual ammonia smell, sometimes because not all the urine was cleaned up or because old ammonia-based cleansers were used. When our cat developed a "habit," we POURED vinegar all over the area every day for about a week. Not only did she hate the smell, but the vinegar helped break down the stinky cat pee in the carpet and the mat. We haven't had a problem since, knock on wood.


My son gets bloody noses from time to time -- hydrogen peroxide works great to remove the blood stains from his clothes or pillowcase. It reacts with the proteins in the blood -- pretty impressive to watch it work. In fact, people in medical professions use hydrogen peroxide to get blood off their scrubs.


Clean with straight vinegar, and sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom.


De-clog by putting in baking soda and adding vinegar (makes fizz!). Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with hot water.


Dispose of hazardous cleaning products properly by taking them to a hazardous waste center in your area. Contact your city or state waste department for information.