The average house tends to have hundreds of toxic chemical stored in it in various ways, much of it for cleaning. You probably know I live off grid. And I use my grey water to feed trees and wildflowers around my house. So I don't want to have any chemicals in that water. Not to mention that using most of them at all is probably not good for you, not to mention the trees. And who wants to try to store a bunch of bottles of toxic stuff in a tiny house with limited space anyway?
Here a are a few of the main things I use to keep chemicals out of my house. Yes, there are more "natural" cleaners for sale, mostly expensive ones, but here are some easy, effective, and cheap substitutes. This can be really nice not only for your budget, but if you have small children, pets, or guests who are small, not having toxic cleaners around and on things can be a big plus for their safety. And many of these substitutes you may already have around your house! You can't get much better than using something cheeper and healthier for you and your environment.
This is my personal favorite because not only can you use it for many different things, and a gallon is pretty cheep, it's food. No one is likely to get sick from being around it. Vinegar is a weak form of acetic acid that forms through the fermentation of sugars or starches. It is completely edible and is effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. While I love apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar is better for cleaning some things since it's colorless.
To shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.
Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.
Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean and deodorize a drain or garbage disposal by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so, then run hot water down the drain.
Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.
Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.
Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.
Avoid the bad smell when you heat up a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar for the final rinse.
To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.
Remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.
For cloudy glassware, add a splash of vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher (or the little jet dry container if there is one) with every load of dishes.
Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.
Remove mineral deposits from coffee makers with white distilled vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar and run it through a whole cycle. Run it once or twice more with plain water to rinse clean. (Check the owners’ manual first.)
Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.
For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.
Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.
Remove ugly film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.
Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.
Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush.
Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.
Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.
To make cleaning the grill easier, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar on the cooking surface.
To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.
Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.
Get rid of calcium deposits on faucets by soaking a cloth or paper towel in white distilled vinegar and wrapping the area tightly. Let this sit for a couple of hours or overnight.
Shine colored porcelain sinks by scouring them with undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Rinse away soapy film on countertops with a solution of white distilled vinegar and water.
Clean grout by letting full-strength white distilled vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrubbing it with an old toothbrush.
Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.
Spray shower doors with full-strength white distilled vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass, or before you step in and turn on the water. It will help release the hard water deposits so they don’t remain on the glass.
Mix up an inexpensive tile cleaner by adding 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water.
Get rid of stubborn bathtub film by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with baking soda.
To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.
Deodorize the toilet bowl by allowing 3 cups white distilled vinegar to sit in it for about a half hour before flushing.
To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.
Get a shining finish on a no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor by cleaning it with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water.
Apply full-strength white distilled vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it up. If that doesn’t work, apply white distilled vinegar again and then sprinkle some baking soda over the white distilled vinegar. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge. Rinse clean with water.
For an economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner, mix a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. Spray sparingly and mop for a fast clean-up.
Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).
Clean up pet accidents by first blotting up the area and then adding a white distilled vinegar-and-water solution. Blot until it is almost dry. Then sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day.
Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.
Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners with a solution of 2 cups water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent.
To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool.
Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.
Clean woodwork and walls with a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Wipe on with a sponge or damp—not wet—towel.
Remove white water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.
Remove fireplace soot and grime with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Use a brush to scrub and a towel to blot up the wetness and dirt.
Clean fireplace glass doors with a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean with a dry cloth.
To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.
Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.
Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface! Just in case you have marble in your tiny house...
To clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.
Clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.
Clean scissors that have become sticky (after cutting tape, for instance) with a cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.
* Baking Soda
If you didn't guess from the last list, this is also a great cleaner. Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda, as it is also known) is a naturally occurring material, present in most organic life forms. It can be "made" from sodium carbonate, or soda ash. The soda ash is dissolved in a carbon dioxide rich solution, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) precipitates out.
A box or small bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator, freezer, or any cupboard will keep away unpleasant odors.
Similarly, baking soda will keep away garbage odors; sprinkle the bottom of the pail, and then sprinkle again after you put a new bag in.
To clean surfaces, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth. Wipe, then rinse with clean water.
To remove stale smells from food containers, rinse out with hot water and baking soda. If the smell persists, let the container soak overnight in the baking soda and water mixture.
To remove scuff marks or grease spills from the floor, sprinkle with baking soda and then wipe with a warm, damp cloth. This is even safe for no-wax floors!
For burnt-on food in the bottom of pots, sprinkle with baking soda, then add hot water. Let soak overnight; the dried on food will come loose much more easily.
To remove stubborn stains from most surfaces, use a baking soda paste (3 parts baking soda, one part water). Apply, let stand, then scrub or wipe clean.
Hairbrushes and combs can be cleaned in a baking soda solution.
To avoid clogged drains, pour 1/4 cup baking soda down weekly. Rinse through with hot water.
To remove scents from a carpet, sprinkle with baking soda. Let stand for at least fifteen minutes, then vacuum. Repeat as needed.
Baking soda in the litterbox will help prevent odors.
To quickly clean pets and remove "wet dog" odor, sprinkle with baking soda and brush out their fur.
To help remove spills, blot as much as possible. Then clean as you normally would. When finished, sprinkle with baking soda. Vacuum. This will decrease the chance that some of the spilled item will remain in the carpet and cause unpleasant odors later.
Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with baking soda to keep clothing fresh.
To remove grease stains, either add baking soda to the wash load or pretreat the stains with a baking soda paste.
Pretreat diapers in their pail with baking soda. This will keep odors from becoming overpowering between washings.
Baking soda increases the effectiveness of chlorine bleach. Add 1 / 2 cup to your laundry, along with the usual amount of bleach, if you really want to use bleach at all.
The children's pool can be cleaned and have mildew removed by washing with baking soda in warm water.
* Random Other Stuff
Borax deodorizes, prevents mold and mildew, and removes stains.
Cornstarch cleans windows and carpets, and polishes furniture.
Isopropyl alcohol disinfects.
Lemon juice deodorizes, cleans glass, and removes stains.
Mineral oil polishes furniture.
Hydrogen peroxide disinfects.
I hope at least some of these ideas apply to you and are helpful. Feel free to comment with your favorite greener cleaning tips that I don't know about yet!