Traditional Cleaning Without Chemicals
Trying to be self-sufficient? Frugal? Green? Cheap? Save the Planet? Keep your pets or kids safe?
Or do you just want less cleaning products taking up space in your cupboards or to use more green cleaning products? Want to find cool eco cleaning products like the goodbye detergent original spaghetti scrub?
Here’s what you need to carry out most of the household cleaning.
Casa Dirty Boots Eco Cleaning Products
- Microfibre cloths
- White vinegar
- Liquid or soft soap
- Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda or Soda Crystals)
- Mild Liquid Detergent (Washing Up Liquid)
- Eco Wash Balls or Soap Nuts
- Assorted Rags – Anything of cloth origin (old towels, sheets, t-shirts) past its best cut up and stored for those really dirty jobs
- Pumice stone
- Stainless Steel Scourer
- Oil – boiled linseed or olive/vegetable oil
- Citrus – any old lemons/limes even halves which have been juiced
There is little that these ingredients won’t clean in the average house! Plus none of this lot is as scary to store safely, as a cupboard full of chemical cleaners.
In Casa Dirty Boots we rely on these cleaning ‘ingredients’ for all our housewifely activities. But you don’t need to give up everything in one go and some things such as dryer vent cleaning systems will never be compromised as no chemicals need be involved.. We found a gradual switchover much easier. To get started here are some simple green cleaning ideas:
Casa Dirty Boots Eco Cleaning Tips
Some traditional cleaning tips to get you started cleaning without chemicals.
Cleaning With Microfiber Cloths
The texture of microfibre cloths means they attract dust and dirt really well. If things are not too grimy these cloths work brilliantly without detergent, just wet with water and get cleaning. Microfibre cloths are machine washable so they last ages (a year in, none of mine seem to be any worse for wear).
Microfibre Cloths to Clean Glass and Mirrors
The main reason I am such a convert to cleaning with microfibre cloths is that they do not smear glass. For all mirrors and glass a quick clean with a tiny amount of soft soap on a damp microfiber cloth picks all the dirt up. Then another quick wipe with the rinsed out microfiber cloth gets rid of all the smears!
You don’t need to be swayed by ‘eco cloths’ marketed to the green cleaners. They are simply microfiber cloths with a bigger price tag.
Cleaning With Vinegar
This is our ‘tough’ cleaner of choice. Vinegar is mildly acidic so will give an anti-bacterial clean to worktops and sinks. Just wipe the vinegar on with a clean cloth and buff to shine.
Boiling a 50% mix of vinegar and water in metal kettles will dissolve all limescale.
Vinegar Absorbs Bad Smells
Vinegar absorbs smells and its own odour quickly disappears too. So vinegar can be used as an air freshener (mix with water in a cheap spray bottle plus a drop of scented oil if you like).
If your pets have been sick spraying the area with vinegar once cleaned will eliminate that vomitty smell. It works pretty well at combating cat wee problems too. I imagine it would be great with small children and their ‘accidents’ but this is a child-free animal-house so I cannot speak from experience!
Cleaning With Soft Soap
We make our own soft soap from cheap bars of castille laundry soap but liquid soap will work exactly the same.
Anything that needs a proper ‘clean’, not just a polish always gets attacked with soft soap and water. Walls, floors, tiles, woodwork, cars and anything really can be cleaned with soft soap and water. Where we could buy many different cleaners and shampoos, simple soap and water tends to do the trick.
If you use too much and end up with a soapy residue, rinse off with vinegar and water.
Soft soap for Cleaning Laundry
Any general grime such as shirt collars or the knees of denim jeans gets a squirt of soft soap and water. If things are really bad the laundry is left to soak for a while. The soft soap is brushed into the dirt with an oversize nail brush. Our washing machine only ever runs a cold, short cycle so this quick pre-clean with soft soap and water keeps are laundry spotless.
Cleaning With Bicarb
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda or bicarb) is granular so it can be used as a scrub to clean really tough things. Mixed with vinegar, bicarb cleans even the grimiest ovens and baked on grease.
Bicarb is another odour eliminator. A sprinkle in the bottom of bins keeps them smelling fresh.
Baking soda will clean plastics without scratching them, while removing any nasty smells (very handy for sandwich boxes which have been ‘forgotton’ in a bag under the stairs!).
Cleaning With Salt
I’m talking basic cheap kitchen salt. Salt is antibacterial and another great ‘scrub’ item. Salt water can be used to disinfect toilet bowls or sinks. Salt will absorb grease. So sprinkling salt on any greasy spots at the bottom of the oven will make them easy to wipe away with a soapy rag.
Salt Rust Stain Remover
Salt is very abrasive and can be used to remove stains from ceramic and stainless steel sinks. When we get rust marks on our stainless steel sink (usually from cans to be recycled) we rub on a little salt and lemon juice. Leave for a few hours then rub off to remove the rust stain.
Cleaning With Washing Up Liquid
Liquid Detergents are a lot more harsh than soaps. Even ordinary washing up liquid will strip the shine from your car’s paintwork or the varnish from your wood flooring over time. For that reason we keep mild liquid detergent primarily for the washing up and the washing up only.
But, occasionally if the soft soap isn’t achieving the clean we need, we upgrade to washing up liquid.
Cleaning With Eco Wash Balls or Soap Nuts
Ditch the detergent and put eco wash balls or Soap Nuts in the machine instead. Both work out cheaper than washing detergent over time and both work well. Need we say more?
Rags For Cleaning
This is not rocket science. For every bit of old cloth you diligently cut into squares and stack somewhere its another sponge/duster/paper towel you don’t need to buy.
Cleaning With Pumice
Another abrasive cleaner but this one can be used underwater. The main way we use pumice to clean is in the loo. Pumice will remove limescale without scratching the ceramic because it is much softer than it. Pumice Stones last years and reduce the need for chemical solutions.
Cleaning With Stainless Steel Scourers
What can I say, they clean metal pots and pans without scratching and can even be used on glass oven doors. Again these last years and with a little soap will clean all the things harsh chemicals could be bought to clean.
Cleaning With Olive Oil
You could substitute vegetable oil or boiled linseed oil but since we are self sufficient in olive oil (and it smells nice) that is our ‘cleaning oil’ of choice.
Olive Oil Furniture Restorer
3 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar makes a great furniture polish for wood.
2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar makes a nourishing feed and polish for leather (furniture, boots, coats etc).
In both cases shake the oil and vinegar in a jam jar till it emulsifies and resembles a salad dressing. Rub on with one soft clean rag then buff off the excess with another. Make sure you remove all the excess to prevent your sofa becoming sticky! You don’t need much to keep wood and leather looking fresh. Cleaning furniture with olive oil is not as extravagant as it may sound. You need very little and you don’t need to use the best oils. Cheap and cheerful please!
Household Cleaning With Lemons
Any citrus could be used. They are all acidic and fresh smelling but we use lemons generally.
Half a lemon in the door rack keeps the fridge smelling nice. A rub over stainless steel cooker tops and sinks with a lemon brings up a fantastic sparkle and gets the whole kitchen smelling zesty.
Green Household Cleaning
So that is our version of green household cleaning. We use a few other bits and bobs occasionally but the above list is pretty much it. All the eco cleaning products mentioned can be used in conjunction with one another and in all manner of ways.
Perhaps the best Eco Cleaning Tip though is to use less ‘product’ and a little more effort.
For example, with some cleaning tasks on old and/or valuable indoor or outdoor furniture, such as rattan, bamboo, teak, and wicker chairs and tables, you may not want to use any cleaning products at all. It might just be better to use a cleaning towel dampened with just water. If you have Resin Wicker Furniture or other fine old or contemporary resin wicker furniture, you might find that a damp cleaning towel does a 98% job and that it is not worth the risk of using a cleaner to get the remaining 2%, if the finishing could be damaged – especially after repeated cleanings.
I think many of us fall into the trap of using much more laundry detergent, floor wax, car shampoo or whatever than we really need. Much of the work of cleaning is really being done by friction and the water, all the additional ingredients can often be used in much smaller quantities. Why not start eco-cleaning by simply halving the amount of detergent you put in the washing machine? See if it actually makes any difference.
The number of household cleaning tips is endless – there are as many cures as there are types of stain I imagine! But if you have a favorite way of cleaning without chemicals please share! I need to train MrDB more thoroughly in the ways of self sufficient housekeeping!
For a more self sufficient future
Thanks for all the tips and ideas! Watch out for boiled linseed oil, at least in the U.S. It isn’t just boiled linseed oil anymore….lots of nasty solvents in it. Ah, to be self-sufficient in olive oil!
Thanks for the info Kristin!
I was shopping in our local supermarket yesterday and was amazed by the number of “green” cleaning products. Of course, the joke is that they are still packaged in lots of plastic and cost even MORE than “non-green” cleaning supplies. TRUE green cleaning (and self sufficiency) means using ideas just like yours!
ALSO WANTED TO TELL YOU: I love your “DIrty Boots” moniker so much that I’ve just started a neighborhood gardening club and we’re naming it after you! We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the sorts of clubs hereabouts consisting of folks who hire gardeners to do all their work for them and whos idea of “green” is to spend as much of it as possible. Without getting the least bit dirty themselves. HURRAY FOR DIRTY BOOTS!!!
almostgotit’s last blog post..What if you moved to another city for your husband…
I’m with youon the commercial green cleaners – so much of them are nonsense really! Dirty Boots are the future! Love the idea of a Dirty Boots Gardening Club! So sad that people could join a gardening group if they hire gardeners – I’d be too ashamed! 🙂
Awesome article, I will write a quick blog post about this and link back.
Thanks again for the tips!
These tips are perfect for my situation. Given the recession, these tips will help my family save the money we would have spent on cleaning supplies. Also, we have a newborn, and I would prefer not to expose him to chemicals.
Hey a quick question… the main reason I haven’t liked using rags in the past is because I believe that bacteria can grow in the as they sit on the sink or wherever. How do you avoid this? Do you throw them in the wash after each use?
Bacteria like wet cloths, so I always hang them up to dry. If the weather is damp and cool and the microfiber cloths are unlikely to dry quickly yes I would put them in the laundry after every use. Or if I still lived in a modern home I would simply hang them on the radiator to dry.
Thank you. I’ve always known that using cloths was better for the environment too, but I was always unsure as to how t deal with the bacteria that might grow in cloths or sponges.
I appreciate your response:-)
I just wanted to let you know that the hanging and washing suggestions you gave me are working wonderfully!
No stinky cloths or sponges so far… 🙂
Glad it’s working for you Darvin
That’s a wonderful tip… I learned something from this article! Thanks for posting
the main reason I haven’t liked using rags in the past is because I believe that bacteria can grow in the as they sit on the sink or wherever. How do you avoid this? Do you throw them in the wash after each use?That’s a wonderful tip… I learned something from this article! Thanks for posting