Green Cleaning: Healthy alternatives for day-to-day cleaning

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You can create safe, clean and effective household cleaners with simple ingredients.

Before using any of these recipes, test them on an inconspicuous area to ensure that the surface you are cleaning will not be damaged.

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  • Baking soda: Helps to clean and deodorize, will act as a scouring agent, polisher, stain remover and fabric softener. Use to clean plastic, vinyl, carpet, silver, stainless steel and drains.
  • Borax: Helps to clean and deodorize. Use on wallpaper, painted walls and floors. Use it with your detergent to remove stains and boost cleaning power.
  • Vinegar: Helps remove stains, wax build-up and mildew. Use to clean windows, fireplaces, grout, paintbrushes, glass and coffee pots. May damage acid sensitive surfaces, so test on a small area first.

Household Cleaning

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Add a 1/2 cup of pure liquid soap (for example, pure castile soap) to 1 gallon of hot water. This solution is safe for all surfaces and is very effective for most jobs.
  • For a clean scent, and to help cut grease, add a 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the above recipe.
  • For a stronger cleaner, double the amounts of soap and lemon juice in the above recipe.

Air Fresheners

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of hot water; add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray as you would an air freshener.
  • Place a few slices of a citrus fruit, cloves, or cinnamon in a pot with enough water to simmer gently for 1 to 2 hours.
  • Use baking soda in your garbage or refrigerator to help reduce odors at their source.


Drain Cleaner

Pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain first, then a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for 15 minutes. Then pour down a tea kettle full of boiling water. Repeat if needed.

Oven Cleaner

Do not use this cleaner on self-cleaning ovens.

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven until it is covered completely with about a quarter of an inch of baking soda.
  • Then, using a clean spray bottle, spray a mixture of baking soda and water until the bottom of the oven is thoroughly damp but not flooded.
  • Repeat dampening process several times before going to bed.
  • In the morning the baking soda can effortlessly be scooped out of the oven with a sponge along with all the grime.
  • Rinse out the white residue left by the baking soda.

Bath and Bedrooms

Tub and Sink Cleaner

  • Sprinkle baking soda on porcelain fixtures and rub with a wet rag. Rinse well to avoid a hazy finish.
  • Mix cream of tartar and white vinegar together to make a paste.
  • Mix 2 teaspoons of Borax, 4 teaspoons of white vinegar and 3 to 4 cups of hot water into a spray bottle.

Window and Mirror Cleaner

Put a 1/4 cup of vinegar in a 16 oz spray bottle and fill to the top with water. A few drops of detergent may be added for preventing streaks. Spray and wipe surfaces with a sheet of newspaper or lint-free rag.


  • Borax has long been recognized for its disinfectant and deodorizing properties. Mix a 1/2 cup of Borax into 1 gallon of hot water or undiluted vinegar and clean with this solution.
  • For a fragrant smell, add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender to the above recipe. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Store in a plastic spray bottle.

Floors and Furniture

Floor Cleaner with Fragrant Herbs

Combine in a pail or bucket: an 1/8 cup liquid soap or detergent, a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice, a 1/2 cup fragrant herbal tea (peppermint is great as it adds antibacterial qualities). Swirl the water around until it is sudsy. Scrub floor with mop or rag.

Scouring Powder

  • Combine pure soap with table salt or baking soda on the surface to be cleaned. Scrub with a firm bristle brush.
  • Baking soda alone on a damp sponge is also effective on most surfaces.
  • Personalize scouring powder by adding an aromatic herb or flower. Put ingredients in blender and run until the fragrance has infused the powder.

Furniture Polish

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of lemon oil in 1 cup of vegetable oil. Apply with a clean dry rag.

Laundry and Fabric

Laundry Detergent

  • Add 1/2 cup of Borax to water as washer is filling. Add clothes (this is sufficient for a large load and will clean and deodorize your clothes).

Spot Cleaner

Dissolve a 1/4 cup of Borax in 2 cups of water. Apply directly to stain and let it dry before sponging away, or use it as a pre-treat before machine washing.

Softening Fabrics (including wool)

  • Add a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to rinse cycle or to a dispenser ball (this will not make your clothes smell like vinegar).
  • To make blankets soft and fluffy: Add 2 cups of white vinegar to a washer tub full of water. Rinse cotton and wool blankets in the tub after washing. This leaves blankets free of soap, so their nap is soft and fluffy.

Stain Removers

  • Fruit and wine stains: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak it in milk before washing.
  • Grease stains: Strain boiling water through white cottons and follow with dry baking soda.
  • Ink stains: Soak in milk or remove the stain with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Blood stains: Immediately pour salt or cold soda water on the stain and soak it in cold water before washing.
  • Coffee and chocolate stains: Mix an egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on the stain.
  • Chewing gum: Rub with ice and the gum will flake off.
  • Coffee and tea: Use an equal mixture of salt and white vinegar to clean stains from china cups.

Reprinted with permission from the American Lung Association of Seattle, Washington

Last reviewed on Jul 26, 2023 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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