“Going green” isn’t reserved solely for your free-spirited aunt who lives off-the-grid in an Ecocapsule in Portland. It’s now everyone’s responsibility to help keep our environment in as good of condition as it can possibly be.
Being a friend to Mother Nature is easy, and one of the best ways to do so is by employing more eco-friendly cleaning habits. Green cleaning can lessen water and air pollution, reducing health problems like allergies, headaches, nausea, skin irritation, and respiratory issues.
You can also live out your dream of being one of Captain Planet’s Planeteers as you slow down the progression of climate change and ozone depletion. The power is yours!
Turns out, it’s easy being green. And to make your whole home sustainable, the best place to start is with your cleaning products.
Whether you buy a commercial cleaner or make your own, you’ll have the added peace of mind of knowing exactly what ingredients are working for you as well as for the environment. These 20 green cleaning tips and tricks for every room in your home will give you a head start.
A one-product-cleans-all solution makes tidying up one of the most-used rooms in your home easy.
When it’s all-natural? That’s just a no-brainer.
1. Use a mild but effective cleanser.
Bon Ami Powder Cleanser uses feldspar and limestone as gentle abrasives and combines them with cleaning agents from renewable sources like corn and coconut oils.
Every stage of meal prep can be safely washed away as Bon Ami is great for countertops, oven doors, stovetops, and even stainless steel appliances.
2. Wash dishes with Biobased ingredients.
Because the least appetizing thing found in a kitchen is dried-on food, dish soap that gets your plates and pots thoroughly clean is a must. However, dyes and synthetic fragrances can take away from the appeal.
Find a plant-based formula like Seventh Generation Dish Soap ASAP. It’s a USDA Certified Biobased product that makes your glasses sparkle without the fake stuff.
Plus, the bottle is made of 100% recycled plastic, which is 100% awesome.
3. Lose the paper products.
Did you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted?
You may not be the Lorax, but you can still speak for the trees!
Reduce or completely eliminate the use of paper towels in your home by switching to reusable towels and rags. Here are three of our favorite tips for paper towel alternatives from One Good Thing by Jillee:
- Store clean towels under the sink, or display them in a basket on your counter, so they’re just as easy to grab as their paper friends.
- Hang soiled towels to dry, and then throw them in with your regular laundry.
- Compile a collection of fabric scraps, tattered socks, old cloth napkins, etc., for the messes you’d rather not have hanging around even after they’re cleaned up. Allocate these rags for the truly gross jobs that you want to wipe away and promptly throw out.
4. Replace chemicals with all-natural ingredients.
Butoxydiglycol. Say that fives times fast. That’s about as far as we’ll go with anything butoxydiglycol related because it can cause some serious health issues. And yet, it’s present in many bathroom cleaners to help dissolve residue such as grease or soap scum.
Instead, turn to lactic acid and decyl glucoside (from corn starch). They’re naturally derived, do the exact same thing, and are considerably easier to pronounce. Eco-friendly products like Method Bathroom Cleaner utilize these ingredients to eliminate and prevent soap scum and lime deposits.
5. Use a homemade cleaner for the toilet.
Everyone’s favorite part of cleaning the bathroom is the toilet, right? No?
Well, while we can’t say we blame you, it is necessary. And with a homemade all-natural toilet bowl cleaner that won’t harm the environment, you can at least feel a little good about it.
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of Borax
- 20 drops of lemon essential oil
Bring the water and vinegar to a boil. Add the Borax and dissolve it completely. Let it cool, then add the lemon essential oil. Pour the entire mixture right into your toilet bowl. Scrub the sides of the bowl with a toilet brush.
Let everything sit for a few hours or overnight, scrub the bowl with the toilet brush one more time, then flush.
Stains happen. Phosphates (kill freshwater aquatic life), chlorine (can cause respiratory and skin irritation), and ammonia (detrimental to those with respiratory and heart problems) don’t have to.
6. Wash clothes with an irritant-free formula.
It’s possible to get clothes clean (like, really clean) with oxygen bleach and enzymatic stain lifters. We know this because products like Biokleen Laundry Powder have proven it.
All of the irritants in traditional laundry detergent are absent, so towels and T-shirts are as cuddly and comfortable as they’re supposed to be.
7. Make your own eco-friendly laundry detergent.
If you’re particularly sensitive — and not just “Yes, I’m still inconsolable from the season finale of This Is Us! What happened with Jack?!” sensitive — mixing up your own laundry detergent is incredibly easy and can save you nearly $70 a year.
Many homemade laundry detergent blends contain Borax, which has been found to cause mild skin irritation due to its high alkalinity. Give this recipe for Borax-free laundry detergent from Wholefully a shot.
Castile soap and baking soda work together to achieve a true clean. And salt fights stains naturally while keeping colors from fading.
Your bedroom is a refuge. But it’s hardly a haven for relaxation when it may be overrun by dust mites, allergens, and the remnants of whatever you and your pet unknowingly brought into your home that day.
While you vacuum regularly-ish and dust your furniture every now and then, the less obvious problems are the microscopic irritants that could disrupt your sleep.
8. Breathe easier with an air purifier.
To help clean the air overall, consider using an air purifier with filters made with polypropylene, a synthetic plastic that ultimately breaks down into carbon dioxide and water.
The Blueair Classic 205 air purifier features a filter made with this antibacterial material, so bacteria and mold from the air are captured but never produced by the filter itself.
9. Wash your pillows with hot water and a mild detergent.
Dust mites and dead skin cells are just plain rude for taking up considerable bed space and not even offering to pay rent. Get rid of these freeloaders by regularly washing their favorite hangout: your pillows.
Fill a sink or washing machine with hot water. The hotter the water the better, as this will kill dust mites without the need for harsh chemicals like bleach.
Now add a mild detergent followed by the pillows (minus any pillow protectors). Then manually agitate for a few minutes or let your washing machine do its thing.
Rinse thoroughly, and press excess water out of the pillow. Just be sure not to wring or twist the pillow (especially if it’s feather-filled) as doing so will ruin its comfy shape.
Hang to dry, or tumble dry on a low setting. Finally, fluff to reshape, and rest easy.
Annie B. from The True Find also recommends considering a pillow made of natural materials such as wool, down, kapok, and buckwheat. These “active” fibers are antibacterial, fighting off contamination from the get-go. Many are also hypoallergenic, which allows for more restful sleep.
While you’re at it, consider an organic mattress, such as one made from latex, which is also hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, resistant to dust mites, and is even biodegradable.
The living room is the room that does it all, so you need things that clean it all. You know how to organize your home, but what else can you do to make the space spotless?
10. Give dryer sheets another chance.
Start with a good, old-fashioned recycling life hack: Reuse dryer sheets.
If you’ve yet to make the jump to using homemade dryer sheets, you’ll still feel good about giving the store-bought ones a second life. Their soft texture is perfect for wiping dust away from delicate surfaces like TVs and computer monitors — without scratching them.
11. Naturally clean and shine floors.
Hardwood floors can get beat up and grimey in high-traffic areas like the living room, but, thanks to Natural Living Ideas, restoring their gleam is easy with a few ingredients you likely already have on hand:
Combine equal parts hot water and vinegar, adding olive or lemon oil for a little shine. Mop as usual, and enjoy the brief period of clean before someone tracks dirty boots across the room.
12. Freshen the air with real scents.
Many commercial air fresheners will simply put “fragrance” on their ingredients list to let you know what’s making up the scent you’re enjoying. That’s it. Just “fragrance.”
Wouldn’t you rather be able to identify what scent is making the room so fragrant? Same.
The Prairie Homestead has a DIY Air Freshener Spray recipe for every eco-friendly olfaction, but our favorite is the Sweet Lavender.
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of vodka, rubbing alcohol, or pure vanilla extract
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of chamomile essential oil
Combine all ingredients in an 8 ounce spray bottle, give it a little shake, and spray all over as often as you like.
Access to a garage, attic, or basement has its pros and cons.
Cons: You also have pests, must, and dust that can kind of spoil the convenience.
Luckily, all it takes to overcome these obstacles and recapture the advantages of these spaces are a few essential oils, some vinegar, and water.
13. Scare spiders out of the attic with citronella oil.
Add a couple of drops of citronella essential oil to your air filters. Spiders can’t stand the smell of citronella and will avoid areas with this scent.
14. Eliminate mice from your garage with peppermint.
Unlike your grandparents, mice find the scent of peppermint overwhelming and offensive. So add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to a few cotton balls and lay them strategically around your home’s rodent-prone areas, especially around your garage.
Refresh every week or so, or whenever your grandparents visit.
15. De-fuzz the attic with DIY dusting spray.
Best for wood surfaces, One Good Thing By Jillee’s homemade dusting spray cuts through grime while shining and protecting the wood. While any essential oil will work, we recommend lemon because it provides a light, fresh scent.
Pour 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 10-15 drops lemon essential oil into a spray bottle. Spray on dusty old furniture or floors and wipe away with a dry rag or mop.
16. Remove mustiness, mildew, and mold from the basement with essential oils.
Essential oils are naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial, so diffusing them will help purify the air in a musty basement. Just make sure you’re ventilating the basement well or running a dehumidifier to remove any additional moisture.
Already got a mold problem?
Follow this green tip from Pure Home and Body and clean it up on contact with a mixture of ½ gallon of water, ⅓ cup of vinegar, and 10-15 drops of your favorite, yep, essential oil. (Cedarwood, cypress, and frankincense essential oils are particularly effective.)
Wipe on surfaces with a clean cloth, and allow it to sit for a minute before wiping off.
Grow a garden to be one with nature. Grow a garden to be completely sure of where your produce comes from. Grow a garden for the health benefits. Grow a garden, but …
17. Eliminate bugs only, not the whole garden.
Don’t waste all of this growth with bug repellents and fertilizers that could be doing more harm than good to both the environment and your health. In fact, you don’t even need a drop of chemical pesticide to eradicate and prevent insects.
All you need is Dr. Earth Vegetable Garden Insect Killer. The spray is a combination of natural ingredients like rosemary oil, sesame oil, peppermint oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil, and garlic oil that does exactly what its name says.
Neem oil, a gum extracted from the evergreen tree, is another great all-purpose pesticide to keep in your all-natural arsenal. Found at most health food stores, simply combine 2 teaspoons of neem oil with 2 cups water in a spray bottle and spray the problem away.
18. Pour one out for healthy plants.
Pro Tip: Beer + your garden might be the only time something becomes a better version of itself after consuming alcohol.
Beer activates enzymes in soil that help release nutrients to make plants grow stronger, healthier, and better equipped to nip insect problems in the bud.
Freshly opened, day-old, craft, or domestic, any brew works.
19. Spray away aphids.
Next up we have aphids — small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to puncture the surface of leaves and stems and suck out sap and other fluids.
This causes leaves to dry, curl, and eventually drop, stunting growth while leaving behind a dark fungus. Aphids can also transmit viruses in susceptible vegetables like squash, pumpkin, melon, cucumber, lettuce, and beets.
Not cool, aphids.
To control these little nuisances, start by pruning any stems or branches where you’ve noticed them. Then, try a homemade garlic oil spray like My Little Garden in Japan’s version, which includes water, garlic, liquid dish soap, onion, and mineral oil.
Spray around your garden every few days until you notice them start to disappear. Aphids dislike plants with strong scents, so when surrounded by such a powerful odor, they’ll vacate the area stat.
The Ultimate Green Cleaning Trick for Every Room in Your Home
You’ve out-washed and out-disinfected both Mr. Clean and the Brawny Man combined (safely, too). In your efforts to be environmentally friendly and eliminate unnecessary chemicals from your cleaning products, you might have decided to also eliminate things you don’t need in your home right now.
20. MakeSpace, and keep up with the go-green trend.
Schedule a MakeSpace pickup and pack the extra stuff you find around the house. We’ll transport everything to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility.
Unlike storing stuff in random boxes in your attic, with MakeSpace, you’ll never forget what you’ve packed because we’ll create an online photo catalog of your items.
Really need those extra cooking utensils for a dinner party you’re hosting?
Simply log into your MakeSpace account, click the photos of the items you’d like back, and we’ll deliver them right to you.
You deserve to breathe easy, feel good, and live a spacious life. MakeSpace can help.