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After sharing a multitude of cleaning recipes both here on the blog and in the DIY Natural Cleaning Challenge, it’s time to piece each recipe together and talk about what natural cleaning looks like in my home.
Today’s chat is intended to be a sneak peek or mini tour showcasing what I’m currently using to clean my home. During our tour, I’ll share about the main areas in our home, and the products I use to clean each area. As we talk about the products I use, I’ll place an asterisk next to the product if it’s currently used in multiple areas of the house.
Let’s get started!
I spend a ton of time in my kitchen due to work responsibilities for the blog and freelance projects (testing and retesting recipes) and feeding my family. My kitchen is definitely my number one priority when it comes to cleaning. Our kitchen features sealed butcherblock counters, open shelving, white bottom cabinets, a ceramic farm sink and subway tile back-splash, and stainless steel appliances. It’s a small space that receives a lot of daily attention.
Our dining room overlooks the kitchen area, so I’m also including this room in the “The Kitchen” category. Our dining room is a simple space with a white dining room table and chairs and a coffee bar.
I go between using the vinegar cleaner and the castile soap cleaner, depending on which ingredient I currently have in my pantry. Personally, I prefer the vinegar cleaner since it also works great on my stainless steel appliances, dusting the open shelving, cleaning counter-tops, disinfecting the sink, and degreasing the stove-top. This cleaner definitely lives up to its all-purpose title, since I use it on just about every surface in my kitchen, including my dining room table.
2. Oven Cleaner
My oven is dirty 99.9% of the time. My oven is more of a commercial oven at this point, along with my kitchen, due to the amount of recipe testing and photography work that comes out of this appliance (and the space) on a daily basis. I try to clean it at least every three months, just to keep it from getting so bad that I don’t want to open the door when guests come over. A baking soda paste has been the best solution for my oven since it’s tough on grease.
3. Dish Soap
My favorite dish soap recipe isn’t on the blog, but can be found in my cleaning book (1/2 cup water + 1 tablespoon white vinegar+ 1/2 cup Sal Suds + 1 tablespoon moisturizing oil: jojoba, sweet almond, or olive oil. Simply combine all the ingredients in a pump bottle). I keep this soap in a glass soap dispenser next to my sink and use it for both hand-washing and dish-washing.
4. Dishwasher Detergent
Dishwasher detergent is a product that I currently choose to purchase from the store. (Remember our what to make versus buy chat a while back?) The best “more natural” store-bought product I’ve found is Seventh Generation’s Powder Dishwasher Detergent.
5. Sink Scrub*
Most of the time I simply use a lemon cut in half to clean my sink. It’s amazing how such a simple ingredient makes my white sink sparkle and shine. After washing the dishes, I rub the lemon over the surface of the sink (sometimes with a bit of salt sprinkled on top). If the sink needs a deep clean, a generous sprinkle of toilet bowl cleaner powder and a scrub brush washes away any grease or dirt buildup.
Next up, our bathrooms. Our home was built in the ’60s, and just from observing the size of our bathrooms, it’s clear that builders and homeowners didn’t feel like having room for more than one person at a time was important. Our bathrooms are super small, poorly ventilated, and one is bright pink. Our bathrooms are about to go through the remodeling process this summer, like our kitchen did last year (it’s a real life Fixer Upper show around here, just without Joanna and Chip). Right now, we have one full bathroom with a tub and shower, and a half bathroom. The full bathroom definitely demands the most cleaning attention.
As mentioned earlier, I go between using the vinegar cleaner and the castile soap cleaner, depending on which ingredient I currently have in my pantry. I use this spray on our tile walls, counter-tops, in the sinks, and around the toilets.
2. Tub Scrub
This scrub is awesome, and it’s perfect for a dirty tub. For routine cleaning, I stick with my all-purpose spray (above) in our tub, but when the tub needs that extra something (once a month), this tub scrub is my go-to product. At the moment, I don’t make the full recipe; rather, I cut the recipe in half for a one-time use.
3. Glass Cleaner*
Our full bathroom mirror is a toothpaste splatter magnet. This glass cleaner is the perfect solution. I also use this glass cleaner to clean the windows in our home.
4. Mildew Spray
Mildew is a huge issue in the shower of our full bathroom due to poor ventilation. This issue will be fixed with the upcoming remodel. For now, I use a simple vinegar mildew spray every few days to keep the mildew from taking over.
This is the same powder I use to occasionally deep clean my kitchen sink. I sprinkle this powder in my bathroom sinks and the toilets. In the sink, I simply scrub the powder over the surface and then rinse it off with water. In the toilet, I sprinkle the powder inside the toilet bowl, let it rest, and then scrub the bowl with a toilet bowl brush.
General House Cleaning
I’m going to lump the rest of our home into this giant “General House Cleaning” category. The rest of our home consists of four bedrooms, technically we use two as bedrooms and two as office/studio rooms. The bedrooms are filled with your average bedroom/office stuff: desks, beds, and dressers. We have a cozy living room with white slip cover couches, a built in bookshelf, a few wood furniture pieces, a gallery wall of photos/typography, a cream jute area rug, and a giant white armoire. Throughout our entire home we have a mix of “hardwood” tile and carpet.
I’m currently using a simple blend of castile soap, hot water, and a few drops of essential oil to mop our “hardwood” tile floors. I only mop our floors every two weeks with a microfiber mop (and the castile soap solution), and I sweep daily. Our carpet is vacuumed every two weeks as well. I also use this cleaner with a microfiber cloth to clean our baseboards.
We have a white (slipcover) couch and chair in our living room. We also have two kids and two dogs. Enough said. Sometimes a stain remover is needed. Most of the time, just a spritz of 100% hydrogen peroxide or vinegar will remove a stain. But sometimes, I’ll make a bottle of easy stain remover. I don’t keep this stain remover in my cleaning toolkit, because I don’t need it regularly, but I always have the ingredients on hand.
4. Carpet Deodorizer
We have two little dogs, which means I’m constantly concerned that our house smells like dogs live here (because they do!). Once a month, I sprinkle baking soda and a few drops of essential oil over our rugs and carpet, let it rest for 30 minutes, and then vacuum away any odors.
5. Window Cleaner*
I use this window cleaner (the same recipe used in the bathroom for mirrors) to help our windows sparkle and shine.
The Laundry Room
Eventually, just about anything that can be washed in a tub of water will find its way into my “laundry room.” I don’t have an actual room for laundry in our home, but let’s just stick with the idea. Our washer and dryer are vintage (that’s a nice way to say older in 2016, right?!), and they work very hard to keep our family happy and clean.
Depending on our current season of life (travel, work projects, etc.), I go between “more natural” store-bought laundry detergent and homemade laundry soap. Right now, homemade laundry soap powder is sitting on my washing machine. This powder is amazing–it cleans and deodorizes!
2. Dryer Balls
I’m not a crafty person, and I definitely can’t sew anything, so homemade dryer balls (made from wool) really intimidated me at first. I finally decided to try making a batch, and I’m so glad I took the risk. They are super easy to make. I use my dryer balls in place of dyer sheets.
It may seem like I make and use many different cleaning products in my home, but when you look at each product, you’ll also notice that many of the ingredients are the same (just with different combos or ratios). Natural cleaning isn’t something that’s meant to tricky, time-consuming, or complicated. Just about every single product that I use can be mixed together “on the spot” in less than five minutes.
You may also notice that I’m not currently using every recipe on the blog to clean my home. There are so many different ways to clean a home, and each recipe on the blog represents products I’ve used over the years and truly love. I pick and choose my cleaning products based on our current cleaning needs. I would encourage you to browse the cleaning archives on the blog (or download my cleaning book) to find the recipes that will work for your home and current cleaning needs.
While I love making cleaners, I know there are seasons in life when making cleaners (or cleaning your home) just isn’t possible. Friend, it’s okay, I totally understand. If you’re interested in finding “cleaner” store-bought products, I highly recommend checking out the EWG’s Database. If you’d like to make or purchase natural cleaning products, but don’t have the time to clean and need to hire a cleaning service, I know from speaking with many different services in our area that some companies will allow you to provide your own cleaning products. Most of these companies also require that you sign a release form so they aren’t liable for product mishaps or usage issues.
Switching to natural cleaning products doesn’t need to be complicated or exhausting. Simply start with the products you most often use in your home and start making one small change. Small, practical changes are the building blocks to a doable long-term natural lifestyle.