Frugal & Natural Cleaning

Strong, toxic chemicals and petrochemicals are making their way intoour homes and water supply. Although we can’t completely control what others do, we can make small changes in our lives to reduce these dangerous chemicals in our homes, gardens, and communities. One way to do this is by using homemade cleaners as our ancestors did, even though they at times require a bit more elbow grease. There are many inexpensive and healthier alternatives to the array of commercial cleaners on the market today.

With just a few common household ingredients many general and specialty cleaners can easily and inexpensively be made. Below are some basic ingredients you will need as well as cleaning supplies to create your homemade cleaning kit. Always make sure to label the bottles of your homemade cleaners.

Natural Cleaning Ingredients:

White Vinegar (Acetic Acid):

White distilled vinegar (other vinegars can stain) is one of my favorite cleaning ingredients for it’s versatility. It is highly useful in cleaning most surfaces, removing mineral and soap deposits, cutting grease, removing stains, disinfecting, and also has many laundry and gardening uses.

Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate):

Baking soda is an all purpose, non-toxic cleaner. It’s mild abrasive with many cleaning, stain removal, freshening and deodorizing purposes.


Salt is a stronger abrasive helpful in those tough situations. Care should be taken not to scratch delicate surfaces.

Borax (Sodium Borate):

Borax is a natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria. An alternative to bleach, it deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap. Borax can be found under the name 20 Mule Team, in the laundry aisle or at Soaps Gone Buy.

Note: label any cleaner made with borax, since it is mildly toxic.


Cornstarch can be used to starch clothes, as well as absorbing oils and grease.

Essential Oils:

Essential oils can be used for disinfecting, medicinal, and fragrance. They can easily be found in most health food stores.

Note: Do not confuse with fragrance oils, which are not natural.

Lemon Juice (Citric Acid):

Lemon juice can be used to cut through grease and remove perspiration and other stains from clothing. It is used as a bleach alternative.

Castile soap:

Castile soap can be purchased at a health food store. This is an all natural soap made from vegetable oils (mostly olive oil).

Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate):

Cleans clothes, softens water, cuts grease and disinfects. It also increases the cleaning power of soap. Washing soda is available at Soaps Gone Buy.

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Sponges
  • Old towels, hand towels, and dish towels
  • Old newspapers (great for cleaning windows)
  • Old toothbrushes

NOTE: Sponges can be easily cleaned and disinfected by soaking in white vinegar overnight (the acetic acid in the vinegar will kill germs), microwaving for 1 minute or my favorite washing in the dishwasher.


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