Can all-natural cleaning products pass the family test?

My all-natural cleaning supplies: Would they clean as well as harsher chemicals? Would they smell clean and fresh?

My all-natural cleaning supplies: Would they clean as well as harsher chemicals? Would they smell clean and fresh?

For a while I have wanted to switch to all-natural cleaners in the house but I wasn’t quite sure what to use and if they would really be effective.

So last week I searched on Pinterest for natural cleaner ideas and found a bunch of articles with “recipes” for how to create your own all-natural cleaning products.

(See the different versions of natural cleaners I found on Pinterest.)

So I bought a giant bag of Arm and Hammer baking soda (about $5) and the biggest darn jug of white distilled vinegar (about $6) you’ve ever seen. (See above!) I also bought two spray bottles from the hardware store (about $1.50 each).

I went on a cleaning spree one afternoon before Michael came home. I cleaned the kitchen and the two downstairs bathrooms with straight vinegar.

I used the spray vinegar on the counter tops, in the microwave and on the glass stove top. It lifted the food and dirt and seemed to leave everything clean.

I used a baking soda paste in my sink, and it’s never looked cleaner and seems to have stayed clean.

Then I used the straight vinegar on the glass walls of the shower, the bathtub and the sink and toilet. It seemed to cut the hard water and soap scum in the shower but it was still had a film after it dried. I’ll have to try again to see if another technique would work better. (The hard water stains are crazy out here even with a whole-house water softening system.)

The tub, toilet, sink and silver handles and spout all cleaned up nicely.

But I wondered about the vinegar smell.

The website said not to worry. It would smell fresh and clean, not like vinegar. However the big kids came into my room and said what is that smell?

When Michael walked in the garage door, he immediately said “What in the hell is that smell?” He told me to never to use it again.

I did feel good using an all-natural cleaner that the kids could even clean with. But I think I would like to try adding an essence of orange or lemon to help cut the smell. (Where would you buy that?) Or I guess rinse more thoroughly or use even more diluted vinegar next time. It cleaned well enough that I would use it all again, but I just have to figure out how to make it smell better.

Have you ever used homemade natural cleaners? What do you like to use? Are you bothered by the vinegar smell? How do you fix that odor? What are your favorite “recipes” for natural cleaning products?

52 comments Add your comment

shaggy

February 15th, 2012
6:48 am

First, everything is “natural”, even plutonium. Pu is just a little harder to find than say, sodium bicarbonate. No, I am not advocating the use of Pu to clean the toilet ring, although I am sure some of you moms would nuke it if you could. “Natural” is nothing but a marketing hook, meant to sell say, potato chips, or hemorrhoid suppositories.

What I find kind of odd in your article today is the following, very telling statement:
“When Michael walked in the garage door, he immediately said “What in the hell is that smell?” He told me to never to use it again.”

Did Michael also have his whip in hand, when he gave you your firm, unflinching instruction? Did you prostrate yourself before the master of the house, begging to live another day?
Or, did you tell him to put a sock in it, and F-off, until the master spent his day cleaning like a maniac, with family grime pouring out of HIS pores? Oh, and that little thing you like for me to do under the covers every Thursday night? Forget about getting that for the next 50 to 75 years, or we could just lawyer up now…big boy. You choose, and remember I am packing heat since we moved to this barren, dry, wasteland for YOUR career.
Just asking………………..

Voice of Reason

February 15th, 2012
7:32 am

All I ever need to clean anything is a bottle of Clorox Cleanup, a bottle of Windex, and maybe a bottle of 409, which is great for de-greasing engines.

/Also, lots of old rags.

Working Mom

February 15th, 2012
7:44 am

We’ve tried using vinager to clean, and I hate the smell. While I don’t like using all the chemicals with a small child in the house, I’ve found regular cleaners still work better than the vinager. We have hardwood floors throughout our house, and I recently bought a steamer mop to clean the floor. I’m happy with it so far, and we only have to use water. No chemicals.

Vodka is supposed to be a great cleaning product. By the cheapest bottle of vodka you can find and clean away. It doesn’t smell and it sterilizes. You won’t feel guilty cleaning with the cheapest bottle of vodka because you wouldn’t want to drink a $4 bottle of vodka anyway.

Voice of Reason

February 15th, 2012
7:47 am

@Working Mom

Is there anything Vodka can’t do? LOL

Tonya

February 15th, 2012
7:49 am

I use a mix that is 3 cups water to 4 TB vinegar and 4 TB Borax. I find that cleans my showers and glass without leaving a film. As for the smell, because it’s diluted, is not as strong. I find bleach cleaners to be much more offensive on the nose and as I am sensitive to those smells, I can’t clean with them. If I want a lemony scent, I just add a squeeze of half a lemon.

shaggy

February 15th, 2012
7:58 am

I really like the idea of using vodka for those everyday cleaning chores. Hell, I’d stay home, just so I COULD clean stuff.
“Honey, I’m off to the liquor store to get more vod…uhh..cleaning fluid, so I can clean my shop, It’s REALLY dirty and will take so much effort, I invited my buddies over to help. Why don’t you make us some sandwiches, so we’ll have plenty of energy to deep clean?”

RJ

February 15th, 2012
8:16 am

@Shaggy, I doubt that Michael’s words were meant the way you interpreted them. Geesh!

I have thought of using natural cleaners, especially with having a baby in the house again. I also hate the smell of the bleach cleaners, but they work! I’m going to try the vinegar solutions and see how it works. If my hubby doesn’t like the smell, I’m sure he’ll let me know as well:).

Augusta

February 15th, 2012
8:30 am

Dawn dishwashing detergent. My miracle cleaner. I use it to wash windows, no streaking. I use it to wash the blinds, gets the dirt right off.

Yesterday I took the day off to clean the entire house. I was at the Home & Garden show this past weekend, and a guy demonstrating these mops said “75% of the dust in your home is on your walls”. I got to looking at my walls, and he was right. So I got the dry Swifter out, and started working on the walls……O. M. G….they were FILTHY!!!! I had no idea……needless to say, I’m very sore today……..I should have taken today off too….

JOD

February 15th, 2012
8:54 am

@Working Mom – I love my steam mop. We have a lot of tile, so whatever isn’t carpeted gets the steam mop. I also have a handheld steamer for the bathroom, fixtures, etc.

I use vinegar and A&H washing soda in the laundry – it foams up nicely. It does an awesome job on baby and little kid stains (food and oily stains, plus other unmentionables). The vinegar smell goes away and all you smell is the detergent/fabric softener. I don’t think I could use vinegar straight up, though.

I confess, I like Lysol/bleach for certain tasks. Nothin’ gets stuff clean like it, IMHO.

@Augusta – Amen to that! We have high ceilings, and I have to go around with a 20′ pole with a duster at the end to get the dust bunnies off the walls and ceilings! Can’t say I’ve ever Swiffered the walls, though – you go!

jarvis

February 15th, 2012
8:55 am

@Shaggy, there is not much “natural” about the process of turning Chlorine into bleach. But I do suppose that its components Sodium, Oxygen and Chlorine are all naturally occuring.

So it’s natural the same way that polyester is. In the end everything comes from elements. I guess it’s all about the combining

P.S. I love bleach. Nothing cleans or sanitizes like it. Spray vinegar on a shower wall, don’t scrub and come back 15 minutes later. My guess is that the scum and mildew is all still there.

jarvis

February 15th, 2012
8:56 am

@Voice of Reason, that is the funniest thing that has ever been posted on this page.

Kawla

February 15th, 2012
9:00 am

I recently met another Mom at a park that was telling me how she uses vinegar to clean everything. When we were in the car leaving I asked my daughter if she enjoyed playing with the other Moms daughter. Her reply -”She was OK, but she smelled like easter eggs!” Lol! so you might want to be wary of that….

Augusta

February 15th, 2012
9:01 am

I refuse to waste precious Vodka on cleaning….LOL….that’s alcohol abuse….

jarvis

February 15th, 2012
9:11 am

75% of dust is on your walls?…That seems gravity defying and absurd.

Everything I’ve ever seen reccomends dusting your walls once a year. Try to get away with dusting your furniture once a year.

LA

February 15th, 2012
9:21 am

I have to second Tonya’s recipe for an all purpose cleaner. I have used a similar recipe for about 3 years now. In addition to the water, vinegar and borax, I add about a tablespoon of liquid castille soap and an essential oil to cut the vinegar smell. You can buy many different essential oils (like lemon, rosemary, peppermint, etc.) at GNC and other health food/supplement stores. Just add anywhere from 10-30 drops, depending on how strong you want the smell to be.

K's Mom

February 15th, 2012
9:23 am

I want to hear more about vinegar on the glass cook top. Did it get the dried food off? I had a pan of rice boil over last week and I have tried everything I can find and I still have a ring. Any advice is welcome. I have used Ceramabrite and Weimans so far.

Lori

February 15th, 2012
9:35 am

Must be nice to have time to make your own cleaning products. I get by with Windex and 409 for just about everything except the shower grime. For that you need good old fashion elbow grease.

I have a friend that has a Rainbow machine that she swears by. I’ve had my house cleaned with one before, and it was great, because it was clean but didn’t smell like cleaning products. But I can’t afford one, so I guess I’ll have to stick with the cleaners.

Augusta

February 15th, 2012
9:39 am

What I need suggestions for is how do you removed cooked-on grease from the stove top? Even Dawn can’t get it off……While the Dawn works on the recent grease, I can’t get the other stuff off..Any suggestions?????

Voice of Reason

February 15th, 2012
9:45 am

@Augusta

I don’t know….a Brillo pad maybe?

FCM

February 15th, 2012
9:47 am

Baking Soda on the stovetop should work for that older grease. With warm water and a Dobie pad.

Have used vinegar and water (with newsprint) to clean glass/mirrors for years.

Bleach and water is good for most of the rest. Murphy’s Oil on the wood….and I know it is not green but those scrubbing bubbles in the bathroom not only sparkle, it just makes me think clean!

K's Mom

February 15th, 2012
9:57 am

@FCM, will the baking soda scratch a glass stove top? When I build my dream house it is going to have a gas stove because these glass ones are too hard to clean. And I am with you on the scrubbing bubbles. I love them to clean the tub and woodwork (they do great on painted molding).

Augusta

February 15th, 2012
10:01 am

Wouldn’t a Brillo pad scratch the surface? I’ll try the backing soda. What’s a dobie pad?

A

February 15th, 2012
10:07 am

I use cleaning products from Method and Mrs. Meyer’s and a steam mop for floors and that seems to do the trick. No vinegar smell and supposedly everything is biodegradable/natural.

AT

February 15th, 2012
10:28 am

what can be use to clean black fireplace smut and soot from fireplace mantels and painted walls?

Augusta

February 15th, 2012
10:34 am

@AT – I’ve used good old PineSol and a bucket of water for the fireplace….

jmb

February 15th, 2012
10:47 am

I use Tide for a lot of my cleaning. Tide & Mr. Clean work great on all my floors and I even mop the inside logs with it. I also add a small amount of enzmold that my company produces and has a nice citrus smell. Not only cleans great it smells great too. I use windex on the counters and stove top and fill my sinks with bleach and let them soak for an hour or so. As for showers, if you spray them with grease lightening and let them sit for 10 mins., rinse with hot shower water and they will look like you scrubbed all day on them. I also spray it on my flower arrangements and rinse them in the shower. I know none of my cleaning products are green (other than enzmold) but I can tell you that my house is clean when I get through.

JOD

February 15th, 2012
11:03 am

We have a gas stove with black ceramic top underneath. I was reluctant to let Hubs use steel wool on it, but one of his homebrews boiled over and made a huge gooey mess. Surprisingly, it did a great job and didn’t scratch. I’d say try a little spot and see how it does.

catlady

February 15th, 2012
11:29 am

I’m not sure how the vodka works–either it does really clean or, if you drink enough, it really doesn’t matter!

jmb

February 15th, 2012
11:29 am

On the stove top, hubby does auto body work and used a compound that he buffs the cars with to get an overspill off. Worked like a charm so now he has stove top detail haha

K's mom

February 15th, 2012
11:53 am

@AT, scrubbing bubbles works like a charm on fireplace smut, especially on brick. Spray it on and let it sit for 15-20 seconds and it lifts out the yuck from the crevices and then you can wipe it clean.

shaggy

February 15th, 2012
12:19 pm

TWG – post evaporated…retrieve it if you want. I won’t rewrite it.

Soccer MILF

February 15th, 2012
12:19 pm

I have no idea what my cleaning ladies use but it smells unnatural. I will have to ask them next time they are coming by. I want to help in my carbon footprint and if telling my maid to use natural products helps then I will make her

clotheschic

February 15th, 2012
12:27 pm

@Augusta. Try oven cleaner – the kind that foams and stays in place. Works like a charm. It also gets caked on, burnt gunk off pots and pans too.

bessbear

February 15th, 2012
1:37 pm

How can anyone complain about the smell of vinegar, then turn around and use bleach? At least the vinegar smell goes away quickly.

I’ve used vinegar for about 5 years, mixed in with a few drops of tea tree oil, which also acts as an antibacterial agent. You get used to the brief smell, just as so many people don’t think much of the smell of bleach. I also invested in a bottle of H2 made by Shaklee. It is a concentrate that you mix in various strengths, dependin on what you are cleaning. That one bottle of concentrate has lasted me 4 years already. I feel much better knowing my kids can use the products without worry of what’s getting into their system.

Bon Ami is another good product for scrubbing – made from limestone. I like it better than baking soda. Works great on the bathtub.

I have not only made my house safer to clean and live in, but it saves a bunch of money to not go into that cleaning aisle every few weeks. Then when I want to buy a packaged, more natural cleaner, such as Ecover dishwasher tablets, I don’t worry that it costs a little more than the others. I actually think those work better than Cascade. My overall cleaning costs are way below what they used to be.

Hippy Libtard

February 15th, 2012
2:11 pm

I find that I can reduce my carbon footprint by using ground up maple leaves with some carrot juice to clean my house. I also only flush every third time I go number one and every twice time if it s number two. I just think we have a responsibility to take care of our planet if we want humanity to live on forever on this planet!

JATL

February 15th, 2012
7:48 pm

I like my chemical cleaners! If it hasn’t been Lysoled, Pine Sol’d, Cloroxed and Pledged, I really don’t feel like it’s clean! I also like the house to smell like it’s been cleaned afterward. Everyone I know who is using the “all natural” cleaners has a bathroom that smells like pee. I tried them and had a cleaning service that used them and did not like them at all.

Jesse's Girl

February 15th, 2012
7:59 pm

Ah….cleaning with a $4 bottle of vodka. Reminds me of college. I forgot how enjoyable cleaning could be:)

djm_NC

February 15th, 2012
9:08 pm

i tried the vinegar thing and my kids hated it…and the scent didnt go away fast. i do like to use babking soda when i need an abrasive…but over all i just use 409 or something like that thats on sale. i dont think that home made stuff works as well. especially home made laundry detergent….doesnt get out stains or cut grease. hate to contribute to pollution but i like things to look clean and smell good if im going to the trouble of cleaning.

BlondeHoney

February 15th, 2012
9:49 pm

Amen JATL :) AND Jesse’s girl ;)

shaggy

February 16th, 2012
6:34 am

I used the vodka cleaning method last night, even used high quality Stoli’s.
I woke up this morning, and things were not as clean as I thought they would be, plus I had a headache.
My wife said that she did, however, enjoy my attempts to clean the bed clothes.

Augusta

February 16th, 2012
8:33 am

LOL Saggy – I used the Red Wine cleaning method last night. I too have a headache…..

homeschooler

February 16th, 2012
8:50 am

Okay, that’s the second time Soccer MILF said what I was thinking. I’m getting a little worried as I’m not a soccer mom and unfortunately not a MILF.
Anyway…Whatever my cleaning lady uses smells really good and is definitely not natural. I just tell her not to use bleach or soft scrub because both tend to ruin surfaces over time.
btw…I forgo paying for cable TV and a home phone so I can afford a cleaning lady. I’ve figured out there are things I do well (working and homeschooling) and others I don’t (housekeeping). Something had to give so I pay for a cleaning service.
I don’t know about cleaning with vinegar but it is AMAZING on pet stains. We have a new puppy and I have saturated the puppy piddle spots with vinegar and water. The smell is awful until it dries but we have had no lasting puppy pee smells or stains.
Between my housekeeper visits (every two weeks) I use Windex for everything.

Augusta

February 16th, 2012
9:07 am

@homeschooler – good for you!!! My mom worked a full time job and her luxury was a cleaning lady who came every Wednesday.

I would love to hire someone just to clean the bathrooms. I hate doing that job. and Mopping. I don’t care to mop either…..If I could get someone to come in twice a month and do those two chores, I’d be a happy woman.

Me

February 16th, 2012
9:27 am

Our cleaning service “claims” to use all-natural products – and, if so, they obviously work quite well. But, in all honesty, I cannot state for a fact that such is true. Since the cleaning service does such an awesome job, however, I’m not about to question the manner by which their results are obtained. We do handle the normal day-to-day cleaning chores and, for this, we use the products manufactured by the company for whom my wife works. In addition to their industrial products, they also supply products for the food service industry so we use products from this arena as we know their background and have confidence in their safety. Unfortunately, I don’t think the retail division places the food-service product line on store shelves.

shaggy

February 16th, 2012
10:39 am

It’s official. Not only does vodka clean better ( I prefer the expensive, quality, “cleaner”) see this story that will give you new respect for cleaning.

http://news.yahoo.com/drinking-vodka-makes-more-creative-070000177.html

Scooby

February 16th, 2012
11:57 am

Whatever my cleaning lady uses, works fine for me.

Jesse's Girl

February 16th, 2012
1:11 pm

My studio pals swear by vodka and cranberry juice. It does indeed make a session not only go by faster…but the whole experience seems to flow more smoothly. I just can’t partake. Vodka may assist in a more creative studio session…and clean better…but it tends to induce pregnancy in me. So…..

Greg

February 16th, 2012
2:17 pm

Hey I use the best natural cleaning products as well as other natural products from bath and body, beauty products and medicine money can buy, they are concentrated and smell great. I’m not sure about posting links or e-mail address in this area but would love to share if anyone is interested.

shaggy

February 17th, 2012
6:25 am

Jesse’s Girl,

LOL! I forgot about vodka’s strange effect on female reproduction. I have personally conducted “studies” that resulted in the same findings for tequila and sometimes rum. Even beer will at certain times, be hazardous in this way.
Oh well, back to my research….”honey, please pass me a celery stick.”

Kat

February 17th, 2012
12:33 pm

I hate the smell of vinegar but if it does eventually go away, I might be game to try it. I hate the smell of bleach (always makes me think I’m at a pool), but I love how it works.

The cleaning product that I don’t like to have around is that “Fabuloso” stuff. Smells great, but I was always worried my kids (or their friends) would be dumb enough to think that it was a juice beverage and drink some of it. It looked and smelled wonderful, but too close to being good enough to drink.

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February 19th, 2012
11:18 am

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Connie

February 21st, 2012
3:38 pm

Like you I have tried the baking soda and vinegar cleaning but also prefer a fresher smell. After trying other so called natural cleaners I have finally found a brand I am happy with. The products are scented with essential oils of your choice. I like the lavender especially for fabric softener. Shampoos and lotions are in several different scents to choose from also. As for house cleaning, I have no complaints so far. My house is clean without the headache and not being able to breath after using harsh chemicals. Now smells like fresh air and my plants like that too. Check out the products at http://www.bestallnaturalcleaners.com