DIY Green Cleaners

By Erin Quinn

You don’t have to be a mad scientist to make your own household cleaning products. Starre Vartan, author of The Eco Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008), and Kimberly Delaney, author of Clean Home, Green Home(Knack, 2009), share their simple cleaner recipes made from common ingredients.

Universal cleanser: 1 ounce concentrated citrus solvent + 1/2 gallon water
“You don’t need all those chemicals in conventional spray cleaners to keep your counters clean,” says Vartan. “Try a simple, cheap mixture of concentrated citrus solvent and water, and store it in a reused spray bottle.” Vartan recommends Citra Solv Natural Cleaner & Degreaser.

Toilet and drain cleaner: 1 cup distilled white vinegar + 1/2 cup baking soda 
“This is great for cleaning every surface in your bathroom, including the toilet,” says Delaney. “In the drain, the bubbling can help eat away clogs caused by soap build-up and hair.” To clear a clog, pour the baking soda in the drain, add vinegar, cover with a rag for 20 minutes, then follow with boiling water.

Tile and grout disinfectant: 2 cups baking soda + 1/2 cup castile soap
“Castile liquid soap with baking soda makes a nice paste for cleaning,” says Delaney. “I like to use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Peppermint Pure Castile Liquid Soap.” 

Mold killer: 1 teaspoon tea tree oil + 2 cups of water
Tea tree oil is much more effective than bleach in fighting mold, says Delaney, who also recommends people in need of mold cleaner address the reason why they have mold in the fist place. “The key is to buy 100 percent essential oil, not a fragrance or perfumed oil, neither of which is effective for fighting mold.” Always buy tea tree oil in glass containers, since the liquid dissolves plastic.