A Greener Cleaning Guide

Shannon Buck - Columnist
Posted on Monday 14th September 2009

I have asthma, so most traditional cleaners make it nearly impossible for me to breath. I also have sensitive skin, so I can't use a lot of the laundry products on the market. These problems have made me rethink how I clean every area of our home.

I have begun switching to more natural cleaners and, while I have not found an alternative for every traditional household cleaner, and I will share the solutions that I have found thus far.

Windows, light bulbs, mirrors, door knobs, light switches and other general cleaning jobs:

Spray these with a vinegar/water wash and wipe dry. The spray is easy to make at home by using 1/3 spray bottle of vinegar and filling with water.

Kitchen and bathroom disinfectant:

Spray these areas with full-strength vinegar that has been poured into a spray bottle. Vinegar is said to be a natural disinfectant, and it can clean most surfaces.


While I have not yet found a replacement for hand washing dish detergent, I have a couple things that I do when using the dishwasher. First, rather than using Jet-Dry or another brand of rinse, I use straight vinegar. After that, I use Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent.

In order for your dishwasher to run at its best, you should run an empty load without dishwasher detergent once a month. Instead, pour in a cup of vinegar.


I also make homemade laundry detergent that does not hurt my sensitive skin. I do not add borax to my homemade cleaners, and I rarely use a rinse agent. When I do, I use a quarter cup of vinegar. I do not use fabric softener at all.

As with the dishwasher, it is important to run an empty washing machine once a month. Don’t forget to add that cup of vinegar! I promise, the vinegar smell doesn't last long.

Refrigerator and oven:

For now, I simply wash these appliances with baking soda dissolved in warm water. I am currently looking for an alternative for the oven that may make it a little easier to clean. If any readers have suggestions, please feel free to add comments to this article!

Most of the items I use for cleaning cost only pennies per use, making them very affordable alternatives to traditional cleaning products. Not only are the alternative cleaners healthier for my family, they are also better for the environment.

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