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Chemical Free Cleaning on the Cheap!

Have you kicked the chemicals out of your home? Are you spending an arm and a leg on chemical free or “green” cleaners? Yeah. I used to too. And, then I’d still worry about whether or not the house was REALLY clean. Did it kill the germs on the toilet? Will the clothes SMELL clean? Is the risk of salmonella gone from the chicken I cut and dripped on the kitchen counter?? Maybe you’re not as OCD as me but you’d like a few tips for cleaning your house on the cheap without harsh chemicals….then this post is for you.

Chemical Free Cleaning on the Cheap

Sure, you can score your cleaning products for next to nothing or even FREE with your coupons and the drug store game. I used to. Then, I realized that wasn’t the best solution for my family and our long term health. I’d have piles of free or nearly free laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. I’d literally trip over them while I did laundry because they spilled out of the too-full cabinet. That’s one thing I love about green cleaning:

  • I only need 8 INGREDIENTS to clean EVERYTHING in my WHOLE house – laundry, dishes, mopping, counters, toilets, dusting, etc. I can easily store those items in my cleaning cabinet with room to spare.

Have you seen the commercials about “healthing” with chemical cleaners. Yeah, that commercial gets me on my soap box. There is nothing “healthy” about huffing harsh chemicals. But, you don’t FEEL like it is clean if you can’t smell the bleach, you say? {I have friends that say this}. You LIKE the way the laundry soap/mopping water/counter disinfectant SMELLS, you say?  You don’t have to lose your beloved scent – you just have to stay away from the synthetic ones. Froofroo high dollar green cleaners even have lovely scents – sometimes non-toxic/essential oils based, but they can be expensive. That’s the second thing I love about my green cleaning line up:

  • I use CHEAP scented castile soap {scented with essential oils} and CHEAP essential oils I already have in my holistic medicine cabinet {double duty!} to make my cleaners smell  lovely while gleaning the added benefits that come with essential oils – like antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Cleaners are cleaners. You can’t do much else with them. They sit in the cabinet until your ready to clean, serving only one purpose. That’s the final reason I LOVE my green cleaning products:

  • The products I buy are useful for MANY things. Baking soda – sure it’ll act as an abrasive for scrubbing toilets…but it’ll also make my baked goods rise. :) You get the idea. These products aren’t JUST cleaning supplies.

So what do I use to clean my house?

  1. borax {easily found at the grocery store}
  2. washing soda {buy online or some grocery stores}
  3. castile soap {I buy mine on Amazon to get a good price}
  4. white vinegar {available cheap everywhere!}
  5. baking soda {avaialble cheap everywhere!}
  6. Thieves cleaner {see my post for details on this - but a bottle of concentrate is about $22 and will last a LONG time}
  7. lemon essential oil {see my post for details on this – but a bottle will last a long time at about $11.25 }
  8. a green liquid dish soap such as Method {available in stores but I get the best price on Amazon}

How do I use them to clean the WHOLE house?


:: Laundry Detergent

It took me a LONG time to buy into the whole “make your own laundry detergent” idea. I saw lots of ideas on blogs and pinterest but they seemed just as toxic {or more toxic} than what I was buying. I bought green laundry detergent – many brands, and I was happy with how they were working. BUT, they weren’t very frugal and they took a big bite out of my budget.  So, finally, after a bit of research I came up with this recipe. It uses washing soda, borax, and castile soap. Castile soap comes in many “scents.” These scents come from essential oils, but you can also purchase unscented. The last gallon bottle I bought was almond scented and I love it in my laundry!! Plus, this gallon jug is not quite half empty and I bought it 4 1/2 months ago! So, you can see one jug will last nearly a year when washing clothes and sheets for a family of 4 {including two messy toddlers and one man’s dirty work clothes} DAILY.

:: Countertop & Shower/Tub Cleaner

I use Young Living’s Thieves cleaner to make my counter top cleaner for the bathroom and kitchen. It is VERY effective – killing 99.9% of all germs and bacteria…naturally.  It has a lovely smell thanks to the cloves and cinnamon in it.  It is a concentrated bottle of cleaner so it lasts a long time. {One capful will fill that entire spray bottle shown in my picture}. It also has the power to kill MOLD.  This comes in handy when cleaning my shower. Just sayin’

:: Moping

I alternate using just HOT water and white vinegar and using HOT water and 2 capfuls of Young Livings Thieves cleaner.  So one week I’ll use vinegar and the next I’ll use Thieves cleaner. The thieves cleaner has a much more pleasant smell than the vinegar. It also does a better job of lifting the grime off my tile floors!

:: Toilet Bowl Cleaner

I use a handy little syrup/ketchup bottle I got CHEAP at Walmart or the Dollar Store {see picture} to mix my toilet bowl cleaner.  The little spout is handy for spraying the cleaner around the rim of the bowl. To make the cleaner I mix 1/3 castile soap and 2/3 water.  I squeeze this mixture around the bowl and then sprinkle in a little baking soda right from the box. The cleaner cleans and the baking soda serves as the abrasive to make it “scrub.”

:: Glass Cleaner

The Thieves cleaner works for that too! I use the same cleaner as I do for countertops! It cuts the streaks just like the national brand.

:: Furniture Polish/Dusting

I mix 2 tsp olive oil, 4-6 drops of lemon essential oil, and 1 cup water. Mix in a spray bottle and shake before you spray! I spray a wipe with a lint free rag.

:: Dish Soap

I use Method dish soap - I don’t make my own. I have tried and castile soap leaves a bit of film.  For now I’m sticking with the store bought.  But, I am scoring it relatively cheap by purchasing it in bulk an in refill packages via Amazon.

Okay that sums up the day to day cleaners. But, these cleaners can do so much more. Here’s a few ideas I’ve used: 

  1. Disinfect toys: a couple capfuls of Thieves cleaner in the tub works like a charm to disinfect tub toys – its an antibacterial, antiviral cleaner and it kills mold!
  2. Get rid the sticky goo left behind by a label: a drop of lemon essential oil on a cotton ball will easily dissolve that sticky left behind residue.
  3. Cleaning carpets: that same Thieves cleaner works like a champ in your carpet cleaning vacuum. {1 capful to 6 cups of water}
  4. Clean the upholstery: 2 cups of water to 1 capful of Thieves cleaner gets the spots off your couch {Test in an inconspicuous spot, as always}
  5. Get the stink out of your towels: a cup of vinegar and VERY HOT Water OR a capful of thieves cleaner added to your regular detergent will get the stink out!
  6. Make the dishes SHINE: add a cup of vinegar to your dish washer {where the jet dry liquid would normally go}.
  7. Freshen the air: spray a bit of lemon or thieves essential oil mixed with water on your return vents and curtains to freshen the air in the house.

That’s How I “Green Clean” on the Cheap. What other tips do you have using minimal CHEMICAL FREE ingredients?

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  1. Tracy Horgan says:

    Can you tell me the ratios you use for the laundry detergent?

  2. I know the lemon oil will get ink and oil out of clothing but what do you use to replace stain removals such as shout. Most people say that the homemade detergent isn’t as good as cutting major dirt issues. Since you have little ones I am sure you have dirt! Have you found this to be a problem. I buy my baking soda by bulk at Cosco really cheap since I use it for baking and cleaning.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      That is a great tip Glenda! Thanks for sharing. :)
      I have to use a pretreatment for REALLY nasty things – like markers on clothes, jelly, chocolate sauce, – pretty much every other thing Eliana wears. LOL. So, I use BioKleen Bac Out it is a green cleaner that works like Shout. http://amzn.to/1aopgER
      There is also an oxygen whitener at the eco store that I have tried that works pretty well. http://www.ecostoreusa.com/pure-oxygen-whitener/
      I didn’t even think of those things when I read and reread and tried to think about my routines. Thanks for pointing it out in case other were also wondering. :)
      I’m always looking for new ideas though, so if you have other tried and true methods/products I am open to trying new things. :)

  3. What do you use in the dishwasher?

  4. How many ounces of water do you use per capful of Thieves for your countertop cleaner?

  5. Can this recipe be used in and HE washer and if so how much do you put?

  6. Doris Shelton says:

    Where do you buy Young Living Thieves cleaner? I have not noticed it in stores.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      It is from Young Living. I am a rep and you can purchase through me. I became a rep after I realized how awesome their products were. Might as well get the discount! If you are interested just shoot me an email – it is awesome stuff!
      Wholesome Mommy

  7. Yes! Finally something about cheap carpet cleaners.

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  9. You may want to double check how “chemical free” some of the ingredients you have listed actually are. The EWG website has great information. A friendly reminder that just because something says “natural” or even “all natural” doesn’t mean it actually is.

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