household cleaner

Salad Bar Parenting: Greener Cleaner Recipes

Salad Bar Parenting: A buffet of ideas, practices and products loved by a Motherhood Collective Mom. Depending on your season of parenthood or mothering philosophies, you may pile on what works for you or pass the salad tongs to the next Mom. House cleaning

I’ve made quite a few changes this year in the way I clean our apartment.  Many baby steps later, I find myself with nearly all homemade cleaners and virtually no paper towels!

My desire to change began when Gabriel would fall asleep in the baby carrier, and I desperately wanted to clean the bathroom.  But I didn’t want him to smell all the cleaners I was using.  A friend of mine said she had begun making her own cleaners.  I’m not going to lie—I’ve always thought that was a little weird.  I mean, do they really clean as well?  Don’t you need the smell of bleach to really know that toilet is clean?  And doesn’t that take a lot of time (which I don’t have)?

I didn’t want to pay for the “green” cleaners at Kroger, so I decided I would try just one thing – an All-Purpose cleaner.  I was shocked.  It was cheap (cheaper than I could have imagined), green, safe (if you really want to, you can drink it—no worries of Gabriel accidentally discovering it!), and it, well, REALLY WORKS!

All I had to do was buy 5 ingredients (and most of them, you might already have on hand):


Baking Soda

Borax (you can get this at Kroger and Wal-Mart)

Super Washing Soda (Kroger and Wal-Mart)

Liquid Castile Soap (health food store, Target, Wal-Mart)

Optional: a naturally disinfecting essential oil such as a peppermint, lemon, or lavender

With these five ingredients, I now make All-Purpose Cleaner, Liquid Dish Soap, and Dishwasher Soap.  When I run out of my laundry detergent, I have everything I need to make that as well!


All-Purpose Cleaner:  (I adapted this from one of the hundreds I found on the web)

Combine 1 cup vinegar, 4 cups water, 2-3 tsp. baking soda, and a few drops of an essential oil (optional).  Pour into a spray bottle, and spritz!  For more intense cleaning, like for the tub and toilet, I’ll just pour straight up vinegar, and then sprinkle baking soda or borax and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.


Liquid Dish Soap:  (copied from

-1 ½ cup of hot water

-½ cup liquid castile soap (I usually use Dr. Bronner’s baby mild liquid soap, but feel free to use any scent just be sure to adjust/omit essential oils accordingly. You may want to use a variety that is already scented for a more frugal option.)

-1 tablespoon of white vinegar

-1 tablespoon of Arm&Hammer’s Super Washing Soda (used to thicken the soap)

-1/8 teaspoon of tea tree oil (optional)


1. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and then pour in 1 1/2 cups of very hot water. Be sure to whisk/stir this mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly blended (and the washing soda is melted).

2. Allow mixture to cool completely on the counter, stirring occasionally.

3. Store in any dish soap dispensing bottle and use as you would the commercial brands.

Note: You may choose to naturally increase the anti-bacterial qualities of the soap by adding 1/4 tsp. of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils.


Dishwasher Soap:  Place one Tablespoon of Borax and one Tablespoon of Baking Soda in the dispenser.  Voila!

I also mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water when I mop the floors.

I use those green scour pads first, and then I finish off with microfiber cloths—their woven fibers pick up and trap germs and debris.  It’s also nice to polish everything off, since the baking soda can sometimes leave streaks on chrome.  I then just throw the scrubbers and cloths in the washer every week, and I’m ready to begin again!


This is something that has really worked for me.  I love hearing about how others keep house.  What tips do you have?