Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Lifestyle | | October 27, 2009 at 5:00 am

Photo by Xray Delta 1.

I make my own cleaning products here in sunny San Diego. Why? I live just a few blocks from the ocean and I often see my die-hard surfer friends in the water, rain or shine. After each rainfall they tend to get sick because everything we put down our drains really does end up downstream.

The next time you’re about to pour, flush, or dump anything down the drain, consider this: 260 contaminants have been found in US drinking water. Less than half of these adhere to any safety standards. Ken Cook at the Environmental Working Group notes that 41 of these contaminants come from the chemical laden products we use in our homes. Organizations like Ken’s and The Surfrider Foundation offer the most current research on protecting our water supplies.

It’s easier than you may think to keep our water clean. One of the best eco-friendly impacts you can make is deciding what you choose to put down your drain.¬†Treating your water right at home equals improved water quality in the ocean.


Keep these simple rules in mind when making your eco-friendly cleaning supply purchases:

  • Go for plant based compounds that are dye and perfume free
  • Look for a neutral pH
  • Choose products that are labeled “readily¬†biodegradable” and have been packaged in recyclable materials
  • Visit Debra’s List where she rates all natural cleaning supplies based on ingredients and effectiveness

Make your own and get your mad eco-scientist on!

Remember that vinegar and baking soda volcano you made explode in the 5th grade? For less than twenty bucks, you can purchase all the goodies required to blend up your own personal batches of eco-friendly cleaning supplies!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 bag of lemons
  • 1 large box of baking soda
  • 1 large bottle of white vinegar
  • Distilled H20
  • Dry salt
  • Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
  • Old toothbrushes and small soft scrub brushes

The Formulas: Grab Your Apron

  • For kitchen bathroom and tile floors: Add 1/2 cup of baking soda and the juice of 2 lemons to 1 quart of boiling water.
  • For grout: Same as tile floor recipe plus 1/2 cup of salt
  • For glass: Combine the juice of 2 lemons with 1 pint of white vinegar
  • For drains: Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain immediately followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Allow to fizz then add another 1/ cup of vinegar. Finish with 2 quarts of hot water.
  • For clothing stains: Put 1 cup of room temperature distilled water in a dish and put 1/4 cup of baking soda in a different dish. Scrub the two into the stain, gently, with a brush. Rinse off with warm distilled water.
  • For wooden furniture: Mix 2 Tablespoons of Dr. B’s soap with 4 cups of warm distilled water.

Happy cleaning!

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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  1. Thank you so much for the recipes! Now that it’s raining here in Portland, we can often smell the chemicals being dumped down drains. I look forward to sharing these recipes!

  2. Devin Martin says:

    Thanks for this. Beautifully simple.

  3. Arin says:

    Thanks for all the great tips, what is dry salt?

    • Great question! Dry salt is a form of sea salt commonly used in cooking. Because it’s never washed or refined, it’s referred to as “dry salt.” This un-refined form easily pulls up dirt and grime that may otherwise be difficult to reach in grout on counter tops and stone tile floors. My favorite is the salt from Brittany, France (great for cooking)!

  4. Anthony Schwartzman says:

    Ah the wonders of salt…
    To clean cast iron pans, rub gently with a paste of olive oil and coarse kosher salt over low heat. Rinse with water, reheat to dry, oil again, and voila! A mirror finish, seasoning intact.

  5. Megan Alba says:

    Thanks so much for the furniture cleaning recipe! I’m a big fan of castile soap but had no idea it worked on furniture as well.

    I have eczema and severe seasonal allergies, and I have noticed a significant decrease in flare-ups since I began making my own all-natural cleaning products. Plus, my house smells better- no more “chemical” smell after cleaning!

  6. You bet Megan!

    I put Dr. Bronner’s castile to work for many a dirty job! Great for furniture because it doesn’t leave a filmy residue behind! A little castile soap goes a long way!

    Also, gentle enough for a shower gel and shampoo so long as you dilute!