Practicing and maintaining green cleaning processes in our home, and on our property, are important values for my family and I. We have been using all natural cleaners in our home for several years now. When we moved to Woodford, and now had a septic system and well to care for, our need to improve our practices expanded.
What are our practices, and what types of cleaners do we use? The list is simple, yet effective. The best part is that many of our cleaners share the same core ingredients, meaning we can buy in bulk. This saves us money, while also allowing us to make a wide range of household cleaners.
Green Cleaning for the Homesteader
Our primary cleaners are distilled, white vinegar, and baking soda. Mixed in with a few other ingredients, we are able to make everything from dishwasher soap, to laundry detergent, to window cleaner!
- VINEGAR – This natural ingredient is typically made from corn or apples. Vinegar is naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal and an anti-septic. This makes it perfect for sanitizing and cleaning.
- We buy this in bulk from a local pickling company. We have to bring our own container, but it is pretty cheap. We have about 15-gallons of it in our basement, and it comes in 20% acidity. We are able to use it for pickling and cooking, as well as our household cleaners. 20% is extremely strong – your standard vinegar from the grocery store shelf (and what is needed for most recipes and cleaners) is 5%. So we water it down as we need it, and this makes our 15-gallons last even longer. We’ve only filled the barrel once in the past 2 years!
- BAKING SODA – Baking soda is wonderful for removing stains, reducing odors, and so much more. It is my favorite cleaner for ceramic dishes, and my coated cast-iron pots. It removes all the cooked-on stains and browning that happens over time, keeping them looking fresh and new! I use it in combination with a scented vinegar to clean our bathroom, and to keep the bath tub and tile grout white and mildew free.
- We also buy this in bulk from a local big-box store. It gets used in our dishwasher soap and laundry detergent as well. A sprinkle of it at the bottom of your trash can will also help keep the odors down from stinky garbage!
- WASHING SODA – I use washing soda in my homemade laundry detergent [LINK] and our dishwasher detergent [LINK]. It’s a great, natural way to boost the cleaning properties of your soaps, remove stains, and keep everything smelling fresh. I try to buy this in bulk when possible, as it’s definitely cheaper, but you can find this in your local grocery store in the laundry aisle!
- ESSENTIAL OILS – Never underestimate the power of essential oils. These are good for your home, your body, your health, and they just smell so darn good! I use essential oils in our bath and body products, in stinky loads of laundry, and in our cleaners. I like soft scents like lavender or rose for sheets, linens and towels, and fresh, bright scents like orange, mint or tea tree for mopping and bathroom cleaning. There are a lot of scents available, this really just comes down to personal preference.
- CASTILE SOAP – An all natural soap, derived from plant oils, castile soap is a liquid cleaner. It comes unscented or scented, depending on your preference. I buy it – yes, you guessed it- in bulk on line. It comes unscented in a 1-gallon jug. We use it on it’s own for dish and hand washing at the kitchen sink, and mixed in our laundry detergent. It can also be used on the body, so while I haven’t tried it yet, I am looking forward to trying out some DIY shampoo recipes with castile soap as my base.
- SEA SALT – Salt is a wonderful natural cleaner! This is the only “cleaner” we use on all of our cast iron cookware. We use all natural sea salt, which has a nice, coarse grind. It’s naturally antibacterial, and the coarseness provides a good abrasive for scrubbing difficult or stuck-on food.
- CITRUS RINDS – This probably sounds strange, but we save our orange, lemon and lime peels for use in our vinegar. We keep a quart jar of vinegar under the kitchen sink, with the peels soaking right in it. After even a short period, the citrus rinds permeate the vinegar with a nice scent, which is great to add to hot water for mopping, adding to a stinky dishwasher load, or using wherever it’s needed around the house. We typically keep the rinds in the jar for about a week, or whenever they start to dull in color a little. We’ll add new ones as we have them, as we continuously refill the vinegar.