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Claire Moshenberg's picture

My worst toxic chemical catastrophes all have to do with cleaning emergencies. Erupting late night sinks, followed by a newly  filthy kitchen floor. Grocery stores that aren’t open, budgets that can’t accomodate a last minute batch of organic cleaning supplies, home emergencies at odd hours when my only option is a hastily acquired bottle of some pungent, toxic cleaning potion from the corner store.

Luckily, after a hand full (or more) of these toxic cleaning moments, I've learned that cleaning supplies are the easiest, cheapest items to detox and DIY. Here are three lists of common kitchen items with cleaning supply recipes made out of these simple, around-the-house ingredients.

Shopping tips:

  • Check the label when you’re buying liquid castile soap; Women’s Voices for the Earth recommends avoiding sodium lauryl (laureth) sulfate (SLS) and Diethanolamine (DEA).
  • Vinegar refers to white distilled vinegar.
  • The only thing you’ll need outside of these basic ingredients are containers for your new cleaning supplies. Stock up on glass jars for scrubs and polishes, and glass spray bottles for cleaning sprays.

List 1:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda

All Purpose Cleaner: Combine equal parts vinegar and water. Women's Voices for the Earth recommends warming the cleaner in a glass bowl in the microwave for tough cleaning jobs.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Sprinkle equal small parts baking soda and vinegar. Allow the solution to soak for half an hour and scrub with a toilet brush.

Microwave Oven Cleaner: According to Healthy Child, Healthy World, microwave ovens can be cleaned with a paste of 3-4 tablespoons baking soda mixed with water. Scrub on with a sponge and rinse.

List 2:

  • Baking Soda
  • Liquid Soap

Soft scrub for countertops: Combine one part baking soda to one part liquid soap.

Tub and Tile Cleaner: Try this recipe from Healthy Child, Healthy World-- Mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap and 1/2 cup water.

List 3:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice

Furniture polish: DIY Life recommends combining the juice of one lemon with a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of vinegar.

Metal polisher: In a sea of easy recipes, this one just might be the easiest. The only ingredient is lemon juice. Use a cut lemon to polish metal items.

Additional Resources:

"Recipes for Safer Cleaners," from Healthy Child, Healthy World:

"Green Cleaning Recipes," from Women's Voices for the Earth:

"Safe Cleaning Tips for Your Home," from the Environmental Working Group:


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