Green Cleaning: How to Clean Your Home Without Using Chemicals

Go into any supermarket and you will find a lengthy aisle or two chock-full of pricey chemical cleaning products.  Not only are many of these chemicals toxic to the environment, they are also being breathed in and ingested by our children, our pets and ourselves every day, adding to the onslaught of exhaust fumes, pesticides and other nasties our bodies encounter.  But there are kinder, gentler - and much cheaper - natural alternatives, many of which may be lurking in your fridge or cupboards right now.  Join us room by room as we look at how to clean your home without using chemicals.


  • Rub half a lemon across your chopping board to remove smells and kill bacteria.  Remove smells like fish and onion off utensils and boards, wipe them with white vinegar and wash in soapy water.
  • Use the other half to remove any stains or discolouration from your stainless steel cutlery and knives.
  • De-scale your kettle by boiling a solution of half water and half white vinegar.  Leave overnight then rinse thoroughly.
  • Add lemon juice or essential oil to hot water to make an effective surface and floor cleaner.
  • Clean your microwave by placing lemon slices in a cup of hot water.  Then heat on high for three minutes, let it sit for another three minutes, and then wipe down surfaces.  It will smell great too!
  • Spray a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water onto the walls of your oven and leave for a few minutes before cleaning off.  Use a baking soda and water paste on any particularly tricky bits.
  • In future, if you spill something in a hot oven, cover the spill with salt immediately.  When the oven cools the spill should just lift right off.
  • If you have a blackened saucepan with that horrible ground on black film at the bottom, pour on enough Coke to cover the blackened area by about an inch then put on the hob on a low heat for about an hour.  Discard the Coke then wash as normal to restore your pan.
  • Keep your fridge, cupboard or bin smelling fresh by leaving a small, open dish of bicarbonate of soda inside.
  • Never clean marble or granite surfaces with lemon juice and vinegar as it can corrode.  But a gently abrasive paste of baking soda and water will clean well.  Try this in any tannin-stained mugs too.
  • Use salt to clean cast iron pans, just sprinkle on then wipe clean. Rinse with hot water and brush with oil.
  • Prevent cooking smells by simmering vinegar (1 tbsp in 1 cup of water) on the stove whilst cooking.
  • Clean your dishwasher by placing a container such as a Pyrex bowl containing 2 cups of vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher.  Run through on a hot cycle with no other dishes in the dishwasher to clean and remove any musty smells.
  • To clean a garbage disposal unit, put half a lemon in and grind, with the water running, for 10 seconds.  Or pour half a cup of baking soda and a cup of distilled white vinegar in and let it sit for 10 minutes, before running the water and and the disposal.
  • Polish chrome appliances with a little baby oil on some kitchen paper, it really brings out the shine.

Photo c/o bathroom and kitchen specialist SuperBath


  • Make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda into 2 litres of water.  Use it to remove water deposit stains on shower panels, chrome fittings, windows, mirrors and more.
  • Sprinkle a little salt around your taps, then rub a lemon over to remove soap and scale build-up.
  • Or soak a cloth in white vinegar and wrap it around your taps.  Leave overnight if the limesclae build-up is particularly bad.
  • Clean soap scum on the wash basin or bath tub with a baking soda and water paste.
  • Place your shower head overnight in a bucket containing some warm white vinegar to de-scale and clean out any clogged holes.
  • Use undiluted white vinegar in the toilet bowl instead of bleach, leave for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight) before flushing.

Living Areas

  • Olive oil makes a great furniture polish; just pour a little onto a soft cloth and add some elbow grease.
  • Freshen up carpets by sprinkling over a few drops of essential oil such as lavender or orange, leaving for half an hour then vacuuming.  If you have very pale carpets try this on an inconspicuouc area first to check for staining.
  • Cornflour or baking soda sprinkled over carpets and then vacuumed can also help deodorise before scenting with essential oils. Make sure you use a powerful bagless vacuum for this, such as those on this page, otherwise some of the baking soda may remain stuck in the carpet fibres.
  • Grow houseplants to regulate the air and to help reduce odours in the home.  Spider plants, gerberas, ivy and azaleas are all great, amongst others.
  • Restore varnished wooden floors with cold tea, the tannins help bring out the colour of the wood.

General Cleaning

  • Clean your windows with a large splash of white vinegar added to a bucket of hot water.  You'll get a streak-free finish, and can add extra sparkle by polishing with scrunched-up newspaper.
  • Keep your drains clear by pouring down a little baking soda mixed with water, then rinse clear.  This also works well in washing machines - run an empty cycle every couple of months.
  • Clean down plug holes with a bottle brush and a kettle full of boiling water.  Then put a handful of soda crystals down each month, followed by a kettle full of boiling water to prevent blockages.
  • To clean brass, mix salt with a little lemon or lime juice.  Or you can sprinkle salt directly into an squeezed-out lemon half and rub down the metal.  Rinse off carefully and buff with a cloth to shine.
  • Shine your silver using a banana whizzed up in a blender.  This also works great as a polish for brown leather shoes and boots.
  • Soak any small objects covered in rust in Coke overnight, then give a good scrub come morning.  For larger items, cut a potato in half, dip in baking soda and use as a scourer.
  • Open the windows every day, and keep dust to a minimum by removing shoes at the door and keeping papers to a minimum.  See our post on how to deal with your paperwork.
  • Deodorise your garage or basement by placing a sliced onion on a plate in the centre of the room for 12 - 24 hours.
  • Use aromatic cedar in place of commercial moth treatments which can contain a chemical harmful to the kidneys.
  • Clean marks such as ink spots, pencil, crayon or marker spots off walls and painted surfaces by using baking soda applied to a damp sponge.  Rub gently, then wipe and rinse.

Keep a Cleaning Stock

  • Keep a supply of white vinegar, sea salt, baking soda, soda crystals, borax, lemons, and essential oils (especially lemon, lavender, rosemary and tea tree).  Research where you can buy in bulk, rather than buying silly small quantities at the supermarket.
  • For most wiping down and cleaning antibacterial microfibre cloths and hot water with a squeeze of lemon will suffice, so make sure you stock up.  Microfibre lifts off dirt, grease and dust without chemicals because they are formulated to penetrate and trap dirt.  Wash regularly and a good quality cloth will last for several years.
  • Create your own cleaning products by infusing citrus peel in undiluted white vinegar to create a potent natural cleaner.  Leave for a few days, then use to clean windows, mop floors and disinfect surfaces.

Want to avoid long-term health implications, environmental damage and save money?  Let the magical natural cleaning fairies out today and start cleaning your home naturally!

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