Green Cleaning On the Cheap (And Easy)

Green cleaning on the cheap (and easy)

One of my goals for the New Year is to complete my switch to green cleaning products.

I’ve been using nontoxic cleaning products for years, making my own using this old post from The Simple Dollar as my guide.  (If you purchased One Bite at a Time, “Switch to Non-Toxic Cleaners” is Project #24 and contains resources and an all-purpose cleaner recipe.)

Baking soda is my favorite green cleaning product–I’m still shocked at how well it tackles really nasty jobs ; anything involving tea tree oil is my least favorite (I just hate the smell–ew!)

But when it comes to the cleaning product I use the most–a basic all-purpose cleaner–I prefer to buy it, not make it.  I am really into smells, and I would much rather buy a nontoxic cleaner off the shelf knowing I love the scent than mess around with expensive essential oils at home.  And store-bought all-purpose cleaner is very cost-efficient if you buy it concentrated.

My current bottle of Mrs Meyers cleaner cost almost $7 but it will make 16 gallons of cleaning product.  That’s 2048 ounces:  equal to 64 32-ounce bottles of cleaning product.  (My bottles below are filled with blue water, which I don’t recommend as a cleaning product.)

When Vitacost started offering $10 off your first order, I used that opportunity to try Mrs. Meyers products for the first time.  (The everyday prices on the Vitacost website are already good, but they’re absolutely unbeatable with the coupon.) I used my coupon and got the Mrs Meyers Lemon Verbena All Purpose Cleaner and a few more Mrs Meyers items (in a variety of scents, of course) for a whopping $12, including shipping.  And I love them.

You can use this link to get your own $10 off coupon code to Vitacost delivered to your inbox. (Other buying options: Amazon has a nice selection of Mrs Meyers products, and I can find a great selection at my local Whole Foods and Fresh Market.  My neighborhood Kroger also carries a small selection.)

The one standard cleaning product I didn’t know how to replace with something green was Pledge, so I still used that regularly–until last week.  After doing quite a bit of research, I found out that all I needed to dust my furniture was a damp microfiber cloth and water! If I had known it was that simple, I would have made the switch years ago!  (I bought my microfiber cloths in the automotive section at Target, but you can find them online, too.)

So I’m crossing another goal off my list.  “Complete the switch to green cleaning products”–DONE!

Do you use nontoxic cleaners? What’s your favorite product?


Leave A Comment
  1. Just signed up for Vitacost through your link – am going to check it out now. I’ve never even heard of it, but it sounds like it’s worth a try! As you know, I’m a new convert to Mrs. Meyer’s, but that graphic is simply stunning (kudos to the husband for a job well done)!

    I personally like the Target off-brand of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for non-toxic cleaning. I’ve been told to look at Amazon for bulk packs of them, but everyone complains that they aren’t the same size as the Mr. Clean (I can only compare them to the Target Up & Up brand) and you don’t get as much bang for your buck. Not sure…

  2. Angela says:

    I use a homemade all purpose cleaner with peppermint essential oil in it. Nothing says clean to me like that pepperminty smell!

  3. I hate the smell of tea tree oil too.

    My faves are vinegar and baking soda. I also use a steam mop & Mr. Clean Erasers quite often.

    The one thing I haven’t been able to break is my dependence on tide free and clear. DS has very sensitive skin & I know this stuff gets our clothes clean and he can tolerate it. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to try home made.

  4. Carrie says:

    I’m glad you stopped using the Pledge. My husband owns a furniture repair business and he says that is the stuff of nightmares for him! It puts so many coats on the furniture that’s very hard to get off. He says a homemade lemon oil polish is much better 🙂

  5. Katie says:

    I just use some combination of vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and water to clean anything and everything. But then, I don’t mind the scent of vinegar or alcohol and see no need to mess with EOs, either. ^_^

    I just dust with a dry microfiber cloth. Using a damp one doesn’t hurt the wood? I guess if it’s just damp, and not wet. Hmm.

    Though technically, if it really dilutes down to 16 gallons of cleaner, that makes it even cheaper than vinegar. Just I can also eat vinegar, and it’s one less thing to remember to buy. That is good to know, though. Very impressive graphic–kudos to the Modern Mr. Darcy! 😉

  6. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the Vitacost link. . .sweet! Mrs. Meyer’s Basil is my absolute fav. I splurge on it for spring cleaning every year. (We burn coal for heat, so I actually have to do a spring cleaning) I’ve found that a lot of cleaning can be done with microfiber rags and a spray bottle of water, but when I use a cleaning product it’s either Mrs. Meyer’s or Clean by Peroxy.

  7. Joi says:

    I use commercial cleaner, but my all-time favorite is a homemade deodorizer: a mix of baking soda, vinegar, and water. We had a huge pet-related problem in one room, and it did the job like nothing else. I’m betting it will take out almost any smell!

  8. Heather says:

    Baking soda is the best for stains! I just find it hard to rinse away the grittiness from areas that I can’t rinse with water, like tables or countertops. Not a big deal compared to a red wine stain, though!

    I gave up on vinegar last winter when I cleaned the kitchen with it, and my husband walked in several hours later saying “Wow, it smells like rancid mayonnaise made with cat pee in here!” and then got out the UV light to look for kitty accidents.

  9. Julia says:

    I keep a bottle of my favorite homemade green cleaner on my kitchen counter for daily wipe downs. It’s quite quick and easy to make: in a 16 oz. spray bottle mix 2 tsp borax, 1/4 tsp liquid castile soap (Bronner’s), and fill the bottle with warm water. It works and smells great.

  10. I make my own cleaning solution for mopping, and I make my own laundry detergent. I’m slowly phasing out other cleaners (windex, etc) as I use up the bottles and replace them with green varieties. I mostly use rubbing alcohol, vinegar, borax, and baking soda in various combinations — I’ll have to look into the Mrs Meyers stuff!

  11. I just started using vinegar for almost all of my cleaning, and I’m using up the commercial cleaners I had. The people at the bed and breakfast we stayed at used Mrs. Meyer’s products and that’s when I first heard of it. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it, however, so I will have to look into it and order some very soon! 🙂 I love how well the vinegar works…just not terribly crazy about the smell. But then, it smells better in the toilet bowl than bleach. And it’s a charm for counter and mirror cleaning in the bathroom, not to mention scrubbing my (rather nasty) kitchen floor!

  12. Dianna says:

    Isn’t that funny … I think TTO smells awesome!!

    We’re slowly making the switches to more green products. Another benefit — they are safe for children to use as well.

    I’ve found microfiber cloths at the Dollar Tree, too!

    An added benefit to living just slightly out of the city? Our Kroger has an organic/green section, with items that go on clearance a lot! Brett just bought two GIANT bottles of Dr Bronner’s liquid soap, which we will use to replace the anti-bacterial B&BW stuff.

    I use Katie Kimball’s blog, Kitchen Stewardship, as a resource for green cleaning. (and real food, as well) That, and Pinterest, of course 😉

  13. Cari says:

    I have the same bottle of Mrs. Meyers and I’ve had it for almost 2 years! I use for wiping down cupboard doors, the kitchen and bathroom floors, counters and spot cleaning. It lasts forever and smells wonderful and saves a LOT of money!

  14. 'Becca says:

    I love baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol for many cleaning jobs. (I just recently learned that alcohol is fabulous for removing greasy gunk from the stovetop! Just don’t get it anywhere near a flame, of course.)

    We do use an all-purpose cleaner for the kitchen sink and countertops, for mopping, and undiluted with steel wool to clean the oven. Orange Plus is our favorite. We first tried it after a terrifying experience with conventional oven cleaner–it wasn’t fully rinsed off, apparently, and a few minutes after turning on the oven I was overwhelmed by fumes and very quickly developed a splitting headache, extreme dizziness, and temporary blindness!! If you don’t get the Orange Plus rinsed off, the oven just smells like burned orange peel, which isn’t exactly pleasant but won’t hurt anyone.

    We also like Biokleen Bac-Out for killing germs and cutting grease. I use it with baking soda to clean the toilet bowl, and squirted on a rag to wipe the outside of the toilet. It is an awesome stain remover, for stains caused by natural substances–it doesn’t do much on ink, axle grease, etc. It’s also great for deodorizing laundry that is musty, mildewed, or sweaty.

  15. deborah says:

    I’ve been back and forth on the cleaners. I’m picky about having something that I like the smell of. I didn’t realize Mrs. Meyer’s was a concentrate and will be checking it out. I have had some cleaners from Melaleuca that I like really well. I also have some from The Clean Team-but not certain if they are completely green.

  16. Jamie says:

    Thank you so much for this link! I had never heard of VitaCost before, but checking out their page left me floored at how much cheaper it is to buy through them than any of my local stores! Especially with the coupon and considering the fact that my favorite dish soap (7th Generation) isn’t even being carried out here any more.

    Thank you for saving me bunches of money. 🙂

  17. Catherine says:

    I love my new steam mop (I can mop my kitchen with 14 oz. of water and no chemicals)! My newest green cleaner is vinegar and dawn mixed together for a shower cleaner. I used to use Scrubbing Bubbles and the fumes about killed me. I will have to try the water and microfiber cloths for dusting – I have asthma and it may be a great solution to keeping the dust out of the air.

  18. Anne! I love Mrs. Meyer’s (as well as Dr. Bronner’s) for filling up old spray bottles. It’s soooo simple and very versatile. I use it in my bathrooms, kitchen, etc., will not that it’s not good for mirrors though. Way to be frugal & non-toxic!

    I know I’ve invited you before but I’d love to invite you to share this post over at the *New* Healthy 2day Wednesdays this week, until Saturday afternoon. (and every week that you have a post that would work!) Have a blessed Wednesday & week!

  19. GeekLady says:

    I use Charlie’s Soap for laundry, and it works great on pretty much everything, without smells. Their all purpose cleaner is good too, but too expensive, so I quit buying it. The 1000 load tub of laundry detergent is as bad a hit enough.

    But Ive discovered the laundry detegent is great for cleaning and disinfecting, especially in the bathroom. A tablespoon of detergent dissolved in a gallon with a 3/4 cup household bleach added makes a great safe cleaner.

  20. I’m visiting from the “Live Renewed” linkup today 🙂 🙂 I LOVE Mrs. Meyer’s clean day. I even have her book on how to clean the whole house from top to bottom. I’ll definitely keep that product you mentioned in mind. I usually make all of my own cleaners from basic ingredients. It’s inexpensive 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I bought a big bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s all purpose cleaner for $9. I thought it seemed expensive for a cleaner but I’m still using the same bottle (family of six) three years later.

  21. Bekah says:

    Great and informational post! I loved Mrs Meyers until I found out what was in it. The one thing I am iffy about with that brand is the ingredient “fragrance”, which can be anything under the sun. We, as buyers, have no idea what is used to make that fragrance ingredient and from what I’ve read on the internet and by using my “Think Dirty” phone app, it’s best to avoid products with that ingredient because a lot of fragrance is just unhealthy and harmful, even in so called “natural” products.

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