Green in 15: Revamping Your Cleaning

>> Wednesday, February 3, 2016

So, I had this idea the other day. It came out of a conversation I had with a woman at the grocery store when I was buying a gallon jug of vinegar (on sale for $2.50!). She asked: "What in the world are you planning to do with all that vinegar?" And I was like "What CAN'T I do with it?!" I proceeded to list off all my uses, and I think she got a bit freaked out by my enthusiasm.

When people think about making all their cleaning supplies from scratch, it can become overwhelming. It's a lot like cooking everything from scratch. But with a little practice and some smart recipes -- it becomes second nature. We've been using vinegar, baking soda, and some other basic cleansers to do the bulk of our home cleaning for several years now. It takes very little effort to make the switch.

Green in 15 is a new series of sorts I'll be sharing that gives you some activities you can finish in just 15 minutes (or fewer) that will lead you in the right direction. Today, I thought I'd start with the absolute basics: Greening your all-purpose cleaning processes using vinegar. While you're at it, you can also start banishing paper towels with a few tips.


  • Vinegar (approx $3 per gallon, or less)
  • Water (free-ish?)
  • Isopropol alcohol (got mine at the $1 store)
  • Rags (free if you have 'em or $12 for a pack of 24)
  • Old spray bottles (free if you have 'em)
COST: Between $4 and $16


#1: All-Purpose Cleaner -- Just fill up half an old spray bottle (you can also buy them on Amazon -- here's a 3-pack of plastic or some nice glass ones) with vinegar and the rest with water and maybe a few essential oil drops. Give a good shake and use for cleaning countertops, tabletops, and -- really -- anywhere else. It's ALL PURPOSE!

#2: Window Cleaner -- I add a bit of alcohol to the all-purpose mix (a few tablespoons works -- I make a smaller spray bottle of it for this purpose) and that helps windows stay streak-free!

#3: Dish Rinse -- I mentioned in our 5 Green Cleaners That Actually Work post that we make our own dishwasher detergent. We fill our rinse basin with plain vinegar mixed with essential oils. Works like a charm and takes two seconds.

#4: Veggie Wash -- If you don't like the Castile Soap Method for cleaning fruits and vegetables, you can make an easy spray wash using around 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar (hmm, sounds a lot like the dilution above -- score for multi-purpose!)

#5: Bathtub Cleaner, Etc. -- I also use full-strength vinegar in our bathroom for most cleaning (tub, tiles, shower surround, sink. For tough jobs, I combine with our natural scouring scrub.

Want more in-depth info? Check out my homesteading post about Cleaning with Vinegar. It includes these recipes plus 10 more uses for your gallon of the stuff.


For most of your cleaning tasks, a good, nubby washcloth or rag will do the heavy lifting. We keep a bin of the clean ones in the kitchen utility closet. We keep a bag of the dirty ones hanging on the door of that closet. Then we wash them every couple days. Keeping around 24 rags is a good number if you're wiping down surfaces regularly. You may find you need more or less depending on the size of your home and your cleaning habits.

Just grab a clean rag and get to cleaning as you normally would.

Oh! Someone had asked me how we deal with occasional cat episodes. We use our rags (we have a few that have been around longer and are dirtier). We just rinse them out well after cleaning the cat mess and clean them with the rest.

I'll be sure to snap some photos and share more about switching from paper to cloth soon. It's dreadfully dark and rainy here today and all my shots are coming out quite depressing.


DIY Natural Lotion Cubes
Powerful DIY Laundry Detergent
Cleaning with Vinegar
5 Green Cleaners That Work
5-Minute Homemade Deodorant
8 Ways We've Eliminated Plastics
Cleaning Produce The Natural Way
Chemical-Free Clean With Castile Soap

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