Cut-to-the-Chase Cleaning: Top Formulas

One of the first questions out of reporters’ mouths when they call me is how a consumer can tell what is a truly green product and what isn’t? Not easily, especially now that mainstream companies such as Clorox are jumping into the fray with their Green Works line. Why not play it safe with these four best basic formulas that always work?

When it comes down to it, do-it-yourself non-toxic cleaning using tried-and-true kitchen cupboard ingredients is still the best green practice. Simple, successful, non-toxic and natural. Here are four great formulas that will never fail you:

Soft Scrub
This superstar formula is as good for cleaning the bathtub as it is for stainless steel appliances and shower stalls.

1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frosting-like consistency
5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree oil, or rosemary (optional)

Pour the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap or detergent, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, and rinse.

Window Cleaner
Nothing works as well as this formula for windows, so why look further? Besides, once it is made you can double it up as a great degreaser, especially handy in the kitchen.

1/4 cup vinegar (distilled, white, 5%)
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups of water

Combine in a spray bottle. Shake to blend.

All-Purpose Cleaner
Here you meet the wonders of washing soda (commonly found in the laundry section of the supermarket), and its super heavy-duty alkaline cleaning power.

1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid soap
2 cups hot tap water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

Deodorizer, Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Vinegar is astonishing as an acidic cleaning powerhouse. Heinz references studies that say vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs.

5 percent straight white distilled vinegar

Pour the vinegar into a spray bottle, and spray directly onto areas to be cleaned or deodorized. Don’t rinse!

For more information, read The Five Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning.

By Annie B. Bond


Chuck Klosterman
Chuck Klosterman8 years ago

Many household products can be used as green cleaning implements. It's better for the environment that you do use these products. Everyone in their home has eco-friendly toys that can help both them and their environment. The world would be better off if more people started doing so.

Madeline B.
Madeline B8 years ago

I love these. I learned long time ago to make my own cleaning solutions and I have been doing it now in all areas of my life. Vinegar is the best for deorderizing and cleaning. I also found that wd40 is good for those outside cleaning and for cleaning dirty greasy hands.

Dan S.
Dan S.8 years ago

Clorox "Green Works" that's a contradiction in terms. Clorox is one of the worst offenders when it comes to animal testing and polluting there is. If you don't want to make your own cleaning products, there are other companies out there to choose from besides Clorox, that are 'earth' friendly. Long Island Ad Agency

gail d.
gail dair8 years ago

thanks for post

Linda J.
Linda J8 years ago

Thanks for article.

Jim Hickey
Jim Hickey9 years ago

Good Afternoon All,

After reading several of the comments to this article, I decided it was time to conduct a little about sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

What I found were numerous references to a fraudulent email circulating for years claiming SLS is carcinogenic. Two of the more prominent responses were found on the websites of the American Cancer Society and Columbia University Health Services.

Here is the link to the ACS reference:

Columbia U. Health Services:

Based on this information, it appears that the claim that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is untrue.

Just working to help keep information flowing and hopefully straight :-) .

Jim Hickey

Robin D.
Robin D9 years ago


While Basic H is an ok product, its made from coconuts, a coconut derived soap made from SLS, soduim laurel or laureth sulfate. This is the major ingredient in Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Ecover, Earth Friendly and Clorox Green Works cleaning products.

The problem with all of these products, the household cleaners, the laundry supplies, etc is that SLS is a known carcinagen. Its the ingredient that makes everything suds up. Its also in most shampoos, liquid hand soaps, and body washes. I was even in the dollar store the other day and found it in not one but two different vitamins. magnesuim and Iron pills! Needless to say I floored and wondered why the heck anyone would put that stuff in a vitamin that is ingested.

I know this because as I was switching over to green cleaners, I read the cleaning labels and at first ignored the "coconut derived biodegradable cleaning agents". Then I got curious one day when I spent a small fortune on them and went to their websites.

Anyway, your best non-toxic "soap" is either a liquid castile or a bar of old fashioned lye soap or other homemade oil soap. For household cleaning, the lye soap works best where as the oil soaps are easier on the skin.

And if I may say, I'm getting kind of tired of reading your non advertising comments about Shaklee stuff in the cleaning articles on here. No offense but it's pretty much always the same things said. I like reading the comments because there are often other good tips

Rachel Markel
Rachel Markel10 years ago

I can solve all of your cleaning issues with one single ingredient; d-limonene.

d-Limonene is expressed from the oil and peel of the Citrus Sinensis fruit. Orange terpenes are a super-concentrated multi-purpose cleaner and degreaser that is 100% natural, biodegradable, safe, and non-toxic.

You can see full applications and details at

Marion T.
Marion T10 years ago

Mirrors in bathrooms I clean mine with a wet face flannel(wrung out) add a small amount of hair shampoo to it and wipe over mirrors,not only keeps them clean but also stops them steaming(fogging up) after a shower.It only has to be done every 4-6 weeks.

Geneva N. Daniels
Geneva N. Daniels10 years ago

All of the suggestions are really good ones. But if any of you have ever had to go hiking or camping I found a perfect cleaqner for everything. Dr.Bronners soaps. It comes in many different scents like spearmint and lavender and you can use it on anything. I found it is good for doing the laundry, and cleaning my body and hair. That's a good deal when you don't have a lot of money but you want toget clean. I have found it at Whole Foods Stores and at EMS outdoors goods places.