Make Your Own Household Cleaner

By Frances Bernards

You don’t have to be a mad scientist to either make your own household cleaner or purchase cleaners that are good for you and the environment. It’s very confusing to choose the best cleaners when confronted with labels that say “natural” or “environmentally-friendly” in the grocery store; how can you distinguish between what’s truly good for you and the
environment from what’s being “green-washed?”

Frances BernardsOne way to keep from being “green-washed” is to look for third-party verification symbols when shopping for household cleaners. If a company says its household cleaner is good for the environment, your first thought should be, “who else says so?” I look for labels from groups like EPA’s Design for the Environment, Green Good Housekeeping Seal, Green Seal, or EcoLogo. These independent or nonprofit organizations have investigated the manufacturer’s claim so I don’t have to. Check out Consumer Report’s Greener Choices program. It includes an Eco-label center that provides consumers with an evaluation of labels on personal care products and household cleaners as well as food.

Needless to say, making your own household cleaner is probably the greenest option of all. Here’s a recipe for an effective kitchen degreaser:

  1. Fill a 24 ounce (approximate) spray bottle with half water and half vinegar.
  2. Add 1 T. Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s or other) and 1 T. Citrus Cleaner (Citra-Solv or other). You can purchase a citrus cleaner at your local grocery store (I know Smith’s has it) as well as at Whole Foods Markets.

That’s all there is to it, simple!

You can keep your house—and the environment—clean by taking these few simple steps. Check out Consumer Report’s Homemade Household Cleaners for more recipes or look for the green labels you can trust. Happy green cleaning!

I am an environmental scientist working in DEQ’s Office of Planning and Public Affairs providing businesses with pollution prevention and sustainability resources as well as technical assistance. Outside of work, I am an avid mountain/road biker and skier, and I enjoy the music scene in Salt Lake City.