How to Sustainably Clean Your Home using 4 Non-Toxic (and Inexpensive) Ingredients

May 18, 2023 9 min read

How to Sustainably Clean Your Home using 4 Non-Toxic (and Inexpensive) Ingredients

Over a decade ago I started learning about the toxic chemicals and ingredients in many store-bought cleaning supplies. As a DIYer and someone who always seeks out natural products, I decided to try making my own non-toxic cleaning supplies - and I never turned back.

Sally and Stacey

If you follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook, you probably know we have two fur babies. Our dog Sally loves to “mop” the kitchen floor and “clean” the cabinets: meaning she licks EVERY-thing. Another reason I seek out natural, non-toxic ingredients is that I never know what could end up in our pets’ mouths.

Unlike many of my other DIY ventures, making my own cleaning supplies actually turned out to be cheaper than buying them.

Over the years, I discovered additional benefits to making my own non-toxic cleaners:
1) it’s super easy
2) it’s inexpensive, way cheaper than buying cleaning products
3) it’s non-toxic, phthalate free, paraben free
4) you know exactly what’s going into your home, being absorbed into your skin, and potentially ending up in your pet’s mouth
5) it’s more sustainable –reusing spray bottles and other supplies reduces waste
6) it’s fun – sometimes it feels like a science experiment

Let’s get started…

Dawn dish soap, isopropyl rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and white vinegar from Costco.

Using different combinations of these 4 simple, non-toxic ingredients, that you likely already have in your cupboards, you can clean your entire house:

1) white vinegar*
2) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
3) Dawn dish soap
4) isopropyl rubbing alcohol

These ingredients are readily available and inexpensive. To save additional money, I buy these ingredients in bulk at Costco: 5 lb. bottle of white vinegar, 13.5 lb. bag of baking soda, 90 fl. oz. bottle of Dawn dish soap, and 2-pack of isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

* Use vinegar with caution: white vinegar is safe for appliances, ceramic, glass, and fiberglass. Do not use vinegar on hardwood floors or no-wax floors: over time the vinegar's acidity will remove shine and dull the floors. Do not use vinegar on stone including granite, quartz or marble: over time it becomes damaged and etched. Do not use vinegar on computer or smartphone screens: it may damage their protective coatings.

In addition to these ingredients, you’ll also need a few other supplies such as: spray bottles, small and large mixing bowls, cleaning brushes, microfiber mop, and cloths (as specified under Cleaning Instructions below). Due to vinegar’s acidity, there is one caveat (for hardwood floors only): if you have hardwood floors, you’ll also want pure castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s.

Happy 12 oz. scented soy candle in upcycled wine bottle

Step 1) Before you get started, we recommend lighting and burning one of our citrus scented soy candles: orange and lemon are great odor eliminators and will naturally energize you while you clean.

Step 2) Crank up your favorite tunes or listen to our playlist of songs that inspired our scent names.

Step 3) Clear your space: pick up and put away clutter, recycle anything that can be recycled, and throw away trash.

Step 4) Grab your ingredients, supplies, and start cleaning.

Going fixture by fixture, appliance by appliance, here’s how to sustainably clean your home using different combinations of white vinegar, baking soda, Dawn dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. After testing many different non-toxic cleaning recipes over the years, these are my tried-and-true cleaning recipes.


  • Use Glass Cleaner (recipe below) to spray and/or wipe down windows.

This is the easiest way to clean walls without removing or damaging the paint:

  • Grab a bucket and soft sponge.
  • Fill bucket halfway with water.
  • Add a few drops of Dawn dish soap or a few Tbsp white vinegar. Mix into bucket.
  • Dip sponge in bucket, wring out, wipe walls to remove dirt and grime.

Hard Floors
To ensure white vinegar is safe for your floors, read *Words of caution under WHAT YOU NEED above. Always be sure to test any new cleaner on a small inconspicuous section of your floor before using it on the entire floor.

For vinegar-safe flooring:

  • For small areas, spray All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) and wipe down with a rag.
  • To clean larger areas, mix the following into a bucket and use a microfiber mop:
    • 2 gallons warm water
    • 1 cup white vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp Dawn dish soap
    • 1 cup baking soda

For hardwood floors:

  • In spray bottle, mix 4 cups (32 oz.) water with 1 teaspoon pure castile soap (i.e. Dr. Bronner’s).
  • Optional: scent with 5-10 drops of essential oils.
  • To ensure cleaner doesn’t sit on the wood too long, spray cleaner on floor in 3 ft. x 3 ft. sections. No need to dampen the mop or cloth beforehand: the spray has enough moisture.
  • Start with a dry microfiber mop or cloth. Using back-and-forth motions along the wood grain, work the cleaning solution into the floor in 3-square-feet sections. Rinse and squeeze excess water off mop or cloth as it becomes soiled.

 For stone floors:

  • Find a stone cleaner that’s safe for your floors. I don’t have stone floors and couldn’t find a cleaning recipe I felt confident sharing and endorsing.

 Carpet Cleaner

  • For synthetic carpets:
    • In small mixing bowl: mix 2 cups warm water with either ½ teaspoon Dawn dish soap or 1 cup vinegar.
    • Dip a white cloth into carpet cleaner and dab repeatedly. Press cloth on the spot for a few seconds. Wait 15 minutes: give it time to break down the stain. Soak up excess liquid with dry white cloth.
    • Rinse area by blotting with a cloth soaked in lukewarm water.
  • For natural fiber carpets:
    • In spray bottle, mix 2 cups warm water with either 2 teaspoons Dawn dish soap or 2 cups vinegar.
    • Spray carpet with cleaner. Blot with dry white cloth.
    • Rinse by spraying with lukewarm water. Blot with dry white cloth.
  • Repeat until stain is removed.
  • Allow to area dry.
  • To deodorize and freshen carpets:
    • Sprinkle baking soda lightly all-over dry carpet or area rug
    • Wait about 15 minutes, then vacuum.
    • Added bonus: the sucked-up baking soda will also deodorize your vacuum bag or canister.


  • Dishes
    • Starting with the obvious: use Dawn dish soap to clean dishes.
    • To get the most out of our dish soap: we keep a glass cup on top of the sink, add 4-6 drops of Dawn dish soap, fill cup with hot water, then dunk a brush as needed to clean the dishes.
  • Countertops & Cabinets
    • Use All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to spray and wipe down as needed.
    • For stone countertops: do not use vinegar, over time it will dull stone. Instead, mix 4 Cups warm water with 1 teaspoon Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle.
  • Dishwasher
    • Sometimes your dishwasher needs a washing itself. Whenever your dishwasher stinks or about every 6 months, it’s time to give your dishwasher a “bath”:
      • To sanitize, remove odor, and wash away loose greasy grime: fill a dishwasher-safe cup with white vinegar, place cup on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run dishwasher through hottest cycle available.
      • Then, sprinkle a cupful or couple handful of baking soda around the bottom tub. Run dishwasher through short cycle to freshen and remove stains.
      • Remove the dishwasher filter and clean it using soapy water and brush (mentioned above for dishes).
    • Refrigerator
      • Keep your refrigerator smelling fresh by keeping fresh baking soda in your refrigerator. Since I buy baking soda in bulk: I like to fill a small mason jar with baking soda, cover the top of the jar with a coffee filter, then seal it with a mason jar canning ring (minus the center cap).
      • Use All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to clean inside the refrigerator as needed.
    • Stovetop
      • To clean light messes on gas and electric stovetops, use All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below).
        • Spray stovetop with All-Purpose Cleaner.
        • Allow cleaner sit for 10-20 minutes.
        • Wipe up with damp cloth or sponge. Rinse cloth as needed.
      • When glass stovetops need a deeper clean:
        • Drizzle Dawn dish soap across stovetop.
        • Sprinkle stovetop with baking soda.
        • Add some hydrogen peroxide and let it bubble.
        • Mix everything together using your fingers or a brush.
        • Let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
        • Wipe down.
      • Oven & Toaster Oven
        • Empty your oven and remove oven racks.
        • In a small mixing bowl, mix ½ cup baking soda with 3-4 Tbsp water to create a cleaning paste.
        • Spread paste all over the interior, steering clear of the heating elements. Be sure to coat extra grimy spots. If you run out of cleaning paste, make more: if you don’t need another full batch, mix half a batch: ¼ cup baking soda with 1.5-2 Tbsp water.
        • Let it sit overnight.
        • At least 12 hours later, wipe out oven using a damp dish cloth. Rinse cloth as needed. If needed, you can use a plastic or silicone spatula to scrape.
          • Side Note: My mom gifted me the coolest scraper tool that I find super useful for jobs that require a little more elbow grease, like this one.
        • Add some vinegar to a spray bottle and spray inside the oven. Any remaining baking soda will gently foam. Wipe it up using damp cloth. (You can always pour any remaining vinegar into your All-Purpose Cleaner: dilute as needed.)
        • If needed, do a once-over with the All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to finish the job.
      • Coffee Maker
        • To eliminate residues that build up in coffee makers:
          • Add up to 4 cups of vinegar to the water reservoir.
          • Let it stand for 30 minutes.
          • Run vinegar through a brewing cycle.
          • Run fresh water through two to three brewing cycles until vinegar smell is gone.
        • Microwave
          • To clean any microwave with ease, grab a microwave-safe bowl.
          • Add 1-2 cups of water and 1-2 Tbsp white vinegar.
          • Place bowl in microwave. Cook on full power for 5 minutes. Liquid will begin to boil, creating steam. After time ends, leave microwave closed for 3 minutes allowing the steam to work its magic.
          • Carefully remove the hot bowl and dump hot water.
          • Wipe out microwave using damp cloth or sponge. Rinse cloth or sponge as needed.
          • If needed, do a once-over with the All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to finish the job.


  • Sinks & Counters
    • Use All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to spray and wipe down as needed.
  • Mirrors and Windows
    • Use Glass Cleaner (recipe and instruction below).
  • Toilets
    • To clean outer toilet: spray with All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) to and wipe down.
    • To clean toilet bowl:
      • In a large mixing bowl: add ¼ cup baking soda, then 1 cup white vinegar.
        Remember the volcano experiment from science class? After the “volcano” erupts, lightly swirl bowl until ingredients are mixed together: pour mixture into toilet bowl, let it sit for 5 minutes. Clean inside of toilet bowl using brush. Flush toilet when done.
      • When it came time to replace my old toilet brush (again), I searched for a more sustainable option that I wouldn’t have to keep replacing, and discovered this silicone toilet brush. I’ve been using it for a few years now: it reaches all the tough-to-reach areas, like under the rim of the toilet bowl. My only regret is not buying two. 5-stars, I highly recommend!
    • Showers & Bath Tubs
      • For light cleaning, spray All-Purpose Cleaner (recipe below) in shower or bath tub. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Run water to rinse.
      • For regular cleaning, use Shower Wand to clean shower and tub:
        • Grab a dish wand.
        • Fill dish wand halfway with Dawn dish soap, then fill remaining half with white vinegar: leave a little space for mixing. Tilt wand back-and-forth to mix dish soap and vinegar.
        • Keep “shower wand” in or near your shower. Push button on wand to dispense soapy solution and work it into sponge. Wipe down the shower walls, tub, etc.
        • Run water to rinse.
      • To deep clean your shower and bath tub:
        • Grab a small mixing bowl and a cleaning brush.
        • In small mixing bowl, create Stacey’s Shower Paste using: 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon Dawn dish soap, and 4 Tbsp water. Stir ingredients in mixing bowl using brush.
        • Dip brush into paste and scrub shower or tub.
        • Run water to rinse.
        • Side Note: the first time I cleaned our shower, I spent over 1.5 hours scrubbing with All-Purpose Cleaner and the Shower Wand and still didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. Then, I realized I knew a better solution: after making and using Stacey’s Shower Paste, I was done cleaning the shower in 5-10 minutes.

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • ½ white vinegar
  • ½ water
  • Optional: add scent using 10-20 drops of your preferred essential oil(s).
    • Citrus oils like orange, lemon, and bergamot are great for cleaning and cutting odors.
    • I like to mix lemongrass oil with citrus. Sometimes I just use nag champa oil: it just depends on my mood and what smells good to me that day.

Glass Cleaner

  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol makes the best glass cleaner.
  • Two ways to use it:
    • 1) Pour rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spray, and wipe away with newspaper, microfiber cloth or any lint-free cloth. You can dilute rubbing alcohol spray using water: some recipes call for a 1:1 ratio, but I find pure alcohol or slightly-diluted alcohol (more like 4-8 parts alcohol: 1 part water) is most effective.
    • 2) Pour rubbing alcohol directly onto a lint-free cloth or cotton pad, wring it out, and wipe.


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