Dishing the dirt on Natural Cleaning – Part 2

There are several reasons to make your own natural cleaning products, most importantly it saves me money and I can control the ingredients. But with so many natural ingredients to choose from it can be difficult to know what the best one to use for the job is. With just a few ingredients you can make a range of easy to use natural cleaners.

You can add your favourite essential oils or herbs to any of these formulas for fragrance.

All Purpose Cleaners

  • A simple mix of Vinegar and Salt makes a good surface cleaner.
  • For a general cleaner dissolve 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in 1 litre warm water.
  • Bicarbonate of Soda cleans and deodorises all kitchen and bathroom surfaces, pop some on a damp sponge as a natural abrasive.
  • 2 tablespoons borax, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 cups hot water. Combine in a spray bottle. Use as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.
  • Use liquid castile soap and Bicarbonate of Soda or Borax in different ratios.

For floors, walls and worktops – Use a little Castile soap with bicarb or borax with lots of water.

Use more soap, bicarb or Borax with less water for baths, sinks, cat boxes, and rinse well.


  • Regular cleaning with plain soap and hot water will kill some bacteria.
  • Borax has long been recognised for its disinfectant and deodorising properties.

Mix 1/2 cup Borax into 5 litres hot water and clean with this solution.

(You can add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or lavender. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and cool. Or add essential fragrant oils instead of fresh herbs). Store in a plastic spray bottle.

  • Ethyl Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant. Sponge on and allow to dry. Use in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves.

Glass Cleaners

Do not wash windows or glass when sun is on them or if they are warm, the solution will dry too quickly and create unwanted streaks.

  • Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • 1/2 lemon juice and 2 cups water in a spray bottle.
  • 1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon castile soap.
  • Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch with 2 litres warm water. Apply with sponge then wipe with absorbent cloth or towel.
  • No-Streak Glass Cleaner: 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 litre warm water. Mix the ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into spray bottle and spray on. Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper, buff to a shine.
  • Rubbing alcohol or Ethyl alcohol is effective in place of glass cleaner.
  • 1 cup ethyl alcohol, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, mix in a spray bottle.
  • A little washing up liquid, or natural liquid soap in white vinegar, apply to glass and polish with newspaper for a streak-free finish.

Scouring Powders

  • Bicarbonate of Soda or Dry Table Salt are both mild abrasives and can be used as an alternative to chlorine scouring powders. Simply put either on a sponge or the surface, scour and rinse.

(My son whilst colouring in drew on my dining table with a Sharpie, a bit of Bicarb on a sponge was the only thing that would remove it)

  • 1/4 cup borax, Castile liquid soap and 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil. In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well.

Floor Cleaners

  • To clean greasy floors combine 1 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup washing soda, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 9 litres hot water. Stir well to dissolve the washing soda. Mop as usual.

Bathroom Cleaners

  • To clean and deodorise the toilet bowl sprinkle Bicarbonate of Soda into the bowl, then squirt with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush.
  • Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle 1 cup borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
  • For removing a stubborn stain, like toilet bowl ring, mix enough borax and lemon juice into a paste to cover the ring. Flush toilet to wet the sides and then rub on the paste. Let it sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly.
  • You could also use Liquid castile soap and Bicarbonate of Soda or Borax and scrub with a toilet brush.

Drains and Waste Disposal Cleaner

  • For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free.Pour 1/2 to 1 cup bicarbonate of soda down drain/disposal, followed by 1 cup white vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with 5 litres boiling water.

Bath and Tile Cleaners

  • Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda, rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly.
  • Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn’t leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 5 litres water.
  • Or use both to remove film build up on baths, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Next, use bicarbonate of soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • To clean grout, put 3 cups bicarbonate of soda into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 cup warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
  • Rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in borax. Rinse well, and dry with soft cloth.

Plumbing Fixtures

  • To clean porcelain surfaces, rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth.
  • To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda in 1 litre of water. Wipe on fixtures then rinse.
  • Hard lime deposits around taps can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.
  • You can remove lime scale from taps by using the remains of a squeezed lemon, rub a little lemon juice onto taps and leave overnight or for a few hours.
  • To remove deposits which may be clogging your metal shower head, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one litre water. Then completely submerge the shower head and boil for 15 minutes.
  • For plastic shower heads make a stronger mixture of 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for about one hour.

Rust Stain and Hard Water Deposit Remover

  • Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and let stand until spot disappears, rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Mildew Remover

  • Dissolve half-cup vinegar with half-cup borax in warm water.

Kitchen Cleaners

  • Commercial low-phosphate detergents are not themselves harmful, but phosphates nourish algae which use up oxygen in waterways. A detergent substitution is to use liquid soap. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the warm, soapy water for tough jobs.
  • Make up a powder for the dishwasher by mixing 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with 2 tablespoons of borax.
  • To cut through grease Use lemon juice, vinegar, or sprinkle with borax and scrub with scrubbing
  • 1/2 tsp. washing soda, 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 3 tbsp. vinegar, and 2 cups hot water. Mix in spray bottle, spray and scrub, wipe clean.
  • For a disinfectant mix 1/4 cup borax into 2 litres hot water. Use for wiping surfaces.
  • You can reduce lime deposits in your kettle by putting in 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 cups water, and gently boiling for a few minutes. Rinse well with fresh water while kettle is still warm.

Oven Cleaners

  • While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt or bicarbonate of soda on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet the spill lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools, scrape away the spill and wash the area clean.
  • Sprinkle water on the bottom of the oven, cover with bicarbonate of soda. Let sit overnight. Wipe off and apply liquid soap with scouring pad. Rinse.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 2 tablespoons borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.


  • To clean exterior and interior walls, dissolve 2 tbs bicarbonate of soda in 1 litre warm water and wipe all surfaces.
  • For stubborn spots, rub with bicarbonate of soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, wet cloth. (This works well on other enamel-finished appliances as well.)
  • To clean interior fixtures, such as vegetable bins and shelves, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry.

Pots and Pans

  • For burned, and crusted on foods soak or boil a solution of 2 tbs. bicarbonate of soda per litre of water in each pan. Let stand until particles are loosened, then wash as usual. Use a mild or moderate abrasive if necessary.
  • To clean a greasy pan easily, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to the water in which it is soaking.
  • Copper pan cleaner, Sprinkle surface of pans with coarse salt. Rub salt into stains with the cut half of a fresh lemon.

Non-Stick Cookware

  • To remove stains from non-stick surfaces, pour a solution of 1 cup water, 2 tbs. bicarbonate of soda into a pan, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Apply a light coating of cooking oil.

Baking Dishes

  • Enamel, Ceramic or Glass: Soak in hot soapy water, then scour with salt or bicarbonate of soda and rinse thoroughly.

Drinking Glasses

  • Occasionally soak drinking glasses in a solution of vinegar and water to really get them clean. Makes them sparkle.
  • When a quick dip for crystal glassware is needed, prepare a solution of bicarbonate of soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a litre) and brush with a soft toothbrush. Very good for glass coffee makers and thermos jugs/flasks too.


  • Use liquid or powdered soap instead of detergents – which are often petroleum-based. In dishwashers, use equal parts borax and washing soda.
  • For a spot-free dishwasher rinse add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your automatic dishwasher. Wash dishes as usual.

Fabric Conditioner

  • To make your own fabric conditioner, mix equal quantities of water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a storage bottle, take care as the vinegar & soda will fizz up. Add ¼ cup of conditioner to your wash.

Stain and Mark Removal

  • To remove coffee stains from cups or counters, rub with bicarbonate of soda paste.
  • A great non-toxic carpet stain remover is club soda. Soak spot immediately with soda and blot until the stain is gone.
  • Pet Urine on Carpets: Dab area with towelling to absorb as much as possible, wash spot with liquid dish detergent, and rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1 litre warm water. Lay towels or paper towels over the spot and weigh down to absorb excess moisture. Let stand 4 to 6 hours, then remove towelling, brush up pile and allow to dry completely. Use an electric fan to speed drying.
  • Red wine stains can be removed by rubbing bicarbonate of soda in and vacuuming.
  • To remove grease spots from carpets, first soak up the liquid with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of bicarbonate of soda or cornstarch into the spot. Let it absorb overnight. Next day, remove the excess and vacuum the area.
  • To remove water stains on wood furniture, dab white toothpaste onto stain. Allow the paste to dry and then gently buff off with a soft cloth.
  • Hide wood scratches by rubbing with the meat of a walnut.
  • A pencil eraser removes heel marks from a floor.
  • To remove wax, sponge with a piece of cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Decals/Gummed Labels/Price Tag Remover:Use vinegar to remove stick-on hooks from painted walls. Saturate a cloth or sponge with vinegar and squeeze the liquid behind the hook so that the vinegar comes in contact with the adhesive.
  • Vinegar can be used to remove price labels and other decals from glass, wood, and china. Paint the label or decal with several coats of white vinegar. Give the vinegar time to soak in and after several minutes the decal can be rubbed off. (NOTE: Use these methods only on washable surfaces and washable paint)
  • To remove rust from tin-ware, rub with a peeled potato dipped in a mild abrasive such as bicarbonate of soda or salt.
  • For another rust remover sprinkle a little salt on the rust, squeeze a lime over the salt until it is well soaked. Leave the mixture on for two to three hours. Use leftover rind to scrub residue.
  • Use a non-aerosol hair spray to remove ink stains.
  • To remove grease from concrete flooring sprinkle dry cement over grease. Allow it to absorb the grease, then sweep up.

Furniture Polish

  • This polish should to be made fresh each time you use it.1 lemon, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon water. Extract the juice from the lemon. Mix with oil and water.Apply a thin coat on your wood surface and let sit for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine.
  • Use 3 parts light mineral oil and 1 part olive oil and a drop of lemon juice.
  • Use a little olive or lemon oil and some beeswax.
  • Use a soft cloth and wipe with a bit of mayonnaise.
  • Rub furniture with a cloth dipped in cool tea.
  • Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Apply mixture to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe dry.
  • 1/8 cup linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Mix ingredients together and apply using a soft cloth, rub into wood.

Metal Cleaners

  • Stainless steel, clean with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar.
  • Stainless Steel, rub with a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water.
  • Silver, use toothpaste instead of toxic silver cleaner to clean and brighten even your best silver. Use an old soft bristled toothbrush and warm water.
  • When a quick dip for silverware is needed, prepare a solution of bicarbonate of soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a litre) and brush with a soft toothbrush.
  • Brass, Mix equal parts salt and flour with a little vinegar, then rub.
  • Chrome, rub with undiluted vinegar.
  • Copper, rub with lemon juice and salt, or hot vinegar and salt.
  • Aluminium, using a soft cloth, clean with a solution of cream of tartar and water.

Car Care

  • Windshield Wiper Frost Free Fluid, Mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and coat the car windows with this solution. This vinegar and water combination will keep windshields ice and frost-free.
  • Car Soap, mix 1/4 cup vegetable oil based liquid soap, and hot water in a bucket. Wash your car on the lawn instead of your driveway to reduce runoff to the street or storm drain.
  • Car Wax; 1 cup linseed oil, 4 tbsp carnauba wax, 2 tbsp. beeswax, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Put ingredients in top half of a double boiler or saucepan. Heat slowly until wax has melted. Stir, and pour into a heat resistant container. After wax has solidified, rub it on the car with a lint-free cloth. Saturate a corner of a cotton rag with vinegar and polish the wax to a deep shine.
  • Briskly scrub rust spots on car bumpers with a piece of crumpled aluminium foil, shiny side up.

You can read Dishing the Dirt on Natural Cleaning – Part 1

You can purchase all the ingredients mentioned in this article from

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