Top 5 Green Cleaning Supplies

In no particular order, here are my top five—and actually only five green cleaning must-haves (excepting laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and dishwasher detergent, of course. Oh, and a broom and vacuum cleaner).

  • Steam cleaner—clean floors, grout, even windows without chemicals.

    The Wagner power steam cleaner
  • Borax: An eco-friendly, budget-friendly wonder product—Joy turned me onto Borax, which I use to scour the bathtub and clean the toilet.
  • Baking soda and vinegar—read Joy’s “Thrifty solutions for greener cleaning” for details—I don’t know what I’d do without this cleaning combo. I clean mirrors and windows with vinegar and newspaper and use baking soda and vinegar to clean the kitchen sink.
  • Rags—Any green housekeeper worth her salt uses good old rags instead of paper towels!  (Note: worn-out prefold diapers make the very best rags!)
  • Bon Ami—Bon Ami is natural and non-toxic, made from sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate and feldspar. It’s super cheap, and a great alternative to Ajax or Comet, which contain chlorine and other chemicals. I may even prefer it to Borax for scouring the tub.

Am I missing any green wonder product I should know about? Let us know!


  1. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I recently saw this:

    I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I have a big box of Borax in my garage. I’m sure it’s better than other stuff. . .

    I also use a steam cleaner, bon ami, and vinegar.

    I like Murphy’s Oil soap for my wood floors too.

  2. Is there a trick to the vinegar and newspaper method for cleaning windows? When I tried it recently it just left big swirls of ickiness all over the window (which I have been too lazy to do anything about, sigh).

  3. Larisa, I don’t know if there’s a trick to it. I keep a mixture of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar in a spray bottle. I spray a very little bit on a mirror or window, then wipe dry with a crumpled up newspaper. I use the same newspaper over and over again until it’s all shredded up. And my mirrors/windows are always sparkly and streak-free (after I do this, I mean. Not in general!). I wonder if it’s the type of newspaper that makes a difference?

  4. Ah! I’m betting it’s the spray bottle that’s the key. I was taking it literally and just poured vinegar on the newspaper and wiped the windows with it.

  5. Ooh, yeah. The newspaper is strictly for drying and buffing! Also, I spray much less of the vinegar-water combo than I would if I were using Windex or something. So you are barely getting the mirror wet, then drying it off.

  6. Seriously, baking soda and vinegar do almost everything you need, but I have found that for tough stains or things like the burnt stuff in a pot (that you let burn while you were running after baby), lemon and salt are a miracle. No commercial pot-scrubber does better. Also, if you want to make your vinegar solution streak free for cleaning windows – add a capful or two of rubbing alcohol.

    On borax, I don’t think you want to leave it out for the kids to get into, I wouldn’t exactly consider it a toxin. Used sparingly, I think it’s perfectly fine. It’s natural – comes from the earth, and boric acid is one of the things used for eye-washing. I think you have to keep it all in perspective. Vinegar is also an irritant. I’d hate to think what would happen if it got in your eyes. I would use it sparingly, but I’m not getting rid of it just yet.

    Don’t forget soap and water. I love Dr. Bronner’s. Peppermint and Lavender are my favorites and they leave things smelling pretty compared to vinegar which is not a smell I love. I looked into making soap and as soon as I read the words caustic and safety goggles I decided it wasn’t going to happen.

    I think by not buying paper products or cleaning supplies, our grocery bill is probably at least 25% less than it would be.

  7. Disinfect & Remove Mold, Grime, etc: Spray with or wipe with a cloth soaked in undiluted white vinegar, then wipe clean with water-dampened cloth. I think the vinegar kills something like 98% of germs, whereas commercial cleaners are about 99.9%? So, I plan to use the good old clorex wipes to clean up after preparing raw chicken or if it’s flue season

    Hatchend Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  8. Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.

  9. Great tip, Carla! I might have to use that on other containers as well.

  10. Borax is my favourite but I see your point. Thanks for sharing your list, it’s pretty good.

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