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.

  11. If you go to they rate the toxicity of products. Borax got and “F”, but Bon Ami got an “A”.

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