Using Natural Cleaners to Keep Homes and Waterways Clean

Blog Post
A graphic of soap, baking soda, a lemon, and distilled vinegar
Join us for National Cleaning Week to celebrate the positive impact cleaning has on public health, the environment, and our economy. Learn how certain cleaning products affect our waterways and ways to make your own "green" cleaning products.

National Cleaning Week: March 28th – April 3rd

Join us for National Cleaning Week to celebrate the positive impact cleaning has on public health, the environment, and our economy. Living and working in a clean, well-maintained space is important for both physical and mental health. Making your own cleaning products is a simple way to switch up your cleaning routine to benefit your health, your household, and the environment.  

The case for greener cleaning products  

While our cleaning supplies—like dishwashing detergents, multipurpose cleaners, and glass sprays—clean our homes and workspaces, they can damage our waterways. Many of these cleaning products contain chemicals such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and ammonia. These strong chemicals are great for wiping grime off your counters or toilet but are eventually rinsed down the drain and into wastewater pipes. 

After flowing through the pipes, the chemical-infused water makes its way to a wastewater treatment facility, which removes contaminants from the water before it’s released into rivers, lakes, or streams. Some of these chemicals are extremely difficult to remove and can still enter our waterways, polluting aquatic ecosystems and causing unhealthy plant or algae growth.  

Using greener cleaning products with fewer chemicals can help keep Oregon’s rivers, lakes, and streams healthy for plants, fish, and other wildlife. At the grocery store, look for products that have basic, natural ingredients—or better yet, make your own! DIYing is usually less expensive and you’ll know exactly what ingredients are in the products you make.

The best part? You can make them with items you already have around the house!

Just add water! 

We rounded up a few different ways to make common household products using our favorite eco-friendly ingredient, water! Take a look and try them out for yourself.                                                

All-purpose cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 part white distilled vinegar
  • 1 part water
  • Lemon rinds
  • A few drops of essential oils or rosemary sprigs (optional)

Mix ingredients in a bowl or use a funnel to mix directly into a spray bottle. The lemon rind adds a refreshing scent and the antibacterial properties of lemons can boost the solution’s scrubbing power.  Add a few drops of essential oils or some rosemary sprigs to enhance the smell of your at-home cleaning creation. You can use this all-purpose cleaner on hard surfaces like countertops, kitchen floors, windows, mirrors, wall smudges, and trash cans.

Kitchen cleaner and deodorizer

What you’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 quart warm water

Baking soda makes a great addition to any cleaning solution because it neutralizes the acids that cause bad smells. To deodorize surfaces, use the baking soda solution above. To shine and remove spots from stainless steel, combine baking soda and water to make a paste. Apply the paste with a damp cloth and rub gently in the direction of the metal’s grain. Rinse and buff dry. Use this kitchen cleaner and deodorizer to clean kitchen counters or appliances, the inside of the refrigerator, or your garbage disposal.

Tub and tile scrub

What you’ll need:

  • 1-2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar

The ideal bathroom cleaner. Mix the baking soda, soap, and water. Then, add the vinegar. If you add the vinegar too early, it will react with the baking soda. Apply immediately, wipe and scrub.

Liquid laundry soap

What you’ll need:

  • 7 L hot water
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/3 cup coarse salt

A laundry detergent that’s better for you and the planet. Dissolve the salt and baking soda in hot water. Then, add soap and mix well. Use 1/2 cup per full load of laundry.