Replace Toxic Cleaners with Simple All Purpose Cleaner

If it has a skull and crossbones, why even have it in the house? Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid, which kills bacteria and viruses and it’s non-toxic, so it can take the place of most household cleaners. The ones it doesn’t take the place of, baking soda does. Add a few drops of an essential oil, some water, and voila! You have a very inexpensive, non-toxic, all-purpose cleaner.

There are about a bajillion uses for vinegar around the house, so I’ll just share with the ones I use for just about every cleaning job I do, both at home and with Spring Cleaning Home Organization. I keep a spray bottle with the mild cleaner under every sink, along with a couple rags, a scrubby sponge and an old toothbrush.

Mild All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle :

  • half vinegar, half water
  • OPTIONAL: 3-4 drops lavendar essential oil (antiseptic), lemon juice (antimicrobial), 2-3 drops lemongrass essential oil (for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)

Uses: Almost any surface!

  • For everything but wood surfaces – spray on and wipe clean. I also spray the cloth I’m using to wipe things down and have a dry cloth handy to wipe up excess moisture.
  • For floors – make mixture in a bucket and use for mopping (NOT for hard wood floors and I’ll have another post on how to best clean laminate floors)
  • For dusting wood surfaces: spray on cloth, wipe clean, then use a dry cloth to wipe off all excess moisture. Do not spray directly on wood.
  • Windows: spray mixture on window and on a clean cloth, then let sit for a few seconds (longer for tough spots). Wipe with the dampened cloth, then wipe with a dry cloth.
  • DO NOT USE on granite or marble countertops, stone floors, egg stains (vinegar makes it coagulate) or “truly stubborn stains” like grass stains, ink, ice cream and blood. Most people say don’t use vinegar on hardwood and laminate floors, but some say it works beautifully. If you want to give it a try, make sure to dilute and test it.

Tough All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle:

  • full strength vinegar
  • 4-5 drops of lavendar essential oil (optional as an extra antiseptic)
  • lemon juice (optional as an extra antimicrobial)
  • 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)


  • Disinfect cutting boards and counters: spray, then let soak, then scrub with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water to clean and disinfect
  • Sparkly-clean shower:
    • spray from top to bottom (including chrome)
    • let soak in
    • keep spraying occasionally for 30 minutes or so to keep damp
    • scrub with a microfiber cloth, scrubby sponge or scrub brush, then rinse with water.
    • for tougher stains and soap scum: after rinsing off vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, then scrub with a stiff brush and rinse.
  • Tough spots on floor, in fridge and in sinks:
    • spray on stains
    • let soak in for a few minutes
    • wipe clean
    • for tougher spots: after rinsing off vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, scrub and rinse – those old sponges with a scrubby side work wonders.

Keep these cleaning supplies handy:

  • stiff scrub brush
  • a pile of old towels and torn up t-shirts of various sizes
  • spray bottles with the above mixtures – one under the kitchen sink and the other all bathroom sinks
  • box of baking soda – I keep them under every sink so I can just grab and use them any time!
  • microfiber cloths
  • old sponges with a scrubby side

A note about cloths:

I like to use old hand towels, t-shirts and scrubby sponges and find that they last for a very long time, but I also have some microfiber cloths I use occasionally. I’ve had one of them for at least five years and it looks barely used!

I’d love to hear about your favorite green cleaning tips!

For more vinegar cleaning tips, check out this Good Housekeeping blog post.

:)  Happy Cleaning,


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