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Home and Garden

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

8 Easy Green Cleaning Tips And Tricks For Beginners

Make your home naturally sparkle, with my top green cleaning tips and tricks for beginners. From how to get started, to the safety considerations you need to make, consider this the essential green cleaning guide you need to read.

With increasing awareness that conventional cleaning products are bad for our health, as well as the environment, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to start making green cleaning products.

I’ve got tons of natural cleaning product recipes here on Moral Fibres. And I’ve even written a book on making your own natural cleaning products. But something I crucially haven’t addressed before is just how do you get started as a beginner?

I started making my own cleaning products over 14 years ago. I’ve pulled all of that knowledge and experience into this beginners guide to green cleaning, full of tips and tricks for getting started. It’s essentially the guide I wish I had when I first started out making my own cleaning products.

My Top Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks For Beginners

Eco cleaning products, with a blue text box that says green cleaning tips and tricks for a naturally clean home.

Take Time To Understand What Green Cleaning Products Should Never Be Mixed

Before you make any cleaning products, my number one green cleaning tip is to take time to understand what ingredients can and can’t be mixed with each other.

Most of the issues around mixing green cleaning products centre around vinegar. Vinegar may be a key ingredient in many green cleaning products, however, let’s just say vinegar is a little anti-social. It does not cope well with being mixed with other green cleaning staples. When it does mix, it causes BIG problems.

Mixing vinegar with bicarbonate of soda, soda crystals, borax or liquid castile soap is a no-no. Vinegar completely reduces the effectiveness of these products, so keep them far apart from each other.

Meanwhile, mixing vinegar with bleach or hydrogen peroxide is hazardous to your health. This is because mixing vinegar with either of these products can cause the release of noxious gas, which can cause severe respiratory distress and in severe cases, even death.

Read more in my guide to white vinegar for cleaning so that you are fully clued up on the potential hazards.

Take It Slow

It’s important to remember that cleaning your home the green way is not a race. With this in mind, I would recommend starting slowly. Use up the conventional cleaning products you already have – to reduce waste – and as they run out try making their natural replacements.

Not only does this approach reduce overwhelm – making one cleaning product at a time, rather than making ALL the cleaning products on one go – but it also gives you time to figure out what recipes work for you and your home. Part of the joy of making your own cleaning products is the tinkering in your kitchen and the feeling that you are a bit wizard-like as you make up beautifully smelling non-toxic potions. Taking it slow means you can experiment with scents to find out what you like best, or tweak recipes to your liking.

Reuse What You Can

To help minimise waste and keep costs down, my next green cleaning tip or trick is to make sure you keep any empty bottles and spray nozzles as you finish up your old cleaning products.

Give empty bottles a thorough clean in warm soapy water. Once dry, you can reuse these items for your own homemade products.

To clean spray nozzles, pop the end in a cup of warm water, and spray a good few times to remove any lingering cleaning product residue.

Old glass bottles can also be used to home your green cleaning products. Glass vinegar bottles make great spray bottles. Meanwhile, used gin bottles make for great homemade fabric conditioner storage bottles.

Gather The Green Cleaning Ingredients You Need

green cleaning tools

Most green cleaning products I make are made using a core of key natural cleaning ingredients. My top green cleaning tip is to keep a small supply of these so that you can quickly make up new cleaning products.

Bicarbonate of soda, soda crystals, borax substitute, citric acid and white vinegar all feature heavily in my repertoire. Liquid castile soap is another incredibly useful item to have to hand. Keep these to hand, and you should be able to whip up almost any product in seconds.

Not sure where to buy these products? I’ve got heaps of guides on where to buy these green cleaning essentials:

Acquaint Yourself With Essential Oils

I like to use a variety of essential oils to make my own green cleaning products. Whilst some essential oils, like geranium oil, are there for scent purposes – meaning you can omit them if you have sensitive skin or allergies – others provide vital functions. From the degreasing actions of citrus-based oils to the antifungal properties of lavender oil, these are key ingredients in some cleaning products.

Some essential oils come with specific warnings about usage. Tea tree essential oil, for example, can be toxic to cats. Meanwhile, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are not recommended for use around babies and children. Rosemary essential oil should also be avoided if you are pregnant.

I only use essential oils highly diluted, and only use them for cleaning surfaces – I don’t use oils in any other way. As such, I’m confident that are safe to use in cleaning products around my home. However, my top green cleaning tip would be to research each oil you intend to use in your home. Doing so means that you can make up your own mind about what is safe for you.

Get To Grips With Shelf Life

Shelf life is an important point to consider when making green cleaning products. Generally speaking, green cleaning products last as long as the shortest dated ingredient in them. So if you have made something using three ingredients, your product should be used by the expiry date of the ingredient that expires first.

If you’ve used water, then the shelf life is short – no more than 8 weeks. This is because water, even boiled water, harbour bacteria. I always use cooled boiled water in my homemade cleaning products, because this helps to minimise any bacteria in the water. Using water straight out of the tap shortens the shelf life further, so I would avoid this.

The shelf life is always an approximation. If anything that you have made smells or looks funny, then it’s probably time to discard it and remake it.

Gather The Green Cleaning Supplies You Need

eco cleaning tools on stripe dish towel

Another of my top tips and tricks is to gather the green cleaning supplies you need. If you have sensitive skin, you are going to want to wear rubber gloves. Natural cleaning products can still be irritating to your skin. Some cloths and a scrubbing brush are always handy tools to have.

Think About Storage

Finally, if you have pets and/or young children, then it’s important to remember that green cleaning products can still be hazardous to health. Store both the products and raw ingredients in a secure cupboard, or up out of reach of curious hands or paws.

Additionally, label your cleaning products, so that you know what each bottle is. This is crucial to make sure it isn’t confused for anything else.

I think I’ve covered everything you could need to know to get started! Hopefully, this guide will have given you all the knowledge you need to get started on your green cleaning journey. Is there anything more you need to know about green cleaning that I’ve missed? Do let me know in the comments below.

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

21 Amazing Uses For Borax Around The House

Wondering just how many uses for borax there are? It turns out there are lots! In fact, here are over 20 uses for borax all around the home – from cleaning your bathroom and kitchen to unblocking drains and more.

I use borax in some of the natural cleaning products I make. I’ve also seen borax pop up in a few homemade household cleaning recipes. However, I hadn’t appreciated just how many uses for borax there are until I came across this really handy infographic.  It shows 21 uses for borax around the house!  21!  From unclogging drains and cleaning mattresses to inhibiting mould, it seems borax does it all!

Safety First When Using Borax

Borax in a jar surrounded by lemons with blue text box that reads over 20 uses for borax to naturally clean your home.

Although it’s non-toxic and a completely natural substance, borax can be a bit of an irritant to sensitive skin.  If you do suffer from sensitive skin, skin allergies, eczema, or anything like that then I would avoid using borax on anything that’s going to come into regular contact with your skin.  Just to be on the safe side!

21 Amazing Uses for Borax

Now we’ve got the safety chat out of the way, let’s get on to the many uses for borax!


Source: eReplacementParts.com

Homemade Carpet Cleaner

To make homemade carpet cleaner, simply mix 2 cups of cornmeal (also known as polenta in the UK) with 1 cup of borax in a large jar. You can optionally add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to add a little scent.

Next, sprinkle the mixture over your carpeted area and leave for one hour. Then vacuum to enjoy a fresh, odour-free carpet.

Dishwasher Tablets

To make dishwasher tablets you will need 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda (also known as soda crystals), 1 cup of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Mix the borax and washing soda into a large bowl, breaking up any chunks with a spoon or whisk. Mix the vinegar and lemon juice into the dry ingredients and pour it mixture into ice cube moulds. Let the mixture dry for one hour, or until solid. Next, pop out the tablets and let them dry for another 30 minutes on wax paper. Store in a sealed glass jar, and use one tablet per load.

I’ve tried this recipe and it didn’t work for me – mixing borax or soda crystals with vinegar is a big no-no – so personally, I’d give this a miss and buy plastic-free dishwasher tablets. Read my guide to cleaning with white vinegar to learn more about why you shouldn’t mix borax with vinegar.

Grout Cleaner

To clean your grout, in a bucket, mix 5 litres of hot water with 1/2 a cup of borax. Dip a scrubbing brush in the water and scrub your grout. When you are done, pour water over the grout to rinse, or leave the borax solution on to help prevent further mould and mildew. If you rinse the grout, use a towel to dry the area thoroughly.

Better Homemade Candles

For longer-lasting homemade candles, treat wicks by soaking them in a solution of salt and borax to help reduce smoke and ash.

Clean Hairbrushes & Combs Naturally With Borax

To clean hairbrushes and combs, mix 1/4 cup of borax and 1 tablespoon grease-cutting washing up liquid in a bowl of warm water. Swish the brushes and combs in water, let soak, and then rinse and dry.

Clean Mattresses With Borax

To clean your mattress, simply wet your mattress and rub in some borax with a damp cloth. Leave to dry, and then vacuum off the residue for a fresh clean mattress.

Clean Cookware

For another great use for borax, did you know you can clean cookware with it? Simply sprinkle some borax on pots and pans and rub with a dishcloth, before rinsing.

Deodorising Your Bins

Fill your bin with borax and hot water. Let soak and then rinse. Once dry, sprinkle a little borax in the bottom to absorb odour-causing moisture.

Garbage Disposal Cleaner

Clean and sanitise your garbage disposal unit by putting 3 tablespoons of borax down the drain. Leave this to sit for one hour, before flushing with warm water.

Sticky Stuff Remover

Mix borax and water in a 2-to-1 ratio. Then rub to get rid of adhesive residue, or see here for my top tips to remove labels from jars.

Use Borax to Kill Weeds

Sprinkle a little borax on weeds in concrete cracks. Avoid using it in your garden as it will kill your plants indiscriminately.

Clean Linens

To remove mildew and mustiness from linens you can use borax. Simply mix two cups of borax with 2 litres of water. Soak your linens for a few hours in the solution, before rinsing clean.

Use Borax to Deter Mice

Sprinkle borax on the floor and along the walls (provided you don’t have any children or pets). Apparently, mice don’t like borax on their feet so they are less likely to return.

Please note, you cannot use borax in the UK or EU for pest control – you can read on for why not. Therefore this is only an option if you live outside of the UK or EU.

Mould Inhibitor

To inhibit the growth of mould, you can mix borax and water to create a thick paste. Smear it on the mouldy area and let it sit until it is dry. Preferably overnight or longer. The next day sweep off the powder and rinse off any remaining residue.

Use Borax to Clean Outdoor Furniture

To clean your outdoor garden furniture naturally, mix one teaspoon of washing up liquid with one teaspoon of borax, and 1 litre of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray it onto outdoor furniture and then wipe down your furniture to clean effectively and naturally.

Control Pests With Borax

Again, if you are outside of the UK or EU then you can use borax to repel ants and other creatures. Simply mix borax and sugar in a 1:1 ratio, and then sprinkle to keep away ants, roaches, and waterbugs. Again, I’d avoid this if you have pets or small children.

Deodorise Your Fridge With Borax

To deodorise your fridge, mix 1 tablespoon of borax in 1 litre of warm water. Soak a soft cloth in the solution, before wringing out. Wipe down your fridge interior, before rinsing with cold water for a clean and odour-free fridge.

Remove Rust

Create a solution using 1 litre of warm water, 1 tablespoon of borax, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. You can then apply the solution to any rust spots. After 15 minutes, rinse the paste and scrub off the rust with a wire brush. You may wish to spot test an inconspicuous area first, before treating a wider area.

Shine China

To restore the shine on your best china, fill your sink with warm water and add half a cup of borax. Soak your china in it for a little while, before rinsing well and washing as normal.

Sink Cleaner

To remove stains from both stainless steel and porcelain sinks, create a paste of 1 cup borax and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a sponge or cloth, rub the paste on the stain, before rinsing with warm water.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

To naturally clean your toilet bowl, pour one cup of borax into your toilet at night time. In the morning, clean with a toilet brush for a fresh clean finish.

Unclog Drains

To unclog drains, mix 1/2 a cup of borax with 2 cups of boiling water. Pour the solution down your sink, leaving it to sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, run the tap for a few minutes to flush the drain. Alternatively, you can try unblocking your drain with soda crystals.

Where to Buy Borax In The UK

If you’re in the UK/EU and you want to track some borax down, please note you can only buy “borax substitute”.

The reason being is that a few years ago the EU reclassified the ‘Borate’ group of chemicals that Borax belongs to as a dangerous substance.  Thankfully, borax substitute still has all the same cleaning and laundry uses that the original borax had, so you can use it as a straight swap.

Whilst borax substitute is also pretty much identical, composition-wise, to regular borax, do note that it cannot be used for pest control.  You’ll still need to store it securely away from children, preferably up high in a childproof cupboard, and properly labelled. This is because it’s not a substance you want young children getting their hands on.

And if you’re wondering where to buy borax substitute, the good news is it’s easily accessible. I’ve seen it for sale in cardboard boxes in pound shops (in the cleaning aisle) and hardware shops for the princely sum of £2 for a 500g box.  You can also shop for borax substitute easily online.

ps: if you are worried about using borax or borax substitute in your home, then I’ve researched a post on is borax safe to help answer any questions you may have on borax safety.