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
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
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:
- where to buy bicarbonate of soda for cleaning
- where to buy white vinegar in bulk for cleaning
- buying citric acid for cleaning
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
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.