DIY Green Cleaners: How They Fared a Year LaterLast year I wrote a blog post reviewing DIY green cleaners, the recipes for which I got from Jennifer Cottell, a local mom and trustee and legal advisor for the Holistic Moms Network. I rated them on the following scale:

  • 1=It’s easy. It’s cheap. It works. Do it!
  • 2=Worth a try
  • 3=In my next life

But let’s face it: Anyone can stick to something for a few weeks—but a year is a different matter altogether. So here’s a review of which highly rated cleaners stood the test of time and which ones got the boot, using this scale:

  • 1=I use it all the time.
  • 2=I use it sometimes.
  • 3=In my next life

Linoleum and Tile Floors: Distilled White Vinegar and Water
Previous Rating: 1
New Rating: 2

Directions: Combine 1 cup water to 1/4 cup vinegar.

This really deserves a 1, but it was harder to give up the Swiffer Wet Jet than I thought, especially since my mother, God bless her, bought me a huge BJ’s-size package of refills for Chanukah (see here for why that doesn’t offend me), which I still haven’t run out of. But the recipe works great and I’d use it all the time if I had a different cleaning system—like a good old mop and bucket, or the Shark Steam Mop, which Cottell recommends (you actually can use just plain old tap water for the steam mop, or you can spray the vinegar solution on the floor for extra power).

Toilets: Powdered Borax
Previous Rating: 1

New Rating: 1

Directions: Sprinkle borax into toilet bowl and leave for at least an hour, preferably overnight, then clean with a brush. You can also add a few squirts of lemon into the bowl, which has an antibacterial effect (and adds a nice fragrance).

A year later, this is still easy, it still works great, and it’s still a lot of bang for your buck, so there’s no need to buy the commercial equivalent again… though I wouldn’t pass judgment on you if you have as much trouble giving up your Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner as I have giving up the Swiffer Wet Jet.

Glass Cleaner Option #1: Rubbing Alcohol
Previous Rating: 2
New Rating: 3

Directions: Use a dab on a rag for shiny, streak-free faucets, mirrors, and windows.

There’s nothing wrong with this—except the smell—but I never have the need to use it, because I am so in love with….

All-Purpose Cleaner and Glass Cleaner Option #2: Distilled White Vinegar and Dish Detergent
Previous Rating: 1

New Rating: 1

Directions: Combine two-thirds water, one-third vinegar, and a squirt of liquid dish detergent. Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle.

Honestly, don’t ever buy glass cleaner again. Just buy a huge container of distilled white vinegar and use this recipe for everything. Ever since I tried this, I’ve never gone back to commercial products, and I use it on almost all surfaces: kitchen table, bathroom counters, toilet surfaces…. I even use it on the kitchen floor when I need to just spot clean (e.g., one of my children—who shall remain nameless—drops his jelly-topped toast face down on the floor)—since it doesn’t dry sticky or slippery and does the trick. This recipe couldn’t be cheaper (I get distilled white vinegar for 75 cents a quart) and works just as well as any store-bought concoction. The only thing I don’t use it on is my stovetop, because I have one of those annoying no-scratch jobbies (whose idea was it to make a stovetop you can’t actually clean?) that can’t handle vinegar-containing products. My only caveat is that the recipe I posted last year included a smaller amount of vinegar (3 tablespoons).

If you don’t love the smell of vinegar (which I kind of do), add a few drops of essential oil (like orange or lavender), which also give surfaces a nice shine.

Stove Degreaser: Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner
Previous Rating: 1
New Rating: 1

As I mentioned last time, even Cottell turns to the store-bought stuff sometimes, and since I can’t use vinegar on my stovetop, I go with this commercial nontoxic product.

I’m also using store-bought stuff for the bathtub and ceramic tile walls in the shower, but instead of feeling guilty about it, I focus on how much money I’ve saved—and the toxic chemicals I’ve kept out of the environment—with the DIY green cleaners I do use.

If you’re currently using conventional cleaners and feel like you want to make a change but feel overwhelmed, start with the vinegar-dish detergent solution and use it on your kitchen counters and glass surfaces. You likely have all the ingredients in your home right now. Just making that one small change will go a long way.