Waste-Free Cleaning Solutions

Over the last few years as we have settled into a system for cleaning our house that is refreshingly simple.  We no longer have a cleaning closet filled with commercial cleaning products specific to every spot in the house.  Instead, we have opted for homemade, inexpensive, and non-toxic cleaning products that are more versatile while still very effective.  This allows us to lower our cost, waste, and exposure to harsh chemicals.  I also think it makes cleaning more enjoyable!

I love the simplicity and frugality of this approach.  In our cleaning closet we have only three glass spray bottles of cleaning products: an all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, and a dusting spray.  Besides those bottles we also keep a large supply of baking soda and vinegar.  With that simple list we clean everything in our house! Here are the recipes we use:

All-purpose Cleaner

We use this spray to clean almost everything in our house- dog messes, kid messes, wiping counters, washing walls, spot cleaning floors, etc.  If we need a little more scrubbing power we add some baking soda.

2 c. water
4 tsp. Castille soap
20 drops Tea Tree essential oil
10 drops Lavender essential oil
10 drops Lemon essential oil



Glass Cleaner
Great for windows and mirrors, and does not leave residue like some commercial cleaners do.

2 c. water
2 tbsp. Vinegar
10 drops Lemon essential oil


Dusting Spray
Cleans well and also conditions wood with the addition of the olive oil.

1 c. water
¼ c. vinegar
2 tsp. Olive oil
10 drops Lemon essential oil
(shake before using)


Instead of commercial toilet bowl cleaner we use vinegar and baking soda- very effective and so simple!  To mop our floors we use a steam mop which uses only water (and essential oils for extra cleaning power).

Here are a few tips for how we make this work:

  • I reused apple cider vinegar jars to put my cleaners in, and standard spray bottle tops will fit (I saved some from the commercial cleaning products I had previously).  Glass is recommended when using essential oils since it’s possible they can cause chemicals to leach from plastic bottles.  
  • I put the recipe for the cleaners right on the bottle so that when we are running low, anyone in our family (who can read) can refill the bottle easily.  
  • Instead of paper towels, we use old dish rags and cut up T-shirts to clean.  They can be thrown in the washing machine afterwards and make cleaning a no-waste activity!


This system has seriously made it much more enjoyable for me to clean.  I love that it is so organized and so inexpensive.  It’s also really nice that we do not have toxic cleaners in our cleaning closet that we have to worry about our kids getting into.  My three year old son loves to help me clean- he washes walls with the all-purpose cleaner and doesn’t get any exposure to harsh chemicals!

Have you tried making your own cleaners?  Do you have a cleaning routine that works well for your family?


Lindsay Considine lives with her husband, two children, and dog in Milwaukee, WI.  She spends her time caring for her toddler son and baby daughter.  She is passionate about simplicity, minimalism, ethical and socially responsible consumerism, positive/unconditional parenting, holistic health and providing nourishing, traditional food for her family.  A good portion of her mental capacity is taken up by trying to figure out how to fit these things into life with two young children (and she has a long way to go).  When she has free time she enjoys going on outdoor adventures, experimenting with elaborate recipes, reading, gardening, and spending time with friends.


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