31 days of green cleaning

Wednesday 31st of October 2012

POSTED BY: Rebecca Goodwin (WMRC Business Development Manager)

It is the first day of October (I’m not sure how that happened either)! Every day this month I will be sharing a new green cleaning idea. So by the end of the month you’ll be able to use green, homemade cleaners all around your house.

Hopefully you already have all of the key ingredients in your cupboards!

Day 1: Remove soap scum from shower screen

Whilst glass shower screens look great, the downside is keeping them clean! I will admit to using harsh toxic chemicals in the past in an attempt to get my shower screen clean – with fairly limited success.

My favourite recipe for cleaning the glass shower screen is:

  • Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the screen. Allow the vinegar to sit on the screen for 3-5 minutes. Wipe the door with a clean towel, scrubbing lightly.
  • For stubborn build-up, squeeze cheap (or homemade) toothpaste onto a sponge and scrub. Rinse with cool water.
  • Wipe the screen with a towel dampened with vinegar. Dry thoroughly with a clean towel.


Day 2: De-scale your kettle

Our faithful work kettle has boiled untold quantities of water for cups of tea! It can get pretty grungy looking inside thanks to a build up of alkaline scale so we give it a good de-scale every couple of months. Whilst it’s not harmful a build-up of scale can cause the element to burn out.

The easiest way (and the one we use) is to:

  • Half-fill the kettle with water, drop in a couple of slices of fresh lemon, and boil (you may need to repeat this a couple of times).

Another option is:

  • Fill the kettle with a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Let it soak – but do not boil the kettle with the vinegar in it.

Whichever method you use, finish by rinsing the kettle and drying the inside with a clean cloth.

Day 3: Clean a burnt fry pan

A few years back, I left a saucepan on the low burner all night! Needless to say, what I came out to in the morning was a seriously burnt fry pan. Before throwing out the pan (thinking that was probably my only solution), I did a quick google search and came across a great green cleaning recipe that revitalised my pan.

To clean your burnt pan, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 x scourer


  • Fill the bottom of the pan with a layer of water, then add 1 cup of vinegar.
  • Bring the pan to the boil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda (don’t be alarmed – it will fizz).
  • Empty the pan and scour.

If there is a really stubborn stain/mark, make a paste of baking soda and a couple of drops of water. Leave the paste on the marks for a while then clean as normal.

Day 4: Blocked or smelly drain

Have a blocked or smelly drain? 

  • Pour 1/3 of a cup of bicarbonate soda into the blocked/smelly drain.
  • Pour in 1 cup of white vinegar and immediately seal the drain with the plug.
  • Leave for at least one hour.
  • Pour boiling water down the drain.

Day 5: Remove mould from the wall

Last year I was horrified to find mould growing on a wall in my 2 year old house. Turns out a lazy tiler hadn’t sealed the wall behind the tiles in the shower :-(. A quick internet search and I found this green cleaning tip to remove the mould:

  • Put 4-5 drops of olive of cloves in a bucket of water.
  • Wipe this over the wall with a sponge.

The mould probably won’t disappear straight away, but the olive of cloves will continue to kill it and the mould can be dusted off later.

Day 6: MYO Dishwashing Detergent

This is a cleaning recipe from our Plastic Free July challenge. To make your own dishwashing liquid:

  • Mix:
    • 1 cup borax
    • 1 cup baking soda
    • ½ cup salt
  • Add 1 tablespoon to the mixture to the “soap/tablet” compartment.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar of vinegar to the “rinse agent” compartment.

Day 7: Cleaning your mirrors

This is the only way I have ever known how to clean my mirrors (thanks Mum):

  • Pour a little vinegar onto a sheet of scrunched up newspaper and wipe the mirror.
  • Once all the grim is removed, polish the mirror with a clean sheet of newspaper.
  • For any stubborn stains, use a sponge to scrub with some toothpaste.

Day 8: Clean a stained tea cup or tea pot

If you are like me and are attached to a particular cup (I have ‘my’ cup at home and ‘my’ cup at work) it probably has stained over time. To get that cup looking new and fresh, try:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of bicarb with 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
  • Scrub with a nylon brush.
  • Rinse with clean water.

Day 9: Cleaning stovetops

I am forever cleaning my stovetop; because as soon as I give it a good clean I manage to spill that night's dinner all over it!

Spills on a stovetop can be easily cleaned if sprinkled with salt first (the salt absorbs and has a mild abrasive quality) then wiped. If the spill was over a burner, mix some cinnamon with the salt to mask the burnt smell next time you use the burner.

For a general clean of your stovetop:

  • Soak the burners in a salt and water mixture to help break-up grease (put the burners in a bowl of water and pour the salt directly onto the grease and let it sit). Then wipe clean.
  • If a stubborn stain remains, try pouring bicarb directly onto the burner then drizzle with vinegar. Allow the mixture to bubble for a few minutes, then rinse.
  • To clean the surrounding area of the stovetop, sprinkle with bicarb and wipe with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

Day 10: MYO cleaning rags

Instead of buying cleaning rags or Chux, you can recycle old towels, flannels and flannelette sheets that are well passed their used by dates. Cut them up and use them as rags; which you can pop into the washing machine once they get dirty.

If you cut up an old fitted sheet consider using the old elastic in your garden to tie up plants. 

Day 11: Cleaning microwaves

For those equally successful at exploding things in the microwave - usually bolognaise sauce or something equally red and saucy – to get rid of the mess/stains the green way:

  • Combine ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water in a microwavable container/cup.
  • Boil the mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  • Let it stand in the microwave for about 10 minutes.
  • Wipe the entire inside of the microwave with a damp sponge.

You can also use lemons in the place of vinegar; especially if you have an odour to neutralise:

  • Heat a bowl of water with lemon slices in the microwave for about 60 seconds.
  • Wipe with a damp sponge.

Day 12: Toilet bowl cleaner

General clean:

  • Sprinkle bicarb into the bowl, rinse with vinegar and scrub with toilet brush.

Stubborn stains:

  • Flush toilet to wet sides.
  • Mix borax and lemon juice into a paste.
  • Cover the stain and let sit for 2 hours.
  • Scrub with toilet brush.

Day 13: Grout cleaner

  • Mix three cups of bicarb with 1 cup of warm water and mix into a smooth paste.
  • Scrub paste into the grout with a toothbrush.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

Day 14: Remove egg stain in pan

This tip is stolen from the book “Spotless”:

  • Place half an eggshell, a strip of aluminium foil and 1 cup of vinegar into the stained pan.
  • Leave for 30 minutes and the egg should wipe off.

The reason this works is the calcium in the eggshell leaves a chalky deposit that absorbs the egg.

Day 15: Clean drinking glasses

To make your drinking glasses really shine, occasionally soak them in a solution of vinegar and water. It works a treat.

Day 16: Clean door and window screens

The screens on your windows are where the elements (e.g. dust and tree leaves) grab hold. Clean your screens by dipping a microfiber cloth or wire brush in a water and vinegar solution. If your screen is extremely dirty, start by scrubbing with a damp wire brush dipped in bicarb. If you have removed the screens from windows you can use a hose to give them a final rinse.

If the window/doors have aluminium frames, clean them with a bicarb and water solution applied with a soft sponge. Rinse clean with water afterwards.

Day 17: Remove rust

Rust on tin-ware:

  • Rub with a peeled potato dipped in bicarb or salt.

Rust spots on car bumpers:

  • Scrub with a crumpled piece of aluminium foil (shiny side up).

Rust on cutlery:

  • Polish the cutlery by hand with a paste of bicarb and vinegar. Rinse them off and dry thoroughly.

Day 18: Cleaning tools

As a bit of a flow on from yesterday's post, if you have a collection of rusty nuts, bolts, and nails sitting in the shed, give them a makeover by:

  • Place them in a glass jar, filling the jar to about halfway with the metal pieces.
  • Cover the pieces in undiluted vinegar, seal the jar, and let it sit overnight.
  • The next day rinse the pieces thoroughly, and make sure to dry them (because you don't want to go through the effort of cleaning them to just have them rust again!)

Rusty tools can be revived in a similar way as the nuts and bolts:

  • Place them in a container big enough to hold them as well as enough vinegar to cover them thoroughly (e.g. a plastic bucket).
  • Soak the tools for several hours, then rinse them completely with clean water.
  • Using a cotton cloth, dry them well.
  • If you see the vinegar becoming cloudy before you think the rust has been loosened all the way, change out the vinegar and continue to soak the items.

Day 19: All purpose disinfectant

You can make your own multi-purpose disinfectant to green clean benchtops, doors and furniture.

Combine the following ingredients into a spray bottle and mix well:

  • 3 cups hot water
  • ½ cup liquid soap
  • 3 teaspoons borax
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus, lemon and lavender oil.

Wiping down your front door with this cleaner will create a welcoming and clean smell as soon as guest arrive at your house.

Day 20: Shoe deodoriser

  • Mix 5 drops of lavender oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of bicarb.
  • Put 1-2 teaspoons in each shoe and shake to spread.
  • Leave overnight.
  • Empty out excess prior to wearing!

Day 21: Green clean rubbish bins

Keep your rubbish bins clean by sprinkling a bit of baking soda in the bottom each time you empty it.

Every now and then, wash and deoderise it with a solution of baking soda and warm water.

If your bin needs the royal treatment:

  • Pour ¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup bicarb and ¼ cup dishwashing liquid.
  • Fill with hot water

It's also a good idea to give your garbage disposal the royal treatment every month or so. Pour 1/4 cup each salt, baking soda, and dishwasher detergent into the bin and fill with hot water.

Day 22: DIY liquid soap

  • Mix:
    • ¾ cup soap flakes
    • 2 cups hot water
    • 1 tablespoon aloe-vera gel
    • 1 tablespoon almond oil
    • 1 tablespoon liquid lecithin
    • 20 drops tea tree oil
  • Mix until creamy and pour into pump bottle for use.

Day 23: Soaking and whitening nappies

Nappies are not my realm, but this is a good tip I found online:

  • Dissolve ¼ cup of bicarb in a bucket of warm water.
  • Soak for at least an hour or overnight.
  • Wash the nappies as normal.

Day 24: MYO fabric softener

Sticking with the laundry theme of yesterday; try adding one cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Your clothes will be softer and don’t worry, they won’t smell of vinegar!

I find vinegar as a substitute for fabric softener works especially well with sheets – making them incredibly soft.

Day 25: Furniture polish

Mix equal parts lemon juice and vegetable oil. For smooth application, put the mixture on a cloth and rub lightly, rather than pouring the liquid directly on to surfaces.

Day 26: Bath cleaner

A clean bath can brighten up a whole bathroom. To give your bath a good clean:

  • Pour ½ cup of bicarb into a bowl and add enough laundry liquid to make a texture like thick custard.
  • Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and start scrubbing.
  • Rinse.

You can add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need each time.

Day 27: Green clean upholstery

First, it's good to vacuum off cushions, or use a brush, every week or so, so dirt doesn't get ground in. When a spot happens, there are several green cleaners you can use (test in an inconspicuous place before getting to work):

  • For coffee stains, try mixing an egg yolk with luke-warm water and rubbing that on the spot.
  • For a general stain whipped detergent works well. Fill a container with half dish detergent, half water, and use a hand mixer to whip it up. Use a rag to rub the froth into the spot, and then rinse with water.
  • Shampoo mixed with water is also a good general stain remover.
  • Steam-cleaning takes electricity, but uses only water, and can often remove stubborn spots.

Day 28: Chalk to remove greasy stains

Instead of using extra laundry detergent to pre-treat clothes with a grease stain try using some white chalk. Simply rub the chalk onto the greasy stain. The chalk powder will absorb the grease, making the stain easily removable during the general wash.

Day 29: Cleaning with olive oil

Did you know that olive oil can be used for more than cooking? Here are a couple of handy uses for olive oil from www.apartmenttherapy.com:

  • Clean cast iron pans. Make a scrubbing paste with olive oil and a teaspoon of coarse salt. Scrub it in with a stiff brush and then rinse with hot water.
  • Get paint off your hands. Rub oil into your skin. Let it sink in for 5 minutes and then wash with soap.
  • Repair scratches on leather furniture. Pour a small amount of oil onto a cotton ball and rub it into the scratched leather in a circular motion.
  • Stainless steel. For extra shine, pour olive oil onto a cloth and buff.
  • Polish wood. Combine 2 cups of olive oil with 1 cup of vinegar. Work the mixture into the wood with a soft cloth.

Other non-cleaning solutions with olive oil include spraying a bit on squeaky door hinges, and sprucing up your dusty plant leaves.

Day 30: Benchtops

The area where food is prepared, stored and enjoyed required constant cleaning. Splatters, spills and crumbs can build up pretty quickly.

Clean benchtops by sprinkling with bicarb then scrubbing with a damp cloth.

If you have stains, mix bicarb and water into a paste and let it sit on the stain for a couple of minutes.

To kill germs and give the bench a good clean, mix 2cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle. Spray and rub on the bench.

Day 31: Your green cleaning tool kit

At the start of the month I was somewhat concerned I had overcommitted to this blog post! But surprisingly enough if wasn’t that difficult to pull together 30 green cleaning tips which really proves it is easy to slowly switch your habits from harsh chemicals to green cleaning.

Rather than a 31st green tip, I thought it would be better to list all the items used in the above green cleaning recipes so you can put together a green cleaning tool kit. So, you’ll need:


  • Aluminium foil
  • Bicarb / baking soda
  • Borax
  • Essential oils (e.g. tea tree, eucalyptus & lavender)
  • Liquid soap
  • Salt
  • Scourer
  • Soap
  • Tooth brush
  • Toothpaste
  • Towel or soft cloth
  • Vinegar (white)
  • Wire brush

Nice to haves:

  • Almond oil
  • Aloe-vera gel
  • Chalk
  • Cinnamon
  • Glycerin
  • Lemon juice
  • Liquid lecithin
  • Olive of cloves (oil)
  • Olive oil


  • Egg
  • Lemons
  • Potato

Do your best to learn about whatever you clean with in your home. Scrutinise the labels on your cleaning products. Phase out harmful commercial cleaning products and replace them with healthy alternatives.

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