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Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Vinegar All Purpose Cleaners

My camera isn’t working and I’m just dying to get this out to you, so no pretty pictures for this one…you’ll just have to imagine them!

My Dad had me cleaning the house almost every weekend throughout my teenage years, then I cleaned houses during my first two years in college. Dad leaned towards less toxic cleaning supplies, but in college I used more toxic ones because that’s what people had on hand and I didn’t know how cheap and effective the alternatives were. I hated the smell, the way the vapors burned my nose and the back of my throat, and disposing of the containers always made me feel terribly guilty.

Since then, I’ve learned that vinegar and baking soda can take care of all of my cleaning needs, so I don’t have any other cleaning products in the house. I even started a little business, Spring Cleaning, where I organize peoples’ most feared rooms, then wipe everything down with the cleaners listed below. I get comments all the time on how delicious the rooms smell when I’m done.

In this post I’ll focus on the mild and tough all purpose cleaners I use, as well as the other cleaning supplies I keep handy.

Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid, which kills bacteria and viruses. With a little elbow grease, the dynamic duo of vinegar and baking soda gets things sparkly clean while saving a lot of money. They also save the waterways and your body from harmful chemicals many cleaning supplies contain. If it has a skull and crossbones, why even have it in the house?

There are about a bajillion uses for vinegar around the house, so I decided to start with these simple get ‘er done recipes:

Mild All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle:

  • half vinegar, half water
  • 3-4 drops of lavendar essential oil (optional as an extra antiseptic)
  • lemon juice (optional as an extra antimicrobial)
  • 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)

Uses: Almost any surface!

  • For everything but wood and laminated surfaces – spray on and wipe clean
  • For floors – make mixture in a bucket and use for mopping
  • For wood and laminated floors – add ½-cup vinegar to a gallon of water
  • For other wood surfaces: spray on cloth, wipe clean, then use a dry cloth to wipe off all excess moisture

Tough All Purpose Cleaner – in a spray bottle:

  • full strength vinegar
  • 4-5 drops of lavendar essential oil (optional as an extra antiseptic)
  • lemon juice (optional as an extra antimicrobial)
  • 2-3 drops of lemongrass essential oil (optional for pleasant smell – use the essential oil of your choice)


  • Disinfect cutting boards and counters: spray, then let soak, then scrub with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water to clean and disinfect
  • Sparkly-clean shower:
    • spray from top to bottom (including chrome)
    • let soak in
    • keep spraying occasionally for 30 minutes or so to keep damp
    • scrub with a microfiber cloth, then spray down.
    • FOR TOUGHER STAINS and SOAP SCUM: after soaking with vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, then scrub with a stiff brush
  • Tough spots on floor, in fridge and in sinks:
    • spray on stains
    • let soak in for a few minutes
    • wipe clean
    • for tougher spots: after soaking with vinegar, sprinkle with BAKING SODA, then scrub.

In addition to vinegar, I keep these cleaning supplies handy:

  • stiff scrub brush
  • a pile of old towels and torn up t-shirts of various sizes
  • spray bottles with the above mixtures – one under the kitchen sink and the other under the bathroom sink
  • box of baking soda – they’re everywhere so I can just grab and use them any time!
  • microfiber cloths
  • old sponges with a scrubby side

A note about cloths:

I like to use old hand towels, t-shirts and sponges and find that they last for a very long time, but I also have some microfiber cloths I use occasionally. I’ve had one of them for at least five years and it looks barely used!

According to ERC Wiping Products, “microfiber products have a longer life span than traditional cloths and mops, and they have “tiny hooks that attract, absorb and remove dirt, dust and bacteria.” They should last a very, very long time since “they should be washed in ONLY cool water and tumble dried or hang dried.” 

Do you or a loved one have one of “those” rooms – full of clutter and things you just can’t seem to get organized? I LOVE these rooms and can whip them into shape in no time! 🙂 Contact me for help at

More cleaning tips will be coming soon. Until then, I’d love to hear about your favorite green cleaning tips!

Happy Cleaning,

Sustainable Spring

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