As the holidays grow closer, my mind wanders more and more often to cleaning the house. I’ve said it before and I’ll mention it again: I’m not a fan of cleaning although I do enjoy having a clean house. Part of my problem is simply the time needed to clean. But the other half is never having the “right” cleaning solution to get the job done. There could be 20 bottles of cleaners under the bathroom sink, but somehow they are never anything helpful. Or they just don’t work. It seems that in recent years products have become less and less powerful. My guess is it’s a ploy to get people to buy more of the stuff as they tell the customer that it’s become more “enviromentally friendly” because it’s been watered down. Now with a baby at home, I also don’t want a ton of chemicals building up all over the place which I have to worry about Mackenzie or the dog ingesting.

Incorporate greenery. Aside from being aesthetically pleasant, bathroom plants can help purify the air and reduce humidity. Consider using tree free toilet paper made from alternative fibers like bamboo or recycled materials for an additional eco-friendly touch.

But a couple weeks ago (yeah I’m kinda slow sometimes), I realized that I’ve just been overcomplicating the process. I don’t require 5,000 bathroom cleaning products because all I really need to get almost every job done is a bottle of vinegar and a box of baking soda. Did you know that white household distilled 5 percent vinegar has an 80 to 99 percent kill rate for viruses and bacteria? That makes it an incredibly effective and safe cleaner for the bathroom and the whole house.

Have a problem with caulk build up on your faucet or hard water stains around the faucet and drains? Maybe some really gross discolored grout due to sitting water? Vinegar will help rid you of these nasty problem areas. Pour vinegar over the area and let it sit for a few minutes. If it’s an area where the vinegar would flow away, pour a bit on paper towel or rag and lay that over the affected area. After it’s been sitting, take a rag and just wipe away the stains and build up. If you have really stubborn problems, let the vinegar sit for half an hour or more. It won’t harm your fixtures and the longer it sits, the less elbow grease you’ll need to wipe off the gunk.

This was what the ring of our faucet looked like before I unscrewed it and left it to sit in vinegar for a few hours.

organic cleaners - caulk buildup on faucet

I came back, wiped over the buildup and removed almost all of it with one swipe. Since there was still a bit more on there, I just dropped it back in the vinegar for a while longer and wiped everything clean when done. The vinegar can then be used for further cleaning of your bathroom or just discarded.

clean faucet

Looking to clean your bathroom floors? Mix up a gallon of warm/hot water with an 1/8 cup liquid soap and 1/8 cup white vinegar. Use this to clean your floors and the job will be done in no time. I literally hated mopping because I had to scrub at every little bit on the floor. Not with this formula. Plus most cleaners smell like a gallon of cheap perfume. I don’t want Mack crawling around on that and putting her hands in her mouth after loading them up with chemicals. Using this floor cleaner recipe (which works great on tile as well as wood so you can use it all over the house) will let you get the job done more quickly and leave things smelling fresh. Add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil(s) in there if you like (try cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, pine, niaouli, grapefruit, thyme or lime for bacteria busting properties) and you’ll leave the house smelling even better as well as cleaner.

Try adding a few drops of any of these essential oils (or a combination) to your toilet paper roll too. This will keep the air in the bathroom smelling fresh as well as keeping it cleaner. Or make yourself a room spray like one of the following:

Citrus Air Freshener

  • Orange – 50 drops
  • Lemon – 35 drops
  • Grapefruit – 20 drops
  • Cedarwood – 15 drops
  • Emulsifier (any favorite carrier oil like jojoba, almond, etc) – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Distilled water – 4 oz

Blend essential oils together with the emulsifier and then add to distilled water. Shake well and spray the room. Remember to shake well before and during spraying to keep the oils mixed.

Since Christmas is coming up, you might also want to try a room spray like this. If you don’t like one of the scents, don’t be afraid to mix your own. Mandarin, tangerine and orange all have a similar fresh Christmas-like smell. Cinnamon, clove and bay are common Christmas spices. Pine, cedarwood, frankincense and myrrh are also commonly used.

Citrus Air Freshener

  • Pine – 4 drops
  • Mandarin – 2 drops
  • Cinnamon – 1 drop

Dilute in 1 1/4 cups of distilled water. Add a drop of frankincense if you like to give it a more spirtual feeling.

Add 4 tablespoons baking soda to 1 quart warm water for a nontoxic, all-purpose cleanser that can be used to scrub countertops, tiles and more. Include essential oils like those mentioned above in your final rinse water to disinfect afterwards.

To clean windows and mirrors, spritz glass with a solution of 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 1 gallon cool water. You can then wipe all the grime with a towel or newspaper. To get rid of any leftover streaks, wad up a piece of newspaper, add a drop of lime, grapefruit or lemon essential oil and polish the windows clean.

Get rid of mold and mildew and keep it from recurring by using a spray bottle filled with 1 cup water and 1 drop tea tree oil. Spritz it on regularly to kill mold and mildew as well as disinfect the area.

Is your toilet clogged up or your drain running slow? Baking soda, vinegar and hot water can fix that. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of vinegar. (Some say heating the vinegar up will help.) Be prepared for fizzing. Wait 5 minutes then pour in about 2 quarts of hot water to flush the drain. Repeat as often as necessary until the drain clears. Instead of using fresh baking soda for this, just take the old stuff that has been sitting in your fridge for a while.

While you’re declogging your toilet, you can also deodorize and clean it too. Sprinkle the sides with baking soda, let it sit a few minutes, then drizzle with vinegar. Use a toilet brush to give it a good scrub and flush. Let a cup or two of vinegar sit in your toilet for an hour to help break up hard water stains, then scrub and flush.