Green Cleaning Products: How To Clean Your House The Eco-Friendly Way

by Millie Kay G. on September 18, 2008

How to clean your house the green way, plus some green cleaning products we like.

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Photo by OC Ecobroker

Back when I was younger, cleaning up meant going around with a spray can of yellow stuff and a pine-scented potion. Now that I’m older, I’m interested in cleaning solutions that will leave my house shiny without the strong chemicals and non-recyclable packaging. With environmentally-conscious cleaners and household helpers showing up everywhere from Amazon’s Amazon Green section to the aisles of grocery stores and big retailers like Target, it’s becoming easier than ever for me to clean up the green way.

Here were some of my experiences with a few notable cleaning products that are also gentle with the environment:

Green Cleaning Products I’ve Considered

Green Works

First off, I tried out the Green Works natural dilutable cleaner from Clorox. According to the ingredients list, it’s made with things I can pronounce, like a coconut-based cleaning agent, corn-based ethanol, and even some essential lemon oil. It did a pretty good job on those bathroom cleaning tasks I dread and it didn’t give me a headache like other products sometimes do. Green Works has a range of cleaners available, and the price seemed comparable to other brands I saw on the shelf. Best of all, my family hasn’t complained about the smell compared to those times I’ve used the old-school cleaners in their presence.

Seventh Generation

Another brand that interests me is the Seventh Generation line of products. They have laundry detergent, dish liquid, and other items that don’t have fragrances or dyes, which would be good for my family because some of us are allergic to regular detergents and the like. Even better, Seventh Generation has coupons on their website and their cleaners are available through retailers I already know like Whole Foods and Walgreens.

Method O Mop and Method Cleaners

When I moved into my current home, someone gave us one of those adjustable sweepers. I used to dread toting the mop and broom around, so this sweeper made me swoon. However, it’s about to sweep off into the sunset after a few years of steady use and I need to find a replacement soon. Staring at the Method OMop All Floor Care Kit, I can’t help but drool. Clean up on Aisle One — I’d be happy to swap my old model for a lemon ginger sweeper! Method makes a good sweeper along with a line of great cleaning products that use an environmentally friendly formula.


Since I’m still repressing my memories of all those childhood hours with the yellow can of dusting spray, I’ve opted to attack household dust with a microfiber cloth like the one Scotch-Brite offers. Actually, I picked up about a dozen of them, but don’t spill the beans to my cleaning fanatic relatives (they may want samples!). 😉

Eco-Friendly Trash Bags

On those occasions when I pounce on clutter, I need a sturdy trash bag. The box of GoodSense Trash Bags that I picked up says it has 60% recycled plastic and the carton’s made with 100% recycled paperboard. So far, so good and they’ve withstood the long haul all the way to the curbside trashcan. Now if you’re opting for even greener alternatives, how about the biodegradable and compostable waste bags like those from BioBag? These bags are made of cornstarch and will biodegrade along with your “natural” trash but they won’t do so until the perfect conditions of moisture, warmth and micro-organisms are met.

Natural Materials and Green Helpers

What about natural cleaners like baking soda, vinegar, and tea tree oil? I like them, but I can’t seem to remember how much to use when and on what surface. I sure could use a reference book like Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter or Green This! Volume 1: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus.

Of course, when I go buy all my green cleaning helpers, I try to remember my collection of totebags.

And in case I can’t get it done myself, I can always try out a green cleaning service. Maid Brigade can do all my cleaning for me, without the dreaded spray can or pine potions of my past.

For more on green cleaning, you can check out Amazon Green.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RetiredAt47 September 20, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I’ve been trying to gradually convert to “green” cleaners over the past couple of years. I use baking soda and vinegar quite a bit, but still struggle with what I can use to replace bleach in places like the bathroom. I asked a friend with a chemistry degree her opinion of tea tree oil, and she said it is a good disinfectant, but she didn’t recommend it for the bathroom (she still uses bleach there).

Also, another good book on this topic is “Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan.

Thanks for the recommendations!

2 SVB September 20, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Thanks RetiredAt47!

I’ve been using Bon Ami Cleaner as an all purpose cleaner, and have also been using carpet cleaners and drain cleaners that are much more environmentally friendly. The drain cleaners are enzymatic so application needs to be done regularly, but overall, the lack of fumes and toxicity in our home helps tremendously. I am particularly sensitive to chemical fumes and smells, so the whole green clean movement is to me, a godsend!

3 Ruth September 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

I’ve found that switching to green cleaners has had some good health benefits for me as well since I have always suffered from heart and lung problems. I read Green Goes With Everything and it was a real eye-opener for me on how green living could benefit my health as well as the environment.

4 Mary@SimplyForties September 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

I have been using mostly baking soda and vinegar for awhile now with pretty good results. If you make a paste with baking soda and just a little water it will work very well in the bathroom for whitening grungy surfaces. I don’t think you should get hung up on amounts. Use your baking soda like you would Comet, use vinegar like you would any all purpose cleaner. Give it a try. It’s both cheaper and greener! I have also used a lot of 7th Generation products and have been pleased with the results. I only switched from 7th Generation to baking soda and vinegar for economic reasons.

5 David October 14, 2008 at 9:52 am

The stuff from Clorox is not as non-toxic as most other green cleaners – they wont tell anyone what is in their product. No surprise, since they make toxic bleach. You are much better off going with Eco-Me, 7th Gen, Method, or just plain vinegar & baking soda.

6 SVB October 14, 2008 at 10:08 am


Thanks for the heads up on that! I’m guessing that just by brand-name alone, certain products can be looked upon with more skepticism.

7 Clara January 1, 2009 at 1:56 am

I use to use so many cleansers, but I’ve managed to cut it down these natural ingredients–lemons, Castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, borax, and of course water. I find I can clean most anything in the house. BTW, the cleanest windows I’ve ever had were when a homeless person cleaned my car windows with newspaper.

8 Andy January 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Yeah good call Mary, even vinegar by itself is pretty useful. I use it on a rag to clean mildew off the gutters around my house. The stuff just wipes right off.

9 Atlanta Maid Service January 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm

My Atlanta Maids have recently changed over to green products. However, to make the biggest change, a HEPA filter is where its at. Most vacuum cleaners spread dust around while cleaning. HEPA takes it to a new level with only a few tenths of one percent being redistributed back into the atmosphere. Green clean is affective, except for one area, the bathroom tile. Nothing, I mean nothing, replaces good old fashioned bleach. Bleach is rough on the environment, but by looking at what our customers are requesting, they are still choosing clean over environmentally friendly the vast majority of the time. There is a lot of hype about green, but it takes people to back it. At least down south, we still have a long way to go.

10 Laura April 21, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I just had a cleaning company in my local town (charleston, sc) come out and clean my home. They were really good and used green cleaning practices. I am so glad for your blog post, b/c I think it’s such an easy thing to switch to and makes a huge difference, especially when children are in the home.

11 Lara April 28, 2009 at 3:58 pm

The more green cleaners you can use the better in my opinion. I use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, shammies, borax, and baking soda with excellent results. I cannot use regular cleaners because of chemical allergies with one of my sons.

12 Kara February 25, 2010 at 7:30 pm

You should try They sell high-quality environmentally friendly products that are natural, safe, effective AND affordable!

Editor: I can’t vouch for this product as I’ve never heard of it nor tried it.

13 Raino August 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I’ve operated an independently owned Atlanta maid and house cleaning service since 1981. We stress using non-toxic products, and I’ve found that using a steam cleaner is a very effective way of getting areas clean. It even cleans off gunk that harsh chemicals, such as bleach, leave behind.

14 Maria November 5, 2010 at 5:51 am

Nowadays cleaning your house is a time demanding and tedious task. But it is a chore that should be done sooner or later. There are more and more concerns about green cleaning that helps us stay healthy and environmentally friendly.

15 kristin December 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm

There is nothing “green” about using plastic garbage bags. It does not matter if some of them are made with recycled plastic because they still get tossed into the landfill when you’re done with them. I have had a 5 gallon bucket under my kitchen sink WITHOUT a liner for years and have no issue with odors. I put food scraps in the garbage disposal and plan to start a compost for those craps soon. So what’s left in my garbage can are things like packaging materials and other non-food items. For that reason, no bag is needed. For the occasional gross item that cannot go in the disposal or in the compost, just invest in Bio-bags so those things can be wrapped up. A garbage can without a liner will need to be rinsed out regularly but it’s worth the effort to protect the environment. Plastic garbage bags are a convenience for lazy people.

16 Robert Johnson February 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm

If you have not already heard about the 100% biodegradable cleaning, and motor oil products that Green Earth Technologies is producing, I would strongly urge you to look into and consider using and/or supporting the use of these products in any way possible. I don’t work for or have any stake in this company, but I have personally been using Green Earth Technologies’ glass cleaner, car wash, and 5W 30 G-OIL for both of my cars all for about 6 months now and they all work great!

17 Cleaning lady October 14, 2011 at 9:32 am

Hey thanks for all the great tips! I want to make sure my house is clean in the most green way possible, so your information that you posted was very helpful. Thank you again!

18 Tina Dole September 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I’m thinking about starting a residential house cleaning company. I feel like moms do so much for their families, it would be nice for them to be able to have an affordable cleaning company come in and help them out. Do you think it would do well?

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