You can just about clean everything with white vinegar. Do a search on "Uses for Vinegar" for lists.

Dishwashing Detergent Liquid Dish Soap
2 baking soda : Borax 2 c grated soap
for hard water, 1:1 for soft 1 gallon water
(Use vinegar in rinse cycle)

Laundry Starch
1 T cornstarch
1 pint cold water

Laundry Detergent
2 bars Kirk's Castile Soap (Zote, Octagon, Fels Naptha, handmade) grated
2 c washing soda
2 c Borax
2 T fragrance Oil (optional)
5 gallons water
Grate soap, soak in water over night. Melt soap over low heat. Dissolve soda & borax in another container in warm water. Combine soap and soda/borax mixture and stir briskly. Add FO and remaining water. It will gel up. From reading, some people put just one cup of each soda and borax. Also, others play with the recipe some to get it the way they like it. Some added one cup of liquid laundry soap to keep it from turning to gel as bad.

Multipurpose Cleaner Window Cleaner
1 t Borax * t liquid soap
* t Washing Soda 3 T vinegar
2 T vinegar 2 c water
* t liquid soap 2 drops of food coloring
2 c very hot water

Scouring Powder Soft Scrub
1 cup baking soda
1 2/3 c baking soda
1 cup borax 1 c liquid soap
1 cup regular salt 1 c water
2 T Vinegar

Stain Remover
* cup ammonia
* cup white vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda
2 T liquid soap
2 qts. water

Scented Cleaning Powder Recipe

1 tablespoon dried orange peel
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1 tablespoon balsam fir needles
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup borax
10 drops lemon fragrance oil

Grind orange peel, lavender and fir needles together in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add baking soda and borax and mix in fragrance oil.

To Use: Let mellow a few days before using.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTES : This non-scratching powder is suitable for cleaning tubs, sinks, and counter tops.

Citrus Mint Window Spray Recipe

1/2 cup fresh lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh orange peel
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup white vinegar

Steep orange and lemon peel and mint leaves in vinegar. Let stand for 2 weeks or until vinegar has leached out the color and fragrance of the botanicals.

Use: Decant and strain. Place in a spray bottle. Use to clean your windows to a sparkling shine.

Key Lime Dish Detergent Powder

Given the sheer volume of dirty dishes generated by the average household, this is probably the most ecologically important recipe in this book. Powdered dish detergent eliminates the need for buying plastic bottles and then recycling or disposing of them. The weight of the water included in dishwashing liquid need not be shipped from coast to coast, saving fuel and air pollution. Washing dishes in the sink saves electricity and water, too.

This powder is just as effective as liquid. If you find that you really prefer a liquid, add some boiling water to the formula, stir until the powder is dissolved, and bottle in your favorite squirt dispenser. The following formula will last the average family of four approximately six months.

1/2 cup clay powder
2 tablespoons lime essential oil
24 cups sodium lauryl sulfate
6 cups baking soda

Wear a dust mask to mix this formula. Mix clay powder and essential oil, then, in a two-gallon pail or container, combine with the baking soda and sodium lauryl sulfate. Mix well.

To convert to liquid soap, add 18 cups of boiling water and stir until all ingredients are dissolved. Store in gallon jugs and refill squirt bottles as needed.

To use, add about a tablespoon of powder or a good squirt of liquid per sink load while filling the sink. For tough jobs, make a paste of the powder by adding water and rub directly on the spot, or apply the liquid directly to it.

Eucalyptus-Mint All-Purpose Disinfecting Soft Soap for Kitchen and Bath

This soap can be used for dishes, handwashing, floors, stoves, refrigerators, sinks, and hands. Itís mild to the skin but effective enough to get cleaning jobs done. The eucalyptus and mint provide a disinfecting quality as well as a fresh scent; any areas washed with this soap will be undesirable to crawling insects and flies. Theyíll stay away for quite a while.

5 cups grated castile soap
1/2 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon borax
6 cups hot peppermint tea
1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil

Put grated soap into a 3-quart stainless steel saucepan and add hot mint tea. Simmer for fifteen minutes on low heat. Add baking soda, borax, and eucalyptus oil. Store in a labeled plastic jug or squirt bottle. Shake before using.

Grapefruit Abrasive Cleanser

This cleanser gets its punch from finely ground pumice, a volcanic rock dust. Itís comparable to a soft scrub and can be used for tubs, sinks, tiles, and even hardworking hands that have been stained with grease. The lingering scent is pungent and fresh!

1 cup fine-grade pumice
1/2 cup clay powder
2 tablespoons grapefruit essential oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/3 cup sodium lauryl sulfate
1/ 2 cup boiling water (or enough to make a thick paste)

Mix all ingredients together and stir. Store in a labeled airtight container.

To use, apply gently with a damp sponge or cloth and scrub. Use a light touch on fiberglass fixtures.

Russian Dishwashing Disk

A physician in our community spent several months volunteering in a Russian childbirth clinic last year. He brought home many interesting stories, but to me, the story of the Russian dishwashing bar was the best! In Russia, dishwashing involves a solid soap disk and a dishwashing brush that resembles American vegetable brushes. The sink is filled with hot water, but the soap is brushed onto the dishes rather than added to the water. Having made this soap and tried it out, I really like the whole process. Itís simple and useful.

1 cup grated castile soap
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 tablespoon sodium lauryl sulfate
1 teaspoon lemon essential oil

Put grated castile soap in a plastic container with a lid and sprinkle the soap with sodium lauryl sulfate and lemon oil. Add boiling water. Cover and let sit for ten minutes.

Form the soap into a ball and then flatten it to form a disk. The soap I made is donut-shaped to fit a special handmade bowl, which has a center post so the soap doesnít slide about, and a wide lip to minimize splashes. Whether you make a donut or a disk, let the soap air-dry for several days.

Place the disk in a container near the sink. To use it, swipe the brush across the disk and apply the soap directly to what youíre washing.

Spray Disinfectant Cleaner
1/2 cup Borax
1 gallon Water
Dissolve Borax in hot water. Wipe down areas to be disinfected

Window Cleaner (1)
Juice from one fresh Lemon
2 cups water or club soda
1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)
1 teaspoon Cornstarch
Mix all ingredients and pour into plastic spray bottle.
Shake well

Window Cleaner (2)
8 parts Water
1 part Vinegar
Mix ingredients, scrub and wipe with Newspaper

Glassware/Crystal Spot Remover
Dip spotted glassware into Water to which a splash of Vinegar has been added. Dry with lint-free dishcloth.

Abrasive Cleaner
Sprinkle Baking Soda or Borax, add juice of 1/2 lemon and scrub.

Brass/Copper Tarnish Remover
White Vinegar
Mix together equal parts Salt and Flour, then add White Vinegar to make a paste. Rub into the stain. Repeat if necessary

Silver Polish
Rub with paste of Baking Soda and Water
Metal Cleaner
Fresh squeezed juice of 2 Lemons
1 cup of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon fine Salt
6 tablespoons Clay Powder Mix all ingredients together until pasty. Add Water or more Clay if needed. Rub paste onto metal with extremely fine steel wool and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Wash off with a sponge and clear water. Polish metal with a soft cloth. Do not use on aluminum

Dishwasher Detergent
2 tablespoons Baking Soda
2 tablespoons Borax
Mix Baking Soda and Borax and put mixture in dishwater

Oven Cleaner
Mix equal parts of Castille Soap, Borax and Water.
Apply mixture; let set for 20 minutes. Scrub with mixture of Baking Soda and Salt.

Drain Cleaner/Opener
1/4 cup Vinegar
1/4 cup Baking Soda
Mix ingredients and pour mixture down drain. Let stand for a few minutes and rinse with Boiling Waster

Carnauba and Lavender Furniture Wax
(from Herbal Homekeeping by Sandy Maine)

1/4 c carnauba wax
2 Tbsp beeswax
1 1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp lavender essential oil

Melt waxes over low heat in small saucepan. Stir in olive oil, then lavender essential oil. Pour mixture into a container of tin, plastic or glass and allow to harden.

Use a circular motion to rub it onto wooden floors and antique furniture, buff with sheep's wool and a soft cotton cloth, then enjoy the peaceful calm offered by the scent of lavender and the soft glow of the polished wood.

Herbal cleansers

from Annette's Herb Garden:

If you're like me, you sometimes find yourself wondering what to do with all those herbs that you have in abundance at the end of the season. Here is one idea - make herbal cleaning solutions. Vinegar is a wonderful cleaning agent, and when you add mint or other fresh herbs, you have a crisp, fresh-smelling all-purpose cleaner.


Prepare an herbal cleanser Vinegar by infusing herbs you have in abundance. Some of my favorites are Mint, Lemon Balm or any other lemon herb. Buy the big jugs of vinegar, pour a little out, and stuff the herbs right into the jug. Steep.

Uses for herbal vinegar cleansers:

Household use:

1. A half cup of herb vinegar added to the rinse cycle will keep your dishwasher clean and fresh smelling.

2. Three tablespoons of herbal vinegar along with your regular dish detergent for each batch of dishes will help to cut grease.

3. A mixture of one teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of herb vinegar will make your bathroom and kitchen fixtures gleam.

4. Eliminate mineral buildup on bathroom and kitchen fixtures by washing with a mixture of 1 teaspoon alum and 1/4 cup herb vinegar mixed in a bowl.

5. Remove film buildup by wiping bathtubs with herb vinegar and then with baking soda. Rinse clean with water.

6. Unclog corroded shower heads or faucet filters by soaking in diluted herb vinegar overnight.

7. A cleanser made with a half cup of herb vinegar added to a half gallon of hot water makes no-wax linoleum shine.

8. Use a cloth soaked with herb vinegar to make chrome and stainless steal sparkle.

9. One ounce of olive oil mixed with two ounces of herb vinegar and a quart of warm water will restore life to drab looking wood paneling.

10. Make paste of one tablespoon of salt in a cup of herb vinegar and thickened with flour to clean brass, copper or pewter. Let stand for 15 minutes and then rinse clean and polish dry.

11. Mix a cup of herb vinegar with an ice cube tray of water, freeze and then run cubes through the garbage disposal, flush with cold water for a minute or so to deep disposal clean and fresh smelling and operating properly.

12. Soak a sponge with full-strength herb vinegar and scrub to eliminate mold and mildew.

13. Put plastic shower curtains into a washing machine with a towel. During the rinse cycle add a cup of herb vinegar and then briefly tumble dry.

14. Wash countertops, cabinets and floors with equal parts of herb vinegar and water to discourage ant invasions.

15. Combine 1/8 cup of herb vinegar with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and use as you would any window-cleaning spray.

16. For drain maintenance and to keep pipes flowing combine 1/2 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup herb vinegar. The chemical interaction between the two will make a lot of noise - pour the baking soda into the drain first and follow with the vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing. (Note: This is one chore children will love to help with - the baking soda, vinegar, and a few drops of yellow and red food coloring make a cool volcano eruption.)


1. Remove non-oily carpet stains by gently brushing them with a soft brush or towel soaked in a mixture of one tablespoon of herb vinegar, one tablespoon of detergent and a pint of luke-warm water.

2. Mix equal parts of herb vinegar and olive oil and rub on wood to remove rings left by glasses. Rub with grain and polish out the stain.

3. Dip a sponge in herb vinegar and wipe exhaust fan grills and air conditioner blades and grills to deep them dust free and running efficiently.


1. Freshen slightly wilted vegetables by soaking in herb vinegar and cold water.

2 Add zip to canned soup, gravy or sauce with a tablespoon of wine vinegar (a little off-topic, but a good idea)

3. Two tablespoons of herbed white wine vinegar and a cup of unsweetened heavy cream, whipped until stiff, make a unique and tasty fish sauce.

4. Sprinkle mint or lemon herbed vinegar on cantaloupe or canned fruit to intensify the flavor.

5. Get rid of the "canned" taste of canned shrimp by soaking for 15 minutes in a little sherry and two tablespoons of lemon-herbed vinegar.

6. Quench thirst by mixing a tablespoon of mint, strawberry, orange or lemon vinegar in a glass filled with eight ounces of club soda or ice.

7. Stir a small amount of lemon or strawberry vinegar into a yogurt or sour cream for a perfect fruit salad dressing.

Dishwashing Blues Blend
Try this recipe for an uplifting washing experience.
You will need:
liquid castile soap
10 drops lemon essential oil
6 drops bergamot essential oil
4 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops orange essential oil
To make:
Fill a clean 22-ounce plastic squirt bottle with castile soap (diluted according to directions if using concentrate). Add the essential oils. Shake the bottle before each use. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the liquid to dishwater and wash as usual.

ó from The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier