According to this National Geographic article, it isn't difficult or expensive to switch to nontoxic cleaning solutions that get the job done without raising environmental and health concerns. Depending on the cleaning job, baking soda, plain soap, white vinegar, cornstarch, lemon juice and borax can be used in solution, sprays or pastes for rubbing and scouring. They can be used separately or combined in different proportions to tackle most household cleaning jobs.
Nontoxic cleaning agents are typically less polluting to manufacture and store in a home, cost less compared to commercial cleaners and allow consumers to save storage space that they would otherwise use for other cleaners. Nontoxic cleaning agents are also simpler to package and thus reduce waste. (See References 1)
Baking soda, scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate or NaHCO3, is a versatile nontoxic cleaning agent. It is useful as a scouring powder for surfaces like counter tops, tubs and sinks. It is also an effective deodorizer and water softener that enhances the cleaning powder of soap. In addition, baking soda combines well with other environmentally friendly cleaners like vinegar and rinses off easily with water. (See References 1)
Plain soap makes a simple general-purpose cleaner. Basic soap consists of just fat or oil, alkali and water. The fats and alkali will vary in type and amount among manufacturers. For example, castile soap is traditionally made with olive oil. Coconut oil, lard and beef tallow can also be used to make soap. Common alkaline agents are sodium hydroxide and potash, or potassium salts. Soap is available in bars, powder or liquid that come with no synthetic additives. (See References 2)
Other nontoxic cleaning materials include distilled white vinegar, which cleans grease and grime, dissolves some stains, polishes metal, deodorizes and removes mildew; lemon juice, which cuts grease and disinfects; cornstarch, which can be used in a water solution as a window cleaner, furniture polish and shampoo for carpets; and borax or sodium borate, which cleans, disinfects and deodorizes. It is also a water softener. Plain steel wool pads and microfiber dust cloths are also effective for cleaning. (See References 1, 2, 3)
Try these tips and share any other Green tips that have worked for you.