While many people want to improve their cleansers' eco-friendliness, many don't realize that "green" cleaning isn't reaching for that bottle of "Eco-Kleen" on the shelf. Environmentally friendly cleaners, while better than some conventional solutions to household grime, can be expensive and take quite as much packaging as conventional cleansing products. The happy news is that there are several substances that can materially help you clean your home that don't cost a lot and don't take a lot of packaging.
Plain old water is often the best cleaner that can be used to address a spill, stain or dirt. Water soaking can loosen dirt out of fabric and a damp rag is often all that is needed to make a counter, sink or bath sparkle. Soaking a stain on a carpet and putting a weighted towel or newspaper over it can draw the stain out. Water is also free, which makes it a very attractive first choice of cleaner.
Lemon juice and vinegar do many of the same things, which is to say that they can be used to bring brass, copper and pewter to a shine, get rid of soap scum and hard water stains, and be used to sweeten up drains and remove gummy residue from smooth surfaces. Vinegar is also known for its prime window-cleaning qualities, with a spray of vinegar and yesterdays newspaper leaving behind a streak-free pane. Lemon juice leaves behind a pleasant citrus scent which is a nice touch in a clean room. When paired with vinegar, lemon juice can tone down vinegar's nose-piercing smell to something more tolerable.
Baking soda is the scourer of the lot. A paste made from baking soda and water can scrape away stubborn stains. The bubbling action that baking soda and water produce can help keep drains clear if one pours a quarter-cup of soda down every week, followed by a rinse of hot water. Baking soda is also famous for removing odors from just about anything. Carpets can be sprinkled with it and vacuumed to remove lingering smells. It can also be tossed in the wash for some extra cleaning action. Baking soda doesn't spoil, making bulk buying an economical choice.
Hydrogen peroxide is not just for cleaning wounds; it can also remove mold and has mild antibacterial and antiviral properties. While many people are seduced by the promise of 'anti-bacterial' cleaners, these don't actually clean any better than regular cleaning products, including the ones that are the simplest. Regular cleaning will do more for household hygiene than anything that can kill "99% of all bacteria on your counter!" However, hydrogen peroxide is a great green way of adding some bacteria-killing power to your cleaning if you feel it's important.
Green cleaning can require more work than conventional cleaners, but the less chemical residue left around your home and going down the drain is worth it. However, natural products are not to be sniffed at. Try the above substances and see how well they can work!