Photo: Making the most of your DIY green cleaners

Green cleaning solutions work just as well as store-bought!

Each week, more Canadians try my favourite green cleaning recipes. (I'm flattered!) Here are my top tips for maximizing their effectiveness, gleaned from years of testing.

Whiten whites without chlorine bleach

  1. Ditch dinginess while still enjoying the benefits of my less toxic laundry soap:
  2. Always separate whites from darks and colours
  3. Hang clothes outside to dry — sunlight is an excellent bleaching agent!
  4. Add ½ cup of baking soda to each load
  5. Choose eco-friendly oxygen bleach (it's diluted hydrogen peroxide)
  6. Treat stains with lemon juice

Forget dryer sheets forever

You can prevent static cling without using disposable, fragrance-filled dryer sheets:

  1. Always wash like fabrics together — don't mix synthetics with natural fibres
  2. Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle (not the wash) of your washing machine
  3. Hang clothes to dry — over-drying causes static and shrinkage (and nothing beats the smell of sun-dried laundry)

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Got streaks and smudges on glass and mirrors from your DIY cleaner?

It's likely there's a crucial step you've overlooked. Before you switch to eco-friendly store-bought glass cleaner or making your own, remove the toxic gunk left behind by conventional products with a five per cent solution of hydrogen peroxide to water.

HE washing machine and dishwasher tips

My liquid laundry soap recipes work in HE machines. Follow manufacturer's instructions for the correct amount, or experiment because it will depend on your water softness.

Boost the cleaning power of my all-purpose dishwasher powder by adding a teaspoon of citric acid (found at health food stores) per load and topping up your rinse dispenser with white vinegar.

What tips and tricks have you discovered to boost the cleaning power of DIY solutions?

Congrats to Tianne of Quebec who commented on this blog to win a bottle of all purpose cleaner by Aspen Clean !

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

April 24, 2012

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Aug 19, 2015
4:27 PM

For the dryer I use the Home Hardware store’s reusable dryer cloths. The box says replace after 50 loads but I have been using the same 4 for well over a decade now with the same results. My son is severely allergic to 5 day Bounce and others. Others in the family are not but I refuse to use the toxic dryer sheets ever again. It now turns my stomach to smell the neighbour’s overly fragrant dryer smell on their wash day.

Baking soda has got out perspiration odour from tshirts. Now once a month I put them through the wash with baking soda in the wash and vinegar in the rinse.

I hang clothes outside on sunny days already on the hangars so they are already to be put away in the closet. One less step.

Thank you for all your green recipes since I have switched to them exclusively.

Jul 22, 2015
12:06 AM

The HE washing machine and dishwasher tips that you have given are very nice. Actually, my company also likes to apply some simple techniques in its upholstery cleaning in Vancouver

Feb 21, 2014
6:26 AM

I do not think that DIY products will bleach it as good as bought one does. I say it from my experience, just because I tried it so many times, and it never worked. So finally I discovered this one- Waschmittel and I believe that it is the best thing

May 11, 2012
2:08 PM

It seems to me adding baking soda to the rinse is putting sodium salts into the effluent. This might not be an issue in a city but to a rural user adding essentially more sodium salts to the local water table is not a good idea. People do not think of baking soda as a salt but indeed it is. I do not have a solution that is easily available but it would seem that potassium bicarbonate would be it sine potassium salts ate good for plant growth whereas sodium is not. For example potassium salts are a greener alternative to a water softener cycle.

May 11, 2012
12:09 PM

I use white vinegar in my rinse dipenser in the dishwasher. Its so cheap and works great!

May 11, 2012
11:53 AM

I'm wondering why chlorine bleach is not considered eco-friendly? I know it is toxic if ingested, but as far as I know, it is safe to use when diluted adequately. And doesn't it just break down into salt and water?

May 10, 2012
10:02 AM

I just started using your recipes for DIY cleansers. I LOVE them. My laundry smells so much better and fresher. I haven't used my dryer in years. It's amazing how much vinegar, baking soda, and lemon can do.

Thanks Marie

May 10, 2012
9:40 AM

I have read that the addition of washing soda is also great for cleaning clothes. Can you tell me what it is and is it really ok to use.

May 10, 2012
9:37 AM

I broke up with un-earth-friendly cleaners long ago and have never looked back. I wash diapers for my two month old grandson in borax, washing soda, a little of my home made liquid HE soap and dry them on the line. They are lovely!

May 04, 2012
10:46 AM

My son had a SEVERE allergy to fabric softener……wasn't too surprizing when I found most contain cloroform and ethanol!!! We need to know that there are other great options out there: I love the food-grade pvc Dryer Balls that Norwex carries……soften your clothes naturally and in 25% less time!! Eliminate static!! No wet spots!

May 02, 2012
7:21 AM

This isn't on topic, BUT, I need to know what kind of makeup you use! Your skin looks amazing and I'm sure you use toxic free cosmetics. Even the 'healthy' ones I find at health food stores have questionable ingredients. Can you divulge your products?

Apr 30, 2012
3:26 PM

Add the baking soda right to the load of clothes. Or, make my laundry soap recipe that contains baking soda!

As for soap granules or soap flakes…I have answered the question on this website. Just use the search engine and key word "soap". Basically, it's just what you think, grated soap. You can even make your own by grating a bar of soap.


Apr 29, 2012
5:36 PM

I'm getting ready to make some laundry soap and wonder what you mean by "soap granules"? Is it regular laundry soap (not green) or something that can be purchased?

Apr 26, 2012
3:04 PM

We are using vinegar/ water with baking soda to clean almost everything. I add lime essential oil to give it a nicer smell. We use the same for our windshield washer fluid in the summer, I'm scared it would freeze in the winter, so we have not tried it!! You read my mind about home made laundry detergents working in HE machines, I've been wondering about that. I have been on the hunt for castille soap for a while, it seems to be a challenge for me to find….. tennis balls also work in the dryer to remove static as do felted balls!! Thanks for the recipes!

Apr 25, 2012
8:20 PM

We have used white vinegar for cleaning for several years now from windows to toilets. We tried vinegar and lemon juice on some weeds in lawn and flower beds with limited success. We use vinegar in jugs etc.., to remove mold. We have also run a no clothes cycle in our washing machine with a cup of vinegar to clean it out once in a while.

Apr 24, 2012
5:36 PM

I hate dryer sheets! Toxic little pieces of paper/fabric!

Apr 24, 2012
5:22 PM

We're in a toxic relationship with most of our automobile cleaners and fluids, too, and it's probably at the same level of consumption as household cleaners. What tips can you come up with for breaking the toxic relationship (besides dumping the vehicle)? That would be an interesting project.

Apr 24, 2012
2:53 PM

I'm having a heck of a time finding soap granules. Does it go by any other name (e.g. washing soda)? Any suggestions?

Otherwise — LOVING these recipes!!! Way better than the ones that come out of my own brain. THANK YOU!

Apr 24, 2012
1:29 PM

I was wondering where in my slot for soap bleach and fabric softener do I add the baking soda to whiten my whites? I have a front loading machine and I use liquid soap that is scent and color free. I also don't use fabric softener or bleach. I can't figure out where to put the baking soda once I add in my liquid soap…. do I just put it in with the clothing?
Also, can I just add the white vinegar to my dishwasher where I would put the Jet Dry?

Apr 24, 2012
11:11 AM

You can find oxygen bleach or eco-friendly bleach at most grocery stores but definitely those stores that carry more "green" products and organic food. Lindsay

Apr 24, 2012
7:58 AM

where can you find eco-friendly oxygen bleach?

Apr 24, 2012
7:56 AM

I use a Norwex cloth ringed out with JUST water — I can clean windows and mirrors with NO streaks! It is a wonder :)

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