June 6, 2012

Non-Toxic, Low Cost Household Cleaner

Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide used together
are a non-toxic, inexpensive cleaner

When it comes to household cleaners, I like to keep things green, cheap, and simple. I do not want to use dangerous chemicals that are harmful to people and other living things.

Most popular household cleaners are toxic, and persist in the environment despite waste water treatment. Not only are they expensive and unnecessary, the harsh chemical components eventually make their way into our water.

What is required is a reliable, non-toxic cleaning method. Luckily, such a method exists.

Two basic cleaning agents, vinegar (acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide, will do for most cleaning jobs and can replace toxic cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom.

Hydrogen peroxide (also know as non-chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach) is a wonder substance. Don't try this at home, but it can be used as rocket propellant. The neat freaks at NASA use it to sterilize satellites and space probes before launch, so you know it is effective at killing germs.

The best thing is that non-chlorine bleach biodegrades completely into oxygen and water.

This is what Natural Home magazine (Jan 2002) had to say about this low cost, non-toxic cleaning method:

“By itself, vinegar is not a disinfectant, but when used with hydrogen peroxide, it kills bacteria more effectively than any commercial cleaner.

Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of plain white or apple cider vinegar. Pour each liquid into its own spray bottle. Spritz the item to be disinfected with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, then rinse with water.

Using one mist right after the other is ten times more effective than each spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle.

Tests at VPI found the two sprays used together killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces; this spray combination is more effective than chlorine bleach.

It doesn’t matter if you spray with the vinegar first, then the hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa. There is no lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic if any reside remains.

This combination works exceptionally well for sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces, including wood cutting boards.”

I may not have a space probe to sterilize, but my non-toxic cleaning toolbox still contains vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (as well as borax and baking soda).

Harsh, polluting chemicals not required.


  1. e.a.f.6/06/2012

    Can you not mix the 2 in one bottle? It would be easier for some.

    I currently use vinegar, with a bit of dishwashing soap & it cleans everything. Sometimes I sprinkle a little baking soda & it all works. To keep the baking soda from coming out in hunks I put it in a cheese shaker. Looks better, keeps dry, & sprinkles more effectively.

    I've enjoyed your blog.

    1. e.a.f.,

      Good to hear from you again! I have never tried mixing the two, but some say it may be dangerous:

      "Never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together in one container. The resulting chemical, peracetic acid, can harm you when mixed together this way if you accidentally create a strong concentration."

      - http://www.michaelandjudystouffer.com/judy/articles/vinegar.htm

      I like the cheese shaker idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Anonymous6/06/2012

    Strange that I was just reading a review for a documentary called "Chemerical: Redefining Clean for a New Generation" The reviewer stated that the movie is for "Tree Hugging, Left Wing Environmentalists" Thought that sounded like me, so I added it to my queue on Netflix.

    I already joined the no chemical cleaner band wagon a while back. Vinegar is really a wonder! It's great to save money and be kind to the Earth.

    I'm also making my own laundry soap now. It's cheap and effective.

    1. Miss Marla,

      Thanks for the documentary recommendation - will be checking that out.

      What is your recipe for laundry soap? We are still using a commercial liquid, but would like to replace it with something better.

      We are all about cheap and effective.


      Your fellow tree hugging left wing environmentalist

  3. Anonymous6/13/2012

    Powder Laundry Soap

    1 cup borax
    1 cup washing soda (not baking soda. can be found in the laundry isle or online)
    1 cup oxy clean is optional
    1 grated bar of soap (I've used fels naptha, Kirks Castille or whatever is on hand. Just don't use anything with cream or moisturizer in it.)

    Mix together well. Will need stirred from time to time. I store mine in a container I can just shake up when needed. Depending on your water you may need to use 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup. This will not have suds, which takes some getting used to for some. I've been very pleased with the results. Clothes are fresh and clean.

    There are You tube videos to show the process. It can also be made into a liquid/gel form, but I've not tried that.

    1. Fantastic! Thank you, will be trying this.

      We like anything that decreases our reliance on large corporations.

      I also like your recommendation for different measures for different water types. Commercial cleaners do not tell you this for fear people will use less of their product.

      My area has very soft water, so we can get away with using a fraction of the manufacturers recommended amount.


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