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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Green cleaning recipes

Green cleaning icon Green Cleaning is using cleaning products that don't endanger you, children or the environment. This is especially important for people who have asthma. Commercial cleaning products often contain irritants that can trigger an asthma episode. The Green Cleaning products recommended here are effective, inexpensive, safe for you and the environment.

Green cleaning items include:

  • baking sodaBaking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid castile soap (a mild soap made of olive oil and sodium hydroxide)
  • Scouring pad
  • Mop
  • Cotton washcloth or a sponge
  • Cotton rag without much lint
  • Newspaper
  • 16 oz. spray bottle

Green cleaning recipes:

Tub and sink cleaner:
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid castile soap

Sprinkle baking soda on the porcelain fixtures and rub with wet rag. Add a little of the liquid castile soap to the rag for more cleaning power. Rinse well to avoid leaving a hazy film.


Window and mirror cleaner:
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Newspaper, crumpled

Fill 16 oz. spray bottle with 1/4 cup of white vinegar then fill to the top with water. Shake bottle to combine. Spray on the surface. Rub with a lint-free rag or a torn and wadded up newspaper page.

For outdoor windows, use a sponge and wash with warm water with a few drops of liquid castile soap in it. Rinse well and squeegee dry.


Linoleum floor cleaner
  • White vinegar
  • Water

Mop with a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar in a bucket (pail) of warm water. The vinegar odor will go away shortly after the floor dries.


Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Liquid castile soap

Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl as you would any scouring powder. Add a couple drops of soap in also. Scrub with a toilet bowl brush and finish outside surfaces with a damp cloth or paper towel sprinkled with baking soda.


All purpose cleaner
  • Liquid castile soap

For spots on woodwork, tile and linoleum, add a few drops of liquid soap to a wet washcloth and rub surface briskly. Rinse and wipe thoroughly to remove any leftover streaks.


Oven cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Water

Mix 1 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply to oven surfaces and let stand for about 15 minutes. Use a scouring pad for scrubbing most surfaces. A spatula or a bread knife is effective to get under large food deposits. This recipe will require more scrubbing effort, but it is not toxic to you or your child. Commercial oven cleaners can cause severe irritation or respiratory conditions. Do not use this cleaner recipe on self-cleaning ovens.


Drain cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Boiling water

This recipe will free minor clogs and helps to prevent future clogs. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain first, then 1/2 cup vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes. Then pour down a teakettle full of boiling water. Repeat if needed. If the clog is stubborn, use a plunger. If very stubborn, use a mechanical snake.


Copper cleaner
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Salt

Mix equal parts of vinegar and salt (a tablespoon of each should be enough to start, make more as necessary) and apply to the surface with a rag. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water afterwards, otherwise it will corrode. Don't use on lacquered finishes.