PARTY DOWN! Cheap Green Spring Cleaning
Author: Lauren Johnson

cheap green cleaning productsOkay, so Spring Cleaning isn’t exactly a party. But if you’re anything like me, it’s usually still a big to-do. Lately I’ve been inspired to be more environmentally responsible in my cleaning, and it’s usually the case that the natural, green, safe products with the pretty packaging are far more expensive than the hardcore off-brand Clorox made of god-knows-what. And part of what you’re paying for is that pretty packaging. (An exception: Target often has great in-store sale prices on J.R. Watkins stuff, which I love.) So I was delighted to find a slew of recipes online for DIY cheap green cleaning, made from easy-to-find (you-probably-already-have), inexpensive ingredients.



Kosher salt  – $2

Distilled white vinegar  – $2

Baking soda – $.50

Castile soap – $11 ($10 at Trader Joe’s)

Olive oil – $3

Green dish soap – $3

Essential oils – $4+ (lemon, thyme, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus are though to be disinfecting)

Citrus fruits– $.50 – $1

Borax – $6

Chalk– $2 (for stains)

Laundry soap – $2


Hydrogen peroxide– $5 (for stains)

Oxygen bleach – $2 (for grout)

All these items may even be cheaper in stores (drugstore, grocery, supermarket, etc), and will ensure you avoid all shipping charges.

cheap green cleaning toolsTOOLS

Natural sponge – $3

Reuseable paper towels – $10 (Seriously, how brilliant? Washable up to 100 times!)

Spray bottle – $2 (Or recycle an old one)

Mop– $18

Toilet brush – $4

(Adorable) brush & dust pan– $15

With a bit of a bigger skill, time, and money investment, you could make super cute reusable paperless towels that will last forever, but I’m not so crafty. I usually end up using an old shirt as a rag for jobs that require soft cloth.

If you have to buy EVERYTHING above, it brings you to a total of about $97. Yeah, that’s a lot all at once, especially for an activity that’s usually not very fun. But dollar for dollar, you’re saving immensely compared to conventional store-bought cleaners, and you’ll be able to make a bajillion different things. Look: Apartment Therapy has an incredible roundup of green cleaning recipes for the whole home, and And Then We Saved has a great laundry detergent tutorial. Here’s a little cheat sheet for the basics:

cheap green cleaning recipes

The good news is that your home will no longer smell like harsh chemicals after cleaning. The bad news is that it might smell like vinegar. Choose soaps and essential oils with scents that you find fresh and clean. I like the minty, lemony stuff.

And don’t forget the value of a good old seasonal purge! I recently went through my closet to get rid of things I don’t love or need anymore. Not only do I feel better about my wardrobe (and clutter), but it was also an amazing lesson in my spending habits. It was so easy to see the kinds of things I had bought impulsively or emotionally that I didn’t ultimately wear very much.


Any other tips or tricks for cheap green cleaning?

Lauren Johnson is a filmmaker/producer living in West Hollywood who enjoys a great foreign thriller, leisure beers, and non-primary colors. She also writes the site LOCONCEPTS.



in De-Clutter, Seasonal, Simple Living


  1. The Norwegian Girl // April 6, 2013

    this reminds me.. I have an apartment in need of some desperate spring cleaning..

    • Lauren Johnson // April 9, 2013

      Me too! I’m trying to take one room at a time, so it’s not so daunting.

  2. eileen ragan | leane // April 6, 2013

    This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been considering moving to natural cleaning products and this is uber helpful in making the transition.

    Looking forward to following along with your blog. All the best!

    • Lauren Johnson // April 9, 2013

      Thanks! Good luck with the transition. I think the biggest thing to get used to is it doesn’t smell like what you’re used to “clean” smelling like. Just know that it is!

  3. TheBantuGirl // April 6, 2013

    Thank you for the brilliant ideas.

  4. Keenyn // April 6, 2013

    Thanks for the tips! I love spring cleaning! It’s definitely my face time of year! :)

  5. P&F // April 7, 2013

    Loved that post! How intelligent and useful! XO

  6. Melissa // April 8, 2013

    The laundry recipe is wrong. I’ve been making my own laundry soap for years now as well as natural cleaners. Is something that I’m very passionate about.

    Anyways. The laundry soap is one bar of fels naptha (or zote) + 1 cup of arm and hammer WASHING SODA. Add baking soda (1 cup) to make clothes soft. If you don’t have the washing soa your clothes will not get clean.

    • Lauren Johnson // April 9, 2013

      I had actually heard that, too, but read that washing soda has a much harsher pH, so thought it was best only for the super tough stains. Thanks for sharing!

    • Donna // April 10, 2013

      Question Melissa… I’m brand new to Natural cleaning products and I’m curious, You actually use 1 cup of washing soap, and 1 cup baking soda And a bar of Zote per load???


      • AussieMum // February 21, 2014

        No, definitely not all that for one load!!!!! That amount should last as long as a box of laundry detergent of a comparable weight does for you normally.

    • Regina // April 13, 2013

      I use the Washing Soda for laundry and use no dryer sheets and my clothing comes out soft. You can also use vinegar in final rinse for softness.

  7. Melissa // April 8, 2013

    Oh and one cup of borax. I knew I was forgetting to type something :)

  8. Jenna // April 8, 2013

    Seriously, such a great resource for green spring cleaning!! $97 really isn’t that bad, when you think of all of the costs that add up from cleaners, wipes, sprays, etc. throughout the year. This should be a printable!!

    Oh, and I’m obsessed with that brush and dust pan. Too cute.

  9. Camille // April 9, 2013

    Thanks! I have been using a lot of those combinations for a while now, but have been looking for a good “recipe” for tile and tub when I don’t have a grape food on hand (I like to scrub my tube with grape fruit and salt). I am going to have to give it a try.

  10. CAREN ARSENEAULT // April 12, 2013

    Thanks for the great cleaning recipes! What about wood furniture?

  11. Heather // April 15, 2013

    For cleaning glass, I use old newspaper. It takes a bit more elbow grease but leaves NO streaks. (I know, everyone’s like, “Who subscribes to a newspaper anymore?” Get the free ones in the metro and at restaurants.)

    • Anna Newell Jones // April 17, 2013

      I’ve heard that the newspaper-cleaning-glass trick works really, really well!

  12. Merna // April 24, 2013

    is the homemade powder laundry detergent safe for HE top loading machines and septic. i have always steered aways from powders, but really like to go green. not crazy about making homemade liquid detergent.

    • Angie // June 2, 2013

      Yes they are HE safe. They are naturally low suds.

  13. jesse.anne.o // May 6, 2013

    For your readers with CATS – definitely rethink the essential oils. They’re detrimental to cats.

    • Anna Newell Jones // May 28, 2013

      I didn’t know that… thanks for pointing that out. I’m sure the cat lovers will agree.

  14. Renee Whitehead // February 25, 2014

    Those reusable papertowels @Williams and Sonoma are no longer available.

  15. jan king // July 6, 2014

    I ordered the bamboo paper towels at qvc or hsn sold with washable floor towels also on a roll

  16. Betty Hudson // October 7, 2014

    I love your cheap, green advices!And I want to know how to clean my wooden furniture.It will be great if you post information about that! I’ll come back soon ! Best regards, B.Hudson

  17. Cleaning Chemicals // October 28, 2014

    Some people spend much on off-the-shelf cleaning products not knowing these can be harmful to their health and environment. For those who do not have the patience to whip up their own cleaning solutions at home, they can also opt for affordable bio-green cleaning products readily available in stores.

  18. Bella Hamilton // December 8, 2014

    I have this natural sponge!

  19. towerhillcarpetclean // January 13, 2015

    Great tips, thank you! Quick question though – I used (straight) vinegar to clean my bathroom last week and it seems to have created a bad film on my tile, sink and faucet. At first everything seemed spic and pan, but it seemed to attract soap scum or water minerals or something. Has this ever happened to you? What to do about it?

  20. Debora // April 27, 2015

    The Fantastic Four cleaners — vinegar, salt, lemon juice, and baking soda — can make your household tasks less complicated and easier on you and the environment. ­

  21. Eva Fisher // August 3, 2015

    Hello, I hate when my apartment smells like harsh chemicals. I think even vinegar is better.

  22. Terrance Williams // August 5, 2015

    Currently, I am just gaining an interest in going green with my cleaning products. I cannot handle the smell of regular bleach. I can smell it for a minute and it lingers with me throughout the rest of the day and I’ve figured out that a lot of the products I use to clean affect me this way. Thanks for the list of supplies to consider and links for more information.

  23. Jasmine Stewart // October 6, 2015

    I love the spring cleaning period! I would even add the using of vinegar, it’s very useful:) I am using the same ingredients in my daily cleaning.

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  3. […] Cheap Green Cleaning – AND THEN WE SAVED: […]

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