Our Simple Household Cleaning Tools

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Cleaning supplies don’t need to be numerous, expensive, or caustic. Here are the simple tools we use that save us money.

cleaning supplies we use

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About a year or two ago I was walking down an aisle at the grocery store and found that I had a really hard time breathing. It was mostly the really offensive odors that were getting to me. I was really surprised. Since then I don’t walk down the cleaning aisle unless I have to. And turns out, I don’t really have to since our cleaning protocol is so simple.

Over the years, I’ve developed a desire for my kids to help with the chores — as well this sensitivity to chemicals. Both circumstances lead me to use non-toxic cleaners whenever possible.

Here’s what we’ve got in our cleaning arsenal:

White vinegar

Yep, super simple, the same white vinegar you could use in cooking. Simple as it is, white vinegar is the cleaner we use to clean and disinfect most places in our home. I buy spray bottles at Walmart or Lowe’s and we fill them with straight vinegar that I buy in big bottles at Costco for a few dollars each.

We use just straight vinegar, but you can dilute vinegar with water for an even cheaper, effective cleaner. Or infuse it with citrus to have a great smell and the cleaning power of lemon. There are some things you don’t want to clean with vinegar, but I don’t have any of those surfaces in my home, so we’re good here.

We use vinegar spray to clean vegetables and fruits, wipe counters and sinks, wipe the table, clean mirrors, and wipe down bathroom floors.

Baking soda

I buy ginormous bags of baking soda at Costco for cleaning. This adds the little bit of grit you need to scrub off soap scum and stuff like that.

cleaning wand

Cleaning Wands

I used this type of cleaning wand twenty years ago to wash dishes, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve added it to our bathroom cleaning arsenal. It works great for scrubbing showers and sinks. Lately we’ve been using a mixture of diluted dish soap and vinegar.


We use a little bleach for some spaces (like plastic cutting boards) and a bleach-based toilet bowl cleaner for the toilets, but I’m intrigued to try these strategies of non-toxic bathroom cleaning. I actually have the castile soap and the other ingredients so it’s on my list to try this week.

A simple broom

We’ve got a broom for sweeping the kitchen and entryway. It’s supposed to be done three times a day. Its completion depends on whose chore it is for the month.

A Magic Eraser mop and a steam mop

Our kitchen floor is 15+ year old linoleum that is way past its prime. If I had extra money, I’d buy a new floor, even though I don’t own this house. It’s so bad it doesn’t really stay clean. We have to mop the floor twice, once with a Magic Eraser mop to get the grime up and then once with the steam mop to soak up the black water that the magic eraser leaves behind.

I use the steam mop on the entryway tile and laundry room.

A vacuum

We’ve had our Oreck vacuum for a little over three years. It does its duty at least once a week in every room. It’s serving us well.

Having the right tools for cleaning is, of course, only half the battle. I’m currently reading this book — I am hoping for some “life-changing magic”. Halfway through, I’ve had several epiphanies: 1, we have too much stuff, and 2, there are better ways to store clothes than I’ve been using. More on both of those soon!

In the meantime….

What are YOUR favorite cleaning tools?

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  1. I second using vinegar and essential oils in the bathroom. My favorite scent is to mix equal drops Tea Tree oil and Lemon Essential Oil. Such a clean and fresh scent. Oh and as for scrubbing the showers and tubs, I’ve fallen in LOVE with the recipe floating around the internet where you MIX EQUAL PARTS VINEGAR AND DAWN DISH SOAP. This spray rolls down your shower walls and into the drain, taking soap scum with it NO SCRUBBING. Some spray will be left behind because it is so thick. Just a note too for anyone trying this, YOU DON’T HAVE TO HEAT THE VINEGAR FIRST. Also, I’ve tried this with hand soap from the dollar store, dish soap from the dollar store, laundry soap from the dollar store and they all work fine as long as they are mixed with equal parts vinegar, soap scum rolls away with the spray.

    1. I am missing tea tree. Can’t remember why I bought pine instead. Probably the price.

      As for the dawn + vinegar. It doesn’t work as magically for me as others have said. Wonder what I’m doing wrong.

  2. Use vinegar with extreme caution! I ruined a floor cleaner by using vinegar in it. I was told vinegar would work great as a floor cleaner. It did, but also rotted the rubber in the cleaner. Also, my tile installer said never to use vinegar on grout. It erodes it. I also have proof of this in my house! My kids spilled a container of baking soda and vinegar on their way outside to pop film canisters. I have no grout in that area now! I know all the web sites list those for cleaning, but I am not so sure about it now!

      1. Maybe it was the combination of baking soda and vinegar that did the terrible damage to our grout on the floors. But when I mentioned it to my tile installer as he was putting in the new tile in the boys bathroom he told me not to use vinegar on grout.

  3. Just a tip for your linoleum floors: use ammonia to mop them and get all of the grime off. Once they are super clean and “stripped”, use a clean sponge mop to apply Armstrong’s floor sealer (found at home depot or Lowe’s). Let it dry for a few hours and then apply a second coat if needed (one is usually sufficient if you put it on thick enough). Once it’s dried your floor will look like new and will be very easy to clean (just mop with water or steam mop). Our family owns several rental properties and this is how we redo the floors between tenants. Sealer should last nicely for about a year…maybe longer. 🙂

  4. Barkeeper’s Friend is my must-have for sinks and tubs/showers. I also spray our showers down with a spray bottle filled with 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, and a squirt of Dawn dish soap. Scented products usually make me cringe, but Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day All Purpose Cleaners smell so good! I put a few drops in a squirt bottle of water and use it for counters, walls, and whatever else needs cleaning around the house.

  5. The bathroom cleaning tips on the website you linked are basically what we follow. I would add borax into the toilet bowl scrubbing routine, however. It will make it look clean like chemicals do, and while it’s not quite as shiny as chemicals on day 1 of cleanung, the clean look lasts longer than chemicals. The key is to really scub the Borax well. I’ve tried kosher salt for rust, and while it’s not terrible, it doesn’t keep it clean for long periods of time like Borax. It’s good stuff!

      1. It’s a natural occurring mineral but it isn’t safe to eat or put on your body and you should always use gloves when handling it unless you’re not really touching it. There’s some controversy on it (as with most things!) but this website (which is incrediably holistic) has a good explanation on it: (just google Wellness Mama is Borax safe). I really only use it for the toilet and laundry. I like that website’s homemade laundry soap (which has Borax), I use the powdered not the liquid, and only need 1.5 T for a large load. It’s very economical and effective.

  6. My favorite all purpose cleaner is 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups water, a squirt of dish soap and 10 to 20 drops of lemon essential oil. I use this for everything and LOVE it! I also make my own powedered laundry soap that I use. I also found a great alternative to dishwasher detergent: 1 teaspoon OxiClean, 1/2 teaspoon Dawn. Put it into Dishwasher Dispenser. Put 1/2 cup of vinegar on the top shelf. Dishes come out sparkling clean!

  7. One of the things that I love having around is “disinfectant wipes” but I don’t like buying them. I put washcloths into an old baby wipes container, along with vinegar, water, and lemon juice. They are great to keep in the kitchen and bathroom to grab and wipe down surfaces for a quick clean. Make sure you never combine vinegar and bleach. My mother spent a week in the hospital because she combined the two, very bad for your lungs.