My Cleaning Cabinet

Here’s what all the housecleaning info on my blog boils down to: in this cabinet all the recipes, recommendations, ingredients and tools I’ve mentioned reside.

Lisa Bronner's cleaning cabinet

Disclaimer: I did some primping of this cabinet to prepare it for its close-up.
Not Pictured: my mop handle, my extendable electrostatic duster (for getting ceiling corners), my carpet vacuum, my tile vacuum, my mop bucket, and my squeegee (which lives in my shower for clearing the glass after each shower).

Bottom Shelf: (left to right)• Sticky note with vacuum part numbers so I don’t have to turn the vacuum upside down every time.• Vacuum bags – so far I haven’t noticed a difference between on and off brands.• Washable microfiber mop head – Toss it in the washer after each mopping and air dry. Excellent.• Electrostatic Duster – Great for light fixtures and electronics

• Microfiber cloths – Reusable and versatile

• Variety of brushes – Large scrub brush, grout brush, tooth brush, kid-friendly green brush.

Lisa Bronner's cabinet bottom left
Lisa Bronner's cabinet bottom right Glass cleaner – Filled either with pure club soda (if I use it immediately) or half vinegar/half water.All purpose Castile Soap spray – ¼ c. castile soap in a quart of water (10-20 drops tea tree oil, optional). Lately, I’ve been reaching for this more than my Sal Suds because of invading ants.All purpose Sal Suds Spray – 1 Tbsp. Sal Suds in a quart of water (10-20 drops tea tree oil, optional). My house cleaning heavy hitter.• Pure Baking soda in a shaker jar – For scouring sinks – fabulous on my stainless steel kitchen sinks and getting soap scum out of the bathroom sinks.Wood polish – Not for weekly use – only once a season or less.

• Leather polish – Similar use as wood, except for leather. (always spot test)

Top Shelf: (left to right) • A gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Tea Tree Pure Castile Soap – I have most of the other Dr. B scents elsewhere, but these three are the ones I use the most for housecleaning. I use the Tea Tree most often for my Castile Soap Spray because of its extra antibacterial boost.• A gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Citrus Pure Castile Soap – I love the smell of the Citrus, both for house stuff and body. Particularly fabulous in the kitchen.• A quart of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Peppermint Pure Castile Soap – Most often I add it to washing sheets and spraying for ants.• A gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: laundry, mopping, counters, dishes, outdoors, indoors, everywhere.

• Pure club soda – The best for making windows sparkle, but once opened, has a short shelf life.

• White vinegar – Another versatile cleaner – windows and mirrors, soap scum, fabric softener, hard water rinsing.

Lisa Bronner's cabinet top left
Lisa Bronner's cabinet top right • (behind) Baking soda – A great laundry booster and for fighting soap scum• (in front) Labels and permanent marker for labeling new solutions• (behind) Empty squirt bottles and spray bottles for new solutions• (in front) Essential Oils – This is where the fun comes into housecleaning. Yes, I did just use those two words in the same sentence. Some have practical uses, such as tea tree oil (for disinfecting), but others are just because I like them. When you make your own stuff, you can pick your own scent. I order mine through Frontier Natural Product’s wholesale site (a great option if you can gather a group of people to meet the $250 order minimum).• Books of housecleaning recipes:
Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan
The Naturally Clean Home by Karen Siegel-Meyer

44 thoughts on “My Cleaning Cabinet

  1. Best post ever? This entry scratches both my OCD and Dr. Bronner’s itches. :) Nicely done, Lisa!!!

  2. Please forgive me if this info was posted previously. What is the recommended cleaner for granite, both in the kitchen & bathroom? I appreciate your help! I LOVE your natural solutions to our cleaning dilemmas!

  3. This is the ‘pin up girl’ of cleaning cabinets Lisa…I’m off to Pinterest to pin it now…

  4. Inspirational and educational, too! I really like this. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Thank you so much for that visual. It is easir tp picture the cleaning product solution mixes all in one cabinet. It has inspired me to create my own. Even though i have been reading you blogs for months i’ve just never had time to mix up solution mixes, or i forget to pick up spray bottles. this is on my list of todo’s and to buys. Great work love you blogs:)

  6. Lisa, thank you for opening your cleaning cabinet for me! It really is helpful to see how you organize it as well as all the products you use regularly. I like that you added labels to the spray bottles that describe the purpose (rather than the contents) of the solution. I’ve had friends come over to help me clean house (after I had knee surgery) and they were confused by what to do with my cleaning solutions. From now on, I’ll be putting labels on my spray bottles like you do.

  7. I’m glad this post has encouraged and inspired so many!

    Joyce – For my granite, I normally use the Sal Suds All Purpose Spray – 1 Tbsp. Sal Suds in a quart of water. However, if I’m battling ants, I switch over to the Castile Soap All Purpose spray. The both are safe and effective. However, with the castile soap, I do need to dry the counter afterwards to achieve the best shine.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  8. Thanks so much, Lisa. I really appreciate the info. Your blog is indeed informative & inspiring. It’s great to empower us to get away from all the chemical exposures. Often “we” take the chemicals for granted, because that’s what we were raised with. But, I & likely all those visiting your blog, want those exposures to go away! Your support has helped me to be healthier with the use of Dr Bonner’s products. I am grateful. :-)

  9. This is really inspiring- I do have a question. Where can I find a mop head like the one shown? I’ve looked around and haven’t come across a mop head that is for wet mopping, microfiber, and washable.

  10. Lisa,
    I hope it is alright to post this question here. Above,you mention a Leather Polish. You wrote that its use is similar to the wood polish. Does that mean that you would use the same products to clean leather with as you would for wood? Do you have any suggestions for cleaning leather using Dr. Bronner’s?

  11. I’m glad my thoughts and tips are helpful!

    Hi Karin – I don’t remember exactly where I bought my mop head, but it wasn’t anywhere exotic. I’m thinking Lowe’s or Home Depot. I remember the packaging said it was washable, and that’s what drew me. It also has a threaded end for my mop handle.

    Hi Jeanette – I realized I overlooked that! Wasn’t that a teaser? Anyhow, the recipe I use is from the Karen Logan book I mention above – Clean House, Clean Planet. It is similar to the wood, with slightly different proportions: 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar. Put it in a squirt bottle (not a spray bottle). Use it sparingly so that your leather doesn’t get greasy. If your leather is really dirty, you can use a mild Sal Suds solution. You can start with the 1 Tbsp. in a quart of water, but if that’s too sudsy, cut it down.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  12. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for your time and your response. This is truly helpful. I am a librarian and a patron was asking about a natural method for cleaning leather. I told him I would go ask you here. I am going to have to order a copy of that book for our library. People asking for information regarding more natural methods to clean their home more often these days,and this book could be helpful. We have a few books,but I think this may be a nice addition. Thanks again. :-)

  13. Hi Lisa

    I really love this post – I have been using for years – I love my Dr Bronner’s products – My question is how do you clean a toilet ? I use lemon juice or vinegar and baking soda — Do you use Sal Suds in the toilet ? I was using vinegar and water for everything in bathroom and some baking soda — thanks

  14. Call me picky but you’ve got the several gallon jugs and other bottles on the top shelf (which is bowing) and a couple of smaller bottles and lightweight things like towels on the bottom which is supported by the bottom of the cabinet.

    Switch them around. Thank you! :D

  15. Hi Lisa,

    Couldn’t find a place to post this so hope here is ok. Just finished deeper cleaning for my yearly apartment inspection today. It’s so great not to be choking in chemicals! This year I’ve used only diluted Dr B Castile and Salsuds for everything (except windows, used the rest of my seltzer for those).

    I smoke… yes I do! And have horrid plastic louver blinds here from ceiling to floor. I had been lax in cleaning them as the cleaner I used to use lingered in the air forever.

    The blinds were dreadful. But not for long. I found that the Castile soap did wonders for them and quickly too. I tried the Salsuds mix first but the Castile worked better for cleaning off the nicotine. I sprayed mixture on, let sit a minute then sprayed again and wiped them off. White blinds again! After washing I rinsed them off in the shower.

    Someone comes to help me and I sent her home with a spray bottle mixed for each. She couldn’t believe how well they worked. Another new fan!

    Thanks for all! Always so happy to find new ways to use Dr B products.

    Best,
    jane

  16. Hi Jeanette – Yes! A great book for a library to have!

    Hi Julie – While lemon juice or vinegar would have some disinfecting power, you might need a little more for your toilet. I use my spray bottle with Sal Suds. Spray it in and scrub it around. If I feel it needs more scrubbing action, I sprinkle baking soda on the toilet brush and scrub that around. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, and then flush. A couple other tricks you could do if you like is to add the vinegar and let the baking soda/vinegar reaction do some more cleaning. Also, you can drain the water out of the bowl by turning off the water behind the toilet and then flushing the toilet. This way you won’t be diuting your cleaners in the water in the bowl. I do advise some caution with the amount of Sal Suds – too much and you’ll be flushing bubbles for a month.

    Hi Linda – That’s a great eye for detail! The bowing came from its previous load when I had innumerable different cleaners packed in there – before I made the green switch. Nowadays, there are even fewer in this cabinet than pictured (remember I said I did some primping for the photo-op). The Sal Suds and the vinegar gallons as well as the bag of baking soda live above the washing machine (on the bottom shelf). Thanks for reading so closely!

    Hi Jane – Thanks so much for sharing your success story! That’s interesting about the castile soap working better on the nicotine. I’m going to see if I can figure out if there’s a chemical reason for that. I’m sure your apartment looks and feels fabulous!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  17. Could you please explain what Sal Suds is and why it is the best thing for certain jobs? Also, do you have any alternatives for commercial dishwasher detergent? I’ve been making my laundry soap for ages, and it works wonderfully, but I’ve tried homemade versions for the dishwasher and couldn’t get it to stop leaving a film so I’ve gone back to just using regular store-bought.

  18. Hi Allison – Yes! Sal Suds is an all-purpose detergent. The term “detergent” indicates it is synthetic, unlike our castile soaps. The castile soap is only one step removed from its original oils. Sal Suds originates from coconuts but involves a lengthier, multi-step reaction to turn it into a surfactant (fancy term for detergent or soap).

    The Sal Suds is not affected by hard water, and therefore is slightly more clean rinsing than the castile soap. It does not leave a film on surfaces. I tend to use it more for around the house applications. I also use it for handwashing dishes, laundry, cars, and antyhing else that’s really dirty inside the house or out.

    I do not have a recommendation for dishwasher detergent. There are a lot of homemade recipes out there, but I haven’t heard of a sure fire one. It’s definitely something I’m on the lookout for. I haven’t thoroughly tried the recipes I’ve seen. That’s something I have yet to tackle.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  19. I tried Sal Suds in the dishwasher because I never would have been satisfied until I found out for myself what would happen. I used 1/2 tbsp., the load was around 1/2 full and it included a glass that I specifically just dunked in oil and put in there to see how it would do. I had no overflow and my husband commented that the rest of the dishes were cleaner than they are normally with store-bought detergent. Once I’m out, I plan to continue using SS. Maybe it’s a difference in machines or type of water, who knows, but for us, it didn’t cause a problem…of course, I was very careful not to put in too much.

  20. Hi Allison – Keep me informed on how the dishwasher experiment is going. I don’t want to be the downer, but my sister-in-law did the same thing and it worked for a while, but then the dishwasher started making funny sounds. I don’t know enough about dishwashers to know why it wouldn’t like it, so let me know if you continue to have success, and then also tell me what kind of dishwasher you have!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  21. Thank you Lisa for helping us on the road to natural cleaning! I have slowly been making the transition from commercial products to making my own due to chemical sensitivities. I used to HATE the overpowering, punch-in-the-face smell of **PINE!!** from (name of well-known commercial Pine cleaner omitted) but have come to adore the more sedated pine scent of Sal Suds. I’ve come to associate it with clean now! Yet another thanks for turning me on to Karyn Siegel-Maier’s book, I’m actually going to have FUN concocting my own wonderful cleaners with essential oils! Bless you!

    • Hi Colleen – I have fun making my concoctions, too! It brings so much more freedom and creativity into such a mundane task. I feel like I’m more in charge than when I was using conventional stuff that I really didn’t understand. Enjoy!

      Lisa

  22. Lisa~

    I’ve never been a big fan of toilet brushes. They just seem to be a nest for germs. Any suggestions on how to keep toilet brushes clean? Possibly have the brush sit in a solution of diluted Sal Suds? How do you store yours?

    Again, as many others have stated, Thank You!!

  23. Hi Jenifer – That’s a great idea for the toilet brush – maybe both some Sal Suds and pure essential tea tree oil. However, an alternative to the brush is to wash your toilets by this method: turn off the water to the toilet at the wall. Then flush the toilet to empty it fully. Then spray the toilet bowl thoroughly and let it sit for a while and wipe it out with a cloth.

    Let me know what you think!

    Lisa

  24. Thanks so much for all this information! I found this website by looking for a good soap without triclosan, and found others commenting on Dr. Bronners. I have decided to slowly but surely head to “greener” cleaners, and am loving all the tips that you have. I’m sure that I will be commenting on several posts. I just received my citrus castile soap and mixed up the all-purpose spray. How long does the solution stay effective? And if I wanted to add the tea-tree for the disinfecting power as you mention, can I do that to any of the scented soaps?

  25. I am getting ready to overhaul our home with green cleaning and skin care options and have really appreciated all your ideas, suggestions, and examples. I have one question about the tea tree oil….if you are using castile with tea tree oil in it, is there a reason you need to add more oil to a spray bottle?
    I would love to see a picture of the body/shower concoctions you have just like you did for your cleaning supplies. I’m trying to figure out what things to have pre-diluted, what things need to be full-strength until use, etc. Also, do you have any suggestions for bubble baths? :) It sounds like sal suds creates the bubbles but isn’t suggested for body use. I am loving the idea of only having one or two bottles in the shower, but that’s one thing I haven’t found a good replacement for. Thanks so much!!

  26. Also, if you use the Sal suds spray for spot cleaning on a kitchen floor, do you just wipe or do you need to rinse? Thanks!

  27. I have to say that for the last couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this website. Keep up the wonderful work.

  28. I definitely apologize for my huge delay in responding here.

    Sara – The spray solution would be fine for several months. I’ve never had mine go bad, but i usually use them up in a couple months at the most, so I haven’t done a long term test. Yes, you can add the tea tree essential oil to any of the castile soaps. When using the Sal Suds spray, if you wipe with an absorbant cloth, like the microfiber ones, you will remove all the Sal Suds from the floor. No need to rinse. I don’t.

    Tara – Tea tree essential oil is a powerful natural antibacterial oil. If you had a really germy job – let’s say a kids bathroom during cold season – you might want to boost the power of your spray with extra tea tree essential oil. For my shower, I don’t predilute things because my being wet combined with a wet washcloth dilutes the soap I put on it. I have the hair rinse with a cup over it so that I can dilute that as I use it. I don’t have a great replacement for bubble bath. I have copied down some recipes but haven’t tried any out yet. I haven’t found a commercially available one that is terribly bubbly.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  29. I have been using the castile soap for awhile now, but recently purchased my first bottle of Sal Suds. I’m loving it!

    Do you have any recommendations for naturally cleaning tile grout? I thought Sal Suds, water, and baking soda and then scrubbing with a brush may do the trick.

  30. Hi Nicole – Grout cleaning is one of my banes. Yes, I think the Sal Suds/baking soda/water combo would be the best. Nothing natural will work as effortlessly as the conventional grout sprays, so you will need a little elbow grease here. As a preventative, I cleaned my grout lines and sealed them so that it wouldn’t be as hard to clean them in the future. Good luck!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  31. I’m new to Dr Bronner’s products but so far love them ALL & have been reading my way through the blog archives so I have the best information for using them most effectively. Right now I need some confirmation and also have a question.

    Have I got the following correct?
    1 – It’s OK to mix water and SalSuds in pump sprayer – no clogging should be expected.
    2 – t’s OK to mix Shikakai soap in a pump sprayer or foaming soap dispenser.
    3 – It’s not good to mix liquid castile soap and water in a pump sprayer as it will eventually clog in most cases.

    Would it work to use liquid castile soap in a FOAMING soap dispenser – and with or without water?

    Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

  32. Hi Janet – Welcome to the family! Here are my answers:
    1 – Yes! It’s great to dilute Sal Suds in water for a spray bottle. It will not clog.
    2 – The issue with the Shikakai in sprayers is that the Shikakai extract itself has the Shikakai powder which is somewhat the texture of cinnamon. It doesn’t fully dissolve, but rather is held in suspension. This can get clogged in a sprayer. Also, the Shikakai isn’t the best for household purposes for the same reason. It moisturizes the skin very well, but it would be unnecessary for household surfaces.
    3 – You can mix castile soap and water in a spray bottle. At my recommended dilution of 1/4 c. soap to 1 quart water, it won’t clog the sprayer. However, it is not recommended to put the castile soap in a traditional sink-side pump.

    Yes, the liquid works well in a foaming soap dispenser. Mix it with water at a ratio of 1 part soap to 4 parts water. Some people recommended even more water than this. Go with your personal preference.

    Let me know if I can be of further help!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  33. Thanks for clarifying things, Lisa. So, OK – I think I’ve got it. Will use foaming soap-type pumps to mix liquid castile & water for handwashing at kitchen/bath sinks. For laundry, Sal Suds undiluted. For general cleaning, either Sal Suds or liquid castile & water in a spray bottle. Love the bar soap in the shower [what a rich, plush lather] & liquid castile for “shampoo.” Follow with citrus hair rinse especially during the “somewhat disagreeable” shampoo-to-Bronner transition period. PS – you were so right about being prepared for breakouts to continue for a little while when first using tea tree soap. That’s just what happened to me, but boy, am I loving having clear, smooth skin after 40 years [yep] of hormonal acne, then rosacea. PS – just love the fresh forest smell of the Sal Suds. Makes the laundry room smell like a Christmas tree… Thanks again.

  34. I just received my shipment of new Dr Bronner products and have been making up my solutions this morning. I am still waiting for my essential oils to arrive but so far so good.

    Right now I have a 2nd load of washing going round in the machine. It’s new HE front loader, so this is my first day of using it. I used 1 tablespoon of sal suds and 1/4 cup of white vinegar, no suds, no vinegar smell and they came out of the dryer all soft and clean. I used the castile citrus on my tile floors and it smells great and used both the castile soap and sal suds on my kitchen counter tops, not sure which one I prefer yet. Used the sal suds for washing up and the smell of the sal suds is invigorating, I never knew washing up could be such a nice chore. Getting ready to clean the rest of our new rental house before our things arrive.

    The hand soap I tried this morning, lemongrass lime, left my hands soft and the smell is devine. Just waiting for the hubby to use the lemongrass lime shaving gel and report back.

    I’m now going to place an order for the larger amounts as I am exceptionally pleased with my purchases and definitely no more chemicals in our home.

    Thanks for a great site and great products, your grandfather would be so proud of you all.

  35. Hi (from Brisbane, Qld, Oz) Lisa,
    I purchased a big box of products after my daughter gave me a beautiful smelling bottle of your soap as a gift for Christmas. After reading so much on your site, now I am going to use the castille liquid for so many more uses and also buy the Sal Suds! I am so happy that your family has spent years helping people clean in a green way. Well done!

  36. About Sal Suds: Aren’t there several problems with “Sodium Lauryl Sulfate”?
    I’m trying to make my own laundry detergent (1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, and pure soap flakes (1 bar – 4.5 oz). It would be great also to make my own dish washing soap. Oh, and I use a front loading washing machine. So it uses less water, and the soap has to make very little foam, if at all.

    I like Dr Bronners’ product, and your choice and decisions are commendable (fair trade, healthy and ecological products), but the presence of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate makes me go “hmmm”.

    Thanks for your help.

  37. Janet & Mirry – Fabulous! I’m glad everything is working out for you! Thank you!

    Thanks, Janelle! I’m glad you’re in sync with all that we’re doing here!

    Hi Francois – You’re not the only one that’s confused by Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. There’s a lot of rumor mixed with a bit of truth floating around out there, so much so that I wrote a whole post about it: There is No Cancer Risk from SLS, http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=197. In an HE washing machine, the Sal Suds would be preferred because it is slightly more clean rinsing. 1 Tbsp. of Sal Suds and 1/4 vinegar does an excellent job. Our products are not recommended for automatic dishwashers.

    Let me know if I can be of further help!

    All the best,
    Lisa

  38. I wash my dishes my hand. English is not my first language. ;-)
    What would you recommend? Same thing? (Sal Suds and vinegar?)

    Also, for laundry, I was using a “green” commercial blend of borax, washing soda and soap (anyway it was a powder), after which I added peroxide or some sort of ecological alternative, right at the beginning of the cycle (and not in the spot where you’re supposed to put bleach). It did a great job.

    With Sal Suds and vinegar, can I do the same?

    Thanks for all your help

  39. Hi Francois – For handwashing dishes, Sal Suds is a great choice. You do not need a vinegar rinse with that.

    For the laundry, Sal Suds is great, and vinegar is helpful in deodorizing and softening. You can add the vinegar in at the same time as the Sal Suds.

    All the best,
    Lisa

  40. Hello Lisa,

    I started to use castile soap several months ago and really love it. However, I’ve noticed that when I make a water solution to use it for cleaning, in about 3 weeks the smell becomes very different. It does not smell rotten but it is kind of very strong smell of soap (not of the essential oil that was in it). I used eucalyptus soap, and also rose soap – both with the same result. The last time I added some other essential oil when the smell became really strong, but cannot say that it made things any better: now I have a mix of 2 strong smells – that of a soap and of the essential oil. I use hard water to make my solutions.
    I am wondering if you have any explanation to this? I know, I could make smaller batch to use it within 1-2 weeks, but you never know how much you would use (especially with a spray bottle).
    Oh, and also, when I use it after it gets that smell, my hands and cloth feel a bit greasy…
    Is it possible that castile soap goes rancid in hard water? Have you ever experienced the same?

    Thank you,
    Irina

  41. I finally finished using up all my existing household cleaning products and am now down to the holy grail of just Sal Suds for the house and Castille for me – Hallelujah!. As I am recycling greywater for the garden I don’t use vinegar to clean and use baking soda and citric acid (or any salts) very very sparingly. But after 1 week of deep cleaning I could not be more delighted with the power of just Sal Suds and hot water. My dishes practically wash themselves and how they come out of the water almost dry is just beyond me, but everything in my house has come up cleaner than ever before. Simply stunning. The power of simplicity. A bit like your cleaning cabinet. Thank you!

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