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Living Lightly

My Cleaning Cabinet

My Cleaning Cabinet

Updated May 2020 – Because it’s been 8 years since I first published this and things have only gotten simpler.

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

Often I take stylized pictures for the blog – or have a better photographer take them (see above) – simply because they’re prettier and more fun. However, for this, I thought it would be more honest and more helpful if I showed you my actual cleaning cabinet, albeit slightly tider than normal so you can see everything. It lacks picturesque, matching spray bottles, because that’s not what I use. I hope you can tell that this is real. I clean my house with what you see here.

Before I dive into an item-by-item inventory, check out one bit of ingenuity of which I’m particularly proud: those repurposed Dr. Bronner’s quarts! This works for the 16 oz. bottles, too. Happily, the neck sizes on these two sizes are the same size as standard spray bottle triggers, which you can purchase online. Voilà! Instant spray bottle! Be sure to label them so you know what’s in them!

My Cleaning Cabinet
This is my actual cleaning cabinet.

Bottom shelf (left to right) ingredients:

  • Tea Tree Essential Oil for when I want to up the cleaning power of my dilutions. Tea Tree is a natural antimicrobial.
  • Vinegar is a natural acid that acts as a degreaser and solvent. It is a versatile cleaner for windows and mirrors, soap scum, fabric softener, hard water rinsing. I buy it in bulk gallons
  • Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that is useful for scouring surfaces and combating soap scum. It also is a deodorizer and whitener for laundry. I also buy this by the 13+ pound bag.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap seen here in 5 different scents to match my mood, the weather, or just to have fun. Soap cleans, whether it’s our bodies or our houses. It removes grime and germs. The Castile Soap can be diluted for myriad around-the-house purposes. I keep it around in bulk gallons to refill my solutions and smaller bottles in my bathrooms for personal care. In “My Favorites” you can read which scent I use for what, at least until I mix them up!
  • Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner is the other powerhouse of my cleaning repertoire. More concentrated and slightly more powerful than Castile, the Sal Suds, as a mild detergent, is immune to hard water. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: laundry, mopping, counters, dishes, outdoors, indoors, everywhere.

Top shelf (left to right):

  • Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen LoganMy cleaning mentor. It will guide you where you want to go.
  • Glass cleaner – Half vinegar/half water.
  • Sal Suds All-Purpose Household Spray – 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) Sal Suds in a quart (1 L) of water (10-20 drops tea tree oil, optional). My house cleaning heavy hitter.
  • Castile Soap All-Purpose Spray – ¼ c. (60 mL) Castile Soap in a quart (1 L) 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.
  • Earth ScrubTM aka GIY Soft Scrub made with baking soda, Castile Soap, water, and vinegar. Read the recipe and watch the demo before giving it a try. This soft scrub makes cleaning fun.
  • Scouring Powder which often is nothing more than pure baking soda, but sometimes I get a little fancy and add my favorite essential oils. I keep it in a repurposed bulk plastic spice jar. This is fabulous on my stainless steel kitchen sinks and getting soap scum in the bathroom sinks. Scouring my kitchen sink with baking soda is like therapy for me: all the marks disappear like they were never even there.
  • Variety of brushes – Good tools make all the difference. Large brushes, small brushes, super stiff grout brushes, all kid-friendly brushes. Don’t skimp on the tools.
  • Microfiber cloths – These cloths are slightly grippy and lint free which makes them great for polishing shiny surfaces and picking up dust. Reusable and versatile. For concerns about sloughing off nano-particles, wash them in the Guppyfriend bag.
  • Washable microfiber wood floor mop pad (on top of cloths) – Toss it in the washer after each mopping and air dry. Excellent. (I have a larger microfiber string mop that doesn’t live in my cleaning cabinet. It’s also washable.)
  • Squeegee – For windows and mirrors. Plus one in each shower to wipe down glass doors after showering, reducing mineral build up. With squeegees, you get what you pay for – buy the good one.
My Cleaning Cabinet

Doors:

  • Dilution Cheat Sheets: Posting these two Cheat Sheets for Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds and Castile Liquid Soaps on the cabinet doors means there’s no need to go look up recipes when I’m in the throes of cleaning and risk losing my mojo.

That is it. It is not fancy. It is not expensive. It is not time-consuming. This keeps my house clean without dangerous fumes or residues on surfaces. My kids can use all this without concern for impacts on their systems. If some wayward toddler or high energy labrador (neither of which I have) were to get into this cabinet, there is very little chance for harm. That’s a lot less to worry about.

Further reading

Sal Suds cleaner shows >60% biodegradation after 28 days per ISO 14593

Download Now!

Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!

DOWNLOAD

Download Now!

Sal Suds Cheat Sheet

Sal Suds, Sal Suds, How do I love thee?

DOWNLOAD

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Stephanie says:

Hello! Thank you for all this amazing information, I have been gobbling it up the past few days as my husband and I are looking to buy our first house this year and I want to be prepared with all the good cleaning knowledge I can get. I haven’t read every article yet but so far I haven’t seen anything about cleaning walls, meaning inside painted walls, and I’m wondering if any of your soaps could be used for that purpose?

I’ve read some on cleaning walls and I guess depending on what kind of paint you have will determine what type of cleaner you use but I’m not sure what type of paint the house we buy will have.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Stephanie – Congratulations! House buying (and owning) is a great adventure. Yes, both the Castile Soap and the Sal Suds are great for cleaning painted walls. Make up a bottle of the All-Purpose Spray (1/4 cup Castile OR 1 Tbsp. Sal Suds in a quart of water) and put this in a spray bottle. Great for painted walls (all types of paint), baseboards, wood, stone… Anything that can be washed.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kim- I have not found this to be true. I think if straight vinegar were to sit on rubber for extended time, perhaps it might impact it, but it goes into the cycle at the very end and it’s really diluted with the water present, so there’s little strength for degrading the rubber. For the record, I use vinegar in my top-loading washer periodically and haven’t noticed any damage to the rubber seals. If you’re using Sal Suds, you really don’t need the vinegar as a fabric softener as the Sal Suds is so clean rinsing on its own.

Tania says:

Hi Lisa,
For making the Sal-Suds or Castile Soap all-purpose spray is it OK to cut the recipe in half? I use 16 oz spray bottles for my homemade cleaners and therefore would like to make a smaller batch. Thanks. Tania

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tania- Absolutely! This is a great things to do!

Bonnie says:

The soft scrub separates to hard on bottom and watery on top in just a few days. It takes a lot of shaking and even then it never completely blends together again. I see where someone else has this problem too.
Think I’ll go back to using my SalSuds all purpose cleaner with some baking soda on a microfiber sponge.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Bonnie – I am familiar with that settling. The scrub is best used quickly for that reason. Or the spray with a sprinkle of baking soda works great, too.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

Learn about my book, Soap & Soul!

Learn More

Print Now!

Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!

DOWNLOAD

Print Now!

Sal Suds Cheat Sheet

Sal Suds, Sal Suds, How do I love thee?

DOWNLOAD