I can honestly say I've tried nearly every type of chemically composed commercially available cleaner — and also that not one of them has delivered magical or dramatic results. Natural cleaners are just as effective, free of toxins to breathe in, and affordable — if you make them yourself. Here's how to make my go-to, no-fail kitchen degreaser.
I'm an all-natural clean freak. I don't know exactly how or when it happened, or why my children didn't inherit this slightly obsessive gene of mine (they clearly did not!). Maybe because I grew up in California — Northern California — with the tree-hugging, granola-eating, drought survivors. Or perhaps because my hippie-like yet conservative mom believed aloe vera was the cure-all for anything and everything. (She was like the Windex-wielding dad on My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but her weapon against all germs and grime was aloe vera.) In general, she believed nature-made was better than man-made — better for us and better for the environment.
Of course, I rebelled against this "homemade is better" philosophy when I left for college and had my own apartment to clean. I was every marketers dream, falling for whatever was advertised to make my home sparkle and shine and smell good.
Then reality set in: All those cleaners are expensive — especially for a college kid. Decades later, I'm still a fan of nature-made ingredients and homemade solutions.
Vinegar is an effective sanitizer; liquid soap is a great stain remover and degreaser; baking soda makes a gentle abrasive and lightener for tough stains; and essential oils add a clean scent — mix them together and they make the perfect degreaser for your kitchen (and other places, too!).
How To Make a Natural Kitchen Degreaser
Makes 1 (32-ounce) bottle
What You Need
1 cup distilled white vinegar
Natural liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's)
1 tablespoon baking soda
Essential oil (optional)
New spray bottle
- Rinse out spray bottle with warm water.
- Add vinegar, a drop or two of liquid soap, and baking soda to the spray bottle. Fill the spray bottle to the bottom of the neck with warm water.
- If desired, add a few drops of essential oil. A cup of vinegar is a lot and will smell! Essential oils help mask the smell of vinegar. Citrus oils make your whole home smell fresh and clean, but you can use whatever appeals to your nose.
- Shake spray bottle vigorously.
- To use, spray mixture onto surface, then wipe with a clean sponge.
- Run a clean dishcloth under warm water, wring out, and wipe over cleaned surfaces.
- This degreaser should work on all but the extra-gunkiest of grease spots. For those, mix baking soda with warm water to create a paste. Apply paste to grease spot and let dry. Remove paste with a damp, clean sponge, then wipe the area clean with a wet dishcloth.
- Always spot test an area first before using any kind of cleaner or degreaser.