Keep Tahoe Green: Eco-friendly ways to create home-cleaning solutions |

Keep Tahoe Green: Eco-friendly ways to create home-cleaning solutions

Rachel Flower mixes up a batch of cleaning solution, using her favorite ingredients.
Courtesy photo |

Basic Cleaning Solution Recipe


16 oz. glass spray bottle

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 3/4 cups water

30 drops dōTERRA essential oil

1 teaspoon borax

Recommended Essential Oils:

15 drops each of Lavender and Lemon

10 drops each of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Wild Orange

30 drops On Guard blend

15 drops each of Grapefruit and On Guard


Add all ingredients to spray bottle. Shake thoroughly.

Source: Rachel Flower, who’s also a Wellness Advocate for dōTERRA essential oils. Visit her website at for information.

They are stashed in cupboards, under the sink in the kitchen, lurking in the garage, in storage sheds or even on shelves in the pantry. Nearly every home, including mine, has numerous cleaning products loaded with chemicals for polishing wood, cleaning glass, disinfecting bathrooms and un-clogging drains.

As long as two years ago, I vowed to change the way I clean; even going as far as purchasing some environmentally friendly soaps and saving some “recipes” for home-made, green cleaning solutions. Somehow this effort never translated into action but no more. It is time to revise my habits and we are going to do it together.

I consulted two of my favorite earth-friendly people, Rachel Flower and Jacquie Chandler, and discovered that they had jumped on the green cleaning train quite some time ago.

A good basic cleaner for the home is diluted vinegar. Vinegar is an acidic, clear liquid substance derived from the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria, usually made from fruits or grains, and can be used as a primary ingredient in many green cleaning products, including as a disinfectant, in addition to its culinary uses.


Search the web for many more recipes but here are a few tips:

• Cut a lemon in half, dip it in salt and rub the cut edge along copper pans or fixtures.

• Make your own furniture polish: 2 Tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup distilled white vinegar, ¼ tsp lemon oil (or use fresh or bottled lemon juice). Shake well and squirt onto a clean, micro-fiber cloth; wipe with the grain, then polish with a clean, dry cloth.

• Mix one teaspoon of dish soap with a cup of hydrogen peroxide to clean blood, red wine or ink stains.

• Don’t like the smell of vinegar? Try this: Add citrus rinds, a couple whole sticks of cinnamon, and three whole cloves to a quart jar. Fill the jar ¾ full with vinegar and top off with water. Cover the jar and place in a sunny spot for two weeks. This process reduces or eliminates the vinegar odor while maintaining its cleaning and disinfecting properties. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a spray bottle.

• Make cleanser by mixing ¼ cup of baking soda with enough castile soap to make a paste.

• General purpose cleaner: Mix 3 Tbsp liquid castile soap and 2 Tbsp borax in a large bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour it over the soap and borax mixture to dissolve. Stir in 2 cups of distilled white vinegar, allow to cool. Store mixture in a spray bottle.

• Countertop stains can be removed by allowing lemon juice to sit on the stain for a few minutes. Scrub the area with baking soda and watch the stains disappear.

• Window cleaner: 1 ½ cups vinegar, ½ cup water, 8 drops of citrus essential oil.


Here is a chemical-free solution for clogged drains:

• Pour one-half cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of vinegar down the sink or tub/shower drain using a funnel.

• The mixture will foam up as it unclogs the drain.

• When the foam disappears, flush the drain with hot water.

• After 5 minutes, flush the drain again with cold water.

• Do this periodically to prevent clogged drains in the first place. This process also deodorizes your drain.

Creating your own cleaning products may seem overwhelming. Relax, there are other solutions. Jacquie Chandler uses the Biokleen products in her home and business. Biokleen offers a variety of natural cleaning products in concentrated form including basic cleaning solutions, laundry supplies and carpet cleaning formulations.

Mary Singer, owner of a professional residential and commercial cleaning business at Lake Tahoe, has used Melaleuca cleaning products for years and won’t use anything else. After interviewing her and taking the Melaleuca “tour,” I was convinced enough to become a member with the goal of working toward becoming an independent marketing executive as well.

Biokleen and Melaleuca products are offered in concentrated forms, which you, the consumer, then mix into your own spray bottles, making these safe and “green” products economical to use. Visit the web store, to purchase products and for more green cleaning tips and recipes.

After reading the ingredients list in several of my home cleaning products, I have renewed my commitment to “Go Green” — both for health reasons and to do the best I can for this environment we all enjoy at Lake Tahoe.

Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. Visit to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content.

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