Cleaning Naturally with Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda

Cleaning Naturally with Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

You don't have to walk down a cleaning aisle to find your best options for cleaning your home—just open your pantry. Vinegar, lemons, baking soda, and other natural homemade cleaners do a fabulous job of cleaning, disinfecting, removing stains, and more.

Using Vinegar to Clean

Vinegar cleans and deodorizes almost as well as most all-purpose cleaners. The recipe calls for mixing equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Use this solution to clean most areas of your home. Don't worry about your home smelling like vinegar. The smell disappears when it dries.


Vinegar can discolor or damage some surfaces, so test it on a hidden area first to ensure no color change or damage occurs. Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can also eat away at tile grout. Vinegar isn't a good idea to use on marble surfaces, either.

  • Bathrooms: Clean the bathtub, toilet, sink, and countertops with the 1-to-1 vinegar and water spray solution. The solution will clean away soap scum and hard water stains on your fixtures and tile, leaving them shiny and beautiful. You can also mop the floor in the bathroom by mixing vinegar and water. If you have unsightly rings in the toilet bowl, use pure vinegar. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down before pouring the undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Scrub down the bowl.
  • Kitchens: Clean the top of the stove, appliances, and countertop surfaces with equal parts vinegar and water. Use vinegar to clean floors and be amazed at the fresh shiny results.
  • Laundry rooms: Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener, which can be especially helpful for families with sensitive skin issues—add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store-bought fabric softener.
cleaning floors with vinegar

The Spruce / Cali Godley

Cleaning With Lemons

Lemon juice is another natural substance that can be used to clean your home. You can use it to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits, and it's great for shining brass and copper. You can also use lemon juice to treat stains, given its natural bleaching qualities, but that can also be a drawback. It's a good idea to test it out on a hidden area first.

Lemon cleaning applications include:

  • Cleaning paste: Mix lemon juice with baking soda.
  • Dishes, surfaces, stains: Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section of the lemon. Use it like you would a sponge.
  • Furniture polish: Mix 1 cup olive oil with 1/2 cup lemon juice for a natural furniture polish for hardwood furniture.
  • Garbage disposal drain odors: Put a whole lemon peel or orange peel through the garbage disposal; it freshens the drain and the kitchen.
using lemons as a drain cleaner

The Spruce / Cali Godley

Cleaning With Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most versatile cleaners. You can use it to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial non-abrasive cleansers. Baking soda is also great as a deodorizer. Place a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. Put it anywhere you need deodorizing action: trash cans, laundry, and even your family's super smelly sneakers.

Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make an excellent household cleaner. It's particularly effective on tile grout. Use 1/4 cup baking soda in a small glass bowl and add hydrogen peroxide to create a thick paste.

Fun Fact

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) are often mixed to demonstrate a volcano's eruption in children's science projects. The two substances react chemically because one is a base and the other is an acid. The mixture decomposes into water and carbon dioxide gas. The gas rises to the top of the mixture, creating bubbles and foam, working well as a dirt-lifter.

Baking soda and vinegar are often used together for their chemical reaction that helps lift dirt, cut through grease, and remove odors:

  • Unclog slow drains: Use 1 cup of baking soda, followed by 1 cup of heated vinegar
  • Oven cleaner and remove caked-on grease on pans: Sprinkle baking soda on metal pans or surfaces and top with boiling vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Wipe with a wet sponge.
  • Kill mildew in laundry, particularly towels: Add half a cup of baking soda with the laundry detergent. For the rinse cycle, add one cup of vinegar to kill bacteria and soften the fabric.
using baking soda as a deodorizer

The Spruce / Cali Godley

Using Other Natural Cleaners

There are quite a few other options for natural cleaners. You might be surprised to learn that things like ketchup, rice, coffee grounds, and other kitchen ingredients can do a fantastic job cleaning the house.


The vinegar in ketchup is the active ingredient making it a good backup cleaner for removing rust from metal, removing burned-on food, and cleaning silver, copper, brass, and stainless steel.

You can also always buy commercially available natural cleaners, but be aware of what you need to look for in a green cleaning product before you buy it. Learn how to read labels on the products; many of these commercial products use natural ingredients that you may have in your home, but not all green cleaners are created equal.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cobb, Linda. Talking Dirty With The Queen of Clean. Simon & Schuster UK, 2012.

  2. Let's Build a Volcano. Montana Technical University.