A funny thing about transitioning to a lifestyle that is more eco-friendly, healthier, and zero waste is that many of the mind-blowing “discoveries” I make are actually some of the oldest tricks in the book.

I talk to my Grandma a lot about health, the environment, and “green” changes we are making. I can’t even count the times that I have excitedly told her about some new thing I am trying and she says, “Oh yeah, that’s how we did it when I was young.”

Say what?! Why did it change?

Probably, somewhere along the way someone came up with a new “solution” in the name of convenience and money to be made, and the old practices fell by the wayside.

The frustrating thing is that many of the forgotten, old-fashioned tactics are actually better for our health and the environment. Not all, of course, but many.

Luckily, there are so many people now realizing this and there’s been a huge resurgence of the ways of the “old days.”

Several years ago, when I wanted to stop using toxic chemicals in our home and cleaning products, I started using white vinegar with water to clean everything. This worked well enough, but I hated the smell and it didn’t quite cut it in certain areas, like the kitchen, where there is grease or more grime present.

Then I discovered castile soap, which has actually been around forever, and it performed amazingly where vinegar was lacking. It is a natural, biodegradable soap derived from plant oils through a process called saponification.

I had heard of castile soap before, but never really knew how it differed from the regular soap I bought at the store. One Google search sparked another–you know the story–and thus, began my love of castile soap!

I don’t use it for anything and everything as some would propose (no thank you on the castile soap toothpaste), but I have found a few places for it to be the perfect non-toxic cleaning product swap. Plus it’s naturally a concentrated soap, and I buy it either by the gallon jug or in dried flake form from Tare Market, so I’m creating a lot less waste than I was with my old cleaning products.

One of my favorite ways to use castile soap is in an all-purpose cleaning spray. This stuff can clean just about any surface, leaves no residue behind, and I can add any essential oil I want to make it smell the way I like! It’s an especially great natural option for granite and marble since vinegar can wear down the coating on the stones.

I do still like my vinegar and water spray for certain areas, though, especially for it’s antibacterial properties and symbiotic function with baking soda. Plus, I learned an awesome trick somewhere along the way to make it smell better! Simply fill a jar with citrus peels of your choice, fill the jar with white vinegar, and let it sit on your counter for 1-2 weeks. Then pour the vinegar into whatever container you want to store it in and you’ve got citrusy-fresh vinegar that smells a whole lot better than the plain stuff (trust me)!

As a bonus for the aspiring minimalists like myself, these two simple cleaners have replaced at least 6 different cleaning sprays that I used to have in my cupboard. Marie Kondo would be proud;)


General Purpose Castile Soap Cleaning Spray

16 oz. spray bottle

2-3 tbsps unscented liquid castile soap or 1/2 tsp. castile soap flakes

14 oz. filtered or distilled water

20-25 drops lemon essential oil (or another antibacterial essential oil you prefer)

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle, give it a swirl if using soap flakes, and it’s ready to use!


Citrus Vinegar Spray

Spray bottle of your choice

1 part citrus-infused vinegar

1 part filtered or distilled water

A few drops of a citrus essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the spray bottle and it’s ready to use!

Give them a try and tell us what you think in the comments! What are some of your favorite essential oil combinations for the scent?

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