Written by contributor Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship.

Busy time of year?

Things can get crazy with back-to-school lists, end-of-summer lists, shopping lists, and other to-do lists that seem to pile up on any flat surface (in my house, at least).

There’s always so much I want to do for my family, and sometimes I just get overwhelmed and can’t possibly add “one more thing!” to the list. Know the feeling?

If you’ve been tempted to move to greener cleaners but just can’t take the plunge because you’re worried about the time it will take, let me ease your anxiety.

You don’t have to set aside a time to “make” homemade cleaners or even think of putting it on your list, anymore than you would write “open new bottle of Windex” on your to-do list. You wouldn’t. You’d simply grab one from the linen closet when your Windex bottle ran dry, or add it to your grocery list.

It’s all the same with homemade cleaners, if you keep it simple.

Basic Natural Cleaners

Simple Organic’s post on natural cleaner recipes keeps it simple: vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are the triple threat over here. At Kitchen Stewardship, my three basic green cleaners are vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda.

Grab that pen.

Write on your grocery list:

  1. vinegar
  2. baking soda
  3. empty spray cleaning bottles

Keep it simple.

Start with just two items, read the basic recipes at each post, and pick one or two easy ways you can incorporate a new green cleaner into your home this week.

Photo by Rowdy Kittens

Simple Routines

Here are some of my lazy tips, from someone who really, really likes to cut corners and save time doing mundane things:

  • Don’t measure the vinegar – just plop some in an empty bottle and add water. Do the same thing when it runs out, and you’ve got your “no harder than opening a new bottle of Windex” all purpose cleaner.
  • Store cleaners in sensible places:
    • Keep an old rag on top of the bottle of vinegar/water under your sink. Clean up spills so fast your kids will wonder if they really did knock their juice (or kefir?) off the table. Just leave the rag there to dry for the next time if you had a minor spot cleanup.
    • Keep baking soda under the kitchen sink in an old Parmesan cheese container. You’ll use it more often if it’s simple to grab.
    • Store a bottle of straight vinegar right next to the toilet brush. Grab, squirt, brush, done! Cleaning is even possible while children are in the tub, which is a great multitasking opportunity.
    • You can also spray straight vinegar on your bath/shower like an after-shower-no-wipe-spray, but not if you have grout.
    • Keep baking soda in the bathroom, too, for rings around the tub and toilet. Mine is in a dollar store condiment container, which has a hole just big enough to *poof* some out right where I want it.
  • Skip the fancy “recipes” for cleaners. Mixing baking soda and vinegar in the same bottle isn’t going to do much more than water, from what I understand. Keep them separate and use what you need for the job. When I spill something (I mean, when my kids spill something…), I usually squirt it with vinegar water, and if that doesn’t get something out, I try baking soda, and so on.

Keep in mind the greatest benefit of green cleaners, in my humble and overworked opinion: Kids can help and be the DO-ers of the work.

There, mom. You’ve just obtained more time than you had before, because now the kids can do the cleaning for you while you tackle something else on your list. Pat yourself on the back for that green goal: check!

What’s your quickest tip for making homemade green cleaners work for your household?