Membership in a food cooperative offers many advantages, including having more control over what we allow in our diets. Natural whole foods and locally sourced products are at the heart of the cooperative philosophy. By extension, control over what is used in cleaning our homes is a natural fit. And so at the end of May, the East Aurora Food Cooperative invited me to conduct a presentation on eliminating commercial products in our daily household cleaning regimens.

Keeping a clean and healthy home is quite easy using readily available, natural ingredients. Most chores can be tackled with just a few food grade elements. This allows us to severely limit the toxic chemicals that enter our homes, most of which are not identified on labels due to federal legislation that protects chemical industry patents.

During our “Earthy Cleaning” lecture, participants helped to create a simple yet effective laundry powder and learned how easy it can be to address everyday cleaning jobs in a safe, healthy and environmentally safe manner. Below are a couple of extremely simple concoctions that you might be able to create immediately with common ingredients found everyday in most households. Give them a try and see how keeping a clean home does not require all those plastic bottles of mysterious ingredients. And look forward to obtaining all you need for a non-toxic abode at the East Aurora Co-op when it opens next year!

Mary Jo Graham
Oakmoss Education


Citrus Cleaner: Fill a quart glass jar ¾ full with white vinegar. Add scrap lemon, lime, orange and/or grapefruit rinds until the liquid nears the top of the jar. Cap with a plastic lid and allow to steep about 2 weeks. Strain out the citrus rind.

To Use (add a few drops of tea tree or citrus essential oils to the combinations below for extra oomph):

  • Surface spray:  dilute about half and half with water, add a tsp of borax and shake well. Store in a labeled spray bottle.
  • Floor cleaner: add one cup of citrus vinegar to a gallon of hot water, two Tbsp of borax or baking soda and one Tbsp of liquid castile soap and mix well. Wash floor by hand or with a mop.


Fixture and Appliance Polisher:  Use club soda straight up!  Spray and wipe.  If spots are particularly troublesome, allow the soda to set a few minutes before wiping.  You can store the club soda in a spray bottle.  It has a good, long shelf life, even if it loses its effervescence, as it is the minerals in club soda that do the trick.