Which Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredients Are the Most Effective? A Microbiologist Shares His Top 3 Picks

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"Do all-natural, DIY cleaning ingredients like lemon, baking soda, and vinegar work? A microbiologist weighs in and shares his top picks."

When you scroll through all the sustainable living content in your Instagram feed, you’re bound to come across eco-friendly cleaning hacks that use natural ingredients you likely already have at home. But are lemons and vinegar as effective as what you’d find bottled up on store shelves?

Jason Tetro, a microbiologist and the author of The Germ Files, says it’s hard to say whether these all-natural cleaning ingredients leave your place totally germ-free. “The cleaning products you find in stores tend to have a specific active ingredient, as well as other ingredients that together prove to be effective against microbes in standardized testing,” he says.

With that being said, using DIY cleaning ingredients can still be effective. Tetro has a few science-backed DIY options that can help keep your home squeaky clean.

3 DIY Cleaning Ingredients to Try

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is a well-known DIY cleaning ingredient, and it lives up to the hype. “Vinegar of any form is an effective grease-removing acid and can help to reduce the level of dirt and microbes on any surface,” Tetro says.

Combine it with citric acid (like lemon juice) in a spray bottle to amp up its effectiveness: “The antimicrobial action requires some additional help such as the addition of citric acid, which is known to be antimicrobial,” he adds.

2. Lemon Juice

diy cleaning ingredients

Speaking of lemon juice, it’s an impressive cleaning ingredient on its own. According to Tetro, it can “help reduce the level of microbes on a surface” due to the citric acid it contains. “But in order to get into dirt and grime, it needs an additional surfactant like soap to work,” he says.

3. Baking Soda

diy cleaning ingredients

There are plenty of benefits to adding baking soda into your cleaning routine. “It’s a great deodorizer and can help reduce the levels of pesticides on fruit. In addition, it does have some effect on microbes,” says Tetro.

When you combine it with vinegar, you have a powerful DIY option: “It would need something to give it an extra punch against bacteria and viruses,” he says. “We all know that adding vinegar sets off a rather violent reaction and this could work. But it’s only for a limited time.”

For more eco-friendly cleaning tips, watch the video below:


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Do all-natural, DIY cleaning ingredients like lemon, baking soda, and vinegar work? A microbiologist weighs in and shares his top picks.

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