Natural Cleaners


Jeannine Frazier

Farren Fine Arts

5055 South State Street


(773) 535-1440




This lesson is designed for 4th and 5th grade students.  The purpose of this lesson is for students to gain an understanding of the effects that commercial cleaners have on the environment and teach them to make their own cleaners out of less hazardous materials.   The lesson will also meet Illinois State Goal 13:


Having a working knowledge of the relationships among science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts


Demonstrate an understanding of the need for protecting, conserving, and efficiently utilizing renewable and nonrenewable natural resources


Design solutions to selected pollution and environmental problems




32 oz bottle of cooking oil, 32 oz bottle of lemon juice, 2 16 oz boxes of baking soda, 2 gallons of vinegar, 1 gallon of distilled water, 7 measuring cups, 7 spray bottles, 25 rags, 1 roll of paper towels, various commercially available cleaners




The students will engage in hands on cooperative learning. 

  1. The teacher will have a 2-liter bottle of dirty water (waste water from an ordinary kitchen also containing dirt).  She will then ask the students if they would drink the water. 
  2. The teacher will inform the students that there are many chemicals in our water.  Many come from industries or from commercially available chemical cleaners.
  3. The teacher will tell the students there is a way for us to prevent these chemicals from polluting our water.
  4. The teacher will ask the students if they know ways by which we can prevent these chemicals from polluting our water.
  5. The teacher will ask the students what chemicals are used to clean their homes. 
  6. The teacher will ask the students to look at the ingredients of the commercial cleaners that are passed around the class.
  7. The teacher will then inform the students that they can clean their homes with natural cleaners. 
  8. The students will set up an experiment in which they will compare the performance of the natural cleaners to that of the various commercial chemical cleaners.


The following are the recipes for the natural cleaners:


All Purpose Cleaner:  Mix 50 ml of baking soda, 125 ml of vinegar, and 4 liters of warm water.  Store in spray bottle.


Glass Cleaner:  Mix one part vinegar with five parts water.  Store in a spray bottle.


Scouring Powder:  Sprinkle baking soda on the stained surface and rub with a damp cloth.


Wood Polish:  Mix one part lemon juice with two parts cooking oil.  Use a soft cloth.  Store in spray bottle.


Performance Assessment:


The students will be assessed on their ability to follow directions, document data, and an oral presentation.  The total number of points will be 15.  The highest score will be five points for each section, e.g. (following directions 5, documentation 5, oral presentation 5).




As a result of this lesson, one will learn that commercial cleaners contain chemicals which may have effects on the environment and will gain appreciation for natural cleaners as substitutes.




Science Is, Bosak, Susan V. Scholastic Canada LTD 1999