If one of your Earth Day resolutions is to “go green” with your home cleaning regimen, start by re-thinking your cleaning solutions. Many store-bought cleaners are made of manmade chemicals and bleaches (among other ingredients), bringing up questions about toxicity and the cleaners”™ effect on human health. According to OrganicConsumers.org, “while the chemicals in cleaners foam, bleach, and disinfect to make our dishes, bathtubs and countertops gleaming and germ-free, many also contribute to indoor air pollution, are poisonous if ingested, and can be harmful if inhaled or touched. In fact, some cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home.”
You might be surprised to learn that many ”“ or even all ”“ of these products can be replaced by naturally-derived cleaning solutions made from common, non-toxic substances. In fact, you can find most of these substances right in your home. It’s easy to both create and use these natural cleaners, and you”™ll be amazed at how effective they can be at conquering everyday stains and household cleaning tasks.
The Daily Green offers the following six tips for making your own “green” cleaning products:
- For the bathroom: Mix about a half cup of baking soda with a small drop of mild, biodegradable liquid detergent. This simple concoction, applied with a cloth or sponge, will clean the bath, sink and toilet surfaces to perfection.
- Window cleaner: Mix three tablespoons of vinegar, half a teaspoon of mild liquid detergent and two cups of water, and drain into a trigger action spray bottle. Presto: you have a non-toxic window cleaner! This solution also works on lime scale in the bathroom.
- Grill and oven cleaner: This suggestion is simple: slice a lemon in half. That”™s it. A lemon can be used to clean the barbecue grill, oven tops and even the inside of ovens ”“ and you can also try it on windows and mirrors (you”™ll need more than one lemon of course). As a bonus, lemons are also a good antiseptic.
- Natural wood cleaner: Mix half a teaspoon of olive oil with a quarter cup of fresh lemon juice or vinegar. Shake the solution in a sealed container until it has emulsified (looks like a watery dip). Dab a soft cloth into the solution and you have a great, inexpensive natural wood polish.
- Toilet cleaner: Keep a spray container in the bathroom filled with a neat vinegar solution. Spray around the rim and bowl and wipe away after anywhere from 15 seconds to half a minute.
- Mold fighter: Apply vinegar from a trigger spray container, and leave it to settle. You”™ll be surprised when a short while later the mold wipes off and the vinegar smell dissipates. Vinegar also works great for bathroom and kitchen floor or wall tiles if mold has gotten into the grout.
Natural Home Cleaning Recipes also offers a fair share of natural cleaner recipes. A few examples are below:
- All purpose cleaner:
In a 16-ounce trigger spray bottle, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of borax. Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot water. Shake until the borax is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap or to scent, add 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil.
- Dishwashing liquid:
1/4 cup soap flakes
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup glycerin
1/2 teaspoon lemon essential oil
In a bowl, combine soap flakes and water and stir until the soap is dissolved. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the glycerin and the essential oil, leave to cool. As it cools, it will form a loose gel. Stir with a fork and break up the gel and then pour into a narrow-necked bottle, such as an old shampoo bottle. Squirt 3 teaspoonfuls into hot running water to use.
- Microwave oven cleaner:
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
5-6 drops thyme, lemongrass, or lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients to make a paste, and apply to the walls and floor of the microwave using a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse well and leave the microwave door open to air-dry for about 25 minutes.
These are just a few of the many natural cleaning recipes you can find online and in magazines. If you take the time to make cleaners from your own ingredients, you can create a healthy, non-toxic environment in your home while still having powerful enough cleaners to make it sparkle. And of course, you”™ll be doing one more thing to keep toxic chemicals away from your family and out of our environment.