Eco-Friendly Cleaning Guide: DIY Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaners
Winter is upon us, and you know what that means—it’s time for some fall cleaning. Yes, while spring cleaning may be more well-known, a good fall clean is probably more important for your overall health. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the coming months, and cleaner interiors and better air quality will make you feel a lot saner when the snow leaves you house bound.
If you’re using harsh commercial cleaners, though, you’re not doing yourself any favors. These products often contain chemicals known as VOCs, which are tentatively linked to a host of different health conditions—everything from asthma to cancer. Furthermore, many of these ingredients can seep into nearby rivers, streams, and ponds—and this threatens local ecosystems and aquatic life. On top of all that, store-bought cleaners are expensive, especially when you could be making your own nontoxic substitutes for pennies on the dollar. Here are some of the greenest (and cheapest!) recipes around.
Vinegar + Water = All Purpose Cleaner
Most homemade cleaners can be made with a few ingredients you already have in the house, and white vinegar is one of the star players. This substance has the power to break up caked-on food on the countertops, do away with stains on the floor, or even unclog your drains. For a general all-purpose cleaner, mix half a cup of vinegar with a few drops of tea tree oil, a natural disinfectant, and combine it in an empty spray bottle. Fill the bottle with water and shake.
A Homemade Scouring Powder Recipe for the Kitchen and Bathroom
When you DIY this all-natural scouring powder, you don’t need to discriminate between the bathroom and the kitchen. A cup of baking soda and a cup of table salt is all you need—and it’s safe enough to use on countertops, kitchen sinks, and pots and pans.
An Alternative to Antibiotic Hand Soaps
By now, you’ve probably heard the news about antibacterial hand soaps. These substances may kill germs, but they could be wiping out helpful bacteria, too, leaving you and your family more vulnerable to bugs in the future. For a safer alternative, a few drops of tea tree oil squeezed into some liquid Castile soap is an all-natural germ deterrent that will leave your hands softer, too.
Greasy, gritty surfaces, like the inside of the microwave or the oven, sometimes require something a little bit harder than your all-purpose cleaner. For a nontoxic degreasing solution, combine a cup of white vinegar, a tablespoon of baking soda, and a few drops of Castile soap in a spray bottle. Next top it all off with warm water. Give your surfaces a quick spritz, and then let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe all that caked-on grease away with a single swipe.
Gentle, Nontoxic Furniture Polish
Wood and water do not mix, as you already well know. That’s why this DIY furniture polish recipe is so genius. Just combine ¼ cup of lemon juice with ½ cup olive oil for a gentle cleaner that leaves your wood pieces shining with a distinguished polish. Apply it as you would any ordinary furniture cleaner.
Safer Drain Cleaner
Nothing is more frustrating than a clogged tub. But commercial drain cleaners are some of the most toxic substances you can keep in your home (see this Consumer Reports article for the full skinny on what makes them so bad). In brief, they contain hazardous chemicals like lye that are meant to dissolve soap buildup and hair. Definitely not something we need in our waterways! Especially when a cup of white vinegar and a cup of baking soda will break up most clogs just as well—and is much safer for our marine-bound friends.
White vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap, lemon juice, olive oil, and tree tree oil—all you need for the most affordable clean ever!