As a Mom with severe allergies, I want to keep my house clean and safe, but using Windex and Bleach is definitely NOT part of my natural living worldview! Years ago I used to douse my kitchen counters with Windex all day long and use bleach on any surface that wasn't nailed down. Ack!
You know we all think it … that there is a certain “smell of clean”. Whether lemony fresh, mountain clean or that bleach smell, unless we smell “clean” we wonder if it really is clean. Well, those smells only mean one thing, artificial and chemical.
Yes, bleach cleans by killing mold and mildew and removes stains, but it is also a harsh cleaner that, if mixed with the wrong thing, can be deadly.
So how dangerous are these cleaning chemicals?
The artificial perfumes and scents used to make our homes smell like “clean” mountain streams or fields of flowers contain a lot of toxic substances. How toxic?
Well some of the ingredients used in commercially available household cleaners can interfere with our endocrine system. That means they interfere with the functions of hormones. source National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
They can interfere with our nervous system as neurotoxins, our respiratory systems or be carcinogens.
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What are the ingredients that cause problems?
Well because they are part of what the law calls trade secrets, the manufacturers don't have to tell you what they are or if they are in their products. Understand that trade secrets are necessary to protect businesses. The unfortunate side effect is that it makes for a great way to hide toxins.
Since not cleaning isn't an option what can you do?
Well, just a generation or two ago buying household cleaners wasn't the norm. Our grandmothers or great-grandmothers used things like vinegar, baking soda, oils and other, safer, items to clean their homes and clothes. So can you, and it's not hard at all. Want that “lemony clean” smell? Lemon Essential Oils can do the trick.
Some essential oils can give you the disinfecting you want!
Here are some great recipes to make homemade, safe, cleaners
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix the vinegar, essential oils and a little water in a clean 12 oz. spray bottle. Glass bottles work better than plastic ones. Then add the baking soda. Shake to mix, then add water to fill the bottle. Shake again and spray to use. Wipe with a cloth.
Need something with a bit more scrubbing power? Try this:
Mix baking soda and laundry soap in a mixing bowl, stirring vigorously to combine into a paste. Add essential oil and mix well. Store in an airtight food container. If it starts to dry out before you've used it all, add a little bit of water and mix.
Do you like using those disinfectant wipes?
I do. They're convenient and disposable. The disposable part is an environmental issue so why not try some that are washable and reusable?
Homemade Disinfectant Wipes
Use an empty container, like an empty a baby wipe container, and layer cloth squares into the container. The cloth squares could be from old t-shirts or old dishtowels and you’ll need about 15 to 20 of them. Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture over the cloths in the container. Launder the cloths and keep for your next batch.
Homemade Liquid Dish Soap
If you’re like me, you probably do a lot of your dishes by hand. My dishwasher broke a few years ago and I just didn’t see the need to buy another one at the time, so I used liquid dish soap (our new house has a dishwasher but old habits die hard!) Here is how you can make your own liquid dish soap!
Combine distilled water with salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, Sal Suds, and lemon juice. Stir this mixture into the salt water mixture, and stir until thickened. Add 10 – 15 drops of lemon essential oil both for scent and for disinfectant properties. Store in an empty dish soap container.
Have a working dishwasher? Here’s a remedy for you. The bonus? Anything that you have been advised not to put in the dishwasher because dishwasher soaps have bleach can be!
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1/2 cup salt
2 cups baking soda
2 cups Borax
1 cup of Lemi-Shine (non-toxic, found in the detergent aisle)
Mix all ingredients together. Transfer to an air-tight storage container. It will last a long time: each load uses only 2 tablespoons of detergent! No need for those rinse agents either, just put white vinegar in the rinse agent compartment.
Homemade Oven Cleaner
I hate cleaning my oven. Those fumes! No need for them.
½ cup baking soda
2 or 3 tbsp. water (or more/less)
White vinegar (1/2 cup or so)
In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of baking soda and stir in 2 – 3 tablespoons of water, adjusting as needed to get a spreadable paste. Apply the paste all over the walls of your oven, scrubbing where necessary. Leave it there overnight. In the morning, you will put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray wherever you see baking soda. This will create a foaming action. Wipe clean with a damp cloth, rinsing until clean.
Clean Your Drains
Sprinkle baking soda down the clogged or smelly drain, and then pour in the vinegar. Let the bubbling mixture sit for an hour or so. Pour boiling hot water down the drain to rinse. Repeat if you need to until water flows freely.
Clean Your Toilet
Here is a fun way to clean the toilet (yes, I said toilet)… use lemon Kool-Aid®! The citric acid in the lemon cleans the toilet bowl. Sprinkle a package of Kool-Aid lemonade around the sides and scrub with a toilet bowl brush. Let this sit for several hours (overnight is best), and then just flush it away. Another plus is if you forget to put the lid down while it sits and your pets drink it, it won’t kill them!
Homemade Mirror and Glass Cleaner
Love Windex®? It works well, but again, the ammonia is dangerous, so try this instead:
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups water
8-10 drops of your choice of essential oil (optional)
Combine everything in a spray bottle. Shake to mix well and make sure that the cornstarch is completely mixed in. Cornstarch is what reduces streaking. Spray onto glass surface and wipe clean.
There are plenty more recipes out there. Don’t use chemicals that will poison your family!