Cleaning and disinfecting have become something that everyone is more aware of these days. Unfortunately, many cleaners and disinfectants are highly toxic to our bodies. Cleaning products contain a wide variety of harsh chemicals, including substances classified as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs.
Conventional cleaning products often contain harsh cleansing agents and artificial fragrances and colors. VOCs and other chemicals are released when using cleaning supplies in your home, and can contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions, asthma and even cancer.
Toxic chemicals in everyday household cleaners include:
- Carcinogens – cancer causing agents
- Endocrine disruptors – in the form of xenoestrogens (chemical estrogenic compounds) Xenoestrogens can lead to infertility, sexual dysfunction, miscarriage, menstrual issues, gynecomastia and cancer.
- Neurotoxins –toxic to the brain and nerves, can cause headaches, mood changes and even diseases like Parkinson’s.
These substances can be absorbed through our skin and lungs causing rashes, asthma, and irritating the nose and throat. They are especially harmful to our vulnerable family members, children and pets.
Research shows that many of the chemicals found in conventional house-cleaning products are bio-accumulative and very toxic. That means that once in your system, they actually stay in your system and are hard to clear. This makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancers.
In addition, many of the ingredients found in conventional cleaning products are very bad for the environment, and can harm plants and wildlife, contaminate drinking water, and adversely affect soil and even air quality. Check out the Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental Working Group to learn more.
What About Natural Cleaning Products?
Many of the “natural” cleaning products found in the grocery store can actually have harmful chemicals in them, in spite of their “natural” labeling. Unfortunately, there are no laws in place that demand companies are transparent about all of the ingredients in their products. This means they can make false claims about their so-called “natural” ingredients.
The other big problem with the natural, store-bought cleaning products is their price tag. They are often up to twice as expensive as the conventional cleaning products.
But you don’t need to spend a fortune on natural products. Good old-fashioned vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and other inexpensive ingredients found in your pantry can clean just as well or better than conventional or natural store-bought cleaning products, without any toxic by-products.
These natural products are inexpensive and versatile to keep on hand to create your own cleaning products:
- Vinegar—One of the best all-round natural cleaning ingredients. Vinegar contains acetic acid, a gentle acid with antibacterial properties. Distilled white vinegar works best for cleaning.
- Castile soap—A versatile, gentle soap, can be used on your body, but also very effective for cleaning purposes. Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile is great for this.
- Baking soda—Baking soda has a number of excellent uses, for scrubbing, scouring, laundry and more. Always keep a good quantity of baking soda on hand.
- Essential oils—Tea tree oil, lavender, rosemary, orange, lemon or eucalyptus oils. Most all essential oils are antibacterial and antiviral, so choose the scent (s) you like best. My favorite is sweet orange essential oil.
- Microfiber cloths, sponges
- Empty spray bottles
These two DIY cleaning products will clean most everything in your house. Once is a homemade soft scrub and the other is an all-purpose spray cleaner. There are lots of variations of these online. Be sure to test the cleaning product on a small area first.
DIY Soft Scrub
- ½ cup castile soap
- 1½ cup baking soda
- ¼ – ½ cup water (use distilled water if your tap water is very hard)
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Mix the castile soap and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix ¼ cup water with the vinegar. Combine it with the baking soda mixture. Add more water to get the consistency you want. Store the thicker paste in a covered container.
* It’s generally not a great idea to mix vinegar and castile soap (acid/base). But in this case, the baking soda is also a base. It protects the soap from being neutralized by the vinegar.
DIY All-purpose Spray Recipe
Mix together in a spray bottle.
- 2 cups water (use distilled water if your tap water is very hard)
- 2 tablespoons castile soap
- 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)
DIY Laundry Soap
- An empty 1/2 gallon old detergent jug
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 15 drops orange, lavender or jasmine essential oil (or any combination)
Pour castile soap, baking soda and favorite essential oil inside the jug. Using the essential oils is optional but it will leave you with good smelling laundry.
Fill the jug with hot water, this will help dissolve the baking soda, until you reach almost the top of the jug. Close it and shake it.
Use about 1/4-1/3 cup per load. Make sure you shake the jug slightly each time before using. Not too much though otherwise when you open the jug the mixture will burst out.
There you have it—natural, basic, easy-to-use cleaning products for your home. Enjoy the natural clean!