DIY: Chemical-Free Household Cleansers
Inexpensive and effective ways to clean your home without toxic chemicals.
When we buy cleaning products, we usually look for two things: inexpensive and effective. But there are some very toxic ingredients in most of the cleaners today that can lead to health problems.
Many products release harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs and other chemicals released when using cleaners contribute to chronic respiratory problems, headaches, allergic reactions, and other problems.
Some of the common chemicals that are harmful to your health—and the environment—include:
- Various “hormone disrupting” chemicals that effect your body’s natural chemical messages
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) can both cause cancer and act as hormone disruptors
- alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) are surfactants, or “surface active agents”, added to some laundry detergents, disinfectants, citrus cleaners, and stain removers
These are just a few of the major problems contained in many of today’s household cleaners. This may leave you asking “what I can do to clean in a safer way for my family and environment?”
Here are a couple of our favorite natural cleaners for everyday home cleaning and disinfecting:
Lemons are very acidic and are really effective when mixed with salt! The mixture removes dirt and rust stains, while smelling fresh. Try some of these different uses:
Humidifiers: Just use 4 teaspoons of lemon juice to the water in your humidifier to get rid of any smells that are common from these appliances.
Cutting boards: Who wants to end up having your foods contaminated with smells from the previous use of your cutting board? Cut a lemon in half and squeeze onto the dirty surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. This will remove tough food stains from plastic and light wood cutting boards. It can even rid your board of garlic, fish, or onion smells!
Clean air: To freshen up your kitchen, and your house, after cooking—and maybe burning something on the stove— place a lemon on the center rack of the oven at 300°F for 15 minutes. You’ll have a great smelling home again, in no time! (Let the lemon cool before removing it.)
Windows: Just take 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ cup white vinegar, and 1 quart warm water. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and go to town! You’ll have sparkling windows in no time.
Another great acidic cleaner is vinegar. (This is by far one of the best natural cleaners.) Distilled white vinegar is great at preventing the growth of mildew, mold, bacteria, and even dangerous parasites like salmonella and E. coli.
There are many effective ways to use vinegar in your home such as:
Drain and pipe cleaner: Pour some vinegar down your sinks to clean both drains and pipes. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then flush with cold water.
Floors: Add ¼ cup of vinegar to a bucket of warm water. *Don’t use on marble or wood floors as vinegar may scratch or strip floor.
Showerheads: Fill a grocery bag with vinegar and tie the handles to the neck of the showerhead. Secure with rubber bands and let it soak overnight. Rinse in the morning before you shower.
Moldy walls: Spray the moldy area with vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse and let dry thoroughly.
Oils such as olive and sunflower oil can hydrate wood, diminish scratches and break up dirt. Try it in these places:
Wicker furniture: Brush either sunflower or vegetable oil onto wicker furniture, then use a cloth to gently rub it in. You can heat up the oil on the stove first to thin it a bit. This makes it easier to apply.
Stainless-steel: To really shine up your stainless appliances pour olive oil onto a cloth and buff surface.
Essential oils are extracted from plants and can kill bacteria or mold. These oils are very concentrated so a little goes a long way. The perfect place to use essential oils for their cleansing, fresh aromatic benefits is in the bathroom! In a spray bottle mix 2 teaspoons of tea-tree oil and 2 cups water. Shake and spray along the inside rim of the toilet. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then scrub. A good idea for an air freshener is to put a couple drops of oil inside to toilet paper roll so that every time someone uses it the scent will be stimulated and released.
Take these ideas and incorporate them into your house cleaning routine! They’re effective yet safe for your home—and more importantly, for your family.