Maybe it was the shamefully overflowing and crowded space under our kitchen sink, or maybe it was the way my eyes and throat burned every time I cleaned the shower, but I have given up on commercial cleaning products. And, it feels good!
Stroll down the cleaning aisle at any supermarket, and you’ll see an amazing array of specialized cleansers catering to the most clean-obsessed consumers. Some products are for the kitchen, some are for the bathroom but not the toilet, some are just for toilets, and many of them promise to kill germs. The chemicals and synthetic perfumes used in these cleaners are truly noxious, leaving behind harmful fumes that can be disruptive to our endocrine systems, harmful to those with asthma and allergies, and even carcinogenic.
As for the environment, these chemicals leach into our groundwater supply, killing fish and wildlife. Some contain petrochemicals that increase our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels, not to mention the harm done by all of those disposable plastic bottles that never get recycled!
As a society, we are far too obsessed with cleanliness. Sterile environments make our immune systems weak and obsessive cleaning takes time away from more important things like drinking champagne on a Saturday afternoon.
A clean, fresh-smelling home requires only a few DIY cleaning products, and you can make them yourself using inexpensive ingredients that are safe and effective. We are saving huge money on cleaning products and we use old plastic spray bottles and mason jars to store them, so nothing gets thrown away. I have enjoyed being able to clean safely without wearing gloves to protect my skin, too.
Here’s what you need: baking soda, borax powder, kosher salt, vinegar, castile soap, and essential oils like tea tree or lemon if you wish.
All-Purpose Vinegar Cleaner – counters, vanities, mirrors, glass, sinks
Scouring Powder – great for showers, sinks, tubs and toilets
Mix 2 parts baking soda with one part kosher salt and one part borax powder. Combine well. To use, first wet the area to be cleaned with water or, for tougher cleaning, white vinegar. Sprinkle the powder on and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the area clean and rinse well.
Floor Cleaner – works on tile and wood
Mix 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s) with one gallon of warm water. Mix in up to 20 drops of essential oil if desired. Clean area with sponge or mop.
As for disinfecting, vinegar is naturally antimicrobial and we use it in our kitchen every day. It’s probably true that vinegar does not kill germs as effectively as bleach on things like cutting boards. Because I don’t want to use bleach in our home, we keep a wood cutting board that’s dedicated to cutting meat. Wood harbors less bacteria than plastic and I simply wash it with very hot, soapy water. You can also place a wood cutting board in the microwave for a minute to kill any lingering germs.
For dusting, use reusable microfiber cleaning cloths that can withstand lots of wear and washing.
While there are some specialized tasks that may require a commercial cleanser from time to time, this arsenal of just three DIY cleaning products covers 99% of our needs for routing cleaning. Try them yourself – you’ll save money, breathe cleaner air, and lessen your environmental impact!
Category: Green Living
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