There are days when I truly appreciate living on a small community island. Today was definitely one of those days.
The local library hosted a wonderful workshop this afternoon on Do-It-Yourself Cleaning Products, a topic right up my alley. Living in the Pacific Northwest, in the Puget Sound, I am very aware of chemicals I use on my body, in my house, and with my family.
Many chemicals end up washed down the drain, which for my direct area, means they end up in the ocean. Many studies have shown the harmful effects cleaning, health, and beauty products have on the environment and particularly ocean life.
These natural options for cleaning products aren’t just safer for the environment, they are easier on the wallet as well. All you need for a full stock of cleaning products is:
- Vinegar (white vinegar, none of the culinary vinegars, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic)
- Baking soda
- Essential oils (lavender, peppermint, orange, lemon, pine, or rosemary. Tea tree and eucalyptus are fabulous scents but are deemed unsafe around pets, so use caution)
- Castile soap
- Spray bottles
- Distilled water
Everything from carpet freshener to all-purpose cleaner to toilet fizzies can be made in your own kitchen (or bathroom) from products which are safer and more affordable than store bought brands.
For your basic surface cleaner, use a vinegar-base recipe-
- 1 part distilled water
- 1 part white vinegar
- Lemon juice (optional)
- 10-15 drops of essential oil per cup of vinegar-base liquid
Or, if you prefer, you can use a Castile soap base. It’s important to note when using a soap base cleaning product, make sure you rinse it thoroughly to avoid soap residue. Castile soap works fabulous in the bathtub and bathroom sinks.
Use a spray bottle and place a teaspoon of Castile soap with a teaspoon of Borax, and 5-6 drops of essential oil of your choice. Fill the spray bottle with warm distilled water (warm water dissolves Borax better). If you don’t have Borax, you can substitute with a tablespoon of baking soda.
I made this all-purpose cleaner today, and already used it on my shower. It works fantastic, and made the curtain easier to clean. It smells amazing, too.
You can also use these products to clean your drains. Clean your drain of large pieces of debris as much as possible. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain. Pour the vinegar and let it fizz 5-10 minutes. Pour hot to boiling water to wash the cleaner down. This works best on hair clogged drains, not grease clogged drains.
This fizzing reaction is also why you shouldn’t combine vinegar with baking soda in your cleaning agents. They cancel each other out, but works well using one AFTER the other.
Instead of buying furniture polish or dusting spray, you can make your own dusting rags. You will need:
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- A few drops of olive or avocado oil
- Rags of washcloths
- Lemon peels
- Glass jars
Place all the liquids in a glass jar and soak the rags. Once fully soaked, squeeze the rags out as much as possible. Place a couple lemon peels on each rag, then roll them up tight and store in a dry glass jar. Place any extra peels in the jar with the rags. When you want or need to dust, use your lemon dust cloths, and rinse the rags after cleaning.
Another really simple home cleaning is baking soda carpet freshener. This is a great alternative, especially if you have pets. Store-bought carpet cleaners notoriously have chemicals in them which react badly when pets interact with it.
Take 2 cups of baking soda and about 30 drops of essential oil of your choice (lavender, rosemary, and lemon work well) and combine them in a mason glass jar. Place a cap on it and shake well. Apply liberally to carpets, wait a couple hours (or do this right before going to bed). Vacuum baking soda application thoroughly.
Our final alternative, natural household cleaner was a toilet fizzy. This is almost exactly like a bath fizzy, without extra oils to keep the skin hydrated. If your skin doesn’t dry out super easily, it can double as a bath fizzy. While the toilet fizzy won’t CLEAN your toilet, it will help it smell cleaner and fresher.
You will need:
- 2 cups baking soda
- 2/3 cup citric acid
- Essential oils (I used 30 drops each of lavender and orange)
- A misting spray bottle with water or vanilla extract
- Mix the baking soda and citric acid in a large glass or metal bowl. Wear gloves for this to protect your skin.
- Slowly mist the dry powder with water a little at a time, mixing as you go.
- You want to barely wet the powder to get it to stick together in the mold. 1-2 sprays may be enough. Too much water will cause it to start fizzing.
- Add essential oils and continue mixing
- Separate mixture into single use sizes. Use a tsp measuring spoon and place them on a piece of parchment paper, or use a silicone mold.
- Let dry for a couple of hours, then carefully transfer from parchment or mold to an airtight jar to use as needed.
Whether we are taking care of our bodies with exercise, or taking care of our homes, we can still help make the world a better place while maintaining a healthy, happy home. Eco-wellness is the way to go.