Having control over exactly what goes into the products used in your home can make avoiding chemical additives that much easier, as even natural products from the store can sometimes contain questionable surfactants, coloring agents, artificial fragrances and various petroleum by-products.
The ability to make your own household cleaning products will not only save you time and money, but you might also notice that the process of ridding your life of unnecessary items can actually help you to relieve stress. Another great thing I’ve noticed about homemade cleaners is that they can often replace a number of different products you usually have to buy individually. Once you get some basic ingredients together and try out a few successful recipes, the possibilities are pretty much endless!
Here are a few basic ingredients that are useful to start cleaning your home naturally:
1. Baking soda – As a basic substance, it comes in handy to help neutralize acids. Baking soda also makes an excellent gentle scrub and helps to counteract strong odors.
2. White vinegar – This inexpensive acid is a versatile mild cleanser and can be diluted with water to clean any smooth surface such as glass or porcelain.
3. Oxygen bleach – This non-chlorine bleach can be used just as you would the regular stuff, like to whiten laundry, remove stains and to disinfect surfaces.
4. Lemon juice – Lemon juice is very effective against undesirable smells and also acts as a mild cleanser. One cost-effective trick for cleaning on a budget is to remove the rind of an organic lemon from the pith and let it soak in clean water for 24-48 hours. To use, strain the lemon peel, pour into a spray bottle and discard after 3-4 months.
5. Essential oils – A few little bottles of some of your favorite essential oils will be a worthwhile investment for cleaning and are also really useful for relaxation and cosmetics. Some of the many oils that boast antibacterial properties include lavender, tea tree, citronella, rosemary, lemon, orange and eucalyptus.
Here are three base recipes that will come in handy in many situations and can easily be customized to suit your needs:
1. All-Purpose Cleaning Spray: Add 2 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar and 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to an empty spray bottle and shake well. I find lavender with tea tree smells nice, and works well too! This recipe works great for any surface including counter tops, porcelain and stainless steel. Store in a cool, dark place.
2. Glass & Window Cleaner: In a spray bottle mix 1 cup water with 1½ cups vinegar, 18-20 drops of citrus essential oil like lemon, grapefruit or orange and a few drops of plain unscented vegetable-based soap. The soap is optional but it provides a little extra cleaning strength that’s sometimes needed for outdoor windows.
3. DIY Cleaning Scrub
In a glass jar mix 2 cups of aluminum-free baking soda, 8 drops rosemary essential oil, 4 tablespoons finely powdered rosemary leaves and ½ cup powdered soap flakes, which are available at most natural grocery retailers. This scrub works well on stubborn stains, bathtubs and shower basins. To use, simply add a little water and scrub gently with a sponge or natural bristle brush.