Spring is in the air, and so is the pollen! If you’re like me, between kids and dogs running in and out of the house, all that yellow pollen (not to mention dirt and dog hair) may cover the house in no time. Although dusting and vacuuming gets most of the mess, I like to take it a step further by wiping down surfaces and toys.
The smell of Pine-Sol and Lysol may fill my childhood memories, but it definitely does not fill my present. Conventional cleaners are filled with toxic chemicals that can be neuro toxins, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens. You can find quite a few toxic ingredients in many fragranced household products. Ingredients like phthalates, perchloroethylene or “PERC,” Triclosan, Quarternary Ammonium Compounds, or “QUATS,” 2-Butoxyethanol, Ammonia, Chlorine, Sodium Hydroxide. (link) Take a moment to check the back of your cleaners, and see how many ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know where they are from. Seems a bit scary, right? Click here to see the Environmental Working Group’s “Hall of Shame” for toxic cleaners.
Clean the earth-friendly, non-toxic way!
Instead, I make my own DIY homemade cleaners. Not only does it keep our house safe and healthy, but it also saves us money and is gentle on the environment! With just a few simple ingredients, I can make our home sparkle and shine without the harmful effects from chemical cleaners.
Here’s a list of ingredients to keep on hand:
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Castile Soap
- Baking Soda
- Lemons and Lemon Essential Oil
- Thyme Thymol Essential Oil
Notice how few ingredients there are? It makes the endless list of ingredients in commercial products seem quite unnecessary (which they are).
So why these ingredients? Let’s look at what each of them is good for.
- Distilled white vinegar contains acetic acid and has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. I use this as the base of all my cleaners. Not only does it help disinfect, but it also it helps get rid of mineral deposits from hard water stains. You can also wash your produce with vinegar and water to kill molds and microbes to keep it fresher longer.
- Castile soap, made from olive oil, is great for washing away dirt and grease, and I use this on especially tough stains on laundry, curtains, upholstery, etc.
- Baking soda makes a gentle scrub, which I use for scouring countertops, stovetops, ceramic, and tile. It dissolves grease and dirt and can also help deodorize areas. I like to spread a thin, even layer on our rugs, leaving it to sit for an hour or more while we are out to absorb smells from our dogs and feet. Then up the vacuum goes the smells with the baking soda.
- Lemon is great for deodorizing and killing germs so I use this in my kitchen. I add a few drops of lemon essential oil to my vinegar spray to make the home smell fresh. Also, I like to add a few lemon peels and some ice cubes in the garbage disposal to routinely clean and deodorize the disposal and drain.
- Thyme Thymol Essential Oil is my secret for disinfecting, especially during flu season. As a natural disinfectant, the EPA rates thyme oil as effective at killing germs as bleach. This includes the flu virus, the H1N1 virus, E. coli, and more! (See sources here, here, and here.) I add a few drops of this to my spray bottle for extra disinfecting power and routinely disinfecting the toys for my children.
Here is my everyday spray recipe. I use this in a spray bottle the most, on all my surfaces, and I always try to keep a bottle of it handy. I also regularly mist our couch and rugs with this recipe.
- Distilled water and distilled white vinegar in equal amounts (half the bottle full of vinegar, the rest full of water)
- 5-10 drops lemon essential oil
- 5-10 drops thyme essential oil
For smaller bottles, use the smaller amounts of the essential oils.
To use baking soda, just spread around or make a paste with water, and scrub with a natural sponge. After scrubbing, wipe the mixture away with your sponge, and then use the disinfectant spray to clean up the rest.
To use castile soap, just pour (in liquid form) directly onto the stain or diluted in water and wash away with water.
Not ready to make your own cleaners?
Sometimes making the switch can be tough, and not all moms have the time or energy to put into the DIYs of the home. Good news! There are products out there that are still safe for you and your family! When I’m not making my own disinfectants and soaps because I don’t have time to DIY, I use Seventh Generation. They use plant derived ingredients and are very low risk in terms of toxicity. Their aerosol disinfectant spray kills 99.99% of germs, their soaps and detergents are non-toxic, and their diapers and wipes are natural and safe for sensitive skin. This brand is our go-to when I’m out of my homemade products or ingredients.
Want more cleaning recipes? Check out Rebecca Moses’s article, “Detoxify Your Home and Join the Green Cleaning Trend [with Infographic]” for 19 other great cleaning recipes and green cleaning tips.
*This post contains affiliate links to products I use. By shopping from these links, you help to keep us writing!