If you are considering making some changes in your household and beauty products in your pursuit of a non-toxic life, household cleaners are the first place to start. I threw away over 10 bottles of toxic cleaning supplies last week with some very mixed emotions. I felt relief from the extra space available under my counter, wasteful for not using these items, and disgust with myself for not realizing how bad the ingredients in these cleaning supplies were in the first place. Mostly I am just happy that I no longer have these toxic substances in my home.
In my quest to make baby steps towards a less toxic life I’ve had to make some decisions on what products to use up/not waste and what to go ahead and toss. For the most part, I began replacing items with homemade concoctions or eco- friendly items as I ran out. When I ran out of laundry detergent, I made my own. I used all my dryer sheets before switching to simple vinegar fabric softener. I am still using regular store-bought dishwashing detergent (because I bought it in bulk a long, long time ago), but I’ll be switching to homemade or a non-toxic eco-friendly one as soon as I run out.
Cleaning supplies were where I drew the line though. Think about it. Cleaning supplies are substances that end up in our food, in our lungs, on our clothes and furniture and in our water supply. Take a look at a few of your household cleaning supplies. Honestly if you can’t ingest it, you shouldn’t be cleaning with it because you do ingest it in multiple ways.
We’ve been convinced through savvy marketing that we need a different cleaner for every area of our home – stove top cleaner, refrigerator cleaner, toilet cleaner, tub cleaner, cleaning wipes, window cleaner and of course a multi-purpose cleaner. The truth of the matter is that you really only need a “multi-purpose” cleaner. If you are like me, you may want to try out different cleaning aromas in different areas of your home but really you only need one ingredient in your household cleaning arena. You can add boosting ingredients, stain removers and other specialty ingredients but you could keep your house clean with one multi-purpose cleaner.
You want this multi-purpose cleaner to work, to get rid of mold, mildew, dirt, grime and leave your home clean without toxic chemicals lingering on your counters. The cleaning product that you need is so simple that it is really unbelievable. Well, believe it because it works and will save you a ton of money on cleaning supplies.
1 BASIC INGREDIENT:
Distilled White Vinegar
Dried Citrus Peels, Flowers and Herbs – My favorite boost for cleaning supplies are dried orange, lemon or lime peels. I use oranges often in my juicer so I always have orange peels around for various household uses. To dry out citrus peels, simply lay the peel or the zest out on paper towels or a drying rack until the peel is completely dry and brittle. Place the peels into your bottle of vinegar for 1-2 weeks to infuse, then drain. Rosemary and peppermint make great infusions as well. Be aware that infused vinegar can stain fabrics so keep your infused vinegar away from carpet and fabrics.
Essential Oils - I use my fabric softener blend which has Eucalyptus essential oil as a bathroom cleaner. I also like to add a little essential oil to my infused vinegar. For instance, when I infuse vinegar with oranges, I add a little orange EO to the bottle. Citrus essential oils are simply oils pressed from the peels so really I am simply adding more of the same thing when I infuse with peels then add essential oil. Citrus oils are great for cutting grease and grime and also smell better than plain vinegar.
Spray a few squirts anywhere you would use typical cleaners. Vinegar has a strong odor that some people don’t like, but that odor evaporates quickly. Vinegar is quite potent by itself so it’s perfectly fine to use a 50/50 dilution of half water/half vinegar. The catch with a diluted solution is that water will eventually grow bacteria so I like to keep a spray bottle of water handy and spray some water along with my vinegar solution as I’m cleaning.
- Floor cleaner – Vinegar mixed with warm water makes a great hardwood floor cleaner that leaves no residue.
- Counter and appliance cleaner and disinfectant
- Toilet and shower cleaner – Vinegar easily cuts grime and dirt. You can also spray a diluted vinegar in your shower or toilet and just leave it.
- Coffee maker cleaner - Simply add a cup of vinegar to your coffee water and run it through the machine. Then follow up with a few batches of water run through the coffee maker until the vinegar smell is no longer noticeable.
- Rinsing agent for dishes - Vinegar works wonders in the dishwasher as a rinsing agent. It removes hard water stains and buildup on glass and also cleans out your dishwasher.
- Bleach replacement – Reach for the vinegar anytime you would have typically reached for bleach. It works the same, if not better and it’s not toxic. NEVER mix vinegar with chlorine bleach because you end up with a potentially deadly compound.
- Dog and cat pee neutralizer – Vinegar gets rid of the odor of dog/cat pee, particularly if you have an animal that continuously marks its territory. Clean the pee up (cornstarch works great to lift pee on carpet), then spray the area well with vinegar. Let the vinegar sit a few minutes then wipe the area well. If you still smell an odor, spray with vinegar again. Not only will the smell be gone, but the animal won’t re-mark its territory.
- Fabric softener – Check out my post explaining how to use vinegar as a fantastic fabric softener.
- Washing machine cleaner – Not only do I use vinegar as a fabric softener, but I also use it in my washing machine. I spray vinegar into the ring in my HE washer after each use and wipe it down with a washcloth. I also add a half cup of vinegar and run the washing machine empty about once every couple of weeks. It’s really a necessity with an HE washing machine.
- Glass and mirror cleaner – Warm water mixed with vinegar makes the best glass cleaner. To avoid residue, use newspaper, coffee filters or a micro-fiber towel to clean glass. If you are using traditional detergents and fabric softeners, don’t use your towels or washcloths to clean glass because you will leave behind residue.
MORE GREAT CLEANING RECIPES AROUND THE WEB:
How about you? Do you make your own household cleaner? Let me know in the comments any tips or special ingredients you use in your homemade cleaning supplies!
* All information is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.