The smell of a clean house is something that should be associated with good things like cleanliness, health, and productivity. Since I have come to discover the myriad of harmful chemicals contained in most store-bought cleaning products though, I now associate these smells with toxicity, respiratory problems and waste. There are some wonderful ways to clean your house using all-natural non-toxic products you may already have in your kitchen. Not only does this charge the house with a good clean energy, but it also is quite economical and resourceful. I also love the ability to incorporate aromatherapy in to the cleaning. Here are some of my favorite homemade cleaning products:
Counter: Simply mix up a mixture of distilled water (or boiled and cooled) and essential oils with antibacterial properties in a spray bottle. I am always saving old spray bottles for this purpose. My favorite mixture for the kitchen is water with tea tree, lemon and grapefruit. I also like the mixture of peppermint and vanilla or of lemongrass and coriander. The bonus to this cleaner is you don’t have to worry when spraying near food or on a surface that you might later make a sandwich on.
Foaming Hand Soap: Using an old foaming hand soap dispenser, add about two tablespoon of castile soap and a teaspoon of oil (almond, olive or jojoba all work well) to distilled water. Be sure to add the soap and oil after the water so it doesn’t get all bubbly. Drop in about 15 drops of essential oil of your choice. I initially bought foaming hand soaps at Whole Foods and used the bottles to make a homemade mixture once these ran out but you could also buy empty foaming soap dispensers.
Floors (wood or tile): In a bucket mix a couple gallons of hot water with a generous squirt of Dr. Bronner’s (or any castile) soap, along with essential oils (about 30 drops) of your choice. I really like to use the peppermint castile soap and change the essential oils depending on the season/mood. One of my favorite mixtures is Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap with tea tree, lemon, eucalyptus and cinnamon essentials oils added to the water. If floors are greasy or you need to cut scum, ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar can be used instead of the castile soap but don’t do this too often or you may strip the wood floors of the wax or oils they are coated with. And do not mix the castile soap with vinegar. They will essentially cancel each other out. You can read more about that here if you’re interested in the details. A little bit of olive oil added to the floor washing will help seal and shine wood floors. Sometimes I like to rotate cleaning with castile soap, then vinegar, then oil on different weeks.
Disinfecting: Spray hydrogen peroxide (an effective bleach alternative) on surface . It also whitens and helps remove stains, especially in grout.
Mirrors/windows: Use a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water (approximately one quarter cup of vinegar to each gallon of water). I keep one pre-mixed in a large household spray bottle. Just spray and wipe. I have found that using old newspaper or making use of the flyers that come in the mail in place of paper towels works really well for preventing streaks and reducing waste.
Carpet deodorizer: Sprinkle baking soda on rugs and carpets before vacuuming. The baking soda can be left on the rugs overnight for extra freshening. This could also be used on cloth furniture to combat odors.
Bathtub/shower/sink: Squirt a generous dollop of Dr. Bronner’s soap across the surfaces, and then sprinkle with baking soda. Scour away. The baking soda has a mild abrasive action. The thing I like about this mixture is that these two things are often ingredients I put in homemade baths so if any gets left behind, it’s no problem at all. If you have areas of mold or mildew growth, spray undiluted white vinegar on the areas and wipe after fifteen minutes or so. Baking soda will help if you need scrubbing action.
Toilets: To wipe the rims, I just use a simple mixture of peppermint and a generous amount of tea tree oil with distilled water. My homemade disposable baby wipes actually do this job really well too in between cleanings. For the basin, scrub with Dr. Bronner’s soap mixed in a small squirt bottle with distilled water and lots of tea tree oil. Again, the added benefit here is if the cat ends up drinking from it later, she is safe. Or at least only threatened by Chief’s disgust, hee hee. I also like to put a few drops of a favorite essential oil inside the toilet paper tube to freshen the bathroom without chemicals. The toilet could be sprayed with hydrogen peroxide and then wiped for further disinfecting.
Litter box: Remove the litter and spray with the same solution used for toilets above (a mixture of peppermint and tea tree oil with distilled water).
That pretty much covers all the surfaces in your house! To summarize, I have created a shopping list below:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Castile soap
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Essential oils. Refer to the aromatherapy post for a more detailed list but great, inexpensive ones to start with for cleaning are as follows: peppermint, tea tree, clove, lemon and eucalyptus
- Household spray bottles
- Oil (olive or almond)