I use a lot of natural based cleaners to keep my home clean. Many conventional cleaners are filled with potentially toxic and harsh synthetics that clean your house well but at the expense of you and your family’s health, and also the environment. I have tried many natural and naturally derived house, dish, and laundry products. Most are highly effective, non-toxic, biodegradable, and safer for you and the Earth.
Many natural based cleaners on the market are made with detergents (which are synthetic substances but many are derived from natural ingredients), herbs (in the form of extracts, infusions, or essential oils), water, and some may contain a synthetic preservative. A few products are made with (real) soap with herbs (note: many ‘soaps’ on the market are in fact detergents or blends of real soap and detergents. Detergents are often used in housecleaning products because they tend to remove dirt and grime more effectively than real soap, and usually rinse cleanly. Personally I like using both real soap and detergents, depending on what I am cleaning).
Though many natural housecleaning brands contain some synthetics like detergents, most do not contain any potentially toxic or irritating ingredients like many conventional brands do, such as bleach, formaldehyde, or ammonia. Most are scented naturally but a few brands may contain synthetic fragrances (I recommend ones scented with essential oils, which are usually antiseptic and are in general less irritating than many synthetic fragrances).
Natural based cleaning products are lower in price than they were just a few years ago, and often a bottle lasts longer than conventional products because they are so concentrated (though many contain water, it is usually low on the ingredient list, unlike many conventional products where water is one of the main ingredients), so you can use less to get the job done. But when time permits, I like to make and use my own products . Not only are homemade cleaning products very inexpensive to make, but also they are just as effective as store brought items, and many are 100% natural. They are good for you and your family, the Planet, and easy on the wallet too!
Here are some quick and simple green cleaning ideas!
Use baking soda to scrub and deodorize:
Baking Soda is great to use as a gentle scrub to clean the bathtub, sinks, trashcans, ovens, and other surfaces and containers. It removes grime and also odors. Use it as is, or add a few drops (3 to 7) of essential oils to several ounces of baking soda and mix well. Recommended essential oils for cleaning are orange, lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus, pine, or lavender. For cleaning bathtubs, sinks, trashcans, ovens, etc, right before cleaning, create a paste with the baking soda and a small amount of water and scrub with a damp sponge, and rinse well. Baking soda is also great as a carpet freshener (just sprinkle it dry on carpets, let sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour, and vacuum). To remove odors from the trashcan, shoes, and other items, sprinkle (dry) baking soda in the item and let sit overnight and then shake out.
Vinegar makes a great antiseptic cleaner, soap scum remover, and general all purpose cleaner:
Vinegar can be used full strength or diluted with distilled water to make a fantastic all purpose cleaner. It kills germs but is super gentle, and leaves surfaces sparkly clean! For an all-purpose cleaning spray add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (see suggestions above, essential oils are optional) to white vinegar or a blend of white vinegar and distilled water in a spray bottle. Be sure to shake well before each use if you added the essential oils. I usually use it full strength in the kitchen when cleaning things like cutting boards, but on other surfaces I usually dilute the vinegar (like 1/4 cup in a pint of water, with 5-10 drops of essential oils). Use the spray on counter tops, the bathroom, the kitchen, on windows, and most surfaces. The vinegar smell quickly evaporates. Please note, vinegar can be used on most surfaces but if using essential oils, you may want to spot test on certain surfaces before using.
Cut down cleaning time with microfiber:
Microfiber is fantastic for cleaning most surfaces. These super soft cloths quickly and effectively remove dirt from surfaces, and can cut cleaning time to minutes or even seconds. For more information on microfiber check out the blog post I wrote about them a while back.
Check out my blog post on suggestions for natural cleaning brands, and also green cleaning recipe books to make your own products.
Here is a good list of toxins found in conventional products and good natural brand recommendations from the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia’s Guide to Less Toxic Products.
Tips from natural green cleaning and eco living author Annie B. Bond.
More great articles from Annie B. Bond
A few good cleaning ideas from the Daily Green’s website.
About The Author:
Li Wong has a B.A. in Environmental Studies (Biology) and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy. She has been crafting natural cosmetics and studying aromatherapy and herbalism since 2001, and is currently a student of Jeanne Rose’s Aromatherapy Studies Course. Environmental interests include conservation, botany, ethnobotany (uses of plants by indigenous peoples), mammals, organic standards in cosmetics, urban wildlife issues, environmental education and awareness, and public perception. Her all natural, eco-friendly, vegetarian cosmetic company will open in a few weeks. ☺
For more information on environmental issues, Eco Living, natural cosmetics, aromatherapy, and herbalism check out: Solarkat’s Eco Blog. http://solarkatecoblogspot.com
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