According to the Centers for Disease Control, bacteria double every 20 minutes. Yet, recent studies have shown that 40% of cleansers and disinfectants sold in stores are ineffective against certain types of germs and bacteria! In addition, the harsh chemicals in store bought solutions can be hazardous to our health, not to mention expensive. Perhaps you’ve heard of using natural cleaners, but weren’t quite sure how to get started.
In honor of earth month, here are some easy ways you can begin using non-toxic, “Greener Cleaners” that are better for you and the environment.
The photo above includes (clockwise from left): vinegar, lemon, baking soda, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, and club soda. Continue reading to learn how to use these elements alone, or combined, for a “Super-Natural” cleaning experience!
Let’s go room by room, shall we?
To shine and clean chrome, windows, and mirrors, try Missy & Jennifer’s natural recipe below:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
8 drops citrus essential oil – optional
(Consider using an old glass bottle, such as the kind that apple cider vinegar comes bottled in if you are going to add oils to your mixture, since the oils can degrade the plastic over time).
Use a squeegee to wipe windows & mirrors clean, or lint-free cloth, or old newspaper (newspaper deposits less lint than paper towels and doesn’t leave streaks).
Or, try using Club Soda in a spray bottle!
I was surprised to discover that even professional cleaners use club soda, straight-up, for cleaning. Why? Because the sodium citrate in club soda softens the water and provides streak-free cleaning. Who knew?!
* Tip: Two great products to put spray nozzles directly onto are Club Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide, since they have SO many uses. Prepared this way, they are always ready to go!
Hydrogen Peroxide can be used to spray toilet surfaces and wipe clean, or pour a half cup into toilet bowl, let stand approx. 20 min., then scrub clean. For another great toilet bowl cleaning tip, check out Missy & Jennifer’s recipe for making a “Toilet Bomb“.
What more can be done with peroxide?
Spray the interior of the shower (including shower curtains) to kill bacteria and viruses.
Soak toothbrushes in peroxide to keep them clean, especially during cold and flu season.
Finally, soak or spritz tub toys, other plastic toys, and teething rings. Rinse after they have soaked (for 10 min.) or have been spritzed.
Now let’s move into…
Spray hydrogen peroxide onto cutting boards to disinfect them. You can also clean your counter top with it! Let bubble for a few minutes, then rinse and wipe clean. Since it’s non-toxic, it’s great for cleaning other places that come into contact with food, such as the inside of the refrigerator. Also, soak kitchen rags and sponges in a shallow bowl or dish with a 50/50 mix of water and peroxide. Let soak for at least 10 minutes. It’s such an easy way to keep everything fresh and clean!
For the garbage disposal, just pop a few slices of fresh lemon down the hatch while running the disposal and water.
Or, pour a cup of vinegar down with the lemons under running water.
Finally, you can try pouring 1 cup baking soda down the drain, or 1 cup vinegar, followed by 3 cups boiling water to disinfect and deodorize.
The Laundry Room
This next tip comes from Real Simple magazine. For the washer, skip the bleach and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash cycle for brightening dull whites. Chlorine bleach contains the chemical sodium hypochlorite which is not good for us or the environment.
Two additional non-toxic alternatives to bleach (that even Dr. Oz recommends) are… White vinegar and peroxide. Good thing they’re on our list! Just be sure to use them separately for cleaning. You can clean a surface with one, then rinse, then use the other on the same surface, but never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together. A potentially harmful chemical can be created if you accidentally create too strong
For the dryer, replace chemical -laden dryer sheets with 10-15 drops of essential oil applied onto a small towel, and toss into the dryer during the cool down cycle.
Any Room ~ DIY Deodorizer
Make your own non-toxic room deodorizer (below) simply and inexpensively.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Clockwise from upper left: Baking soda, a small glass jar, scrap fabric squares, essential oil, and a rubber band (optional).
Fill the glass jar about 1/4 – 1/3 full of baking soda. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil and cover the top of the jar with a permeable layer such as a fabric square. You can secure it with a rubber band before popping the outer metal ring back on the jar, or just leave the fabric square with the rubber band and no metal ring (tie a ribbon to cover the rubber band if you like to make it prettier, rather than replacing the metal ring). Keep your favorite fragrance of essential oil nearby to freshen up the scent as needed.
Essential oils such as lavender, thyme, or tea-tree are antiseptic and anti-bacterial while citrus oils are great inhibitors of microbial growth. Orange oil is a pleasant and cheerful scent while lemon oil is a fragrance we often associate with clean and fresh.
These DIY jars can be placed in any area that can use deodorizing such as the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and clothing or linen closets. Finally, this same mixture can be sprinkled onto mattresses when little ones have an accident or, you can sprinkle baking soda on the mattress by itself. Sprinkle a liberal amount onto the affected area and vacuum after a couple of hours. Apply the same approach to the rest of the mattresses in your home on occasion to keep them smelling fresh too!
Has this post encouraged you to give natural cleaners a try? Do you use any natural cleaners, or have a great natural cleaning tip or recipe you’d care to share? Let us know in the comments below!
To Your “Greener Cleaning” Adventures,