Helping to heal our planet begins with changing old habits. Each month I focus on the things each of us can do to stop adding to the environmental problem and steer towards a better future. This month is centered on making changes in our household cleaning products to ensure the same (or better!) cleaning results but without the harmful chemicals and fumes. Remember:The least toxic cleaners will be those you make yourself!
The Eight Essentials
Nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe uses one or more of eight basic ingredients:
1- Baking Soda– acts as an abrasive or grit for scrubbing. It reacts with vinegar, lemon juice and
water to increase cleaning effectiveness.
2- Borax– acts as a disinfectant, bleach and deodorizer. Very useful in laundry. You’ll find it on the laundry aisle at the store.
3- Distilled White Vinegar– disinfects, breaks up grime and dirt. Do NOT use apple cider or red vinegars! They might cause staining!
4- Hydrogen Peroxide– bleaches and disinfects.
5- Bottled/Fresh Lemon Juice– Great grease cutter! Fresh lemon juice seems to be slightly stronger than bottled in cutting through tough greasy messes.
6- Olive Oil– Great for cleaning and polishing wood! The cheaper olive oil usually does the best job.
7- Vegetable Based (liquid Castile)Soap– Castile soap isn’t a brand but a type of soap made from
vegetable oil rather than animal fat or synthetic substances. Great as a shampoo or body soap! Perfect for non-petroleum all-purposes cleaners. Many Wal-Mart and Super Target stores sell liquid Castile soap.
8- Washing Soda– stain remover, add to boiling water to unclog pipes, general cleaner. This is NOT the same as baking soda! Can be found in laundry aisle in store. Note: Washing Soda is mildly caustic. It’s advisable to wear gloves when handling.
My Own Cleaning Formulas
I have personally tested the following cleaning formulas and use them on a weekly basis with excellent results. Your results might vary.
Note: I suggest purchasing 3-4 plastic spray bottles at one time for the various cleaning solutions and use a permanent marker to label each.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
(To Clean & Deodorize)
Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda. Spray with white vinegar. Wait one full minute and scrub with brush as usual.
Cut a lemon in half and dip the face in borax. Now you have a hand-held scrubber! Scrub and rinse with hot water.
Marble Kitchen Countertops
Mix one quart warm to hot water with 1 Tbsp. Castile liquid soap. Rinse well with warm water and dry with soft dry cloth.
De-Greasing Solution for Stove Top, Countertop (except marble), And Oven
¼ tsp. Liquid Castile Soap
½ tsp. Washing Soda
2 c. hot water
Mix soap and washing soda into hot water. Put in plastic bottle and apply to surfaces. Scrub lightly; rinse with hot water. Dry.
Bleach Alternative (Note: Use same precautions you’d use with any over-the-counter bleach alternative)
½ c. hydrogen peroxide.
Increase/decrease according to size of load. Use same amount as you’d use for any bleach alternative, perhaps slightly more.
Floor Cleaner For No-Wax Kitchen/Bathroom Floors
¼ c. Washing Soda
1 c. White Vinegar
1 Tbs. Liquid Castile Soap
2 gal. Hot Water
Mix all ingredients together , making sure washing soda is completely dissolved. Mop floor as usual.
Furniture Polish For Wooden Furniture
Juice Of 1 Freshly Squeezed Lemon
1 tsp. Olive Oil (the cheapest brands do the best job!)
1 tsp. Warm Water
Note: This recipe needs to be made fresh each time!
Mix ingredients together. Using soft cloth, apply thin coat of mixture to wooden surface. Let stand 5 minutes. Buff to a shine with a soft, dry cloth.
Remember: It’s the little day-to-day green things we do that can eventually make a big impact!