Is it possible for your home to be both green and clean? It is! And in this post we’re going to discuss what to use, how to use it, and why it works. Click here to read about a study done by a scientist on her own dime (not influenced by industry).
According to the EPA, indoor air can be 10 to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, largely due to fumes from household cleaners. We have gotten so used to cleaning products having strong scents that this may be the hardest part to get used to. Homemade cleaning products, even when laced with essential oils have little or no scent. ‘Clean’ does not have a scent!!
What is a ‘green’ cleaning product?
Green and clean products are products made with naturally occurring components that won’t contaminate soil and water supplies when rinsed off or disposed of; and won’t cause toxic effects on humans or animals. Many of these products are already in your pantry or very easy to find at your local store.
Advantages to Switching to Green and Clean Products
Besides being non-toxic, green cleaning products are very inexpensive, easy to make, and fun! Several scientific studies have shown homemade versions of cleaning products are as effective and sometimes even more effective than their commercial counterparts!
Components of home-made green cleansers
- Vinegar—either white or apple cider
- An effective anti-microbial agent (antibacterial, antiviral), vinegar is effective even on strains of e. coli and salmonella.
- Used full-strength or mixed half and half with water vinegar is an effective all-purpose cleaner all by itself. And no, your house will NOT smell like a salad!! The scent disappears as the vinegar evaporates.
- Baking soda
- Great deodorizer
- An open box in your fridge absorbs stray food odors.
- Laundry—You can launder clothing in 1/4C without any added soap, as most laundry is not actually ‘dirty’ it’s just been worn and needs some deodorizing. And bonus, not using detergents makes your clothes last longer!
- Soft scrubbing agent
- Used dry baking soda is good for absorbing liquids and odors from carpet and fabrics.
- Washing Soda—related to baking soda. Washing soda has a pH of 11 (wear gloves—can be slightly irritating to skin).
- Washing soda cuts grease, oil, and wax.
- Because it is related to baking soda, washing soda is also a good deodorizer.
- **do not use on aluminum—may cause surface pitting
- Sprinkle on your carpets, allow to sit for 30 minutes, and vacuum to freshen and deodorize your carpets.
- Great deodorizer
- Castile soap—bar or liquid
- Grate it directly into the washer for laundry.
- It also works as a laundry spot remover. Simply rub bar directly on stains before laundering.
- The liquid version diluted 1:1 is great for washing dishes or using in hand soap pumps.
- Hydrogen Peroxide—It breaks down into oxygen and water upon contact with light so it needs to be kept in the opaque brown bottle it comes in. Its anti-microbial properties make hydrogen peroxide one of your go-to cleaners!
- Plant extracts—Each type of plant has its own antimicrobial properties and its own particular scent.
- Purchased essential oils
- Homemade infusions
- In vinegar—cover plant material/citrus peels with vinegar—let sit 4-6 weeks
- In oil—cover plant material/citrus peels with oil—slightly warm—allow to steep 4-6 weeks
- In water—gently heat plant materials/citrus peels covered in water 4 hrs.to overnight
- Borax–**many recipes for homemade products call for Borax—newer studies have concluded that it is an irritant to eyes and mucous membranes and potentially a male hormone disrupter** use caution if you choose to use this component
A Word About Thieves Oil or Thieves Vinegar
Well, maybe a few words! What is thieves oil, you ask? There is a story that during the time of the Black Plague, there were 4 men who had once run an apothecary (selling herbs, tinctures, and oils). The plague shut down everything. Because of their knowledge of the properties of plants and their oils, these men used these mixtures on themselves and robbed dead bodies in order to make money. The story goes that they were caught and arrested. They were offered their freedom in exchange for their secret concoction for avoiding the plague.
There are many recipes out there for thieves oil or thieves vinegar. This is the combination I use:
I stuff a ½ gallon mason jar with the plant materials (with the exception of the eucalyptus, I use essential oil for that one). Cover the material with white vinegar and allow to steep for about 4 weeks. This vinegar then gets diluted 1:1 and used in all sorts of cleaning products.
A Few Green and Clean Starter Recipes
All of the ingredients in these recipes can be purchased at grocery stores, drug stores, and big box stores. You may have to go to a health food store or the internet for some of the less popular essential oils. You can add scent, in the form of essential oils or plant materials steeped in vinegar, oil, or water.
1 part vinegar (white or cider—plain or infused)
1 part water
1 tsp. of liquid castile soap
Use this cleanser on all types of surfaces (with the exception of natural stone—marble and granite are soft and may be etched by the vinegar). This is fine to use on glass and mirrors.
De-Greasing Cleanser (citrus peels and washing soda combine to cut through grease)
1 part citrus infused vinegar (Fill a glass jar with citrus peels. Pour vinegar over them to the top.
Cover and steep for 2 weeks.)
1 part water
1 Tb washing soda
Disinfectant Spray (***do NOT mix these together in one bottle!)
½ strength vinegar
Hydrogen peroxide (Loses its strength when exposed to light. Simply add a spray nozzle to the
bottle it comes in.)
To get the most disinfectant result, spray vinegar on surface and allow to air dry. Follow with a light spray of peroxide and allow to air dry. (This combination kills Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli—better than chlorine bleach or any other commercial product—without the toxins associated with those products. It has also been shown to be effective against MRSA. Science News Aug. 8, 1998: Vol 154, Issue 6, pg 83-85 efficacy study by Virginia Polytechnic.)
1 Tb cinnamon
A few drops of lemon or orange essential oil
This one looks a bit odd when you’re using it, due to the cinnamon. Keep going, however, it cleans wonderfully and smells good too!
1 part liquid castile soap
1 part water
Essential oil for scent if desired
**Note: Most of the time your dishes are not greasy. Commercial dish soaps are designed to cut through grease. To add grease-cutting properties, add 1 T of washing soda and/or citrus infusion. (Add citrus peels to water and heat. Allow to sit for several hours. Use this citrus infused water in your regular dish soap recipe.)
Room Deodorizing Spray
1 part witch hazel or vodka
1 part water
Essential oils for scent as desired
Dry Laundry Soap
Grated Fels Naptha or Castile soap
¼ C washing soda
Just grate soap and add washing soda per load. I grate several bars of soap all at once and keep it in a container in the laundry room. You can mix the ingredients in another container, or simple scoop a bit of each into each load.
Stone (Marble & Granite) Safe Cleaner
1 part alcohol (Vodka)
1 part water
1 tsp liquid castile soap
It does take a bit of getting used to when you switch to the green and clean products, but I promise once you’ve used them for a few weeks you’ll never go back! Make your own versions, give it a try and let me know what you think.