Store-bought cleaners make short work of house cleaning, but the chemicals they contain may do more harm than good. Making the switch to natural cleaners for your home can not only save you money on your cleaning bills but also can be easier on your health. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air when it comes to cleaning, this is your go-to guide.
Why Use Natural Cleaners
The cleaning aisle of your local super store probably offers hundreds of cleaners that claim to make your life easier. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, many household cleaners contain hazardous chemicals, including the following:
- Carcinogens, or cancer-causing chemicals
- Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) chemicals, which continue to pollute your home and environment
- Endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which alter hormones
- Volatile organic compounds, which pose health and environmental risks
Philip Landrigan, M.D. and Director at Children’s Environmental Health Center, on WebMD states, “Cleaning products in general can be hazardous to kids if they contain volatile solvents like some of the products that people use to clean up stains.” Cleaning products can also “create vapors in the homes which are toxic to kids [and] can cause injury to the brain and nervous system.”
In addition to the dangers of using the chemicals in household cleaners, buying a specific cleaner for every surface or area of your home can get expensive. And, the solvents and chemicals contained in cleaners can eat away at plumbing and surfaces over time, which adds up to costly replacement and home repairs.
Natural cleaners work without the harsh and harmful chemicals contained in other cleaners and are easier on your health and your home.
Natural cleaning substances:
- Are better for your health
- Smell fresher and cleaner
- Cost far less than expensive, toxic cleaners
- Protect your home from the side effects and damage of harsh chemicals
Checklist for Natural Cleaning
You probably already have most of these on hand, but for those last-minute shopping lists, pick up these items to get your house squeaky clean without the chemicals.
- Baking soda
- Citrus fruits, including lemons and grapefruits
- Essential oils, especially tea tree, lavender, lemon, clove, citronella and eucalyptus
- Kosher salt
- Tea bags
- White vinegar
Cleaning in the Kitchen
The kitchen is where you prepare meals, snacks and treats, so you want it to be as clean and toxin-free as possible. To clean countertops and food preparation surfaces, mix together any of these combinations for a healthy disinfectant:
- ½ cup of borax and 1 gallon of water
- 2 teaspoon borax, 4 tablespoon vinegar and then top off your spray bottle with water
- Equal parts of vinegar and water
- Equal parts of tea tree oil and lavender oil added to a spray bottle full of water
These mixes can also be used to clean refrigerator shelves, doorknobs and cabinet pulls – or to freshen faucets.
To keep cutting boards fresh, scrub the surface with half a lemon. Let set for 10 minutes and then rinse with water. Your cutting board will be clean and won’t smell like what you had cut on it.
To get those scorched pans clean, fill the bottom with water and add 1 cup of vinegar. Bring to a boil and then remove from the burner. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and watch it fizz. The mess will loosen and you can wipe it clean.
Bathing the Bathrooms
Got a clogged sink? Treat it like those grade-school science projects and bubble it out with a baking soda and vinegar solution. The chemical reaction will break up clogs and allow the drain to clear naturally without causing harm to pipes or the sewer system.
For the tub, you can use this great grapefruit and kosher salt tub scrub instead of abrasive cleaners. Cut a grapefruit in half and squeeze the juice into the tub. Then, sprinkle the tub with kosher salt and scrub away the grime. The acid in the grapefruit helps dissolve soap scum while the salt breaks away water residue. Using a toothbrush and lemon juice to scrub the grout can also brighten up the tub. Rinse with clean water when done.
For a simple but effective toilet cleaner, combine one cup of white vinegar with ½ teaspoon of tea tree essential oil in a small spray bottle. Spray on the seat and inside the toilet bowl. Sprinkle with ½ cup of baking soda and let fizz. Brush the bowl clean, wipe down the seat and flush.
Living It Up in Living Rooms and Dens
To keep floors shiny and clean, clean hardwood floors with a tea and water mixture. The tannic acid in the tea provides a natural sheen. For ceramic tile and brick on floors, walls or surrounding a fireplace, skip the cleaners and wipe with plain water. Use a towel instead of a sponge to prevent pushing dirt into grout lines. To keep living areas smelling fresh, consider using a diffuser with distilled water and a few drops of your favorite essential oils.
Don’t forget about how the outside of your home looks. Boil some black tea to use to clean your windows. The tannic acid dissolves dirt and grease without leaving streaks. Add the tea to a bucket of water or to your window sprayer, apply and then rinse with water. This mixture can also be used on the inside window surfaces; just dilute in a spray bottle and wipe clean.
To rid your yard of messy bugs, try mixing some essential oils into equal parts of vinegar and water. Safe for surfaces and plants, you’ll be able to enjoy your yard as much as the inside of your house.
Do you have any other great natural cleaners you use at home? Let us know how you keep things fresh and clean at your house.
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