These days, many different commercial cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals wrapped in elaborate plastic packaging. There are endless marketing efforts to get you to buy the newest, best smelling, and most powerful disinfectant for your everyday cleaning needs. But the reality is, keeping it simple and switching to DIY cleaners can provide you will all you need for a sparkling clean and sanitary home. Making your own will not only reduce your use of plastic but dramatically lessen the environmental and household pollution caused by the manufacture, use, and disposal of these products.
Many of the ingredients used in regular household ingredients are carcinogenic, trigger asthma and allergies, cause endocrine disruption, antibiotic resistance, and skin irritation, to name a few things.
This is why I have felt the push to switch to only purchasing non-toxic cleaners, as well as making my own. So if you're like me, and want to make this switch, then here are the basics to get you started.
Firstly, I want to share some of the individual natural ingredients you should get your hands on to start cleaning your home, why they're so great and what they can do.
BICARBONATE OF SODA / BAKING SODA: Baking soda has been used for over a century to deodorize, clean, and scour away dirt. You can easily use this alone to clean sinks, toilets, baths, ovens, fridges, and surfaces to remove dirt and stains.
CASTILE SOAP: One of the most versatile products you can buy, castile soap can be used as an all-purpose cleaner all-around your home. From laundry detergent to dish soap, hand soap, floor cleaner, and even shampoo, castile soap has got you covered.
WHITE VINEGAR: Another incredible multi-purpose product that can be used all over the home to get rid of stains, grease, dirt, odors, mold and mildew is white vinegar. It may have a slightly off-putting smell, but this quickly dissipates or counteracted by delicious smelling essential oils.
LEMON JUICE: A powerful acid, the juice of lemon helps fight against bacteria, remove stains, and keep your whites white.
OLIVE OIL: Perfect for polishing furniture, olive oil is great at loosening up stains, grease, and grime on all sorts of surfaces.
ESSENTIAL OILS: Naturally anti-bacterial, essential oils not only help to sanitize your house but keep it smelling great too. Some of the best go-to are lavender, tea tree, and lemon.
SALT: Salt is a super versatile mineral that has a nifty way of scouring off the dirt. It will also boost the cleaning effects of other ingredients, such as vinegar or bicarbonate of soda when combined.
SOAP NUTS: These magical berries produce a natural soap, called saponin, that foams up and removes grime and smells when mixed with water. They're anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial, working as a great eco-friendly alternative to other toxic cleaners.
Now let's get to the good stuff. Here are some different cleaning concoctions you can come up with at home to keep it squeaky clean.
1. ALL PURPOSE CLEANER
This all-purpose cleaner can be used all over the home to wipe down surfaces and sanitize your home—equal parts white vinegar and water. Add around 10 drops of essential oils to offset the vinegar smell; however, this smell should disappear soon after cleaning down surfaces. You can also try infusing your vinegar with the rind of lemons or oranges to offset the scent. You can do this by adding citrus rinds to a jar, cover with white vinegar, seal and store in a cupboard for 2-4 weeks. Once the vinegar has infused, strain, and use alongside normal vinegar in this mixture to add a fresh scent (this is a concentrated liquid, so you don't need much of it to get a nice smell). Avoid use on marble, stone, or granite surfaces.
2. TOILET CLEANER
For a sparkling look, glug in some white vinegar, a good shake of bicarbonate of soda with around 10 drops of your favorite essential oil into the basin. Leave to sit for a few minutes, scrub with the toilet brush, fizzing up the mixture and getting rid of all the nasties. Use the above all-purpose cleaner for surfaces, leaving to sit for a minute or two before wiping away.
3. LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Soap nuts are a traditional and simple way to clean your clothes. When the soapnuts are mixed around in your washing machine, they will release saponin, dissolving dirt, and cleaning your laundry in the process. You can simply add them into your washing machine in a pouch, grind them up or make them into a homemade liquid detergent by boiling them in water. You can reuse the soapnut pouch for around 4 to 5 washes until they turn grey. And the coolest thing is that when you're done with them, they can be composted in your garden!
4. WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
Mix 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water and use on your windows or mirrors to polish and clean. I also add some essential oils for a fresh scent. My favorite to use for this is lemon. Try to avoid doing this on a hot day as you can leave streaks.
5. AIR FRESHENER
Fill a spray bottle up with water and around 10 drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender. Give it a sniff and a spray, and add a few more drops of oil if it needs it. Go slowly. Less is more when it comes to essential oils! When you're happy with the scent, then you can use it to freshen up the air, your furniture, or linen.
6. MOLD AND MILDEW
Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar (optional: add tea tree oil for added mold and mildew killing properties) and spritz the affected area. Let it sit for around 30 minutes and rinse off the area with warm water. Scrub off with a cloth if it needs some assistance