Commercial home cleaning products are not just more expensive when compared to natural alternatives. They are full of toxins known to affect your skin, lungs, nervous system, and even your endocrine and reproductive systems.
These substances invade your body through the fumes they create or from direct contact with your skin. Reactions vary, depending on the person, but the following conditions have been linked to chemicals used in household cleaners:
Air Fresheners: Unfortunately, commercially available air fresheners are full of synthetic substances. Even so-called “natural“ oils can add as much as 50% chemicals and still be labeled 100% pure. Look for quality essential oils, which are more concentrated and healthier.
Choose one of your favorite scents, like orange, lavender, or peppermint and mix a few drops with water into a spray bottle or add to your cleaning formulas. Because essential oils have aromatherapy benefits, just a few drops can boost your mood, energize your mind, spur creativity, and calm stress, depending on the type you choose.
Antibacterial Cleaners: AVOID THESE! The FDA has found that antibacterial soaps and hand cleansers do not work better than regular soap and water, and should be avoided due to the risk of breeding “super germs.”
More effective and much safer is a hand spray you make yourself. Just combine isopropyl alcohol or vodka, water, and essential oils like lavender.
Studies show that carpet is healthier than hard floors. The electrostatic charge in carpet attracts dust, pollen and chemicals that would otherwise circulate in the air. When vacuumed regularly (once or twice a week) and deep cleaned once a year, carpet acts as a natural air filter to minimize dust, pollen and chemicals in the air.
Avoid cleaning carpets with hot water extraction (steam cleaning) and toxic chemicals. With most steam cleaning systems – especially “do-it-yourself rental units,” it is impossible to remove all the water. Damp carpets begin to mold in as little as 4 hours. In addition, the sticky, soapy cleaning product residue, even if natural, can attract dirt and cause old stains to “wick up” (resurface). Choose a dry carpet cleaning process that uses plant-based, non-toxic cleaners instead.
To keep your carpets clean, adopt a “no-shoes” policy or use a good doormat. Treat stains as they occur with a small amount of club soda or water – blot until the stain is gone. Never scrub or use hot water as this will set the stain.
For a heavy-duty stain, combine ¼ cup each of Borax, salt, and vinegar and mix to form a paste. Rub into carpet with a soft brush or rag. Once dry, vacuum the spot thoroughly. Treat specific stains as follows:
Pet Urine: Dab area with a towel to absorb as much as possible. Wash the spot with a few drops of liquid dish detergent, and rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar diluted in 1 quart of warm water. Be careful not to saturate carpet with water. Lay towels over the spot and weight down to absorb excess moisture. Let stand 3 hours, remove towels, brush up nap, and allow to dry completely. Use an electric fan to speed drying so carpet will not mold.
Red wine: Fresh stains may be removed by rubbing in baking soda and vacuuming. You can also cover stain with salt while wet. Let dry completely before vacuuming.
Grease spots: First extract the liquid with a sponge, then rub a liberal amount of baking soda into the spot. Let it absorb overnight. Next day, remove the excess and vacuum the area.
Mud: Rub salt on the mud. Wait one hour before vacuuming.
Miscellaneous Stains: Mix warm water with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the stain and let sit for several minutes before sponging with warm water and a drop or two of liquid soap.
Carpet Freshener: Sprinkle baking soda on carpet 15 minutes or more (even overnight) before vacuuming, breaking up any clumps that form. If you have a problem with fleas or other pests, you can use Borax, but keep pets and toddlers away.
Car Grease: To remove from concrete flooring, sprinkle kitty litter or sawdust over grease. After it has absorbed, you can sweep it up.
Car Soap: 1/4 cup vegetable oil based liquid soap (like Dr Bronner’s) to a pail of hot water. Wash your car on the lawn instead of your driveway to reduce runoff to the street or storm sewer.
Car Wax: 1 cup linseed oil, 4 tbsp. carnauba wax (available at automotive stores), 2 tbsp. beeswax, and 1/2 cup vinegar. Put ingredients in top half of a double boiler or saucepan. Heat slowly until wax has melted. Stir, and pour into a heat-resistant container. After wax has solidified, rub it on the car with a lint-free cloth. Saturate a corner of a cotton rag with vinegar and polish the wax to a deep shine.
Candles/Wax: Sponge with a piece of cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Counter Stains: To remove coffee, tea, and other stains from cups or counters, rub with a baking soda and white vinegar paste. White wine also removes rings and stains while disinfecting and killing salmonella. Any dry, white wine or cooking wine will work.
Decals/Gummed Labels/Price Tag Remover: To remove stick-on hooks, price labels and decals from glass, wood, and china, and non-slip strips from bathtubs: Saturate the adhesive with hot vinegar for several minutes. (NOTE: Use these methods only on washable surfaces and washable paint).
Dishes, Pots & Pans:
Drain Cleaner: For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free. Pour ½ baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by 1 cup vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with 1 gallon boiling water.
Furniture Polish and Scratch Covers:
Floor Cleaners: Wash floors with a terry cloth towel, which will leave your floor cleaner than a mop. Most mops do not rinse clean, leaving behind layers of dirt. They can also easily mold. A pencil eraser removes heel marks from a floor.
Linoleum Floors: Combine 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/8 cup vegetable oil based liquid soap, and 1 gallon water. For greasy floors, add washing soda.
Marble and wood floors: Dampen a towel using a solution of ¼ cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water. In areas with hard water, increase the vinegar to ½ cup. Wring all the moisture out of the towel until barely damp. Excess water from self-wringing mops works down between the boards eventually warping the boards at the edges. Towels are the only safe way to damp mop a hardwood floor.
Ceramic tile floors: Clean any spills immediately. The grout between tiles is difficult to clean once a stain has set. Soap leaves a film, so use ¼ cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of water. Clean the floor with a damp terry towel. Vinegar is safe for tile floors (but not wood). To clean stains in grout, fill a bottle with a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Thoroughly spray the stain and leave it for 10 minutes. Grout is porous and may need retreating several times. After the third try, mix a paste using baking soda and peroxide and apply to the stain. After several hours, spray with the peroxide and water solution.
Garbage Disposal: To eliminate garbage disposal odors and clean and sharpen blades, grind ice with used lemon and/or orange rinds until pulverized.
Glass Cleaners – windows and mirrors:
See which of the following ideas work best for you:
Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper; buff to a shine. Use crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results. Recycle newspaper when finished.
Gum and Wax: Freeze gum with an ice-cube. Remove when hardened. For wax from candles:
This works for carpets as well as fabrics. Remember to put plastic under a fabric so the wax doesn’t transfer to the other surface.
To clean brass, mix equal parts salt and flour with a little vinegar, then rub. For chrome, rub with undiluted vinegar. Copper cleans best with lemon juice and salt or hot vinegar and salt. For stainless steel, rub with a paste of baking soda and water. The following ideas are for cleaning silver:
Mold and Mildew Remover:
Oil or grease on fabrics:
To prevent difficult cleaning, try to remove spills as soon as possible.
Soften hard paintbrushes in hot vinegar for a few minutes. Then wash paintbrush in soap and warm water and let dry.
Plumbing Fixtures: To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda in 1 quart of water. Wipe on fixtures, then rinse.
Porcelain Cleaner: Cream of Tartar. To clean porcelain surfaces, rub with cream of tartar sprinkled on a damp cloth.
Refrigerators & Appliances:
Hard Water Deposit (and rust) Remover: Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and let stand until spot disappears, then rinse. Repeat if necessary.
Tar Remover: Food grade linseed oil. Wet rag with linseed oil and rub hard.
Toilet Bowl Cleaners:
Tub and Tile Cleaners:
Vinyl Cleaner: 1 tsp. to 1/4 cup washing soda, and 1 cup boiling water. Dissolve the washing soda in the boiling water. Apply with sponge, wipe off with a damp cloth.
Wallpaper Cleaner: Roll up a piece of white bread and use it to “erase” marks on wallpaper.
Windshield Wiper Frost Free Fluid: Mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and coat the car windows with this solution. This vinegar and water combination will keep windshields ice and frost-free.
Wood Floor Cleaner: Don’t use water on unsealed wood floors. Instead, combine 2 cups of vinegar with 1 tbsp. of olive or jojoba oil in a bucket. Spread a thin coat over the floor with a mop or soft cloth. Let it soak in for 20 minutes and dry mop to absorb excess liquid.
For more information, read DIY Green Cleaning Products.