Have you been searching for natural cleaning tips that work? Year-round house cleaning, especially disinfecting during winter when the flu and viruses are in full swing, is essential for good health. Having a clean space not only make you feel better in terms of your mood and comfort, but also helps to eliminate pathogens, makes finding things a breeze, and can even help you sleep better.
You may not realize that many of those ultra-powerful cleaning products in the grocery store can do more harm than good around your home, however. Here are a few facts:
- Commonly found ingredients include formaldehyde — a neurotoxin — and ammonia, which can damage the brain and mucous membranes.
- Another chemical called 2-butoxyethanol is frequently found in window cleaners and multi-purpose sprays and is known to cause liver and kidney damage.
- The chlorine in bleach can interfere with your thyroid.
The disinfection ability of these chemicals just isn’t worth the risk when there are natural, healthy ways to keep your home germ-free and spotless — and some are even available at a fraction of the price of conventional products! Read on for natural cleaning tips designed to keep you and your family safe and also save you money.
The Basics: Understanding Chemical-Based vs. Natural Homemade Cleaners
Now comes the fun part of learning natural ways to clean. With only a few simple ingredients, you’ll be all set. Here’s a comparison list with instructions on how to make a natural version of your favorite store-bought product.
1. All-Purpose Cleaner
All-purpose cleaners are popular because they can be used around the house to wipe clean any surfaces you commonly touch to get rid of germs and bacteria. This might include countertops, doorknobs, and other frequently touched surfaces. The problem is that they are filled with toxins that might do more harm than good:
- In addition to 2-butoxyethanol, multi-purpose solutions often contain diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA).
- Both are sudsing agents that can react with nitrites.
- Nitrites are preservatives that are not always listed on the bottle.
- These ingredients can form carcinogens, which can lead to harmful conditions like cancers.
Here’s how to make a safe multi-purpose cleaner that kills germs and smells great. It’s suitable for daily wipe downs with a microfiber cloth or other use as needed.
- One part warm water
- One part distilled white vinegar
- Rosemary sprigs
- Lemon rind
Add the lemon rind and rosemary sprigs to an empty spray bottle, then pour in equal amounts of vinegar and water. Allow the ingredients to infuse for a week (let it sit without disturbing it), and you’re ready to go. Use this natural solution to clean:
- Trash cans
- Hard water stains on ceramic or metal
- Countertops (except natural stone such as granite or marble)
- Dish soap trays
- Containers designed to hold a damp sponge
- Garbage disposal (spray down it)
If you’d like more whitening power, as in the case of scrubbing the bathtub, try making this solution:
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 4 cups hot water
- Several drops of your preferred essential oils
Baking soda has an alkaline pH and is slightly abrasive, so it helps lighten acidic stains. Use the solution once a week for a homemade cleaning agent that also brightens and helps remove rust stains. You can let the spray sit overnight on a rusted area or stain, then rinse clean or wipe the solution away with a damp cloth to get your stained surfaces clean.
2. Easy-Breezy Kitchen Cleaner
Conventional kitchen cleaning products can contain chlorine and sodium hydroxide, which are skin and eye irritants that can also burn your throat. This natural substitute will bust through tough messes (even oven grease!), and it tackles odors, too.
- 1 quart warm water
- 4 tablespoons baking soda
This solution works great for:
- Kitchen countertops
- Garbage disposal disinfecting
You can also shake a little baking soda into a bowl and add water gradually to make a thick baking soda paste. Use it to scrub away food stains and rust stains from stainless steel, drains, and appliances by rubbing in a gentle motion with a soft cloth. You just need a few minutes’ scrub with these natural ingredients to make sure you get rid of pesky stuck-on stains and end up with a clean surface.
3. Homemade Glass Cleaner
Most store-bought glass cleaners contain ammonia, which is harmful to the lungs after prolonged exposure and can even damage your cardiovascular system. “But that blue stuff cleans mirrors so well,” you might be thinking. Don’t worry: After experiencing the cleaning power of white vinegar, you won’t miss it one bit!
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol (70%)
- 4 cups warm water
- Orange essential oil for fragrance (2 or 4 drops)
Pour the liquids into a spray bottle and shake well to combine. This mixture performs well on both windows and mirrors. Use as needed.
4. Toilet Scrub
Most toilet cleaners at the grocery store contain hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite, or bleach. When accidentally mixed with other household cleaning products, they can create toxic gases that can have long-term impacts on your health. (Pro tips time: be careful not to mix these harmful chemicals!)
Make a safe toilet bowl cleanser by combining the following:
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup of baking soda
Once a week, combine and mix your white vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl before pouring into the toilet bowl, then allow it to sit for up to 30 minutes. Use your toilet brush to scrub thoroughly and flush. You won’t miss your store-bought cleaner once you’ve experienced what it’s like to use baking soda to clean.
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 cup borax
Sprinkle the borax (dry) throughout the bowl and spray the undiluted vinegar from a spray bottle to start the cleaning process. Allow this baking soda paste to sit overnight before scrubbing and flushing.
The bottom line is you can do a lot with a cup of baking soda to clean (or so), some hot water, white vinegar, and your favorite essential oils. The combinations can do everything from acting as an all-purpose cleaner or an air freshener to sterilizing stainless steel and keeping your surfaces clean as a stain remover. You just need to know what you want to do to determine which portions of which ingredients to use.
How to Choose Natural Cleaning Products
If DIY isn’t your thing, you also have the option to buy premade cleaning products at the store to clean your home naturally. You just need to know what to look for and what to avoid. Keep in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not heavily regulate the cleaning industry or cleaning products, so just because something is labeled “green” doesn’t mean it is.
Tips for What to Look for in a Natural Cleaning Product
Choose cleaners by manufacturers with specific, verifiable facts to back up their claims on the product label. Also, take note of whether the company itself is certified by a reliable agency on green products.
- Look for the Green Seal symbol. Green Seal is a global non-profit corporation that subjects products to rigorous testing to ensure their safety.
- Another symbol to look for is the EPA’s Safer Choice Seal, which confirms that the product has been tested and researched.
- Use only trusted sources of information when selecting a cleaning product, such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning.
- Check the ingredients. If something is truly “natural,” then it can be found in nature. For example, vinegar occurs when a type of bacteria combines with oxygen in a fermented liquid. If you find an ingredient with a long or complicated name, look it up. The name may be industry jargon for a natural substance, or you may discover it’s a human-made chemical.
- Some of the best natural cleaning ingredients include white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, natural salt, baking soda, castile soap, washing soda, and lemons or lemon juice.
By following the above rules, you’re sure to find safe cleansers that will keep your home clean, fresh, and disinfected all year long.
What to Avoid in “Natural” Cleaning Products
Be wary of tricky language or companies throwing around phrases like “all-natural” and “environmentally friendly,” as there are many examples of misleading advertising.
Avoid products containing these harmful ingredients:
- Butyl Cellosolve
- Hydrochloric Acid
- Petroleum Distillates
- Propylene Glycol
- Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
- Sodium Hypochlorite (chlorine bleach)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sulfuric Acid
- Perchloroethylene (also written as “PERC”)
These are the types of items that cause more harm than good, and you’ll want to keep them out of your home as much as possible to keep your family happy and healthy for years to come.
Natural Cleaning Tips & Solutions for a Healthier Lifestyle
Switching to natural cleaners provides not only the obvious benefits but also many surprising perks, such as yielding better air quality and lowering stress on your endocrine system. When you choose natural methods to clean your home, you save resources, save money, protect the environment, and safeguard your health!If you are looking for more information about the impacts chemicals can have on your health, or how to make the switch to healthy cleaning products, consider speaking with a health and wellness expert. Contact Dr. Karen Threlkel today with any questions about natural cleaning and for expert advice on staying healthy.