Written by: Amy Haggerty – Lakewinds Marketing Specialist
Spring is finally here (please?) and that means it’s time for bike rides around the lake, barbecuing with friends and deep cleaning your home from top to bottom. Yes, it’s Spring Cleaning time! That wonderful (to some) time of the year when we attempt to rid ourselves of the layer of winter dust and dirt that has built up over the (very long) winter. But often, the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be both toxic to our health and the environment. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available that are not only non-toxic, but also easy on your budget. So, why take the time this year to Spring Clean your Cleaning Supplies?
You don’t need to overhaul your entire cleaning product assortment all at once, in fact, I recommend changing one product at a time, so you and your family can get used to the change. Pick something that you think will make a big impact, but also something you feel is completely doable. When I first started greening up my cleaning supplies, I chose to eliminate paper towels. I might not recommend everyone choosing that as their first cleaning routine change – it’s a pretty big change to take on and it may be hard for some family members to accept. Truthfully, I never completely eliminated paper towels from my household (some jobs just demand for paper towels!), but I did reduce my household use to 1-2 rolls per year. What do I use instead? I have a large assortment of microfiber cloths, old t-shirts and old pre-fold diapers. If you choose to start using reusable cleaning cloths, start with at least 2 for every room of your home.
If reducing your paper towel use isn’t for you, try changing one or more of your cleaning products to a homemade non-toxic version. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think and you may even have some of ingredients in your home already!
Basic Supply List
- Castile Soap – Made from 100% plant oils, Dr. Bronner’s is the biggest brand.
- Vinegar – Natural cleaning powerhouse! For cleaning purposes it’s best to use Distilled White Vinegar.
- Baking Soda – This pantry staple has proven virus-killing abilities and also cleans, deodorizes, brightens and cuts through grease.
- Essential Oils – Make great scent additions to products, some even have anti-bacterial properties.
- Olive Oil – You might be surprised that this cooking oil also is a great cleaner and polisher.
- Lemons/lemon juice – Not only do they smell awesome, but they cut through grease and shines hard surfaces.
You may have noticed a few non-toxic cleaning recipes that use Borax. I purposely do not use Borax, as the jury is still out on it’s safety and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists Borax at a 5-6 hazard level. The ingredients I have listed do the job perfectly, in my humble opinion.
Before we get into the recipes, let’s talk about spray bottles. When using essential oils in cleaning products, you really should use glass bottles. If you use essential oils in plastic bottles, you run the risk of leaching plastic yuck into your cleaners. If you’ve looked into glass spray bottles, you know they can be pricey, but here’s a tip: use 16 oz vinegar bottles and screw on the sprayers from your old cleaners. Brilliant, right? I wish I could say I came up with that myself, but I must admit that it was a great Pinterest find. Store your cleaners in a cool dark place, as oils oxidize in sunlight and make sure to somehow label what each one is to be used for. You might even find it handy to put a label with the cleaner recipe right on the bottle.
All Purpose Cleaner
This is my go-to, my hands down favorite cleaner. I clean the kitchen countertops with it, my glass cook-top, a quick clean in the bathroom… I could go on and on. It cuts through grease, gets cooked on gunk off (after letting it sit for a bit) and is naturally disinfecting.
- 8 oz Distilled Water
- 8 oz Hydrogen peroxide
- 4 tbsp Dr. Bronner’s castile soap ( I like peppermint because it gives off a great aroma)
- 6 drops tea tree oil
- 6 drops lavender oil
Mix it all together in a bottle and you’re done!
Tub & Shower Cleaner
I can usually get by with using my All Purpose Cleaner in the tub and showers, but sometimes things get busy and I find I have forgotten to clean the bathtub for a couple of weeks (it happens right?). Because I have hard water, this calls for an extra cleaning kick.
- 8 oz white vinegar
- 8 oz distilled water
- A few drops of your favorite essential oils (I chose sweet orange)
That’s it. Simple, yet VERY effective! Spray on, wait a few minutes and wipe with a damp sponge.
- 8 oz rubbing alcohol
- 8 oz distilled water
- A few drops of your favorite essential oil
I admit, when I first saw this recipe I thought it was weird. Olive oil on furniture? But I gave it a shot and guess what? It works!
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
Use a soft cloth to distribute the mixture over your furniture. Tip: Keep this solution in a jar. Before using shake and then use your cloth to wipe the polish of the lip. This way, you don’t have to reach your hand inside the jar or worry about pouring too much polish onto your cloth
Not only does this solution deodorize and make your toilet sparkling clean, the chemical reaction provides some entertainment for the kiddos!
- ½ cup baking soda
- ¼ vinegar
- 10 drops tea tree oil
Pour baking soda and 10 drops of tea tree oil into the toilet. Add the vinegar and scrub while the mixture fizzes.
This one is super easy and SUPER non-toxic. All that you need to sanitize cutting boards is a lemon! Cut a lemon in half, rub over the board, let sit for a few minutes and rinse. Voila! If you need a bit more scrubbing power, sprinkle some coarse salt over the board before rubbing with the lemon.
After you clean your cutting board, use those same lemons to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal! Just cut them into quarters, throw them into the disposal and run your disposal as you usually do. This works with any kind of citrus fruit, so get into the habit of doing this whenever you have them around.
I have used this on more stains than I can count. It’s simple and effective. Vinegar.
I could write an entire blog post on my love of vinegar (maybe I will). One of my favorite Christmas presents ever was a book on over 400 uses for vinegar. It truly is a miracle worker, especially on stains. Because it is such an effective stain remover, my 3 year old is very nonchalant about stains on her clothes. She’ll just hand clothes over to me and say “You get all the stains out!” Berry stain? No problem! Spaghetti or BBQ sauce Stain? No biggie! Rinse with water then spray with vinegar, let sit for a few minutes and launder as usual. Depending on the severity of the severity of the stain, I have let some laundry stains soak in a bowl of ½ water and ½ vinegar overnight.
It also works on carpet stains. As a cat owner, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of urine stains. The key is to treat to as soon as possible. Add a solution of equal parts water and vinegar to the area then sprinkle with baking soda and let dry. Vacuum the next day. For most other carpet stains I use a paste of vinegar and baking soda. Rub the paste into the stained area and let dry. Vacuum the next day. I am always amazed at the power of vinegar every time I have a stain that I am convinced will never come out.
So there it is. Easier than you thought, right? Choose to try just one or go for it and make a complete cleaning product makeover. But be warned, once you start you may actually start to like cleaning your home (if you didn’t already).