Effective Planet-Cleaning Recipes
With just a few basic and inexpensive ingredients you may already have, you can scrub, scour, deodorize, disinfect and cleanse your entire home without the toxicity of conventional store-bought cleaners.
Green Cleaning Supplies:
Empty spray bottles, tubs for mixing, sponges, rags, scour pads and brushes
Ingredients for Disinfecting:
• White Vinegar – This wonder liquid is a natural disinfectant that cleans and deodorizes, among other things. NOTE: Never use vinegar on marble as it will etch the surface.
• Hydrogen Peroxide – A go-to in hospitals for disinfecting, hydrogen peroxide is also a mild whitener.
Important: Don’t mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide! It can create peracetic acid, which can cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
Ingredients for General Cleaning:
• Baking Soda – This cleaning staple is a naturally-occurring mineral. It cleans, deodorizes, softens water and is a good scouring powder.
• Castile Soap – Castile soap biodegrades safely, is non-toxic, and is available in grocery and health food stores. Be sure to look for plant-based castile soaps, NOT “liquid soaps” made from petroleum-based detergents.
• Lemon Juice – It cleans, cuts grease and freshens.
General Household Disinfectant and Cleaner
- Option 1: 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle. You can also add a few drops of essential oils like lavender or lemon to mask the scent.
- Option 2: Mix 3 tbsp. liquid castile soap, a squeeze of lemon juice and 1 quart warm water
- For scouring: use coarse salt or baking soda and a scouring pad
Mix 1 part vinegar, 2 parts water in a spray bottle.
Add 1/4 cup baking soda to bowl and drizzle with vinegar. Let sit for half an hour and then scrub
Sink, Tub and Tile:
Mix 1/2 cup baking soda and
2-3 tbsp. liquid castile soap.
Here are alternatives to conventional pre-soaks and bleach for tough stains. Test each of the following remedies on a corner of your fabric first. Wash after application.
Blood: Soak in cold water or (for whites) in hydrogen peroxide, and rub with soap.
Ink: Rub with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or soak in milk before washing.
Fruit and Wine: Immediately pour salt or hot water on the stain and soak in milk before washing.
Coffee: Mix egg yolk with lukewarm water and rub on stain.
Lipstick: Rub with shortening and wash with washing soda.
Mildew: Pour strong soap and salt on the spots and place in sunlight. Keep the spots moist, and repeat as often as necessary.
Grease: Pour boiling water on stains and follow with dry baking soda.
Why skip conventional cleaners?
Most cleaners on the market contain dangerous solvents, acids and other hazardous chemicals that have been proven to cause irritation to the nose, eyes and lungs. They can also cause asthma and be carcinogenic. These chemicals, often called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), are released into the air as you clean and contribute to indoor air pollution, which can be 2-5 times worse than outdoor air pollution.
They’re bad for the environment too: Synthetic chemicals and detergents in cleaners flushed down drains contribute to water pollution.
On the other hand, do-it-yourself cleaners are easy to make and will save you money, prevent plastic waste, and keep your family and home clean and healthy.
Green Cleaning Keeps Kids Healthy
Kids are more vulnerable to the use of toxic cleaner and pesticides for many reasons. They can’t detoxify or excrete toxins as well as adults because their nervous, respiratory, reproductive, and immune systems aren't fully developed yet. They have a faster metabolism, which speeds up their absorption of chemicals or contaminants. And they’re closer to the floor, carpet or ground, so they get exposed to pollutants that adults don’t. (The same goes for your pets.)
Thanks to the Eco-Cycle Schools Department for much of this information, taken from their program on household hazardous waste, designed to protect kids from these harmful effects.
Next article —
© 2012 Eco-Cycle, Inc. All Rights Reserved No content published by Eco-Cycle may be copied or printed for any use without the expressed written consent of Eco-Cycle. Want to reprint or redistribute our content? Please contact us.