You have probably heard a lot about non-toxic cleaners lately, and maybe you have seen some on the store shelves. More than likely, you have been approached by someone who wants you to buy “non-toxic” cleaners from them and even make money when you buy them from yourself and get your friends to sign up. If you are like me, you question everything on the ingredient list, and when you can’t make heads or tails of it, you put it back on the shelf.
You may have realized that our government ("FDA") does not really protect us from harmful foods, and it certainly does not protect us from chemicals that should never have been approved for use. It also does not make a clear distinction between what is “safe” and what is “not safe.” So how do you believe the claims? You can trust the marketing, or you can scrutinize each product that you use and find one that you feel most comfortable using. But why does it matter? If you don't choke on your cleaning products, and you're wondering why in the world you should stop using them, or even give it another thought, consider this:
- 150 chemicals found in the home are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological disorders. (Source: Consumer Protection Agency)
- The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FEDERAL CODE OF REGULATIONS exempts manufacturers from full labeling of products if used for personal, family, or household care. (USA FCR: Section 1910, 1200C. Title 29, Section 1500.82 2Q1A)
- Out of 2,435 pesticide poisonings in a one year period, over 40% were due to exposure to disinfectants and similar cleaning products in the home. (State of California Study)
- Most laundry detergents contain a form of NTA. NTA is a substance we may reasonably anticipate to be a carcinogen. (The Merck Index)
- Household bleaches which claim to disinfect are classified as pesticides under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. (Guide to Hazardous Products Around the Home, Household Hazardous Waste Project, 1989)
- In one decade, there has been a 42% increase in asthma (29% for men, 82% for women). The higher rate for women is believed to be due to women's longer exposure times to household chemicals. (Center for Disease Control)
- Diseases that used to occur later in life are now appearing at younger ages. Diseases that used to be rare are more frequent, for example: There has been a 28% increase in childhood cancer since the addition of pesticides into household products. Cancer is now the #2 killer of children - second only to accidental poisonings. Since 1977 the rate of cancer among American children has been steadily rising at a rate of nearly 1% each year. (National Cancer Institute)
- Warning labels on containers refer only to toxic hazards from ingestion, however, only 10% of health problems from chemicals are caused by ingestion. 90% are caused by the inhalation of vapors and absorption of particles.
- Growing up on Chemicals: Our Children's Toxic Environment
Non-toxic Homemade Cleaning Recipes
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
This recipe works great for the water in our city. We went from Cascade Gel to this recipe, and it is comparable, and possibly even better (definitely cheaper).
- 1 cup Super Washing Soda
- 1 cup Borax
- 1/2 cup Citric Acid
- 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
Use about 1 tablespoon per load. Use vinegar as your rinse agent.
Homemade Shower/Tub Cleaner
I couldn't believe how well this worked on my tub. I was unable to clean it very well for over a year due to a shoulder injury, so it was a great tub to test this recipe.
- You need 10 oz vinegar, 2 oz Dawn dish liquid, and a spray bottle.
- Heat 10 oz vinegar until it's hot.
- Add 2 oz Dawn dish liquid and stir.
- Put in spray bottle and spray on surface to be cleaned.
- You can let it sit a few minutes, then wipe with a microfiber cloth or wash cloth. Soap scum wipes right off.
This worked better for me than a magic eraser. If you try to rinse with water, it will create a lot of bubbles, so I suggest wiping with a dry cloth. Can also be used on other bathroom surfaces. Follow with hydrogen peroxide spray on toilet and sink surfaces to make sure you have killed all bacteria.
Homemade Toilet and Bathroom Cleaner
This is a great smelling and effective cleaner. The tub cleaner above is not as pleasing to the nose, but this recipe does call for an essential oil purchase (which is totally worth it!)
- 18 oz water
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
- 12 drops Fighting Five Essential Oil Blend (or "Thieves") OR 4 drops each of lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oil
Add drops of essential oil to the 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap. Add to the 18 oz water in a spray bottle.
This solution can be used on any bathroom surface to disinfect, including toilets. For added disinfecting in the toilet bowl, sprinkle some Borax and let sit while you clean the rest of the bathroom. Scrub with toilet brush, then spray/clean the rest of the toilet with this spray solution.
Homemade Kitchen Counter Cleaner (Including Stone)
If you have a stone counter top, it is important to remember that acids like vinegar and lemon should not be used on them. So this is a mix friendly to ALL counter tops, including those more porous, like mine. It is very simple. In a spray bottle, mix water and a castile soap, or even dish soap if it's all you have. The more soap you use, obviously the more bubbles you will have to deal with. The dirtier it is, the more soap you might want to use. About a teaspoon of soap per cup of water is a safe, moderate amount. Simply spray, and scrub with a *sponge or towel until it is clean and all bubbles removed. A dry microfiber towel can be used to remove extra bubbles if you realize too late that you used too much soap.
*It's generally not a great idea to clean with a sponge. Things grow inside wet sponges and you can usually tell because they get stinky. I regularly microwave (you can also boil in water) my sponge so that anything growing inside is killed. I also soak in hydrogen peroxide. If you don't do either of these, use a clean wet towel instead.
Homemade Window and Mirror Cleaner
You can make this recipe without the essential oils, but keep in mind that the oils provide an antiseptic for glass tables and other surfaces where you might need to kill germs, and the essential oil blend also smells heavenly.
- 2 Cups Water
- 1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Castile or Dish Soap
- 1/4 Cup Vinegar Spray Bottle
- 20 drops Cleaning essential oil blend
Put drops of essential oil into the soap. Combine with water, and then pour into squirt bottle. Add vinegar. For best results, use microfiber towel to wipe off glass surface.
Homemade Floor Cleaner
I have almost all hardwood floors, which is great until you need to clean them. Truthfully, they are so old I can't really ruin them more than time has, but if yours are newer, you want to be careful with what you use on them (less vinegar). Also, stone floors should not be cleaned with vinegar, so you will want to use only the first recipe listed below. Here is a good plan, no matter what kind of floor you have.
- Rotate what you use to clean your floors.
- Use warm water for regular cleaning.
- Use either of these recipes for deeper cleaning:
Floor Cleaner without Vinegar
To one gallon of warm water, add 2 TB (30 mL) castile soap. Use sponge mop. If you are cleaning a LOT of floor, or it is really dirty, you should have a second bucket for rinsing the sponge. That way you aren't cleaning the floor with dirty water. You can also add 10 drops essential oils like Cleaning essential oil blend.
Floor Cleaner with Vinegar
Same recipe as above, but also add 2 TB (30 mL) vinegar. Using anything too frequently can cause build up and/or stripping, so alternating is a good idea.
If your grout has seen better days, make a paste out of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). About 1 part H2O2 to 2 parts baking soda is a good consistency, or add more of either if you want it drier or wetter. Apply to your grout, let it sit a few minutes, and then brush with an old toothbrush. Wipe clean with a microfiber towel.
If you have a tile countertop, or tile top dining table, you should pay special attention to these grout lines as well. Bacteria can hide in the cracks and need to be cleaned regularly, especially when prepping foods, and ESPECIALLY when the foods will be eaten raw. You can spray H2O2 on your entire counter and grout lines before you prepare any food. I also suggest using H2O2 on your cutting boards after scrubbing with dish soap.
More recipes coming soon...