Most store-bought home cleaning products are loaded with harmful chemicals intended to make life easier. However, while they offer convenience, the cost of these chemical-based items are high: long-term health issues and environmental pollution.
In fact, reports claim that an average household fosters some 62 toxic substances, many of which are linked to asthma, cancer, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity. In the US, for instance, one out of three people suffer from asthma and allergies triggered by the synthetic chemicals found in air freshener, fabric softeners and other cleaning products. Yet, the government doesn’t require manufacturers to list ingredients on their products, making it harder for consumers to make more informed decisions.
The truth is, you don’t need to spend your money on these chemical-filled cleaners. Instead, you can make your own homemade cleaning items that can be as effective, even better than the commercial ones, sans the harmful effects they entail.
In this article, we listed some of the most effective, eco-friendly ingredients you can use to clean your home. We also included a handful of recipes you can try. You’ll be surprised to see that some of the items are already in your pantry.
Safe Ingredients for Homemade Cleaning Products
- Alcohol. Alcohol is an effective disinfectant. But, while isopropyl is a likely choice, the safety concerns surrounding it make the other forms of alcohol such as vodka or ethanol a better option.
- Baking Soda. The use of baking soda to clean, deodorize and soften water has been known for over a century. It is the workhorse of all cleaning items that is versatile and cheap.
- Cornstarch. A spoonful of cornstarch is often used in a homemade glass cleaning solution. It can also be used to polish furniture, clean the carpets and rugs.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. Aside from its antiseptic properties, hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect that makes it great for removing stains on fabrics and grouts. It is also used to disinfect the kitchen.
- Lemon Juice. For less than a dollar, you can already have one of the strongest food acids that can fight against most household bacteria. Stock a few pieces of lemon the next time you’re grocery shopping.
- Oxygen Bleach. Like any regular bleach, an oxygen-based bleach removes stains and whitens fabrics but, in the gentlest manner. It has many other applications in home stain removal.
- Soap. An unscented soap in powder, bar or liquid form is a multipurpose cleaning solution that is typically biodegradable. Castile soap is a great example of a versatile and plant-based cleaner.
- Tea Tree Oil. A few drops of tea tree oil is already a potent cleaning ingredient for the home. It is often used in combination with other materials such as vinegar and water to make a scented cleaner.
- Vegetable Oils. A plant-based oil such as olive or linseed oil is a safe and natural alternative to store-bought wood polishes. It lets you skip the chemicals in its commercial counterparts.
- White Vinegar. Like baking soda, white vinegar is a natural disinfectant that is both versatile and inexpensive. It can cut through grease, remove mildew and wax build-up, and eliminate bad odors.
- Washing Soda. Washing soda is often used to remove stains, clean walls and bathroom surfaces. It must be handled with care as it can irritate the mucous membranes.
- Citrus Solvent. A citrus solvent is a natural replacement for paint thinners. It is useful in cleaning paint brushes as well as removing oil, grease, grime and some stains on carpets and other surfaces.
NOTE: Use citrus solvent sparingly as it can cause irritation on the skin, lungs or eyes.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
All-Purpose Surface Cleaner
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 tbsps. baking soda
- 10 drops of antibacterial essential oil (tea tree, lavender or lemon)
Mix vinegar with essential oils before adding the baking soda. Pour the mixture in a 12oz. glass spray bottle and fill it water. Shake well and use it by spraying on the problem surface and wipe off afterward.
Hardwood Floor Cleaner
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 15 drops antiseptic essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus or tea tree)
- 1 cup water
To remove scuff marks, mix equal parts of water and vinegar with 15 drops of the essential oil and pour in a spray bottle. Sprinkle some baking soda over the scuffs and spray the mixture over it. Allow it to fizz for a few seconds before scrubbing off until the mark fades.
TIP: For a floor polish, mix equal parts of olive oil with white vinegar and use it as usual.
Kitchen Surface Cleaner
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
Mix vinegar and water and use it to wipe kitchen surfaces, countertops and other areas. You can also use it to clean drains by pouring the solution down the drain. Let it sit for 30 mins. before flushing down with cold water.
- For grease stains: cover grease with salt and let it sit for an hour before brushing away.
- For permanent marker stains: soak a cotton ball with alcohol and gently polish.
Window and Glass Cleaner
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ½ tsp. liquid soap
- 8 drops of antiseptic essential oil (orange, tea tree or lemon)
- 2 cups water
Pour ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. To use it, spray it on the window or glass surface, wiping it off after a few minutes of interval. Use a scrub, sponge or cotton cloth as needed.
- 1 cup vinegar
- ¼ cup baking soda
Mix baking soda with vinegar and use it to clean the basin and moldy tiles. You can also use it to tackle mineral deposits on the showerhead and faucet by pouring vinegar into a plastic bag, securing it with rubber bands and let it soak overnight. Rinse with water afterward.
- Baking soda (enough to cover the grease)
- 1 tbsp. liquid soap
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 2 cups warm water
Cover the grease with baking soda and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes before vacuuming. Mix the dish soap, white vinegar, and water, then sponge the mixture onto the grease. Blot using a clean cloth until the stain fades.
If you are not inclined to make your own homemade cleaning products, there are also an increasing number of eco-friendly cleaning products that you can buy. Both these recipes and eco-friendly products are designed to contribute to a healthier environment. Meanwhile, you can also try these low-maintenance indoor plants and trees to further green your home.
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