Cleaning your home doesn’t need to be a toxic experience. You can safely clean without using products containing harmful and strong smelling chemicals. I used to have a cleaning service that arrived with a bucket of products containing bleach and ammonia. The smell alone was enough to have me running to open the windows for fresh air. Cleaning my home using eco-friendly methods is important for my health and that of my family.
When cleaning the house we use either homemade “recipes” or I will research and purchase cleaning supplies that are 100% natural. Here are a few tips for specific cleaning jobs from the basic supplies I always have on hand.
I have used a popular commercial glass cleaner to kill bugs inside my home. One squirt and they drop dead. A chemical that powerful probably isn’t good for the environment. I tossed the glass cleaner and now use a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean windows, mirrors, and glass table tops. I use worn out cotton tee shirts and towels that I cut into square cloths as my cleaning rags.
Stone surfaces often get a build-up of residue and water marks that are hard to remove with simple wiping. You can make a paste of equal parts water and baking soda, wipe it on your counters, let it sit for up to 24 hours. Then, wash it off with water and a clean rag or sponge. It is a little messy, but it does remove the residue and marks. If you wish to seal your stone after cleaning it, look for an eco-friendly, water based, low VOC sealer.
Removing stains and bacteria from bathroom surfaces is important for hygiene. After wiping everything down with a rag soaked in a water and vinegar solution, I like to use essential oils to remove bacteria. Eucalyptus oil is recommended by eco-friendly professional cleaning services.According to this, eucalyptus oil has excellent disinfectant and antiseptic qualities. The oil makes a great cleaning product for the toilet and bathroom, without causing negative impact to our waterways”. This oil is often used to prevent the spread of common cold germs on surfaces like door knobs.
Periodic steam cleaning of carpets is recommended. In between cleanings there is a simple method for keeping carpets smelling fresh and free of pesky mites and bugs. I take a glass jar that is large enough to hold 2 cups of powder. I fill the jar about 1-1/2” from the top with baking soda, add 1 TBS of food grade diatomaceous earth and 15 drops of essential oils. I like to use a combination of pine, lemon, and lavender - 5 drops each. The Mother Earth Living suggests choosing oils according to seasonal scents. Shake this up until well mixed. Poke some holes in the top of the jar lid. Shake the powder evenly over your carpet and let it sit for 3 hours or overnight. Vacuum the powder up in the morning. Not only will your carpets and your vacuum smell nice, the tiny critters that like to live in them will have dried up.
I have a set of copper pots that continue to discolor with use. I take 1/2 of a whole lemon and dip it in fine table salt. I rub the copper with this just as I would if using a traditional metal polish. The tarnish will eventually come off. I also use lemon to clean my stainless steel sink, my silver flatware, and my wood cutting boards. Lemon is great for removing tarnish, rust, and mold.
One thing that I keep on hand for pretty much all cleaning projects is liquid castile soap. The brand I prefer is Dr. Bonner’s because it is a Fair Trade and Non-GMO product. The peppermint castile soap is my favorite. We live by the sea and have a wood enclosed outdoor shower that sometimes gets slimy from all the moisture. We use the soap to wash our hair and bodies and clean the wood while we are at it. I have also used castile soap to wash clothes and dishes. Diluted with water, you can wipe down indoor wood surfaces with a dampened cloth. I can’t say enough about the versatility and safety of using pure castile soap with natural oils.
These suggestions are just some of the many environmentally safe house cleaning ideas. Armed with a few essential items, you will be able to tackle most cleaning jobs. A good shopping list to start with is:
-Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
-Diatomaceous earth (food grade)
-Liquid castile soap