Homemade Cleaners

Health, Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on March 1, 2009

Cleaning with ordinary ingredients that you may already have in your pantry is a smart way to make your home sparkle and shine.

Homemade cleaners stand the test of time, by being passed down from one generation to the next, says Annie Berthold-Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living. I recommend them because when compared to a commercial counterpart, each is less expensive, simple to make and less toxic.

Ingredients in many conventional cleaners can irritate the lungs, eyes and skin. Natural cleaners made with ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice are less likely to cause adverse reactions.

You might need to use a little extra elbow grease when using homemade cleaners, but the benefits are worth it. Natural cleaners will leave your home fresh and clean, and you can feel good knowing that they're safer for your family and for the planet.

Here are some of Bonds favorite do-it-yourself cleaning solutions:

  • To remove mineral buildup on sinks, dishwashers, shower walls, bathtubs and coffee pots, mix 1⁄4 cup white distilled vinegar or lemon juice, 1⁄2 teaspoon plant-based liquid soap (available in health food stores and some supermarkets) and 3⁄4 cup warm water in a spray bottle. This cleaner shouldnt be used on fiberglass, aluminum or no-wax floors.
  • To clean rugs and carpet, sprinkle baking soda on the surface to absorb odors. Leave on overnight. Sweep up as much as you can with a broom and dustpan, then vacuum thoroughly. Finish the job by steam cleaning with an extractor filled with a mixture of 1⁄4 cup concentrated, all-purpose, unscented liquid cleaner and four gallons of water.
  • To help eliminate mold and mildew, combine two teaspoons of tea tree essential oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon liquid, plant-based, all-purpose soap and two cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray on surface, and wait two days before rinsing with water.
  • For a natural furniture polish, mix 1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil with 1⁄4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a glass jar. Polish furniture with a soft cloth moistened with this solution. Most natural cleaners are not toxic, but some can be irritating or harmful, especially if swallowed. When using any cleaning product:

    • Wear gloves.
    • Maintain proper ventilation.
    • Test first in a small, inconspicuous area.
    • Handle essential oils carefully, as they can irritate skin and eyes on contact. If pregnant, consult with your doctor before using them.
    • Store cleaners in clearly labeled, airtight containers or spray bottles, out of reach of children and pets.