One of my mother’s most popular mantras was “convenience kills.” My mom was a firm believer that it was healthier to cook from scratch, make your own baby food from fruit and vegetables and clean your home using natural products. She also taught me how to live on a shoestring budget and to “waste not, want not.” (She was a very smart lady indeed!)
So, naturally, when I became a homeowner, I remembered those values from childhood and I found simple and natural ways to keep my home free of commercial chemical-based products. I call it house cleaning naked!
It’s very convenient to grab a cleaning product off the grocery shelf, but it’s not easy for most of us to read and understand the label on the products we are buying. What are we putting in the air and on our floors, countertops, and furniture? What are the long-term health implications of using synthetic chemicals in our home or office? What about the environmental pollution caused by the manufacturing and disposal of these commercial cleaning products?
A Natural Solution
You can detox your house by putting non-toxic cleaning products on your shopping list. Better yet, why not save money by making your own all-purpose cleaners using natural and safer ingredients? Here is a list of common environmentally safe products that can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of household applications:
- Baking soda: For softening water, cleaning, deodorizing and scouring.
- Unscented soap: Avoid soaps that contain petroleum distillates. Liquid, flake, powder and bar forms of soap are biodegradable and clean just about anything.
- Lemon: A strong acid that is effective against most household bacteria.
- Borax (sodium borate): Borax is a natural substance, is not carcinogenic and does not accumulate in the body or absorb through the skin. It can be used to soften water, clean, deodorize and disinfect, and it can be used on wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
- White vinegar: Use to cut grease and remove mildew, odors, wax buildup and some stains.
- Washing soda (sodium carbonate decahydrate): This is a mineral that can cut grease, remove stains, soften water and clean walls, tiles, sinks, and tubs. It shouldn’t be used on aluminum and it can irritate mucous membranes.
- Ethanol or 100 proof alcohol solution in water: This is an excellent disinfectant that should be used instead of isopropyl alcohol, which was once recommended but is now thought to contribute to illness.
- Cornstarch: Use cornstarch to clean windows, polish furniture, and shampoo carpets and rugs.
5 DIY natural household cleaning formulas:
½ cup (125 mL) white vinegar
¼ cup (60 mL) baking soda, or 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Borax
2 quarts (2 L) water
Stir the vinegar and baking soda or Borax into the water and store in a container of your choice. Use to remove scale and stains on shower panels, chrome fixtures, windows, and mirrors.
- Baking soda or vinegar mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice can be put in small dishes that you place around the house to absorb odors.
- Some house plants reduce odors.
- Put 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar in 1 cup (250 mL) water and simmer on the stove while cooking to prevent cooking odors.
- Use vinegar to wipe smells, such as from fish and onion, from utensils and cutting boards, and then wash in soapy water.
- Place bowls of fragrant dried herbs and flowers in a room.
Sprinkle a little salt on rust and squeeze a lime over it to soak the salt. Leave for 2 to 3 hours and then use the leftover rind to scrub the residue away.
Tub and Tile Cleaner
For basic cleaning, rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water. For tougher jobs, wipe with vinegar first, and then scour with baking soda. Note: Use vinegar sparingly as it can break down tile grout.
Combine equal parts of white vinegar and water and apply with a sponge to the wallpaper. This will soften the adhesive. Peel off the paper, applying more of the mixture to stubborn patches.
It feels good to know that we can enjoy clean homes without the use of chemicals, dyes, synthetic fragrances, and other additives and by using non-toxic, natural ingredients that will not harm us or our environment.
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Dawn James, Conscious Living teacher, Sound/Energy Practitioner, Green Living advocate, musician, author of several books on conscious living and wellness including Raise your Vibration, Transform Your Life: A Practical Guide for Attaining Better Health, Vitality and Inner Peace in 2010. How to Raise The Vibration Around You, Raise the Vibration Between Us: Forgiveness, Karma, and Freedom (available in English, French, Spanish and Hindi). Learn more at RaisetheVibration.ca.