Published in Lake Simcoe Living Magazine Fall 2017 issue
During the industrial revolution, companies were on a mission to create something for everything. When it came to cleaning products, clever marketing led us to believe that we needed a different product for every household chore. A specific cleaner for our kitchen counters, bathrooms, floors, stove tops, ovens and windows. This adds up to a lot of products in our homes along with a lot of unknown chemicals, as almost all of these items do not include ingredient lists. If you dig a little deeper you will find these products include substances including, but not limited to; phthalates, triclosan (banded by the FDA but NOT banned by Health Canada), ammonia and 2-butoxyethanol. Each of these substances have known toxic properties to our bodies, can disrupt our hormone systems and begin to bio accumulate in the environment, especially when we rinse them down our drains.
It becomes very difficult to determine which products are better or “green”, since most do not list the ingredients on the bottle, but also because many companies use a clever marketing technique that has become known as “Green Washing”. Basically, the company will create a brand and use words like “organic” “green” or “biodegradable” to make the consumer feel like the product must be a better choice. Unfortunately, none of these words indicate the level of toxic compounds in the product. And most times the ingredients are still not listed, which in my mind means the company has something to hide.
Thankfully the solution to reducing toxins in your household products is simple! Go back to the way things were done before these products were created. Your grandmother was on to something when she pulled out the bottle of vinegar and the box of baking soda to clean the grime off of her stove top or bathtub. Clean can be green! And extremely affordable!
Here are some simple natural and non-toxic ingredients that can be used to get your home clean. (Because ultimately, someone will make a sandwich on your counter top, and you probably don’t want any germs or toxins getting on said sandwich.)
Vinegar: White vinegar contains approximately 5-7% acetic acid. This relatively high concentration of acid makes vinegar a great solution for combating mould, bacteria and other microbes. For jobs that require a little more acid umph, try pickling vinegar.
Baking Soda: Sodium Bicarbonate is a salt that can help to cut through geese and grime, lifts up dirt off of surfaces, has deodorizing properties and even whitens surfaces. Including your teeth!
Hydrogen Peroxide: H2O2 – water with an extra molecule, has amazing disinfectant properties, without harming the environment because it simply breaks down to water and oxygen. It should be diluted to a 3% solution when used. Works well with vinegar for a 1 – 2 punch when cleaning surfaces.
Alcohol: The higher the % the better. Nothing can live in alcohol solution – see ya bacteria, virus and other microbes! It has amazing cleaning and disinfecting properties and it dries fast on surfaces.
Castile Soap: Liquid soap made from vegetable oils. No petroleum products, no synthetics, no yuck. It is just soap in its purest form. Usually comes in a bottle that is concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Always be sure to check that your castile soap only contains vegetable oils, there are some imposters out there.
Essential Oils: Not only do they smell amazing, but these little plant derived drops of oil have pretty powerful anti-microbial properties. Reach for Essential Oils of Lemon, Tea Tree, Clove and peppermint when you want to increase the germ fighting power of your cleaner and make your room smell amazing, without chemical fragrance. (Buyer beware, not all essential oils are created equally. If you would like to know my brand of choice, let’s connect!)
DIY All Purpose Spray:
1 cup water
2 tsp Castile Soap
20 drops of essential oils (lemon, tea tree, rosemary etc)
Shake before using.
Use on all surfaces: countertops, bathtubs, tiles, floors
Simple Surface Disinfectant
Spray vinegar mixed with lemon essential oil on the surface. Let sit for 2 mins and wipe off.
Spray Hydrogen Peroxide on the same surface and wipe off. Say goodbye to germs.
DIY Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
½ cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
10 drops of essential oil (peppermint, lemon and tea tree)
Mix the vinegar and essential oils into a spray bottle and spray the toilet.
Sprinkle the baking soda into the toilet bowl and scrub.
Wipe the seat and other parts of the toilet with the vinegar spray.
DIY Glass Cleaner
¼ cup rubbing alcohol
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch (since glass is not a flat surface, this helps with streaks)
2 cups warm water
10 drops essential oils lemongrass, peppermint or lemon
Mix in a spray bottle, spray onto windows and wipe clean with a cloth.
When making DIY cleaning recipes, make sure you clearly label what is in each bottle and store in a safe place, out of reach of children and pets. Even though these are non-toxic, they can still irritate the skin or cause stomach issues if ingested.
If you aren’t sure which essential oils to use, let’s connect! I would be happy to give you some guidance.
~Laura, Essentially Inspired