Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Happy Homemaking the DIY Way: Making Nontoxic Cleaners

Written by Raleigh Briggs
Active Image  Are you looking for a crafty way to save money, reduce your environmental impact, and rid your home of toxic chemicals? Then, consider making your own natural cleaners. Commercial products, like the bottles of neon crap you buy at the drugstore, are overpriced, overpackaged, and full of potentially dangerous compounds, many of which are routinely tested on animals. Some folks even experience negative health effects due to chemical sensitivities, which can be exacerbated by using harsh commercial cleaners. 
Illustration by Renee Ann
 
Are you looking for a crafty way to save money, reduce your environmental impact, and rid your home of toxic chemicals? Then, {mosimage width=350}consider making your own natural cleaners. Commercial products, like the bottles of neon crap you buy at the drugstore, are overpriced, overpackaged, and full of potentially dangerous compounds, many of which are routinely tested on animals. Some folks even experience negative health effects due to chemical sensitivities, which can be exacerbated by using harsh commercial cleaners.
 
By contrast, homemade cleaners are inexpensive and effective. Plus, they’re really easy to make. Using just a few ingredients from the grocery or health food store, you can whip up a variety of customizable products to keep your home looking great for months.

Keep your creations in reused bottles and jars, and tag them with homemade labels. Your roommates will love you forever, and you can rest easy knowing you’re doing the right thing for the earth and those around you. Read on for some quick and cheap recipes for all natural cleaners, and get scrubbing!

General-Purpose Spray Cleaner

You can use this gentle spray cleaner on every surface except glass. To save time, try doubling or tripling this recipe. Store cleaner in a large jug, and refill your spray bottle whenever you need to.

Supplies:

• 1 teaspoon borax
• 2 cups hot water
• 1 teaspoon liquid castile soap
• 2 tablespoons white vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon each eucalyptus and lavender essential oil*
• 3 drops tea-tree oil
• Spray bottle

Directions:

1. Combine borax with hot water in spray bottle, stirring to dissolve borax.

2. Add liquid castile soap and white vinegar.

3. Drop in eucalyptus, lavender oil, and tea-tree oil. Feel free to substitute other essential oils. Lemon and peppermint are nice too!

4. To use, just spray on, scrub, and rinse off with a damp cloth.

Glass and Mirror Spray

A simple vinegar and water solution costs just pennies and makes glass sparkle.

Supplies:
• 1 1/2 cups vinegar
• 1/2 cup water
• 3 drops essential oil, such as lemon or lavender
• Spray bottle

Directions:

1. Combine vinegar and water in spray bottle.

2. Add essential oil. To use, spray on glass and wipe off with crumpled newspapers for a streak-free finish.

Cream Scrub for Sinks & Tubs

This scouring scrub works as well as the bleachy drugstore stuff, but without the neurotoxins. The salicylic acid in the aspirin adds extra exfoliating power. Neat!

Supplies:
• 2 aspirin tablets
• 1 cup baking soda
• 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
• 3-5 drops essential oil
• Mortar and pestle
• Small bowl
• Squeeze bottle

Directions:
1. Powder aspirin tablets using mortar and pestle. Place powder in small bowl.

2. Add baking soda and liquid castile soap, stirring to incorporate.

3. Scent with essential oil of your choice.

4. Transfer scrub to a squeeze bottle with a not-too-tiny spout. To use, apply with a sponge, scrub, and rinse thoroughly.

Multi-Purpose Castile Soap

Castile soap is a gentle cleanser made from plant oils—usually coconut, hemp, or olive. You probably already take it with you when you go camping, but you can harness the magic of castile in your very own home. Often found in bulk at co-ops and health food stores, castile soap can be your go-to product for laundry, dishes, and even your hair and skin. Unlike commercial detergents and shampoos, castile soap cleans without stripping, so it’s gentle enough to use on everything, every day.

Supplies:
• 12 ounces unscented liquid castile
• 30 drops of essential oil
 
Directions:
1. Try scenting liquid castile with up to 30 drops of essential oil. (I personally go for lavender and bergamot oils.)

2. Use your sweet-smelling soap to hand-launder delicates; as dish soap; or even as shampoo or bodywash.

*Note: Head to the natural food store to find essential oils. Most stores will have testers so you can see which oils you like best before you buy them. The oils listed in the recipes above contain organic antimicrobial compounds that fight germs, viruses, and more. Essential oils may seem pricey at first glance, but they last a loooong time and are useful for many DIY projects. Straight essential oils are quite potent, so make sure you don’t get any on your skin, and NEVER use them internally.
 

Share this post