If you look under my sink you probably won’t recognize any of my cleaning products. You won’t see typical logos or brand names. You also won’t see any crazy-looking skeleton faces declaring the poisons found inside. Why? Because I make my own cleaning solutions!
My mom used to make a lot of her cleaning solutions as well, even when she had an in-home daycare. She was a neat-freak (and I say that with love), totally focused on her house always looking like the Taj Mahal, all the way down to the showroom “peaks” she made in the carpet when she vacuumed. If anyone moved anything, she knew because everything was organized and had a place (talk about it being impossible to ever play “hooky” from school with friends). Everyone that came to our house always complimented my mom on how clean it was and it made her positively light up…..and she achieved this in a mostly natural way. She used basics like Comet and Dawn, but also used natural cleaners. Always concerned with things being “antibacterial”, if it passed her test it means that it works!
A few of the basic cleaners I have always used, but it wasn’t until about two years ago when I had a revelation to “clean naturally”. I was a preschool teacher that came home every day with a horrible headache (and no, it wasn’t the kids, I loved them to pieces!). It took me a little while but I finally realized that the reason I was getting headaches was from when I cleaned my classroom! I always cleaned my classroom right before I left for the day (the reason why the headaches never really set in until I got home). Per the regulations of the preschool, we used bleach & water, a floor cleaning liquid, toilet bowl cleaner, and Lysol. Everything got rinsed and sprayed daily (especially during flu season with me — a bit of a germaphobe like my mom!). We used antibacterial soap and even had the kids use antibacterial gels to clean their hands on field trips and things like that. When teachers wanted the room to “smell nice” they gave little squirts of Lysol, or brought in those fragrance stick-up things. The combination of everything was enough to send your nose into overload and yet, without fail, those kids were always sick!
Many people wonder how could that happen? If you are using the best antibacterial products out there and always disinfecting, how can the germs still be passed? The answer is two-parted and simple – 1) because their immune systems are not being allowed to fight off normal germs and bacteria because of all the cleaners, and 2) the germs and bacteria get stronger by becoming immune to the cleaners (like the focus on the “super-bugs” with overuse of antibiotics going on now). Not to mention the headaches, dizziness, sinus problems, breathing problems, skin/eye irritations and/or nausea that can occur when using cleaners with harsh chemicals.
My solution? Well, first to always take a shower the second I got home to get rid of the chemicals and any germs I was carrying; second, to make my own cleaning solutions at home (which includes quite a few critters). If the chemicals affected me to the point that I noticed it, I could only imagine what it was doing internally, as well as to my beloved pets!
I wanted my immune system to be healthy and to not live in a toxic environment. Yes, I still use candles, but I’m careful of which kind (making some yourself is also a fun activity on a rainy day!). For big cleaning jobs, there are only 3 cleaners that I have in my house (well locked away from my pets): Dawn, Comet and Bleach. I don’t use them unless I absolutely have to! I know that getting in this habit now will make it that much easier when I have kids of my own and since my mom used these methods safely around me and other children, I trust them wholeheartedly; your kids could even help you clean!
Glass Cleaner (mix in spray bottle): 1 c rubbing alcohol, 1 c water & 1 tbsp vinegar.
Basic Cleaner (in spray bottle): Ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.
*Use this as your basic cleanup for spills, etc.
All-Purpose Cleaner (make in old milk jug & use in spray bottle): 1/2 c vinegar, 1/4 c baking soda and 1/2 gal water.
*Use this anywhere! Bathroom, kitchen…any hard surface!
Furniture Polish (store in a regular bottle or jar): 1/4 c lemon juice and 1/2 c olive oil. Wipe on with rag and polish with a separate soft, clean rag.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner (make as you use): 1/4 c baking soda and 1 c vinegar; pour into toilet, let set for about 10-15 mins (as you clean the rest of the bathroom!), then scrub with a brush and flush!
Carpet: Sprinkle baking soda over carpet (add crushed lavender for a fresh smell). Let sit 10-15 mins, then vacuum.
Tile/Vinyl: 1 c vinegar per gal warm water. Mix directly in a bucket and use to mop the floors for a fresh, shiny finish.
Stay tuned — more cleaning tips coming soon!