When we think about toxins, most people think of pesticides, and pollutants, but many forget about products. Cleaning your home should be a time to remove allergens and toxins that have accumulated, not a time to be adding more toxic residues from chemical cleaners. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) explains that commercial cleaning products can cause numerous health problems. These include asthma, allergies, chemical burns and even birth defects and cancer. The health risks to children are especially significantly. Simply put, it is best avoid these poisonous products!
Did you know, some of the chemicals on our shelves are actually banned in the European Union because of health concerns for humans and aquatic life? By eliminating commercial cleaning products from your home, not only are you lowering your toxic load, but you can also save money.
It may take a little more elbow grease when using non-toxic products (free workout!), but you could clean your house right now with common items found in your kitchen pantry. An optional addition to your non-toxic cleaning solution is essential oils.
A 2006 study found that using essential oils, namely clove, German chamomile and fennel, can kill dust mites in the home. Using washing products containing essential oils, especially carpet cleaning solutions, may also aid in maintaining mite control. A 1999 study on the antimicrobial activity of essential oils found that oregano and lemongrass essential oils inhibited organisms such as candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis, E-coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus and more.
So Here’s What You Need:
Essential oils (EO)
And Here’s What You Can Do With It:
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray – 1 tsp of baking soda, 2 tbsp of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water. Mix in spray bottle and use to clean surfaces in kitchen. You could add lavender EO, orange EO, and rosemary EO for a great scent and antibacterial properties in a 4:4:1 ratio (four drops lavender, four drops orange, one drop rosemary).
Glass Cleaner – ¼ cup of vinegar and 4 cups of water. Add a drop of lemon essential oil for a refreshing scent. Mix in a spray bottle and shake well before use.
Wood Floor Cleaner and Furniture Polish – 1 gallon of hot water and ¾ cup of olive oil. Adding 1 tbsp of lemon EO will provide a great scent.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner – pour ½ cup of white vinegar into the bowl. Let sit 15 minutes and then flush. Additionally you could shake some baking soda and a few drops of essential oils to the bowl with the vinegar and scrub before flushing.
Room and Furniture Spray – Add 40 drops of your favorite essential oils to water in a spray bottle.
Clean rusty tools – Soak tools in a pail of white vinegar. Brush to clean.
Eliminating Cat Urine or Spray – Add about 1 tsp of orange EO to a litre of hot water and ¼ cup of vinegar. Wash entire area.
Rinse-Agent – Add white vinegar to the rinse-agent dispenser of your dishwasher.
Tub and Glass Shower Doors – Heat 1 cup of white vinegar in a pot. Add the warm vinegar to a spray bottle and spray onto surface. Let sit 15 minutes and wipe clean.
If you’d still prefer to purchase cleaners than make your own, visit Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for a list of safe cleaners and their ratings. I regularly use a product by Young Living called Thieves Household Cleaner, which includes an essential oil blend of cloves, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary (I use it daily in the kitchen and my family loves the smell it leaves on the kitchen counter tops).
Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F. and Riley, T. V. (1999), Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 86: 985–990. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2672.1999.00780.x