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We all know that a clean home is a healthy home, but many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals. Many people may suffer from chemical sensitivity, such as skin or eye irritations, and there are those who already have respiratory issues that can experience worsening symptoms after inhaling chemical fumes when cleaning. It is also no secret that cleaning products can be pretty pricey. How can we keep our house clean, but solve these problems that harsh chemicals cause? The answer is to make your own cleaning products at home from simple and safe household ingredients.

multicolor cleaning cloths

Many people may think that household cleaners are not as effective. However, harmless cleaning products can clean and sanitize just as well as harmful cleaners; you may just have to put in a little more elbow grease. There are five things to know before mixing up your own cleaners:

  1. Know the types of cleaners before you start mixing.
  2. Always start small with a mild cleaner, then if it’s still not clean, go for a more aggressive cleaner.
  3. Even though these are safer, all cleaning products should still be kept out of reach of children and pets.
  4. Using a microfiber cloth, old t-shirts, and other reusable scrubbing tools can save money on paper towels.
  5. Hot or warm water cleans better than cold.

The next step when becoming savvy in homemade cleaning products is building your Clean and Green Toolkit to keep handy with items you may need anytime there’s something to be cleaned. Here are some items you should consider putting in the kit:

  • Something to keep it all in (i.e. basket, bucket, bin, shower caddy, etc.)
  • Reusable rubber gloves
  • Empty spray bottles
  • Microfiber cloths, rags, or old t-shirts
  • Brush, sponge, mesh pad, or other type of scrubber
  • Baking soda
  • Washing soda
  • Borax
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Vegetable oil
  • Castile soap
  • Salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Essentials oils (for scent purposes)

There are six types of cleaners, and it is important to know what they are and when to use them. Use this chart as handy guide:

Type

What It Does

Instead of this…

Use this

Base/alkali

Remove dirt and grease

All purpose cleaning spray, oven cleaner

Baking soda (mild), Borax (moderate), or washing soda (strong)

Acid

Breaks down rust, mineral deposits, hard water, and mold on glass, windows, brass, copper, and tiles

Toilet bowel cleaner, tub and tile cleaner, mold remover solutions

Vinegar, lemon juice

Detergent

Loosens and lifts away dirt on laundry or dishes

Store bought laundry detergent

Washing soda or borax, dishwashing liquid

Abrasives

Wears off dirt and grim by rubbing

Scouring powders, steel wool

 

Bleach and Sanitizer

Whitens, removes stains, disinfects, reduces bacteria, and can remove bad odors

Chlorine bleach

Lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, borax, vinegar, tea tree oil

Air freshener

Helps air smell better

Plug-ins, sprays

Essential oils, citrus juice, cooking spices, baking soda


It is important to practice safety first when making your own cleaners. Ammonia and bleach are inexpensive, yet harsh chemicals that can be used when milder forms do not get the job done. Never use the two at the same time in the same room. Label mixed solutions carefully and mix chemicals in a well ventilated area.

Here are some of my favorite Do-It-Yourself household cleaners:

All Purpose Surface Cleaner

2 cups water

¼ c white vinegar

1 tsp dishwashing liquid

Put into spray bottle and shake up. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean with a cloth.

Whitening Solution

Baking soda

Hydrogen peroxide - enough to make it into a paste

Spread and work into surface you want to whiten. Let sit and wash away when dried. Repeat until desired whiteness reached.

Oven Cleaner

¼ c baking soda

2 Tbsp salt

Water – enough to make a paste

Spread and work into surface of oven avoiding heating elements and wires. Let sit and wash away, scrubbing away grim if necessary.

For more information, recipes, and to see where I got my information for this post, please refer to this  "Clean and Green" publication. .

I hope you will consider making your own cleaners at home to not only save you money, but prevent further exposure to harsh chemicals. It is important to keep our homes clean and safe for our families. Check out my previous blog posts Help Yourself to a Healthy Home and Ways to Be More Environmentally Friendly to see more helpful ways to have a healthy home as a part of my Healthy Homes series this fall. Keep and lookout for my next and final post in the Healthy Homes series about how decluttering your life can help you be less stressed.

Stay savvy,

Katie

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Source: Clean and Green: Healthy Homes, Healthy People. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, 2019.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

 

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