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Natural Cleaning 101: Ingredients & Recipes

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Blog Post by SCGH
9/17/2013 

You’ve heard it before: One of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do for your home health—and the environment—is to replace toxic household cleaning products with a natural, green version.

SCGH teamed up with Los Angeles based Earth Friendly Maid Service to learn the essentials of green cleaning once and for all.

First, let’s start with what to buy and why. With these simple ingredients, you can clean just about anything.

Natural Ingredient Shopping List

  • White Vinegar: For disinfecting, removing heavy lime and soap scum.

White vinegar is a powerful natural cleaner. Disinfecting and deodorizing, vinegar is a go-to product for germ-ridden spots such as countertops, door handles, and telephones.

  • Liquid Castile Soap:  For all-purpose cleaning.

Liquid castile soap is an all-natural, olive oil-based soap great as an all-purpose surface cleaner, floor cleaner, or for use as an all-natural dish soap.

  • Salt:  For extra surface scrubbing.

Salt helps lift and remove stubborn stove top spills and soap scum. Combine salt with baking soda and water to make paste.  Apply and scrub.

  • Washing Soda (sodium carbonate): For scrubbing, removing stains, and cutting grease.

Washing soda is a powerful cleaning ingredient that acts much like baking soda—but stronger. Use washing soda to clean toilets, or mix with water for a powerful all-purpose cleaner. Many natural cleaners recommend Borax, but recent studies by the Environmental Working Group have found that it’s overly harsh. You can replace Borax with slightly milder washing soda in nearly any recipe.

  • Baking Soda: For scrubbing and whitening.

Use baking soda to eliminate odors and to whiten. A paste of baking soda and water can help whiten sinks and bathtubs, and a box of baking soda in the fridge, bathroom, or cupboard helps absorb odors.

  • Beeswax: For polishing wood.

You can forgo oily wood polish in favor of all-natural beeswax. Find a local beekeeper, and you support your local economy in the process!

  • Cornstarch and Club Soda (or any unflavored fizzy water): For lifting stains.

For a quick treatment for stains on carpets or drapes, cover the stain with absorbent cornstarch. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, then pour fizzy club soda to lift the stain. Also try cornstarch on oil dripped on clothing.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide: For disinfecting, removing stains.

Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful disinfectant. To kill mildew, combine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to create a paste, then put on mildew and allow to sit for a few minutes before wiping away.

  • Lemon: For removing stains and odors.

Lemons are a great all-purpose odor remover in the kitchen. Run half a lemon over a dirty cutting board to help remove odors such as onion or fish. Put half a lemon (chop it up if your disposal has trouble with large objects) down the disposal and grind it to remove odors from the kitchen sink. Lemon juice can also add cleaning power to all-purpose solutions.

  • Olive Oil: For polishing wood.

Olive oil can naturally condition wood, as well as skin and hair!

  • Essential Oils: For chemical-free fragrance.

Although they are chemical-free, pure essential oils are strong. Always do a sniff test before buying to make sure you’re not sensitive to the fumes, and use caution when handling pure essential oils. A few drops of essential oil can add antibacterial and antifungal power to a cleaning solution. Most important? They leave behind a fresh scent. Look for pure, undiluted essential oils in dark brown or blue bottles. Store away from sunlight.

Now, you’re ready to try some recipes!

Recipes

Natural All-Purpose Disinfectant and Surface Cleaner

5 Drops of Liquid Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)

2 Cups of Spring Water

30 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

8 oz spray bottle

Method: Pour all the ingredients into the spray bottle. Put spray top on then shake well to mix ingredients.  Spray as needed to clean surfaces in kitchen and bathroom.

Uses: Good for counters, doorknobs, hand rails, bathroom, and toilet’s surface lid, seat and exterior.

Natural  Citrus Mint Surface Scrub Powder

½  Cup Baking Soda

½  Cup Salt

½  Cup Borax or Washing Soda

10 drops Lemon Essential Oil

10 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil

5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Glass Shaker 8oz Bottle (such as used for Parmesan Cheese)

Method: Pour all dry ingredients into a bowl or re-sealable container and mix well with a spoon.  Add essential oils (or other ones that you like) and continue to mix well.  Add extra dry ingredients in equal amounts so that your surface scrub mixture is not too wet and is dry enough to easily sprinkle out of the shaker container that you use.

Uses: Sprinkle on tubs, sinks, and in toilets to clean. Scrub with a moist sponge or scrub brush.  For stubborn stains or soap scum, add enough water to scrub powder into a paste-like consistency. Apply in an even layer on interior of tub or sink, leave on for up to an hour, then scrub again, and continue to rinse well.

Citrus No-Rinse Floor Cleaner

2 Cups Water

1 ½ Teaspoon Liquid Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)

2  Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

5  Drops Lemon Essential Oil

10 Drops Grapefruit Essential Oil

1 Squirt Top Bottle

1 Flat Floor & Hardwood Mop (like a Swiffer)

2-4 Clean Floor Mop Cloth Covers or Clean Hand Towels

Method: Pour all ingredients into a squirt-top bottle.  Shake well.  Squirt floor cleaner on floors one section at a time. Dry each section after cleaning, using your flat floor mop with a clean cloth cover. You can also wrap clean hand towels around an old Swiffer mop and use an old hair tie to gather all 4 corners of cloths together to secure the cloth.

Uses: This is a perfect way to do a quick clean for laminate and tile floors.  You can consider this an excellent substitute for using disposable Swiffer cleaning pads.

Almond Hardwood Wood Cleaner

2 Cups Spring Water

1 ½ Teaspoon Liquid Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)

5  Drops Almond Essential Oil

½  Teaspoon Almond Oil

1 Squirt Top Bottle

1 Flat Floor & Hardwood Mop

2-4 Clean Floor Mop Cloth Covers

Method: Pour all ingredients into a squirt top bottle.  Shake well.  Squirt floor cleaner on your vinyl, laminate, and/or hardwood floors one section at a time. Dry each section after cleaning, using your flat floor mop with a clean cloth cover.

Uses: Great damp clean for most floors.  Use this safe PH Balanced product after sweeping and/or vacuuming.

Mint Glass Cleaner

1 Cup Rubbing Alcohol

1 Cup Spring Water

1-2 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

8 oz Spray Bottle

Simple Glass Cleaner

2 Cups Water

1/4 Cup White Distilled Vinegar

Up to 1/2 Teaspoon of Liquid Soap or Detergent

Method: Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well.  Spray as needed to clean glass, mirrors, or chrome. Wipe clean with a cloth and continue to buff dry for a non-streak finish.

Uses: A very effective replacement for commercial window cleaner.

Products

If you’re not up for the DIY route, you can also find great eco-friendly cleaning products right at your local grocery store (or even big box retailer).

Here are some product lines we love:

  • Seventh Generation
  • Earth Friendly Products
  • Better Life
  • BioKleen
  • Bon Ami
  • Method
  • Clorox Green Works
  • Planet
  • Mrs. Myers

Share your tried and true recipes in a comment below!

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