The world is full of toxins already. We breathe exhaust from cars, chemicals from products in our homes, gases and fumes that aren’t healthy in high doses. So it makes sense that over time, natural cleaning products have gained in popularity.
The vinegar and newspaper trick your grandmother used for cleaning windows wasn’t far off the mark and while I wouldn’t want to go back to a world before penicillin and a few other modern advantages, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to cleaning our homes. Some of the old tried and true recipes and methods are just as good and even better for us.
In other words, natural cleaning products are not a fad. They’re perfect for keeping your home fresh and healthy for your whole family.
Cleaning with essential oils
While essential oils are not cleansers in and of themselves, some have purifying qualities that, when added to other ingredients, make the perfect combinations to get your home spic and span.
Example? Any oil in the citrus line has detoxifying elements and will leave behind a natural, clean scent that beats a chemical smell any day!
Oils with cleansing / purifying properties that help with the cleaning process:
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Tea tree oil—This essential oil has antibacterial properties that make it useful for disinfecting. It also has antifungal properties, so it can be useful when cleaning areas where mold can develop, like showers. Just add some to water in a spray bottle for a natural cleanser.
Lemongrass oil—Use this essential oil anywhere you need antifungal properties, like in the shower or bathroom generally. If there is the possibility of dampness or mold growing, lemongrass is the oil you want!
Eucalyptus oil—Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, you can count on eucalyptus to help reduce germs without adding to your toxins.
Grapefruit oil—This oil also has disinfecting properties and just the right scent to balance if you want to mix it with vinegar to create an all purpose cleansing spray that doesn’t make your house smell like a fish and chip shop! Add to it water and vinegar (equal parts) and use it for everything from mopping the kitchen floor to wiping down the bathroom surfaces.
Here are some recipes that work well:
For spills that are likely to leave behind trace odours, like pet accidents on the linoleum, add 10 drops of your favourite essential oil to a combination of hot water and a little bit of your preferred floor cleanser to remove any residual smells. You don’t want Fido picking up any left over of his own scent: this power packed combination will get the job done.
To get your laundry smelling like it just came off an outdoor line that happens to be in the middle of a field of wildflowers, add a few drops of oil to a hand towel or cloth and pop it into the dryer with your next load. Avoid scents that overly sweet smelling: the heat of the dryer will magnify them. Beyond that, if you love scented laundry detergent but can’t abide the chemicals, get a good quality unscented powder and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Presto! Scented detergent with less chemicals.
For an all purpose kitchen and bathroom cleanser without the chemicals, you just need to mix:
- Equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle
- Add 20-30 drops of your preferred oil
- 1 teaspoon of castile soap (made from vegetable oils and available at health food shops)
For a mirror and window cleaner, mix:
- 3 cups of water
- ¼ cup of white vinegar
- 20 drops of your favourite essential oil
For a scrub to clean tubs and toilets to a shine, mix:
- ½ cup of baking soda
- ⅓ cup of dishwashing liquid
- ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide
- ¾ cup of water
- 30 drops of your preferred oil
For a garbage disposal disinfectant / deodorizer, collect:
- ¼ cup of baking soda
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- 30 drops of an oil with antiseptic properties (Tea tree, eucalyptus)
- You need to start with the baking soda, down the drain. Then half the oil drops. Run the disposal without water for a minute or two. Then pour in half the vinegar and run it again. You should see some foaming action. Add ten more drops of oil and the rest of the vinegar, keeping the disposal unit on for another minute or two. After you turn it off, add in the last ten drops of essential oil, run the unit for a few seconds and you’re done!
Deodorizing with essential oils
From pet odours to cooking smells, our homes are filled with different, and not always lovely, scents. Neutralizing unpleasant smells on furnishings and flooring that don’t necessarily lend themselves to traditional ‘washing’ is a valuable addition to any house cleaning regimen.
A natural air cleaner
Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a spray bottle of water is a natural way to freshen stale air in any room of the house. Just spritz and enjoy it!
Furniture and curtains
Unless the fabric zips off your entire sofa, you may need to freshen it up in a more practical way. Use the same mixture as for the air cleaner, above. Just make sure you use a light touch on the spray bottle trigger: you don’t want to soak the furnishings or window treatments. If you have forced air in your home, adding a few drops of tea tree oil to the floor filter can do wonders. The air flow will warm the oil, and create a lovely scent around the room. Using a light scent here ensures that it doesn’t become too overpowering for family and friends alike!
Mattresses and pet beds
Mix 10 drops of your favourite essential oil with 2 cups of baking soda and sprinkle some on the mattress and let it sit a while to dry, before you make the bed. All you have to do before you make the bed is vacuum up the remaining powder.
Throw some of the same mixture for the mattress onto the carpet and let it dry before vacuuming for a similar effect. You can also add a few drops to your vacuum filter, to spread the deodorizing qualities.
Essential oil scents that are in line with cooking, such as cinnamon and clove, are perfect because instead of masking cooking smells, which is pretty difficult, they can enhance them. Just add some to a pot of simmering water on the back of the stove and let the oils go to work!
Take some lemon peel and lemon essential oil and mix these with a little baking soda; fill little jars with pierced lids with the mixture. The scent will do its job in the refrigerator! A few drops in the garbage bins will help with any lingering odours there too!
In the bathroom
A jar of cotton balls on the shelf with several drops of essential oil added to it can go a long way to eradicating odours from this room. Stick to fresh scents like pine, lemon or grapefruit!
A fresh, light scent throughout your home goes a long way to help clean your space. Combine that with the interesting antimicrobial properties that many oils have and you can clean your home without feeling like you’re adding to the chemicals your family already deals with every day. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?