* Baking Soda (we buy this in bulk too)
* Castile soap (soap made from plant oils; comes in liquid or solid forms; available at most health food stores and also here)
* Lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
* Various essential oils (we use these); you often only need a few drops of essential oils, so they last a long time
* Olive oil (for polishing wood)We use these basic supplies to clean everything from the tub to tile floors to windows. Here are a few of the recipes that we use:
All Purpose Cleaners
Pour equal parts water and vinegar into the spray bottle. Add 5 to 20 drops of essential oil (the amount you use just depends on whether you’re making a large or small amount). Use a single essential oil or any combination of the above oils.
Use to clean kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Also good for walls, glass, and mirrors. Shake before each use.
Note: Do not use vinegar on stone surfaces, such as granite counter tops. Instead, mix water with 1 or 2 tsp. of Castile soap and 10 to 20 drops of essential oil.
Note: Essential oils can break down plastic over time, so be sure to use up your all-purpose cleaner fairly quickly, or store it in glass.
Here’s another all-around cleaner:
* 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon liquid Castile soap
* 2 cups warm or hot water
* 16-ounce spray bottle
Mix all ingredients in the spray bottle, and shake gently. Use on any surface.
Adapted from: Healthy Child, Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan
Mix ingredients together in the bottle, and shake gently. Shake before each use.
Note: This soap does not remain foamy, but will still get your dishes clean. Commercial dish soaps often contain sulfates, which make the soap foamy, but also damage the skin and make it more permeable, allowing toxins to enter the body through the skin.
A lot of natural dishwasher powders call for borax. However, there is some question about its safety, so I prefer not to use it to clean our dishes. I did a little experimenting and came up with this very simple recipe that omits the borax.
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup salt
2 or 3 drops lemon essential oil (optional; adds some extra cleaning power and smells good!)
Put the baking soda and salt in a glass jar, place the lid on it, and shake well to mix. Add the lemon essential oil, put the lid on again, and shake well again. Put two tablespoons per load in the main wash compartment. Pour white vinegar in the rinse compartment to keep glasses from looking cloudy.
Cutting Board Cleaner
It’s easy to clean your cutting boards naturally. Just sprinkle some salt on them, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on that, and scrub with a sponge or wash cloth. In place of the lemon juice, you can also use a drop of lemon essential oil. Rinse well. Air dry wooden cutting boards standing up. Once a month, rub olive oil into wooden cutting boards to keep them from getting dried out.
Kitchen Floor Cleaner
Mix a half cup of white vinegar with a bucket of warm water. You can also add a few drops of lavender or a citrus essential oil. Use on tile or linoleum floors. Do not use vinegar on stone or marble surfaces. Instead add a tablespoon of Castile soap to the bucket of water, and add essential oils if you wish.
* 2 parts baking soda
* 1 part salt
Mix together and store in a plastic or glass container. To use, sprinkle into the bottom of the tub, and then scrub with a sponge or cleaning brush. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
To make wood furniture polish, just mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice. (You can also use fractionated coconut oil in place of the olive oil, and white vinegar can be used instead of lemon juice.) Use a soft cloth to apply the polish to your furniture.
Natural Air Filters
Thanks to off-gassing from carpets, upholstered furniture, commercial cleaning products and so forth, the air inside most homes is 2 to 5 times more toxic than the air outside. However, there are a couple of very simple things that can be done to keep indoor air fresh:
* Open windows whenever the weather allows for it.
* Keep houseplants in every room of your home, or at least in the ones that are most often occupied. Plants are natural air filters, and a number of them, including English ivy, aloe plants, and snake plants are particularly efficient at cleaning the air. This article lists several other helpful houseplants. An 1,800 square foot house requires 15 to 18 plants.
* Take your shoes off inside. Our shoes pick up environmental toxins when we are out and about. Taking your shoes off at the door helps to prevent tracking these toxins around the house.