By Katherine Oakes
Some of the most versatile and durable cleaners aren’t found on the shelves of your grocery store’s cleaning aisle—they’re found in your pantry. The majority of what you need to disinfect and effectively scrub down your space are chemicals that naturally occur in nature. However, popular belief preaches the need for loads of chemicals to keep things spic n’ span, but in actuality they’re full of harmful toxins that run down the drain and into our waterways, leading to further contamination.
In the case of safe and clean housekeeping, simple is better—better yet, simple can be found in your own kitchen! At Modernize, green living is at our very core, so it only makes sense to bring it back to basics. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of a few important ingredients to make and why they are so effective as natural cleaners. Below are a few easy recipes from the authors of the book, Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxin-Free Recipes by Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford. Try your hand at them and then get creative with your recipes, too!
via The Basic Goods
Baking Soda: This common household item does double duty as an alkaline base that reacts with acids and exists naturally in nature. It also has a slightly gritty but gentle texture which makes it effective in removing dirt and grime without scratching or wearing surfaces down. We’d also like to acknowledge its fantastic job at making deliciously light and fluffy baked goods.
White Distilled Vinegar: An acid that whose antibacterial properties mix well with the alkaline base of baking soda and will work even more efficiently when raised to warmer temperatures. Although it has many similar properties and can be used holistically to treat illness, be sure not to use apple cider vinegar as a home cleaner, since it may stain fabrics.
Lemon Juice: This citrusy fruit can brighten up a dish, add a flavorful kick to summertime pastas, and clean your home. It is effective in killing mold and cutting through grease, as well as leaving a streak-free shine. Add it to your cleaning solutions for a natural and fresh scent.
Hydrogen Peroxide: The reason why you apply hydrogen peroxide to open wounds to prevent infections is because this naturally occurring chemical is a strong oxidizer, meaning it works great as a cleaning aid. Mixing it into your homemade cleaners will give you a top-notch disinfectant.
Water: An obvious but maybe surprising addition to this list of core cleaning ingredients is water. It’s referred to as the universal solvent because of it easily breaks down many chemicals and works to bring all the ingredients of your cleaning solutions together so they can do their job.
To get you started, we’ve compiled some of the must-have ingredients for green cleaners, as well as the proportional recipe for an all-purpose cleaning spray from Living Well, Spending Less that you can use almost anywhere (but always be sure to spot test first).
- For a disinfectant use: vinegar, water, and hydrogen peroxide
- For an all-purpose spray use: water, vinegar, and lemon juice
- For a sink scrub use: baking soda, ground cinnamon, and lemon juice or essential oil
All Purpose Cleaning Spray
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda (what is washing soda, you ask? This is what the package looks like, and here’s how you can make it from regular old baking soda.)
1 teaspoon dishwashing soap
1 cup vinegar
4 cups hot water
25-30 drops essential oil (optional)
Whisk all ingredients together well in large bowl, then pour into spray bottle. Spray on, then wipe surface clean with a damp cloth. Can be used to clean and disinfect almost any surface!
Katherine Oakes is a writer, yoga instructor, and vocalist living in Northern New Jersey. She currently writes about all things related to home decor and home remodeling for Modernize.com.