Many cleaning products contain an assortment of chemicals that may be allergenic, bad for the environment and harmful for your family and pets. Natural and eco-friendly products are expensive. So how do you do non-toxic cleaning on a budget? Well, the answer is not found in the cleaning aisle, in fact you probably already have what you need in your kitchen.
There is are many simple ways to leave surfaces clean and safe for small children and pets. It is important to note before we begin that TIME is an essential element in effective no-toxic cleaning. Don't rush, give the ingredients time to work and you can save yourself money and avoid toxic exposure.
Lemon for Cleaning Stainless Steel
Many cleaning products are scented with the refreshing citrus smell of lemons, but when it comes to cleaning, a fresh smell is not all lemons have to offer. Lemons are great for removing tarnish and polishing metal surfaces including brass, copper and stainless steel. To remove light fingerprints and grime rub half a lemon directly on the metal surface. For harder jobs, combine naturally acidic lemon juice with naturally abrasive, but gentle, baking soda or cream of tartar. These are fine enough to polish without scratching. Mix the ingredients into a paste and use a clean cloth to rub the paste over the surface. Let it sit for five minutes, then remove the paste with warm water. Finally, dry the surface with a soft cloth. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!
Vinegar and Baking Soda for Bathroom Cleaning
The combination famous for the bubbling ‘explosions’ of volcano models at schools, the same reaction is also effective for cleaning. Bathrooms need frequent cleaning, so making a change to clean this room with natural and inexpensive solutions will really reduce your spending and use of harmful chemicals.
For the shower and bath, tough grime can be removed with a paste of baking soda and white vinegar. Sprinkle the surface with baking soda and then spray with vinegar and wipe or scrub the surface clean.
For the toilet, sprinkle baking soda around the inside of the toilet bowl then pour in a cup of white vinegar into the water. Use a toilet brush to spread and scrub the mixture around the toilet bowl. The chemical reaction removes both stains and smells. Leave for a few minutes before flushing the toilet clean. Don’t over do the baking soda at the beginning, no one wants a toilet volcano! You can always add more as you go.
Vinegar as a General Cleaner
White vinegar should be sold in spray bottles considering its effectiveness in killing bacteria and germs and its cleaning versatility. Normally found in your kitchen, it’s no surprise that it is non-toxic. It is a safe and natural acid for home cleaning and doesn’t harm the environment.
Our go to surface cleaner at home is made of white vinegar, a squirt of dishwashing liquid and a few drops of orange essential oil. I removed the grease above my cooking range with ease. This is also great to spray on the mattress when my little guy wets the bed. Spray liberally, rub the stain with a cloth, spray again and it let dry before making the bed.
Making a 50:50 mix of vinegar and water works well on mirrors and glass. Wipe surface with a wet cloth or rag and remove with a dry one. Avoid paper towels, as they will leave behind fibres.
A straight vinegar spray is useful for killing and preventing mould. It kills 82% of mould species on its own and other species when combined with baking soda. Spray the undiluted vinegar on the mould. Scrub the surface and rinse. Spray again and let the vinegar dry to help in preventing the mould from coming back.
The vinegar smell dissipates after a couple of hours. You can add a few drops of lemon or lavender essential oil for a fresh scent.
Essential Oils - For Grease, Pests and More
Orange is ideal for the kitchen as it cuts through grease. Use a couple of drops on its own for a small spill or combine 12 drops with 1/4 cup of soapy water for cleaning larger surfaces. I just use a few drops in my vinegar spray.
Tea tree is great to add to your clothes wash. We always used it when washing our cloth nappies since it is an naturally antibacterial and antiviral. It is a handy weapon against bugs, too. We add a few drops of tea tree to our conditioner and then comb our little tots heads from time to time to keep the lice away.
Lemon is great to deodorise your fridge, clean your floor or add combine 10 drops with 1/2 cup olive oil for a natural wood or leather polish.
Eucalyptus is useful in the bedroom as it is both a natural germicide and kills dust mites. Combining about 12 drops of eucalyptus oil with 1/2 a cup of baking soda is a non-toxic way to clean your bed. Sprinkle the mixture over your mattress and leave for at least an hour before vacuuming off and putting the cover back on. Then enjoy sleeping tight knowing the bed bugs won't bite.
Cinnamon is antibacterial, antiseptic, fights mold and deters pests. Apply directly to areas affected by pests and add a few drops to your vinegar spray for mold.
For more information about the cleaning properties of essential oils check out Hello Glow
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the only germicidal agent composed only of water and oxygen. Like ozone, it kills disease organisms by oxidation! Hydrogen peroxide is considered the worlds safest all natural effective sanitiser. It kills microorganisms by oxidising them, which can be best described as a controlled burning process. When Hydrogen peroxide reacts with organic material it breaks down into oxygen and water.
It is an excellent stain remover. My son covered his white clothes in blueberry juice, after I removed the clothes I sprayed them with 3% hydrogen peroxide and the stains vanished completely in a matter of minutes! It also works like magic on recent blood stains. Spray 3% hydrogen peroxide on the blood stain and you will see it fizz up. Wipe away the stain and reapply as needed.
To clean showers and mildew. I find hydrogen peroxide is even more effective than vinegar in the bathroom. I spray 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the walls of the shower and let it sit for a while. For tiles that have mould or mildew, this will start to loosen it up and clean it out. Depending on the amount of mould and mildew, you may need to leave the solution on longer, or scrub with an old toothbrush. Rinse the spores away and repeat as necessary. Using hydrogen peroxide, over time, will reduce or prevent mildew and mould from developing.
For whitening grout, combine flour and hydrogen peroxide into a thick paste and spread over the affected area. Use plastic wrap to cover overnight and remove with water the next day. Rinse well to remove the spores.
Excellent for disinfecting and removing odours, hydrogen peroxide can be used as a spray to refresh a number of items. Give a few sprays to your reusable cloth bags to keep them clean for your weekly shopping and trips to the Wellington markets. Keep in mind it can have a bleaching effect, so do a test spray before using on darker fabrics.
If you are using hydrogen peroxide for cleaning I suggest buying a litre of 35% and diluting it at home with 11 parts water to make 3%. Wear gloves it is caustic when concentrated. I purchase online from My Good Health. You can also find an extended list of the benefits and uses of food grade hydrogen peroxide here. Its versatility means buying fewer different cleaning products, which saves both money and hassle.
I hope you find using these products do every bit as good of a job as the chemical versions. With little kids at home I feel secure knowing I don't have to rinse the tub out multiple times to get rid of all the chemical residue before bath-time on the days we have cleaned.