Many now know what lurks in the average house hold cleaning product. Many of course still don’t, otherwise those companies wouldn’t be able to afford their silly TV commercials. To that end, I’ve decided to write a basic cleaning products guide, for what we use at home here. If you have a cleaner, don’t think it doesn’t matter – think of them and think of the fact that it’s all over your home surfaces, so while you might not be using harmful cleaners, you’ll still be surrounded by them, regardless.
What’s in the average cleaning products?
It might shock you to know that there is no required testing, data submission or labelling on cleaning products before bringing them to market. These 3 are the worst and rather than profile the long list of all of them, best know the 3 most popular, how horrid they are, and then simply move on.
Pthalates (Diethyl pthalate) – Hormone disrupting to varying degrees, and trials show skeletal disruption also. These are commonly found in almost every cleaning product, listed as ‘fragrance’. They’re in all air fresheners, many scented candles, house hold furnishing and food packaging like cling film and freezer bags.
Triclosan – Petroleum derived, triclosan is often the bad boy behind the word ‘antibacterial’ on your cleaning products, hand soap, deodorant, antibacterial face washes and toothpaste. Stay away, as it is often contaminated with chloroform, can cause skin, eye and lung irritation, can disrupt the immune system and accumulate in the environment, toxic to algae and fiddling with the growing habits of some fish. O.M.G is right! Your new weapon to achieve the same disinfecting effect: eucalyptus / tea tree oil. Sorted.
Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) – Found in fabric softeners, fabric softening sheets. These also operate similarly to triclosan, and to boot, cause intense asthma in many people and dermatitis also. Seriously bad news and totally unnecessary.
Read up on more toxic ingredients if you like, in this author’s post HERE. but if you get the gist, let’s get to the part where we ditch the toxins. Remember, don’t feel guilty for yesterday’s choices. Feel excited for what you will change today.
So what can we use, then?
You’ll be using white vinegar from distilled, fermented spirit – if it doesn’t specify that it’s been made from distilled spirit, then it’s most probably petroleum derived, manufactured acetic acid. Home brand supermarket ones are generally the nasty version, not very environmentally friendly at all, really, so Cornwell’s White vinegar is the one I use, available at the supermarket also. A great in depth post from the gorgeous Eco Mum here. We’ll also be using bi carb soda, essential oils, olive oil, sea salt, lemon and water. Revolutionary stuff!
Yes, it’s antibacterial too! Use this on kitchen surfaces, around sinks, window sills, mantles, shower tiles. Just not wood.
1 cup white vinegar from distillate
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus oil (tea tree oil is great too)
1/2 teaspoon rosemary oil (optional. It’s very calming as an aroma to have about the place. you could of course use whatever other essential oils excite you. It’s your custom design!)
What to do?
Pop it all into a spray bottle. Shakey shake before use. Done. Use this on kitchen surfaces, around sinks, window sills, mantles, shower tiles.
Did you know bleach doesn’t kill mould? The mould spores actually omit a toxic gas retaliating against the bleach, and while the bleach removes it from sight, they’re still alive under there and grow back. Save your lungs and move to this nifty little spray.
2 cups of water (for a seriously bad mould issue, do 1 cup to ramp up the clove bud oil concentration)
14 drops each of clove oil and tea tree oil (If you don’t have tea tree, just up your clove bud oil.)
What to do? Put the water and oils into a spray bottle. Shake before use. Spray onto affected areas. Leave for 20 minutes, and then come back with your multi purpose spray and give the whole area a good wipe down. We moved into a very mouldy apartment two years ago, and it took 2 cycles of this method in the bathroom to work on the ceiling and in the shower. Now? Mould free and haven’t needed to treat in a year, keeping windows open every day (and door to rest of house shut in winter). Ventilation is your friend and if it’s hard to ventilate, consider a dehumidifier to blast a couple of hours here and there in the winter, especially. A further note is that white vinegar is great for mould removal and I often do a ‘double pronged attack’ of 1/2 1/2 water vinegar with the clove bud oil, just to make sure it’s blitzed.
Stainless Steel cleaner
This is a tough one to make, and can get really tricky. You ready?
Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze a little into your morning veggie juice or smoothie. With the remaining lemon in the squeezed half, wipe all over your sink, laundry sink, casually – honestly, no need to break a sweat. Then wipe it down. Shiny and new. All grease, caked on bits… everything gone.
Wooden or leather furniture Polish
Oh dear, another really tough one, that you’re probably going to switch straight back to those old, toxic furniture polishers, I’m sure.
Olive oil. Dab a little on a tea towel and polish. There. That’s it. Seriously. Do wooden furniture, leather furniture and leather shoes.
(Taken from Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer, 2009)
This is great. So easy and no more poisoning our lungs with those toxic cleaners.
In a jar put:
Equal parts sea salt, vinegar and bi carb soda. 1/4 cup of each is good for your average sized oven.
What to do?
Turn the oven on 180C / 350F and put an oven dish, half full of water in the oven and ‘bake’ to create steam for about half an hour. Do not add the paste to this dish. Cool oven a little before scrubbing your paste on the oven walls. Wipe down. Rinse with a couple of watery tea towels. Done.
Don’t add an essential oil to this one. Rose geranium baked pumpkin anyone? No thank you!
Personally, I don’t make this often, because I find between a pure lemon for stainless and the multi purpose spray, a cream cleanser (jif-like) isn’t really needed.
However, if it’s a texture you like to use when cleaning, especially for a bath, then be my guest.
1/2 cup bi carb soda in a jar
1 tablespoon of coarse salt.
1/2 cup water and mix. If a paste hasn’t formed, keep adding a little water, bit by bit until you have a paste.
Add 10 drops of essential oil of your choice for beautiful fragrance.
Scrub the bath (gosh that’s fun isn’t it? no?)
They just keep getting even easier! All you need to do is soften your wash water for super soft clothes and towels.
Dissolve half a cup of bi carb soda in a cup of water and pop in the wash with your clothes. Reap the results.
So there you have it. 7 ways to ditch the toxins when it comes to cleaning your home (or someone else cleaning it for you. They will thank you!). There are loads more ways, variations and options but to get started, if you adopt these, where you were once using supermarket cleaning products, you will literally be reducing your chemical intake through breathing and skin contact by hundreds of exposure points per week.
Isn’t that just fantastic?
One last tip for air freshening around the home? Oil burners with beeswax candles and your favourite essential oils. You could also consider an electric oil burner. If you want to quickly blast and freshen, I love popping a tiny bit of water in a saucepan on high heat with 20 drops of essential oil. 5 minutes and the steam does its work with the house smelling amazing!
Feel free to share your recipes and things that work for you! I’ve loved using these methods. Where once I used to get migraines, wheezing, dermatitis and hives from cleaning my house, now? Well, while I’m no domestic blissed out goddess when it comes to cleaning, at least it feels good to know it’s about doing the right thing by my family, home and the planet. If you want a few more ideas, Alisha from Naughty Naturopath Mum has a whole lot more here including a few eco commercial brands you can trust.
Low Tox. Happy us. Happy Planet.