Friday, March 12, 2010

Household cleaners get cleaned and cleared up from toxins

In an effort to remove as many toxins from my home, I've begun making the switch to homemade cleaning supplies. The essential oils I use, can end up being a bit pricey, but in the long run, making my own cleaners is far more cost effective, and I don't need to worry about James accidentally getting poisoned some how. Another perk is that I don't have 50 cleaners for one specific job each, but I have a general all purpose spray. If I want to switch from cleaning the floor to cleaning the counter, I only need to switch cloths, not cleaners!

First, I went to Target and bought empty spray bottles - 2 large, 2 small, and 1 travel size. The three smallest were for wipes solution to use with my cloth wipes for diaper changes, and the two large were for my homemade cleaning solutions. I really liked the idea of making a homemade wipes solution - that way I know exactly what is being put against my baby's skin, and I don't end up throwing a million wipes in the garbage to end up wasting away in a landfill. I cut up 4 flannel receiving blankets into squares, and set them aside. I've since learned that it is a very smart idea to hem the sides prior to using and washing, or else the sides will fray! I am going to actually be hemming mine in the next week or two so they don't fray down to nothing, because the damage has already begun. Then I made my wipes solution. It was incredibly simple - 4 parts water, 1 part witch hazel, 1-2 squirts of baby soap (I use California Baby or Dr. Bronners), and if desired a few drops of essential oil. Easy as pie, then I just squirt the solution onto my super soft cloth wipe and use as necessary. I feel much better knowing where all of the ingredients come from and not having to worry about harsh chemicals being used.

Of course, as cute as James' butt is, his wipes solution wasn't the only homemade cleaner I focused on. I also put together an all purpose spray and a disinfectant spray. The all purpose spray is simply a mixture of half water, half white vinegar, and 20 drops of essential oil (I chose grapefruit). My mom has always cleaned with vinegar and we used to complain that the house smelled like we were dying Easter eggs, so to me, the essential oil is, well, essential! I'm able to use the all purpose spray to clean my hardwood and tile floors, counter tops, stainless steel, and windows.

The disinfectant spray is just as easy - it's water, 2 tablespoons of liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree oil soap), 30 drops of tea tree essential oil. Again, while this is a wonderful disinfectant - I have no worries about James being poisoned while using it!

Now, making these solutions is more than just about safety, it's also about reducing the number of toxins we have in our homes and in our Earth - after all, we're just borrowing the Earth. Have you ever lent someone something and had it returned destroyed? Were you incredibly angry and hurt? I imagine that's what mother nature and God feel like watching the way we treat our borrowed treasure of the Earth. Because of that, I would feel ridiculous bothering to make these solutions and then using paper towels. Thankfully, old undershirts are the PERFECT wipes! They don't fray at all, and at least in my house, we always have plenty of old ones. When I'm doing the laundry, I pull out any of Phil's old undershirts with holes in them (despite his protests) and cut them up and keep them in a drawer under the sink. Socks, and other ripped clothing works well too! The vinegar is actually a natural fabric softener, so I don't even have to worry about them scratching my furniture because they soften themselves!

Those are just my spray cleaners! I also am able to use lemons for a variety of purposes. I cut one in half and use it to clean my wooden cutting boards in the kitchen, or to remove stains from the counter tops (let the counter soak for a few minutes before wiping). It's important to note, do not use this method on granite or marble counters, because the acid can be too corrosive. Combine half the lemon with coarse salt to wipe off the bottom of pans or remove hard sticking stains. When you're done with the lemon - throw it down the garbage disposal for a clean smelling sink! Here's the best use for a lemon - add a quarter cup of it into the rinse cycle while doing laundry, and your clothes will be instantly brighter, softer, and smell better!

The same vinegar used for the all purpose spray, is truly all purpose! In the bathroom it effectively cleans soap scum, hard water stains, and grout. Soaking mildew in vinegar for 30 minutes and washing with warm water removes the mildew from your tub. Your toilet can be cleaned by pouring 1 cup into the bowl and leaving for several hours. It will deodorize, kill germs, and make the stains easier to remove. microwave a cup of half vinegar, half water for a few minutes and it will not only remove any left over smells, but also loosen any stuck food. A half cup of vinegar added to the laundry rinse cycle will break down the laundry detergent and make your laundry softer, and remove any soap build up.

Tea tree oil, can not only be used as a disinfectant, but also help prevent bacterial and fungal infections of soiled clothes such as cloth diapers or dirty towels by adding 1 teaspoon to each load of laundry. This will come up again when I post about my eco friendly beauty routines, but tea tree oil is also a very effective dandruff relief product!

Finally, baking soda! It removes marks from the floors, by sprinkling it on and either cleaning with a warm mop or vacuuming up after 10 minutes. When combined with water (1 part water to 3 parts baking soda), it will make a paste you can use to scour things like dishes, sinks, and tubs. Poured at the bottom of your trash can, left open in your refrigerator, or cupboards it will instantly neutralize odors. Pouring this wonderful product on dishes and soaking for an hour or two will make cleaning up dishes with burnt or cooked on foods easy. Keeping it on hand in the kitchen has the added perk that it will put out grease fires! Finally, you can add a half cup of baking soda to your laundry to help remove dirt and grease.

I think the last Hippie Earth Mama tip I have for the category of home cleaning is not to use scented candles or air fresheners. These both release chemicals into the air and cause health problems. If you are looking for something to make your house smell great, I suggest one of two things. The first, is to bake something. Nothing smells better than coming home to the scent of fresh baked brownies! However, if you're like me, you probably lack the time to be baking all of the time, in which case, all natural incense is a wonderful alternative. Personally, I love several scents, but in particular I love Jasmine, Lavender, or sandalwood. While I have yet to try this, I've also read that you can take a few drops of those essential oils (lavender or grapefruit would be my top two choices depending on if I wanted a perk up or something to calm me down) and put them in a mister or humidifier. The smell will permeate the room without using laboratory made ingredients!!

Thankfully, this seemingly long list of cleaners is just the tip of the iceberg, and as we continue on our journey to remove toxins and treat the Earth better, we will be able to add to this list. Eventually, I hope to remove all chemicals from everything I do!

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