Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ditch the Toxic Cleaners

Hello! It has been awhile since my last post. I had the brilliant idea to start a blog in the same month that we moved. You can see how well that went. Anyway, I'm back, baby, and ready to start sharing some crunchy ways to save like with the recipe below.

If we are to believe all the TV ads depicting cleaning products then it’s a wonder that the human race has survived thus far. These commercials make it seem like we are living in a cesspool of filth 24/7. The only way to protect our families being to arm ourselves with some heavy duty, most likely industrial flowery smelling, concoction that will rid our surfaces, air and general life from harm. Ironically, the chemicals in most of these cleaners will kill you faster than the so-called germs bombarding our spaces.

The Environmental Working Group is an organization that conducts third party research on everything from water quality to consumer products like cleaners. Their Guide to Healthy Cleaning is the only reference Americans have right now to protect themselves from harmful and even dangerous cleaning products. This is because there are no governmental laws in place that regulate harmful and toxic chemicals that are used in many common household cleaners. Such toxins like the nonylphenol ethoxylates and 2-butoxyethanol- which are known carcinogens and already banned in Europe. What is really scary is that you won't know if your cleaners have these carcinogens in them because the manufacturers of cleaning products do not have to list their ingredients on any of their packaging. The government also doesn't require any testing or safety review before the product is put on our store shelves.  I don't know about you but I would rather my family and I not be guinea pigs for big business.

It's not all hype though- we do have times where disinfecting is necessary and family life can get kind of messy (or colossally messy). So where do we go from here? How do we kill the bad germs but not poison ourselves in the process? 

First, I highly recommend checking out EWG's website and going to their Guide to Healthy Cleaning. You can look up the cleaners you currently have at your home and see how they rate safety-wise. There actually are quite a few safe and effective cleaners out there right now, however, you will be paying for that safety. It's important to note that synthetic cleaners are so much cheaper because their lab-concocted chemicals are very cost-effective to make in comparison to something like essential oils that need hundreds if not thousands of plant material to make an ounce of oil.

Next- let's get reacquainted with good 'ole vinegar and baking soda. The cleaners of yesteryear, if you will. Used together or separately these two "cleaners" can make up a dozen safe and effective household cleaners.  Vinegar is a mild disinfectant that is effective against most mold, bacteria and other germs.  Baking soda is a mild abrasive. With the addition a few essential oils and castile soap you have the means to make almost any cleaning product you now have under your sink. Effective. Safe. Cheap!

Below is a multi-purpose cleaner with tea tree oil. It is quick to make and easy to use- my two favorite things when it comes to DIYs. Tea tree oil comes from the melaleuca alternifolia tree in Australia. Its properties include: anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, anti-viral and deodorizing to just name a few. As cool as it is that this comes from nature, remember nature can still harm- do not ingest tea tree oil and please, as with all cleaners, keep this out of reach from children and pets. has organic tea tree oil for $8.49 for an ounce and organic lemon essential oil for $5.99 for .5oz. Considering that there is about 600 drops in an ounce these tiny bottles will last a good long while.

Lemony Multi-Purpose Spray
From Living Life Granola
16oz spray bottle
1 cup distilled water
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 tsp. tea tree oil
20 drops lemon essential oil
Pour water and vinegar in spray bottle. Add in essential oils. Shake before use. To use as a disinfectant: spray and leave for 10 to 15 minutes then wipe clean. (Not for use on granite counter tops.)

Look for more DIY cleaners in future posts. Until then, happy, safe cleaning!


  1. I have been using just vinegar and water for a long time as an all purpose cleaner ( i think since you suggested it to me a few years ago actually!) I really need to pick up some lemon essential oil because I can't stand the vinegar smell even though it dissipates pretty quickly. I heard it is actually kills bad smells though..

  2. Hi Mindy- vinegar is a great deodorizer as is lemon. Not only is it in my all-purpose cleaner but I use half of a lemon to get the garlic smell out of my bamboo cutting boards too.