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You've probably heard the term "crunchy granola" and while I do aim to clean up our family's lifestyle one small transition a time, I simply cannot be described as "crunchy granola". I still drink Diet Dr. Pepper on occasion (yes, I know how awful it is), my favorite foundation is not "clean", etc. So I guess you could say I'm more of what I call "soggy granola". I'm better in some areas than others, like having quality drinking water in my home, avoiding highly processed and inflammatory foods and using natural cleaning products in my home as much as possible. So without further delay, here are a few of my favorite natural cleaning recipes that I use in my own home and the ingredients needed to make them.
The MVP of all natural cleaning products, particularly Dr Bronner's Brand. It's a natural, non-toxic, vegetable based soap that uses powerful oils without any synthetic preservatives, detergents or foaming agents. If you buy only one product for your natural cleaning stockpile, this is it. They have a cult-like following for a reason. For a list of more uses & dilutions for castile soap, see this chart.
At this point in the game, almost everyone has heard of the power of essential oils. While there are many claims to their magic, I particularly like using them in cleaning products to add a natural scent and extra cleaning power. There is much debate as to the efficacy and quality of certain oils, and while I know I'll get some slack for this, but little $12 kit from Amazon does not disappoint. It has great reviews and contains some of the most popular EOs like Lavender, Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus & Sweet Orange.
This one is a part of my earliest childhood memories. I remember my sister and I pouring a cap full of hydrogen peroxide into each other's ears, letting it get all bubbly and then tipping our head to drain it into a towel. Tell me you've done this, too. No? Ok, well Hydrogen Peroxide is also a powerful natural non-chlorine bleach alternative and stain remover. It's also my go-to if there is a blood stain on ANYTHING. If it's fresh blood, simply pour hydrogen peroxide on top of the stain and watch it bubble up, then apply a cloth so soak up the stain. Repeat until stain is gone or diminished greatly and wash.
If Castile soap gets the MVP, then Baking Soda gets the Runner Up award. Baking Soda is one of the oldest, safest natural cleaning solutions from making scouring pastes to removing bad odors, it does a lot thanks to its mild abrasive nature.
It may sound and look similar to Baking Soda, but Washing Soda is more powerful and can be harmful if ingested, unlike Baking Soda which is safe for human consumption. Washing Soda is still a natural product because it comes from the mineral Trona, but it's not something I use often. In fact, I only use it for one purpose: homemade laundry soap, where it gets rinsed out in the washing machine. (When I don't feel like making my own laundry soap, I use this one.)
For awhile there, Vinegar was the holy grail of cleaning products, and to many, it still is. There is no doubt to its powerful cleaning ability, but some caution should be made when using it. It's highly acidic so it's not safe for granite countertops, stone or ceramic floors as it can ruin or "etch" them.
Made by Dr. Bronner's Brand, Sal's Suds is a concentrated all-purpose cleaner. It is made with plant-based surfactants and natural fir needle and spruce essential oils without any synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives. I use this in my laundry soap recipe and also as a floor cleaner. I've also read that it makes a great carpet cleaner. As always with Dr. Bronner's, this stuff is concentrated so if should last you awhile since you'll need to "dilute, dilute, dilute!"
-Pumice Scouring Stone
A not so well known natural cleaner, a pumice scouring stick is the ultimate way to remove hard-water stains from toilets, sinks and more. Seriously, this little thing cleaned up the worst toilet stains that no other cleaner could do. Read more below.
Another not so well known natural cleaning ingredient, Vodka is a powerful disinfectant and streak-free cleaner. More often than not, I reach for my Vodka based cleaners over my Vinegar based ones. I fully realize many people do not want drinking alcohol in their homes so you can replace Rubbing Alcohol for Vodka in those recipes, it just gives off some gnarly fumes, IMO. Also, buy the cheap stuff, you're not making Moscow Mules here.
Everyday Hand Soap
We don't keep commercial antibacterial hand soaps in our home (especially those containing triclosan or triclocarban which have been banned), it's been proven that good ol' soap and water is just as effective and much safer than antibacterial hand soaps. When it comes to the gold standard of natural cleaning products, Dr. Bronner's is my go-to. I add 1 part of my favorite castile soap and 1 part water for a 50/50 mixture to a foam soap dispenser. Give it a good shake and that's it!
All-Purpose Household Cleaner
In a 16 oz. glass bottle, add 1/4 cup of White Vinegar to 3/4 cup of Water. Then add a few drops of your favorite Castile Soap. I currently have Dr. Bronner's Citrus in mine. This is a safe all-purpose cleaner for almost anywhere. (Although, I don't advise vinegar to be used with granite, see below for a great granite cleaner.)
Disinfectant and Granite Surface Cleaner
In a 16 oz. glass bottle, add 1/2 cup of Vodka and 1/2 cup of Water. Then add a few drops of your favorite sanitizing oil - some powerful ones are: Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint or Lemon Oil. I prefer the smell of Lemon, personally. There are really only two areas where I'd say I use disinfectants regularly, one is the bathroom & the other is the kitchen. I target the toilet in the bathroom and the counter tops in the kitchen, especially when meal prepping. The vodka and tea tree oil act as tough disinfectants killing germs & bacteria that we don't want spreading. Unlike Vinegar, which can dull stone surfaces due to its acidity, Vodka works wonderfully on Granite as a streak-free cleaner since it evaporates.
Glass and Mirror Cleaner
The secret ingredient for this one? Vodka. Yep, that's it. I used to use rubbing alcohol, however the scent/fumes were just a bit much. Fill your glass bottle to the top with the cheapest vodka you can find - we're cleaning here, not making Moscow Mules. The moisture from the vodka wipes through smudges while the alcohol content evaporates quickly leaving behind a streak-free mirror or window. Make sure you are using a lint-free fiber cloth otherwise you'll have lots of little white specks left behind if using paper towels. I've also heard you can use newspaper though I've not yet tried that myself.
Scrub Spray Cleaner
Add 1/4 cup of baking soda using a funnel to a 16 oz. glass bottle then add 1/2 cup of purified water and swirl. Slowly fill the remainder of the bottle with white vinegar and I do mean slowly because we all remember those volcano science experiments, right? Leave some room at the top because once this combination is shaken, it gets a little bubbly and can leak if too full. This cleaner is best used on toilets, sinks and showers to remove soap scum and hard water stains. I use it mostly on the inside of toilets when I start to notice a ring. Give it a swirl, spray it on and use a toilet brush to scrub away the ickiness. A squirt of Castile Soap or Sal's Suds in the toilet works well, too.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil on the stove then slowly stir in 1 cup of Washing Soda until dissolved. Remove from heat and slowly stir in 1/2 cup of Sal's Suds until well-mixed. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large container with a lid and shake well. Use 1/4 cup per load. For a natural, non-chlorine bleach alternative to brighten your whites, add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide - just make sure the water is filled when you pour it in and you don't pour directly onto clothing.
I tried so many DIY recipes in my own home and I've got to give it to you straight, none of the natural dishwasher recipes did the trick. There was still food or a greasy feeling leftover & as much as I wanted to switch to more natural cleaners, I was not about to do twice the work to make it happen, so I did some more research and found Ecover, a plant & mineral based dishwashing cleaner that comes in a loose powder or tablet form (think pod, but without the plastic). The fragrance used is a plant-derived "limonene" which is commonly found in the rinds of citrus fruit. I've put it to the test and I'm pleased to say it's a keeper!
Full disclosure here, I will probably continue to use magic erasers in my home. Even though the ingredient list does sound a little scary (melamine foam, formaldehyde & sodium bi-sulfate), to me, the magic eraser is acting more like a very fine sandpaper with its micro structure foam and buffing abilities rather than an airborne cleaner with harsh chemical fumes. You can wear gloves to protect your hands if you're worried about anything, however, if it's a homemade Magic Eraser you want, then dampen a wash cloth, work in a little baking soda and then apply the cloth to the stain.
This little guy right here saved the day when we were selling our house. There were hard water rings on one of our toilets that we could NOT get rid of, even when using the strongest of chemicals. I was in Lowe's one day and the Pumie Scouring Stick caught my eye. I decided to give it a try so we plunged out most of the water in our toilet and this thing worked like magic! It's a natural stone with no chemicals and the abravise nature cleans deep stains, hard water rings, rust, food buildup, etc. I always have one of these under my kitchen sink. Don't use on plastic or it will scratch it.
What about you? Do you have any favorite all-natural cleaning recipes? Have you tried any of these? I'd love to hear your feedback and if you know of any others, particularly an easy to use spot treatment stain remover.