12 RECIPES TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR HOME WITH ESSENTIAL OILS
Conventional household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that are harmful to your health, to the health of your family members, and the environment. Your tried-and-true detergents and surface sprays may hold up against stubborn dirt and grime, but they may cause more harm than good in the long run. The severity of these toxins can range from short-term effects (skin irritation, respiratory issues, chemical burns, and watery eyes) to long-term effects (cancer, infertility, and compromised immune system). According to an article from the Organic Consumers Association, 206, 636 calls were made to the U.S. Poison Control Centers in the year 2000. Nearly 10% of all toxic exposures were due to household cleaning products, and 120,434 of these cases involved children under the age of six.
The Washington Toxics Coalition identifies conventional household cleaning ingredients as possessing low and high levels of acute toxicity, as well as triggering short-term and long-term hazardous effects. Corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners are the most acutely dangerous products, causing severe burns to the eyes, skin, throat, and esophagus if ingested. Products that include fragrances may also cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches, sneezing, and eye irritation. While other ingredients in cleaners, such as 1,4-dioxane, are lower in acute toxicity, they may contribute to long-term health hazards such as cancer and hormone disruption. Sudsing agents diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) can become carcinogenic and penetrate the skin when mixed with nitrites. The alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) that are commonly used in detergents and cleaners disrupt hormones by blocking or mimicking the action of hormones, which can hinder the body's natural chemical messages.
Regarding the environmental impact, such toxins found in dish soap, laundry detergent, tub, and shower cleaners eventually make their way into the water system, harming our aquatic wildlife. The Organic Consumers Association states that cleaning liquids are treated along with sewage and other liquid wastes at municipal treatment plants. Some of these chemicals pose a threat to the aquatic ecosystem, which in turn will affect the safety of our food supply. The APEs that have been proven to disrupt hormones in the human body also threaten species such as Salmon and their ability to reproduce and survive. The production of laundry detergents, cleaning sprays, wipes, and dish soaps also contribute to the astonishing amount of solid waste because these products are packages in bottles that are difficult to recycle, so they end up being landfilled or incinerated.
The Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning found that over 90% of conventional cleaning brands are not transparent about their contents. Meanwhile, the products that shed a light on the ingredients come with a warning on the label, advising users to contact Poison Control should these products cause adverse effects if misused. This has been normalized due to the lack of awareness for better alternatives and the sheer number of decades these products have been around. However, usage of ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, and Essential Oils for cleaning purposes dates back hundreds of years, and they are just as effective as modern conventional cleaning products. While grocery stores and health food stores are beginning to carry "natural" alternatives to commercial toxic cleaners, they tend to cost almost double the amount and are not entirely free of harsh chemicals. With the following DIY recipes featuring pure Essential Oils, you will save money, have a sparkling clean home, and have peace of mind that you, your family, and the environment were not harmed during the cleaning of your home.
8 BEST ESSENTIAL OILS FOR HOMEMADE CLEANING SOLUTIONS
Lemon Essential Oil - Known as "Liquid Sunshine", Lemon Essential Oil has a clean, invigorating scent and is known for being a natural degreaser. It can be used to eliminate mold, caked-on dirt, grime, and stubborn dust that's hard to remove. Lemon Essential Oil can even be used on glass and mirrors for a streak-free clean.
Tea Tree Essential Oil - This cooling, herbaceous Essential Oil is anti-microbial, antibacterial, and antiseptic that removes bacteria and fungi from surfaces and purifies the air. Tea Tree Oil can be used to clean numerous surfaces in virtually any room in the home, including the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and even the walls and doors.
Lavender Essential Oil - The soft, tranquil scent of Lavender Oil makes it ideal for refreshing linens and bedding, and in wool dryer balls to add a pleasant scent to freshly dried laundry. It can also be blended into a room spray as a natural alternative to toxic aerosol sprays. Lavender's antiseptic, bactericidal properties gently tackle germs and odors without spreading them around.
Peppermint Essential Oil - Possessing anti-microbial, anti-bacterial properties and a bold, fresh aroma, Peppermint Essential Oil is equally as versatile as Lavender in terms of household uses. It can be paired with Lavender or Lemon to enhance and purify the air. Peppermint Oil can also disinfect surfaces and act as a natural insect repellant.
Rosemary Essential Oil - As an Herbaceous Oil, Rosemary is an effective deodorizer that can eliminate musty smells in the air, on surfaces, on clothes, and even on the insides of shoes.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil - Another powerful Herbaceous Oil, Eucalyptus possesses anti-microbial, antiseptic properties that can purify the air in the home and deodorize areas that collect unpleasant odors such as trash bins, compost bins, and closets.
Orange Essential Oil - Similarly to other Citrus Oils, Orange has a zesty scent and can disinfect kitchen items such as cutting boards, appliances, pots, and pans. It can also be used in an All-Purpose Spray to enhance the cleansing properties and add a juicy, sweet scent.
Grapefruit Essential Oil - Grapefruit can powerfully cut through grease, soap scum, and build-up on multiple surfaces. Due to its tart, citrusy scent, Grapefruit is also a popular choice as an air freshener.
OTHER INGREDIENTS FOR NATURAL HOME CLEANERS
The following products are safe, non-toxic household products that have been used for centuries as cleaning agents. You may already have some of these products stored in your powder room, bathroom, or under your sink. The beauty of the following recipes and making your own cleaning solutions is that they contain tried, tested, and true ingredients that clean just as well as the conventional cleaners, but for a fraction of the cost and with no harsh chemicals.
White Vinegar - Vinegar is an acidic multi-purpose product that cuts through dirt, grease, odors, and stains. It is also powerful enough to remove mold and mildew safely and effectively. When using vinegar to clean your home, add your favorite Essential Oils to neutralize its distinct smell.
Baking Soda - Baking Soda is a versatile, alkaline substance that has been used for over a century. It possesses a gentle abrasiveness that can dissolve organic compounds such as dirt and grease. It is even safe enough to clean teeth without scratching! Baking Soda's basic nature pairs well with white vinegar when cleaning a variety of surfaces.
Lemon Juice - If you decide not to use Lemon Essential Oil, then squeeze the acidic juice out of the citrus to kill bacteria, remove stains, and preserve your whites.
Olive Oil - This oil acts as a gentle furniture polish, especially on wooden surfaces.
Salt - Salt is abrasive and can scrape away dirt effectively. Salt can also enhance the cleaning properties when blended with other ingredients, especially vinegar and baking soda.
Castile Liquid Soap (NDA's Liquid Soap 105N) - Hailed as a "Miracle Product", Castile Soap is making waves for its versatility and sustainability. Packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled material, Castile Soap gets its gentle lather from organic Coconut, Castor, and Hemp Oils, and can be used for an array of cleaning and beauty purposes. This soap is safe and effective enough to replace numerous household products.
RECIPES FOR A CLEANER AND SAFER HOME
1) ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER (source: Keeper of the Home)
- ½ cup White Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Baking Soda
- 10 Drops Essential Oil of choice (Lavender, Tea Tree, or Lemon are recommended for their astringent, antibacterial properties)
In a 12 oz glass spray bottle, add the vinegar, essential oils, and a small amount of water prior to adding the baking soda. Fill water on the top of the bottle, then shake to mix the ingredients. Spray affected areas, wipe and let dry.
2) TOILET BOWL CLEANER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- 1-part White Vinegar
- 1 generous shake of Baking Soda
- 10 drops of Essential Oil of choice
Pour the white vinegar directly into the toilet bowl, followed by the baking soda and Essential Oil drops. Let the mixture sit for around 5 minutes. Then scrub with a toilet brush, creating a fizzing texture to lift the dirt and grime. Then flush away.
3) WOODEN FURNITURE POLISH (source: Keeper of the Home)
- ¾ cups Olive Oil
- ¼ cup White Vinegar
- Juice half a Lemon (or 30 drops of Lemon Essential Oil)
Add ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake well and spray onto wooden surfaces and wipe with a dry cloth.
4) FLOOR CLEANER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- ¼ cup White Vinegar
- A squeeze of Castile Soap
Add ingredients to a bucket of hot water, then scrub the floors with a cloth or mop.
5) CARPET DEODORIZER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- 1 cup Baking Soda
- 10 drops of Essential Oil of choice
Place ingredients into a glass jar and shake to mix ingredients evenly. Sprinkle over the carpet and let sit for up to 30 minutes. Vacuum to reveal fresh-smelling carpets.
6) AIR FRESHENER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- 10 drops of Essential Oil of choice (Lavender, Tea Tree, and Eucalyptus are recommended)
Fill a spray bottle with water and add 10 drops of Essential Oil to start. A little Essential Oil goes a long way, so test the scent and add more gradually till you reach your desired potency. Shake well before each use and spray to freshen the air in any room. This mixture can also be used to add a pleasant scent to linen and furniture.
7) DRAIN CLEANER (source: Keeper of the Home)
- ¼ - ½ cup Baking Soda
- ¼ cup White Vinegar
To unclog a blocked or odorous drain, sprinkle baking soda and follow with vinegar. This mixture should begin to bubble. Let sit for an hour, then follow up with hot water. Repeat as needed.
8) DUSTING SPRAY (source: Keeper of the Home)
- 1 Tbsp Castile Soap
- 15 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
- 2 cups water
Combine ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well to combine. Spray onto a cloth or directly onto surface and wipe away dust. This mixture can be tested on a small, hidden area of furniture prior to usage.
9) OVEN CLEANER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- ¼ cup Baking Soda
- 1 tsp of Salt
Mix ingredients and add water slowly until a paste is formed. Cover the oven in the paste. Leave overnight and scrub it off the next day. Wipe away to reveal a sparkling, clean oven.
10) MICROWAVE CLEANER (source: Madeline Olivia)
- 1 small cup of White Vinegar
- Juice of half a lemon
Place into the microwave and run for 2 minutes. After the timer goes off, leave mixture to sit in its own heat for another minute. Open the microwave and wipe down the walls and plate with a damp cloth.
11) LAUNDRY DETERGENT (source: Den Garden)
- ½ cup Castile Soap
- ¼ cup Baking Soda
- ¼ cup Washing Soda
- 1 gallon of water (4.5 L)
- 50 drops of Essential Oil of Choice (Peppermint, Lavender, and Grapefruit are recommended)
Place washing soda and baking soda into a large bowl. Fill a bowl with ½ gallon of hot water. Whisk together until sodas dissolve completely. Abstain from adding the Castile Soap at this stage. Pour the mixture into a recycled detergent jug and fill with water until it is about 80% full. Then, measure and add the Castile Soap and Essential Oil drops. Twist the top onto the bottle and shake well to mix all the ingredients.
12) MOLD AND MILDEW SPRAY (source: Madeline Olivia)
- 12 oz White Vinegar
- 15 drops of Tea Tree Oil
Fill a spray bottle with ingredients and shake well. Spray the affected area and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the area with warm water. If needed, scrub off with a cloth.
STORING DIY CLEANING SOLUTIONS
Glass containers, namely Amber Glass, are recommended for storing the above cleaning solutions due to the nature of the ingredients. While plastic is frequently used for conventional cleaning products, plastic may break down and infiltrate ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. Essential Oils can permeate plastic, so plastic spray bottles and containers should be avoided if using Essential Oils in any of the above recipes.
Certain Essential Oils may be sensitive when exposed to light, causing them to degrade. A dark-colored glass such as Amber glass will preserve the quality of these ingredients for longer. If you are using clear glass bottles, be sure to store them in a cool, dark place.
If you choose to clean with Lemon juice, only use it one time since it can go rancid and lose its effectiveness. Hence, white vinegar may be a better option since it can cut through grease and lasts longer.
Always label your homemade cleaning products with the ingredients it contains. Keep such concoctions out of reach of children and pets.
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