How Switching To Natural Cleaning Products Can Improve Your Family’s Health
You’d be forgiven for wondering why an article on homemade natural cleaning products would feature on a site devoted to air conditioning and air purifiers!
At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection, does there?
But in actual fact, some of those everyday cleaning products that you pick up at the supermarket or grocery store may actually be having an unseen, detrimental effect on the quality of the air that you breathe inside your home.
That’s because many traditional cleaners such as bleaches, disinfectants and polishes, and particularly those items which are artificially scented, contain a whole mix of synthetic chemicals which may omit volatile and semi-volatile compounds into the air.
Volatile Organic Compounds
The reason this is significant is that these volatile organic compounds (or VOCs for short) are essentially an air pollutant.
Some people can tolerate low levels of exposure to VOCs without any problems, but others may experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, migraines, visual disorders, and eye and respiratory tract irritations.
I cover this more in my article on going scent-free in your life, including a condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
When I first read up about all this I’ll admit I wasn’t too concerned. I’m far too busy worrying about my family’s health to worry about my own. But then it dawned on me…
Sure, I’m the one who mostly does the cleaning in our house (I find an occasional meltdown from time to time brings forth other temporary helpers!) but that doesn’t mean that the rest of my family isn’t being exposed to these contaminants too.
And THAT made me sit up and take notice. Are my kids also breathing lots of unnecessary rubbish into their small lungs?
Now I’m a great fan of air purifiers, as you may have guessed by this site.
A good air purifier, and especially one with a HEPA filter, can be fantastic at drawing nasty particles out of the air indoors. But perhaps it also makes sense to try and eliminate some of these particles at their source?
That’s where natural, non-toxic alternatives to standard cleaning products come in.
And you may be a little surprised at the some of the ingredients frequently used…
I have many fond memories of my maternal grandmother and can still remember her assertion that vinegar was good for almost everything!
Well, it seems she was right 🙂
When researching different recipes for natural cleaners, white vinegar featured at the top of the list, closely followed by baking soda and lemon juice. Herbs and flowers also feature as a natural way of adding fragrance.
Below I’ve put together a list of some suggestions I’ve found online that will help keep your house every bit as clean and sparkly as the chemically-packed, branded goods – if not more!
And as an extra bonus the ingredients listed are all fairly inexpensive to buy so you should hopefully save money too.
Getting Started with All Natural Cleaning Products
One caveat I would mention from the start… always test each formulation in a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure they won’t cause any damage to utensils, worktops, furniture etc.
They’ve all been found to have produced great results for people, BUT no 2 situations are the same so proceed with caution initially till you know something works as intended.
Secondly, it goes without saying, but always keep out if the reach of young children. Although they contain natural ingredients you still wouldn’t want little hands putting into little mouths or eyes.
So, here’s my list of natural cleaners for better indoor air quality:
1. Drain Cleaner
Sprinkle 1/4 – 1/2 cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Leave the mixture to bubble away for an hour or so then flush with hot water to rinse.
2. Oven Cleaner
Mix together 1/2 cup of baking soda with 2-3 cups of water to make a paste. Spread over the inside of your oven. Leave overnight and in the morning take a spray bottle filled with vinegar and spritz onto the baking soda to create a foaming action. Wipe clean with a damp cloth, rinsing the cloth at regular intervals until all traces are gone.
3. Toilet Cleaner
Use white vinegar instead of harsh bleach to clean your toilet. Pour round the rim, brush down and flush to rinse.
4. Window Cleaner
Stir 2 teaspoons of white vinegar into 1 litre of warm water. Apply to windows using crumpled up black and white newspaper (not coloured), or a cotton cloth. Don’t exceed the amount of vinegar in this solution as it may etch the glass and cause it to cloud over time.
Alternatively, dilute 25 mls of lemon juice with 1 litre of water. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz over windows. Wipe using a lint-free cloth.
5. Grout Cleaner
Mix 1 part water with 3 parts baking soda to form a paste. Apply to grout and leave to sit awhile, then scrub with a toothbrush and remove the solution with a clean sponge.
6. Microwave Cleaner
Place some lemon slices into a bowl of water, pop in your microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Wipe the insides with a clean cloth to remove residue.
7. Limescale Cleaner
Squeeze some lemon juice over affected area, leave for a few minutes then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
8. Mold/Mildew Cleaner
Apply lemon juice or white vinegar to mold and mildew, leave for a short while then gently scrub to remove.
*Note: air purifiers can play their part in keeping mold under control too*
9. Wood Polishing Spray
In a spray bottle combine 3/4 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Shake vigorously then spray onto wood furniture and buff with a clean cloth. Remember to shake between sprays.
10. Chopping Board Cleaner
Slice a lemon in half and run across chopping boards to clean and remove stubborn smells such as fish or onion.
11. Carpet Stain Remover
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water together in a spray bottle. Spray directly into stain and leave for a few minutes. Using warm water clean off with a brush or sponge.
For fresh grease spots on a carpet try sprinkling over a little cornstarch. Leave for up to half an hour then vacuum.
12. Shoe Polish
Using a thick cloth rub a few drops of olive oil mixed with a few drops of lemon juice over shoes. Leave a minute or so then buff with a clean cloth.
13. Moth Repellant
Make your own homemade natural moth repellant sachets by placing a mixture of lavender, rose petals, rosemary and vetiver into small cotton bags. Place in your closets and clothes drawers.
14. Air Fresheners
Help to prevent unpleasant cooking odours by simmering 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a cup of water in a pan on the stove while cooking.
Evoke the smell of Christmas without resorting to synthetic fragrances by simmering some water and cinnamon in a pan on your stove.
An onion cut in half and placed on a dish in your basement or garage for 12-24 hours can help to absorb musty smells.
Bowls of fragrant dried herbs or flowers act as a natural air freshener.
Deodorise your garbage disposal unit by grinding up slices of lemon or orange peel.
Likewise, give your dishwasher a helping hand in getting rid of nasty whiffs by placing half a lemon in the cutlery drawer.
Some lemon juice dabbed onto a sponge or some cotton wool and placed on a dish in your fridge for a few hours will act as a diffuser and trap bad smells.
Refresh stale smelling plastic food storage containers by placing overnight in a mixture of warm water and baking soda, then rinse.
As you can see, a few simple and inexpensive ingredients can be put to a huge variety of clever cleaning uses!
And with the added bonus of being better for the environment and better for the air we breathe.
Happy cleaning! 😉