According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), "...hazardous industrial chemicals lurk in far too many bottles and boxes under Americans’ sinks and on laundry room shelves. Just seven percent of cleaning products adequately disclosed their contents."
Consumers have a right to know what is in their cleaning products so you can decide if you want to bring those products into your home. Better yet - you can forego purchasing some cleaning products altogether and make them yourself -- saving money and protecting the health of your family.
Below are 2 DIY multi-use cleaning product recipes I use in my own home.
What is Under Your Sink?
You may be familiar with EWG's body product database, Skin Deep, which provides a safety rating for thousands of body products, empowering consumers to find and purchase products that are least harmful to their health and the planet. Possibly less known to you is their guide to Green Cleaning Products - a great resource for exploring less toxic cleaning products.
I use their website regularly to help take the stress out of shopping for products that are safe for my family and the planet.
While you can certainly shop using EWG's Green Cleaning Products guide, you can also save money by creating some all-purpose cleaners yourself! They smell great and get the job done just as well. But before we get to the recipes, let's look at why you might want to consider detoxing your cleaning routine.
The Science Behind the Chemicals
According to EWG's website, these are their top findings about cleaning products:
EWG’s key scientific findings:
Some 53 percent of cleaning products assessed by EWG contain ingredients known to harm the lungs. About 22 percent contain chemicals reported to cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy individuals.
Fumes from some cleaning products may induce asthma in otherwise healthy individuals. A large and growing body of evidence links frequent use of many ordinary cleaning supplies at home or on the job with development of asthma and other respiratory problems. It is already known that cleaning product fumes may trigger attacks in persons previously diagnosed with asthma.
Common cleaning ingredients can be laced with the carcinogenic impurity 1,4-dioxane. Independent tests have detected the presence of 1,4-dioxane in numerous name-brand cleaning supplies. Other products contain preservatives that release low levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.
Children born to women who held cleaning jobs while pregnant have an elevated risk of birth defects, according to a 2010 study by the New York State Department of Health.
Some cleaners can cause chemical burns and poisonings as well as less severe irritations and allergies. Severe physical reactions signal that consumers should take care anytime they use these products.
Despite these health concerns, cleaning product labels often do not give consumers enough information about their ingredients to allow people to make informed decisions on which ones are safer and which ones might harm their health.
EWG recommends we entirely avoid cleaning products such as air fresheners, antibacterial products, fabric softener, dryer sheets, drain cleaners, and oven cleaners. They are not necessary and there are alternative practices to achieve the results these products promise.
Air fresheners - open windows instead or use a fan to circulate air.
Antibacterial products - use a mild soap instead and wash hands thoroughly for an adequate amount of time in warm water and use a nail brush to remove debris from under the nails.
Fabric softener and dryer sheets - use vinegar in the rinse cycle.
Drain cleaners and oven cleaners - use a drain snake for clogs and use a paste of water and baking soda and a little elbow grease for the oven.
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Two cleaning products I make myself:
On a daily basis, I spray down the surfaces in my kitchen and bathrooms. And on a weekly basis, I clean the wood and linoleum floors of my home. I also dust surfaces around my home maybe every other week.
All that cleaning equals me spraying a lot of stuff into the air of my home. All that "stuff" accumulates over time and is in the air we breathe. I want to make sure those cleaning products do their job but also don't linger in our home or present any health hazards to my family or pets.
Additionally, I am always looking for little ways to save money and making some of my own cleaning products is one way to shave a little off the household budget.
What You Will Need
Step 1: go look under your sink! Do you have glass cleaner, anti-bacterial surface cleaner, and floor cleaner? Round those all up and set them aside. You will be making your own products to replace these!
Step 2: acquire one empty spray bottle for the surface cleaner recipe.
Step 3: acquire distilled white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and various organic essential oils (listed in recipes below).
Note: The vinegar and rubbing alcohol can be easily acquired at your local grocery store. And hardware stores usually carry spray bottles.
When it comes to purchasing essential oils, I advise you to be a careful consumer. Not all essential plant oils are created equal and there are a lot of fake and harmful essential oil products out there!
Mountain Rose Herbs is a small company I love and use myself - I get a lot of my salve-making supplies from them. Their essential oils are certified organic by the USDA. They also have a blog post with 8 different cleaning product recipes if you really want to get into this!
Two Cleaning Product Recipes
All-purpose kitchen and bathroom spray
8 oz. distilled white vinegar
6 oz. water
2 oz. rubbing alcohol
10 drops organic lavender essential oil
5 drops organic tea tree essential oil
5 drops organic lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients in 16 oz. spray bottle and shake well before use.
Uses: this aromatic solution can be used for kitchen counters, cabinets, refrigerator shelves, glass, blinds, tile, sinks, tubs, and fan blades.
Multi-surface floor cleaner
Mix the ingredients with 2 gallons of hot water in a bucket. Or add it to your Swiffer reservoir - just halve the recipe and fill half the reservoir with water (or vinegar for a tougher clean) and the other half with this cleaning solution.
Uses: mop away dirt and grime on tile, vinyl, wood, or linoleum floors.
If you're excited to keep going and want to explore making even more of your own cleaning products, then a great place to start is with the Green Cleaning Essential Oil Kit, also from Mountain Rose Herbs.
This beautiful kit comes with 5 different organic, fair trade essential oils, a handy tip sheet, and a booklet that tells you about the company, how essential oils are made, and various use and storage tips.
DISCOUNT CODE: Explore all of Mountain Rose's Essential Oil Kits and from now until May 31st, 2021 you can use discount code EOKit15 for 15% off any of the kits!
I am very mindful of the companies I support. You might notice from the photo above that the box the oils come in is recyclable. That is because Mountain Rose Herbs is a True Zero Waste company!
We can no longer consume mindlessly and throw away wasteful packaging - our environment and health are paying too high of a cost. So whenever I support a company publicly, it is with the utmost care and attention to detail that these companies are ethical and have excellent practices.
Without further ado, good luck shaking out the dust this Spring and happy, healthy cleaning!