Americans use 35 million pounds of toxic household cleaning products annually. And the vast majority of cleaning products contain not one but an abundance of toxic chemicals, which are absorbed through the skin, inhaled into the lungs and ingested as their residues remain on dishes and other household items after they have been washed. According to the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition in Los Angeles, traces of cleaning chemicals can be found throughout the human body within seconds of exposure, posing risks like asthma, allergies, cancer, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity to name a few. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health even found that overall, women who used a combination of cleaning products to clean their homes were up to 110 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who rarely used them.
Not only have many of the chemicals in standard cleaning products been linked to an array of health issues, many others have not been thoroughly tested for their impact on human health. And for those that have been tested, they haven’t been tested in combination with other chemicals that they are found with in cleaning products — and many times the synergistic effects of the combination can be worse than the individual chemicals alone.
Equally sobering is the decades of research suggesting a relationship between the overuse of powerful disinfectants and the rise of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as concerns over these toxins entering water supplies and wildlife food chains.
And on top of that, many conventional cleaning product labels lack transparency because manufacturers aren’t required to specify ingredients. So basically we don’t always know all of the toxic chemicals we are exposing ourselves, our families and our pets to when we spray and wipe these things all over our homes. There are many great toxin-free cleaning products on the market (Branch Basics and the Honest Company are wonderful, just to name two), but because many words such as “natural” and “organic” are not regulated, it’s easy to be deceived by allegedly “green” cleaning products. Sometimes they provide vague information about a chemicals such as just stating “solvent,” “fragrance,” or “surfactant” and many note ingredients they don’t have but don’t mention others that they leave in.
So what can we do? In addition to buying cleaning products that you know you can trust, another great approach to assure safe ingredients is to make the cleaning products yourself! This way you know that you’re not spraying, wiping and washing toxins around your home. And, an added bonus — these cleaners cost a fraction of many store-bought eco-brands.
I promise, it’s really simple. What’s time-consuming isn’t making the cleaners; rather, it’s figuring out how to make them and what to use. SO, I’ve done the work for you and compiled recipes for 12 homemade toxin-free cleaners — and I put them all on one page that you can download and print out for easy reference. You only need 9 ingredients to make all of them, and most of these ingredients you’ll already find in your kitchen cabinets!
To download a full-size PDF copy of the recipe guide to keep around the house, just right-click HERE or on the image of the recipe guide below and select Save As or Download Linked File As.
Then just print it out and keep a copy in your laundry room, bathroom, kitchen… wherever you do cleaning! And if you use Pinterest, you can pin it to one of your Pinterest boards – it’s nice to have a board just for “cheat sheets” like this one so you can access them quickly from your phone or computer whenever you need to.
And please feel free to share this page and give away extra copies of the recipe guide to anyone else you know who might be interested!
The Nine Basic Ingredients
You can find these multitasking ingredients in local groceries and health stores or online.
White vinegar: effectively cleans, deodorizes, cuts grease and disinfects against bacteria, viruses and mold.
Baking soda: cleans, whitens, neutralizes odors and softens water. It’s an excellent scrubbing agent for bathrooms, refrigerators and ovens.
Lemon juice: cuts through grease, removes mold and bacteria and leaves dishes streak-free.
Castile soap: in liquid or bar form, castile soap serves as a biodegradable, vegetable-based surfactant and all-around cleaner (avoid mixing with vinegar, which neutralizes its cleansing properties). Dr. Bronner’s Unscented is my preferred brand — made from all organic oils.
Borax: a natural mineral, borax improves the effectiveness of laundry soap. **But be sure to keep borax away from children and animals; it’s non-carcinogenic and isn’t absorbed through the skin but it’s one of the more harsh all-natural cleaning agents.
Washing soda: this is a cousin of baking soda that softens water and removes stains It’s also a heavy duty cleaner (actually as powerful as many toxic solvents), so best to wear gloves with this one.
Coarse kosher salt: helps soften dishwasher water and acts as a scouring agent.
Olive oil: makes a great toxin-free furniture polish to give that new shine.
Essential oils: derived from plants, essential oils infuse cleaners with fragrance and boost their germ-fighting power. Tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus oils all boast antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal properties.
I hope this is helpful and wishing you happy toxin-free cleaning!!
P.S. Do you have any homemade cleaning ideas you’d like to share? If so, please post them in the comments below – I’d love to hear!