“Green” household cleaning chemicals — recipes for inexpensive,
Our bodies are under enormous detoxification
demands from all sides, and it can seem frustrating when we try to address them.
And nowhere do our decisions seem more important than in our own homes! On the one
hand, we’re advised to keep our kitchens clean and disinfected for fear of
food-borne pathogens — but on the other, the cleaning solutions we’re
offered in the supermarket are full of toxins. The good news is that you can
have inexpensive, non-toxic cleaners for your household if you’re willing
to do a little “home chemistry” using some simple ingredients. We’ve
collected a bunch of useful tips on how to do this for our readers who are looking
for ways to keep a clean house without polluting their environment or emptying their
Baking soda and baking powder — what’s the difference?
If you don’t bake, you might not be familiar with the difference between baking
soda and baking powder. The distinction may not seem obvious,
particularly since both are shelved near one another in the aisle that contains
baking ingredients like flour and sugar. Some traditional baking powders contain
baking soda, but baking powder is really only used for baking (not cleaning) and
contains other ingredients — and it’s considerably more expensive than
straight baking soda. Manufacturers usually package them differently too —
baking soda almost always comes in a rectangular box, whereas baking powder usually
comes in a round box or tin. When it comes to cleaning, baking soda rules!
Natural cleaning ingredients
There are a few basic supplies you’ll need to mix your own natural cleaning
solutions. Most can be bought and stored in quantity.
- Baking soda. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, or NaHCO3)
is a slightly alkaline compound that can neutralize acids, and with them certain
odors — but it’s nontoxic enough to be used for just about anything
(you can even deodorize your dog — just sprinkle on and brush!). As a paste,
it makes a gentle scrubbing agent for sinks, counters, refrigerators, and other
surfaces. It’s also great for removing odors from plastic containers, like
milk jugs. In combination with other ingredients, it can be used to remove laundry
stains, polish furniture, kill mold and mildew, and even remove tarnish from silver!
- Washing soda. Baking soda should not be confused with
washing soda. Although the two are chemically similar and their chemical
names sound and look a lot alike — washing soda is sodium carbonate (Na2CO3)
— washing soda is a highly alkaline substance and can be somewhat caustic.
It’s an inexpensive way to treat greasy stains and soften hard water. Adding
½–1 cup to your wash will allow you to use less detergent to get clothes clean.
Unlike baking soda, washing soda is harmful if swallowed, so be careful not to store
the two near one another if you use them both. Keep washing soda out of the reach
of children, and wear gloves while handling it.
- Distilled white vinegar. Baking soda can clean and deodorize,
but it’s vinegar that lends real disinfectant power to many home cleaning
recipes. Multiple studies have shown that a simple 5% solution of distilled white
vinegar — the kind you find in large jugs in the supermarket for next to nothing
— can kill 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of viruses. It cuts grease
and can even remove scale on coffee makers. And though some people dislike the odor
that comes with vinegar, it dissipates more rapidly than the fumes that come with
chemicals — and white vinegar’s odor, unlike chemical fumes, isn’t
- Lemon juice. Like vinegar, lemon juice is acidic, which
helps it to cut through dirt. Unlike vinegar, it has a pleasant scent. Lemon juice
doesn’t have the same antibacterial properties as vinegar, but if killing
microbes isn’t your main concern (for example, if you’re polishing furniture
or cleaning brass or copper), you can use lemon juice instead of vinegar.
- Natural liquid soap (not detergent). Most of the liquid
soaps you’ll find in the supermarket are actually detergents. True soaps,
such as the ones you’ll find in natural foods stores, are made with natural
minerals and fats. In combination with other ingredients, you can essentially create
your own grease-cutting detergents, without the toxins and expense of mainstream
- Borax. Also know as sodium borate, this mineral occurs
naturally and is environmentally safe. But it can be an eye and skin irritant, and
should be kept away from children. It’s a strong disinfectant and deodorant,
and can often work when gentler substances aren’t enough. You’ll find
this ingredient in the laundry detergent section.
- Empty spray bottles. If you mix your own cleaners, you’ll
need something to store them in. New, empty spray bottles are readily available
at most stores, and they can be labeled with the recipe for the cleaning fluid you
put in them so there’s no confusion. It’s generally not a good idea
to recycle empty bottles from store-bought cleaners because of the potential for
chemical reactions between the residue and some of the natural cleaning ingredients
we list here (for example, vinegar reacts with bleach to create toxic fumes —
so putting a vinegar-based cleaner into a bottle that contained a bleach-based cleaner
could cause a serious health hazard).
Our Personal Program is a great place to start
The Personal Program promotes natural hormonal balance with nutritional supplements,
our exclusive endocrine support formula, dietary and lifestyle guidance, and optional
phone consultations with our Nurse–Educators. It is a convenient, at-home
version of what we recommend to all our patients at the clinic.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to call us toll-free at
1-800-798-7902. We're here to listen and help.
Related to this article:
References & further reading on
nontoxic green cleaning
Last Modified Date: 04/18/2011