“Why should you trust me to teach you how to clean? Because I hate cleaning.” confesses Melissa Maker in the introduction of her book, Clean My Space: The secret to cleaning better faster – and loving your home every day. In the book, Maker gives very detailed instructions on implementing her approach to cleaning, called the Maker Method, and surprisingly eco-conscious cleaning solutions. She even convinced me to stop using disposable paper towels while cleaning the house.
If you’ve ever cleaned a shower with a bottle of shower tub spray and come out moments later coughing and squinting from the strong chemicals, you’ll be relieved to know that cleaning doesn’t have to be so toxic. Natural cleaning solutions made with a limited number of basic ingredients are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and in many cases, cheaper than their commercial counterparts. Best of all, your home will still be clean and smell great.
Natural cleaning solutions are made at home by following recipes targeted to cleaning a particular area of the home. You can find a large variety of recipes by doing a google search for terms like “green cleaning”, and “natural cleaning recipe”. Usually, they’ll require ingredients like essential oils, white vinegar, dish soap, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and borax. You can mix these in your own containers, like reused spray bottles, or glass jars. Make sure to label each one with the name of the recipe, the date it was made, and the list of ingredients.
Maker shares her favorite recipes in her book, and on her website, www.cleanmyspace.com. For the kitchen, she recommends an All-Purpose Cleaner made with just three ingredients. Make your own by mixing 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of dish soap in a container, then topping it off with 20 drops of an essential oil of your choice. While you could make your own dish soap, you can save time by using an eco-friendly store-bought version such as the Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, Palmolive Pure and Clear Ultra, or Earth Friendly Products Dishmate.
To use the All-Purpose Cleaner, shake the bottle to mix the ingredients well, then spray the countertop. Use a microfiber cleaning cloth folded into a square to wipe the solution off the counter. For stubborn stains spray the solution again, let it sit a few minutes, then wipe away. Use a dry area of the cloth to wipe the surface again to leave a shiny clean countertop.
Microfiber cloths are excellent replacements for single-use disposable paper towels. Look for those that are soft, lint-free, streak-free, and non-abrasive. Because they come in a variety of colors you can assign certain cloths to certain tasks. For example, a green microfiber cloth can be designated to dust off electronic devices. Keep microfiber in good shape by washing the microfiber cloths together, then drying them without a dryer sheet to maintain their static.
Another natural cleaning solution you can make at home is for cleaning glass and mirrors. In a spray bottle mix half a cup of water with a quarter cup of white vinegar, and a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol. Maker recommends adding 15 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil which is antibacterial and smells amazing. Spray the solution, then wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth. Finish by wiping the surface again with a dry section of the cloth.
Defeat soap scum by mixing half a cup of plain white vinegar with half a cup of dish soap. Add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil to help break down mold and mildew. Dip a damp sponge into the solution and spread it all over the tub. Let it sit for 10 minutes while you clean something else. Wet the sponge again and gently scrub the tub to remove the soap scum. Rinse the tub with warm water, then dry with a squeegee or a thick microfiber cloth.
There are many other natural cleaning solution recipes available that I just can’t cover them all here. If you’re interested in trying some yourself start small. You may already have some of the ingredients at home to make one of the cleaners mentioned. Test it out next time you clean, you may be surprised by how well these old-fashioned environmentally friendly cleaners work.
As with all cleaners, you should keep these out of the reach of children and store the bottles in a cool dry place. If the product gets in your eyes, rinse thoroughly with water and contact your doctor if irritation persists. If the product is accidentally swallowed, especially if it contains borax, drink a glass of milk or water and contact your physician for advice. With the green cleaners, you’ll be able to report exactly was consumed.