The Basics of Homemade Cleaners
Understand How to Make Non-Toxic Homemade Cleaners from Natural Ingredients
Once upon a time, things were different in America’s cleaning cupboards. In the days before the chemical revolution of the 20th century, our ancestors relied on naturally occurring materials and substances to help them with the housework. These included things like pure vegetable soaps, grease-cutting vinegars, abrasives like calcium carbonate and baking soda, citrus oils to remove odors and grime, and essential oils of plants like birch and lavender to sanitize surfaces in the home.
Not only did these homemade concoctions work well in many circumstances, they had the additional advantages of being inexpensive to make and completely non-toxic to use. For these reasons, many people are happily rediscovering the art and science of do-it-yourself cleaning products and creating much healthier homes in the process.
The biggest surprise people have when they decide to make their own cleaners is how many they can make from so few ingredients. Indeed, an almost endless variety of safe homemade substitutes for toxic chemical cleaning formulas of all kinds can be easily prepared from just a handful of common natural materials.
With these items in hand, you can make almost any kind of formula and clean almost anything. Keep in mind as you go that though these ingredients are natural, they clean because they’re powerful. The compounds they contain, while natural and biodegradable, are still chemically active and should be used with a healthy amount of respect. In addition, some readers may find that certain natural oils are irritating, and therefore personally unsuitable for use.
An excellent recipe-filled resource for learning more about making and using your own natural cleaners is the book Better Basics for the Home by natural household formula expert Annie Berthold-Bond. This volume is highly recommended to anyone who wishes to take non-toxic cleaning into his or her own hands. It will show you how to take the following basic ingredients and transform them into amazing sprays, cleansers, waxes, polishes, and more. For the short term, we’ve included some sample recipes in the following pages that will help you harness the inherent cleaning power of these safe and natural materials. Here are the core natural ingredients your natural cleaning cupboard should contain.
Deodorizer, non-abrasive scouring powder
Floor and furniture wax
Deodorizer, non-abrasive scouring powder, all-purpose cleaner, mold inhibitor, rust stain remover
Wood floor and furniture wax
Citrus fruit like orange, lemon
Grease cutter, deodorizer, flea repellent and lime
Favorite essential oils
Air freshening, scenting homemade formulas
Bleaching agent and antibacterial
Natural vegetable-based liquid soap
General detergent product substitute
Neem tree oil
Washing Soda (sodium carbonate)
Grease- and grime-cutter, wax remover, deodorizer
White Distilled Vinegar
Dissolving hard water mineral scale and greasy build-up, removing tarnish, cleansing wood and glass
Tea Tree Oil
Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent; deodorizer
To learn more about natural homemade housecleaners check out Ecolife's Do-It-Yourself cleaning section.