Even though most so-called “green” cleaners claim to be environmentally friendly and good for you, there really is no federal regulations of what “green” is (“green” is a subjective quality analogous to , not a regulated labeling term like “USDA certified organic”).
The same goes for “natural”. What is “100% natural”? I suppose it’s something that does not have additive metals obtained from an asteroid that crashed to the earth’s surface. But even then, can you be sure? Some marketing genius at a consumer packaged goods company would justify it by saying that the big bang was a natural event and that the asteroid was created via the big bang – henceforth, it’s “natural”.
Well, Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring minerals, so I guess it is “natural”.
Uranium and plutonium – aka the stuff that goes in to nuclear reactors and atomic bombs? “100% natural”.
And remember happy fun play time with “all-natural” mercury? How could we or our nerves ever forget?
OK, natural means nothing, but certainly endearing terms like “eco friendly” and “earth friendly” do? How could you turn your back on the smiling, happy, playful “friendly” puppies or other animal mascots that grace the front of these products? Surely, they are harmless, right? Starting to get the idea here?
Any labeling with earth, eco, green, wise, friendly, smart, natural is clever marketing at it’s best, and deception at its worst.
And just because something does not have a skull and crossbones on it, does not mean it is safe to breathe, sniff, ingest, or spill on your skin.
So what kind of cleaning product do you purchase in a world of deceptive marketing labeling? Trick question – you don’t. You insource your cleaning products by manufacturing your own. When you do this, you not only save your lungs, nerves, eyes, skin, and other body parts – but you also save a lot of money.
Making your Own Non-Toxic Cleaner
What are the essential benefits of using a cleaning solution?
How about it killing bacteria without killing you, for starters?
Bonus points if it:
- doesn’t produce streaks or residue (which eliminates baking soda for many flat surface uses)
- smells fresh or clean
- is cheap, in large quantities (added benefit if larger quantity means less packaging to recycle)
- can have multiple uses (i.e. windows, floors, counter-tops, etc.)
The good news is, there are plenty of non-toxic products available that meet this criteria.
If you have water, lemon, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and witch hazel, you can make home-made cleaner combos that will clean just about anything, are safe, are more effective than the store-bought combinations, and are much cheaper.
Just make sure you don’t combine stuff that should not be combined (i.e. ammonia and bleach generally do not produce safe fumes when mixed with other stuff, and I’ve moved 100% away from bleach altogether). Better to research what you plan to mix together before you actually mix it.
Here are a few solutions you can try out:
Non-Toxic Glass and All-Purpose Cleaner:
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
Directions: spray on, let sit for a few seconds, and wipe off.
Non-Toxic Shower Mold Cleaner:
- 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% mix)
- 1 cup water
Directions: spray on mold areas and let sit for an hour prior to rinsing off. If this doesn’t work, try scrubbing with 100% lemon juice.
Non-Toxic Floor Cleaner:
- 1 Cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 gallon water
Directions: mop or use a foam sponge across hard-surface floors. Spread out so water does not pool. Let air dry.
Non-Toxic Drain Cleaner:
- Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down drain
- Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes
- Flush with a pot of boiling water
The next time Target tries to sell you the elusive “eco green natural” as their Google ad so eloquently pitched me when researching this article – maybe, you shouldn’t be buying.
Make your own.
Non-Toxic Cleaner Recipe Discussion:
- Have you or someone you know ever been seriously harmed by so called “green”, “natural”, or “eco-friendly” cleaning products?
- What are your favorite home-made non-toxic cleaning solution recipes?
Although Uranium could bee considered all natural (though 235, the more useful isotype, needs to be refined), Plutonium is not. Plutonium not only decays more rapidly but it also reacts with lots of stuff in the environment.
More information can be found in this fun video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89UNPdNtOoE
I love how of all things you could have commented on, you picked that.
Yeah, and while we are at it, Mercury in its elemental form at room temperature isn’t particularly toxic. You just have to watch out for Mercury Salts and Mercury Cyanide.
Actually related to the post: Denatured Ethanol, available at all hardware stores, makes a great glass cleaner when diluted a bit and kills everything.
Ah, well it was a fun topic. Not picking on technicalities.
Also, white vinegar is magic. Its only smelly if you leave surfaces wet and let it evaporate. If you wipe it off immediately, it won’t smell at all afterwards.
Add a drop or two of essential oil. I use lavender, and it cuts out the smell :)
We have started to make many of our own household
We started making many of our household cleaning solutions at the beginning of this year. So far we have made glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, dish soap, dog shampoo, and bar soap. They were all super easy to make, but the lack of bubbles with the dish soap is hard to get used to. Commercially made dish soap has additives that make it bubble/lather more, and after a lifetime of thinking bubbles=clean it is difficult to change my way of thinking.
That’s actually a really good point. And it requires a decent amount of soap to create a lot of bubbles, otherwise we don’t see enough to think we’re using an adequate level of soap. Therefore, we use soap faster and buy it more often. Kind of like the fact that two Alka Seltzers are no more effective than one, but the company markets using them twice as quickly – almost double the profits!
It’s easy to make scrubbing or cleaning solutions but many people worry about disinfecting. Well, it turns out that’s easy too:
“By itself, vinegar is not a disinfectant, but when used with hydrogen peroxide, it kills bacteria more effectively than any commercial cleaner. Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) in Blacksburg, Virginia, published the following formula in Science News. Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of plain white or apple cider vinegar. Pour each liquid into its own spray bottle. Spritz the item to be disinfected with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, then rinse with water. Using one mist right after the other is ten times more effective than usually spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle. Tests at VPI found the two sprays used together killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces; this spray combination is more effective than chlorine bleach. It doesn’t matter if you spray with the vinegar first, then the hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa. There is no lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic if any reside remains. This combination works exceptionally well for sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces, including wood cutting boards.” Natural Home magazine, Jan 2002
It’s amazing what you can do with vinegar. And it’s less harmful than many cleaning products which are currently available.
But having said that, I’ve never tried making my own cleaning products…yet. I should have paid more attention during Chemistry lessons at school.
This is a great post, I never knew natural ingredients could encompass all these nasty toxic elements. I will definitely be trying to go down the eco friendly root. Thanks for sharing, great post.
Also a great post. I always love to see environment considered in posts. For those who are looking for more information on making your own cleaning products & how to save money doing it, I highly recommend the book Easy Green Cleaning by Elizabeth Hemmings. Essential oils have many antibacterial, antimicrobial, etc properties. Additionally, depending on the surface you are cleaning, you will want to be careful with vinegar, but this book explains all of that. I feel better about my health using the product recipes in the book (& of course, it’s friendly on my wallet too).