START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

5 Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning

5 Basics for Non-Toxic Cleaning

Learning to clean from scratch—making homemade recipes—can truly work if you take time to understand a bit about the chemistry behind how the materials work. Here are the five ingredients that I find to be the safest, most effective, and useful for cleaning.

Baking Soda

A commonly available mineral full of many cleaning attributes, baking soda is made from soda ash, and is slightly alkaline (its pH is around 8.1; 7 is neutral). It neutralizes acid-based odors in water, and adsorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens, and fiberglass. It will eliminate perspiration odors and even neutralize the smell of many chemicals if you add up to a cup per load to the laundry. It is a useful air freshener, and a fine carpet deodorizer.

51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda

 



Washing Soda

A chemical neighbor of baking soda, washing soda (sodium carbonate) is much more strongly alkaline, with a pH around 11. It releases no harmful fumes and is far safer than a commercial solvent formula, but you should wear gloves when using it because it is caustic. Washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax or lipstick, and neutralizes odors in the same way that baking soda does. Don’t use it on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors—unless you intend to remove the wax.

 

White Vinegar and Lemon Juice

White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic—they neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish, and remove dirt from wood surfaces.

23 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar

Liquid Soaps and Detergent

Liquid soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, and they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials discovered and synthesized early in this century. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so that they don’t react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes; if you have soft water you can use liquid soap (both are available in health food stores).

 

Mold Killers and Disinfectants

For a substance to be registered by the EPA as a disinfectant it must go through extensive and expensive tests. EPA recommends simple soap to use as a disinfectant There are many essential oils, such as lavender, clove, and tea tree oil (an excellent natural fungicide), that are very antiseptic, as is grapefruit seed extract, even though they aren’t registered as such. Use one teaspoon of essential oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle (make sure to avoid eyes). A grapefruit seed extract spray can be made by adding 20 drops of extract to a quart of water.

Caution: Make sure to keep all homemade formulas well-labeled, and out of the reach of children.

Related:
How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
22 Uses for Lemon Peels
47 Smart Uses for Salt


Read more: Ask Annie, Green, Home, Non-Toxic Cleaning, , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

Go to the Source

Better Basics for the Home : Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond

Natural living has reached the mainstream: we are now far more concerned about the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the chemicals that surround us, and recognize that government regulations all too often fall short of safeguarding our health. Enter Annie Berthold-Bond, whose Better Basics for the Home is a compendium of practical information -- recipes, tips, and guidelines -- for creating a simpler, cheaper and environmentally safer lifestyle.buy now

Clean and Green : The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Ber

In a remarkably easy-to-use format, Berthold-Bond tells how to clean effectively using simple, natural ingredients such a baking soda, Borax, lemon juice, vegetable oil and vinegar. She makes a convincing argument that cleaning with natural products can be handier, cheaper and just as effective as the alternative.buy now

277 comments

+ add your own
5:04AM PDT on Jun 20, 2014

For a healthy home and natural environment

12:46PM PDT on May 14, 2014

Real lemon juice is pricey in my neck of the woods, and the bottled varieties have too many preservatives, so I stick with white vinegar, baking soda and have grown my own lavender and mint to use as the "nose" component. A bit of either tucked under pillows, inside where you fold your towels and sheets, etc. does wonders!

7:11PM PST on Feb 18, 2014

Thanks. I make all my own cleaning products with essential oils, lemon, vinegar, baking and washing soda, and all-natural soap. No nasty chemicals and everything is just as clean. Even better, I can breathe while cleaning my bathroom (unlike the old days when the cleaners took my breath away and triggered asthma attacks).

10:34AM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Just one question.
Don"t Americans have microfiber cloths to wash with?

11:07PM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

i love lemons

9:25PM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

Really good info, ty.

6:53AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

very good...it´s the little things that change the world

1:48PM PDT on May 3, 2013

Good tips.Thanks for sharing

5:12AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

Thank you for good tips. I have used soda and vinegar for cleaning.

3:20PM PDT on Apr 7, 2013

interesting

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Make more trips carrying lighter loads. This adds steps PLUS saves your wrists, fingers, shoulders …

Good advice, except for #1. Author should have stressed that "Bears Will Eat You".

I don't 'sneak' anything. I either do or don't I'm not fooling anyone but myself if I 'sneak' anythi…

ANNE M. No truth to #2. You do not have to wait an hour or even 1/2 hour after eating before swimm…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.