Non-Toxic Housecleaning Ingredients: 9 of Our Favorites

IMAGE:Non-Toxic Cleaning 
Spring Cleaning has begun. Many of our clients are requesting "Green" Products this season due to personal illnesses, allergies and in response to information on how chemical compounds can affect us. But are "Green" products really what they claim to be?

"According to research from the American Chemical Society, the truth behind green-cleaning disinfectant products varies wildly, with some of these products found to be loaded with harmful petrochemical ingredients.

The researchers measured the source of ingredients in more than a dozen liquid laundry detergents, hand soaps and dish soaps that advertised claims such as "natural" and "ecofriendly." The plant-based ingredient content in the hand soaps ranged anywhere from 28 to 97 percent; laundry detergent ranged between 28 and 94 percent; and dish washing liquids from 43 to 95 percent. 

While there were a fair number of products whose "green" claims held true, many more still harbored considerable amounts of harmful petroleum-based ingredients, (which carry respiratory irritants and hormone-disrupting chemicals)." ~Rodale's Organic Life

In addition to being potentially toxic, conventional cleaners cost a bit more than those you would make yourself using common household ingredients that most of us keep on hand. We  recommend these top nine ingredients to keep on hand for all of your (non-toxic), pet and people friendly cleaning purposes: 

White Vinegar
This common ingredient contains 5 percent acetic acid, which is effective in killing numerous strains of bacteria, including E. coli. It's also effective in getting rid of odors, mold and fungus.

• Witch Hazel - An excellent stain remover & jewelry cleaner, when mixed with some (white) toothpaste. When mixed with baking soda and lemon juice, it makes a great all-purpose bathroom cleaner that cuts through soap scum, mildew, and stains.

Lemon juice—An easily obtainable, natural de-greaser that also contains antimicrobial properties. Can be used as a deodorizer and laundry booster.

Baking soda—Perfect for jobs that require scrubbing or scouring, such as bathroom tiles & grout. Also can be used as a deodorizer  for carpets, microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines and more. Excellent laundry booster to deodorize whiten and soften clothes.

Washing Soda—Its "washing" power actually comes from the fact that it's sodium carbonate. You can usually find it in the laundry aisle of your local supermarket.

Castile Soap—A plant-based, petroleum-free (liquid or solid) soap found in most natural food stores, drug stores and online.

• Borax—This versatile product is a mineral salt that dissolves easily in water. It is an anti-fungal and a water softening agent and can be used for surface cleaning or as a laundry cleaning booster. It is also contained in some ant and roach killing compounds. 

 Cream of tartar—Can be mixed white vinegar and water to use for stain removal. This ingredient comes in powdered form and can be found in the spice or baking aisle of your local grocery store.

• Essential Oils—Natural essential oils such as Tea Tree, Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Basil, Clove, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit, etc. add an additional disinfecting, antibacterial, anti-fungal quality, while providing a naturally pleasant smell. In this case, a little bit goes a long way-and you usually only need a few drops dissolved in some Vodka or Witch hazel, then added to your home made cleaners to do the trick. Be sure to use pure essential oils and not fragrance oils and do not overdo it! While some may enjoy lightly scented products, others are highly sensitive. 

In addition, be cautious when using any cleaning product, especially vinegar or citrus oils on furniture. It can strip the finish right off. Its best to save these compounds for tile and other non-porous surfaces. Our belief is that "clean" really does not have a smell at all, and the less scent the better when it comes to servicing our more sensitive clients.

Here is a simple recipe for our Heavy Duty All-Purpose Cleaner that can be used on surfaces in the kitchen or bath, inside microwaves and refrigerators, and on minor carpet or fabric stains:

Peacock Power: Lemony-Sage 
All-Purpose Cleaner

2 cups distilled Water
1 cup White Vinegar OR 1/2 cup lemon Juice (pu;p strained out)
1 tsp liquid Castille soap
10 drops of Basil Essential oil
10 drops Sage Essential Oil
15 drops Lemon or Grapefruit Essential oil

  • Stir and blend together vinegar and essential oils.
  • Add distilled water to mixture, stirring constantly to blend.
  • Add castille soap to the mixture, slowly, several drops at a time while stirring, until well blended. (You may notice some thickening or curdling of the soap as you add it to the mixture. This is due to the acids (vinegar/lemon juice) mixing with the soap base and neutralizing or "cancelling" each other out. If this occurs, do not add the rest of the soap.)
  • Place mixture in a clean pump spray bottle, label and store in a dark cool place. Gently invert bottle to re-blend ingredients before each use.