We know that exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to health problems. Unfortunately, some toxic chemicals are found where they’re least expected- in common, cleaning products. Ammonia can burn, bleach can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Why use this stuff? Though most retailers do offer organic cleaning products, you can take it a step further and make your own and save a few dollars. Homemade, organic cleaning products are a safe, natural alternative to toxic cleaning products. The poison control number is on the label for a reason. In fact, The National Poisons Information Service in Britain recommends parents keep the cleaning products just as securely locked up as the alcohol. 
The Need to Adopt Non-Toxic Cleaning Protocols
Reducing exposure to toxins is a process that happens in bits and pieces and you always need to be working at it. The consequences can be dire. Evidence already suggests exposure to certain chemicals may aggravate respiratory reactions.   Removing toxic garbage, that shouldn’t even be sold as “safe for household use” is of greater importance when pregnant women or young children are involved. Some studies have been launched into examining the effect of cleaning products in hospitals on staff, who are constantly exposed; a possible relation to asthma has been discussed. 
Avoid Products with Toxic Ingredients
Adopting green living methods in your home is more important now than ever before. Chemicals such as Triclosan are common in at-home cleaning and hygiene products, yet has been fingered for many problems, including increased incidence of asthma.  It’s not unusual for products to be introduced as safe and later recalled as unsafe; no surprise, adding chemicals to your living space can have disastrous consequences. 
Making your own natural do-it-yourself cleaning solutions provides your home with an eco-friendly cleaning that is gentle and powerful, without the chemicals or toxic fumes. Check the contents under your sink or pantry and you’ll likely find the economical, nontoxic ingredients that work alone or in combination to effectively make your home shine!
The Basic Arsenal
White vinegar is effective at dissolving grease and makes a great surface cleaner in the kitchen and bathroom. Vinegar works well because of its acidic nature and antibacterial effect. Japanese research found that the bactericidal activity of vinegar increased as the temperature of its solution increased, underscoring the need for double benefit of warm cleaning solutions.  Mix 1 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle and use it to clean windows and mirrors to toilets and floors.
Baking soda deodorizes and has an abrasive quality that out shines toxic, powdered cleansers. Use on surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen to remove stains or even clean the inside of a messy oven. Adding salt can provide a boost in scrubbing power.
The inclusion of lemon in many commercially available cleaning products is one rare area where they got it right! Lemon juice kills mold, cuts through grease, and leaves a streak-free shine. The applied food science laboratory in Lincoln Nebraska examined the ability for lemon oil to inhibit mold growth by applying a coating of lemon juice and vinegar to roast beef. This was found to support prevention of spore germination and outgrowth.  Combine lemon juice with vinegar or olive oil to make compound cleaning products that work harder and provide a natural scent.
Hydrogen peroxide has a bubbling action that is amazing with hard-to-clean situations. Fill a spray bottle with a HP and water mixture, keep it near the laundry area as it can be a great spot cleaner.
Polishing wood with with olive oil and lemon juice moisturizes it and provides amazing shine with a fresh scent. Blend 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a spray bottle, mist onto a soft cloth and polish wood furniture the natural way.
Easy Recipes for Powerful Cleaners
Cousin Jason’s Great Glass Cleaner
- Add 1/2 cup distilled vinegar to a new spray bottle.
- Fill with distilled water, gently shake.
- Spray on mirrors and windows, polish with a crumpled newspaper (you’ll be surprised how well the newspaper works).
“Beatnick” Ted’s Doubly Amazing All-Purpose Cleaner
- Add 2 tablespoons of distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon liquid castile soap (vegetable based and natural) to a new spray bottle.
- Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. When it stops foaming, add 2 cups warm water, shake gently.
- Use on counters and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Use an organic cleaning cloth.
Captain Rusty’s Potent and Powerful Surface Scrub
- Mix 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup liquid castile soap.
- Add 5 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin and 5-10 drops tea tree oil, depending on preference. Glycerin is a natural preservative and tea tree oil has antibacterial properties.
- Scrub with a microfiber cleaning cloth to use on sinks and other bathroom surfaces.
- Rinse with hot water and polish with a dry microfiber cloth.
Extra Tips for Seamless Integration
- Clearly label your homemade cleaning supplies.
- Mix enough for one month at a time.
- Do not reuse containers from commercial cleaning supplies as they may contain chemical residues.
- Add antiseptic essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil, or rosemary for essence, scent, and benefit.
Got any tips, or experiences? Please share!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
- Williams H, Moyns E, Bateman DN, Thomas SH, Thompson JP, Vale JA. Hazard of household cleaning products: a study undertaken by the UK National Poisons Information Service. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012 Sep;50(8):770-5. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2012.709936.
- Kimber I, Pieters R. Household chemicals, immune function, and allergy: A commentary. J Immunotoxicol. 2013 Apr-Jun;10(2):169-72. doi: 10.3109/1547691X.2012.707696. Epub 2012 Sep 7.
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- Hollins DM, Kerger BD, Unice KM, Knutsen JS, Madl AK, Sahmel JE, Paustenbach DJ. Airborne benzene exposures from cleaning metal surfaces with small volumes of petroleum solvents. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Jun;216(3):324-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2012.08.008. Epub 2012 Oct 22.
- Entani E, Asai M, Tsujihata S, Tsukamoto Y, Ohta M. Antibacterial action of vinegar against food-borne pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia coli O157:H7. J Food Prot. 1998 Aug;61(8):953-9.
- Li L, Valenzuela-Martinez C, Redondo M, Juneja VK, Burson DE, Thippareddi H. Inhibition of Clostridium perfringens spore germination and outgrowth by lemon juice and vinegar product in reduced NaCl roast beef. J Food Sci. 2012 Nov;77(11):M598-603. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02922.x.