Eco Household Cleansers

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This spring, clear out your cupboard
and replace toxic cleansers
with these safe, effective alternatives
~ eco household cleansers 

My mother worked as a nurse, so her household cleaning routines featured hospital-grade cleaning products. I vividly remember the warnings on the bottles – CAUTION! Keep out of reach of children. CAUTION! Harmful if swallowed. Eye and skin irritant. I remember the strong smells and my mother’s reminders not to mix bleach and ammonia, for example, because combining these chemicals can create harmful fumes that over time can weaken your heart. Scary! (In all fairness, who had eco household cleansers in the 80s?)

When I finally had my own place, I started crafting eco household cleansers using safe ingredients with names I could pronounce. The surprising thing was that I already had most of the simple ingredients for other purposes, such as baking soda, liquid soap, and distilled vinegar. Blending ingredients is easy and buying them in bulk is much cheaper than purchasing commercial cleaners. To make cleaning fun, I personalize my arsenal with cute glass spray bottles or re-purposed plastic bottles featuring handwritten labels, eliminating recurring plastic waste.

It really doesn’t get much easier to create a disinfecting cleaner than filling a bottle with equal amounts of vinegar and water. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you’ll be naturally freshening the air while you clean.

There are endless DIY recipes for eco household cleansers to meet almost any household need. From general cleaning to pest control, you can eliminate toxic chemicals and have fun making your own products tailored to your olfactory preferences. If you have an allergy to any of the essential oils listed, there are alternatives, and each has beneficial antibacterial, antiviral, or anti-fungal properties. Here are a few recipes to get you inspired. 

CLEANER CLEANING RECIPES

MIRROR SPRAY

While you’re cleaning the bathroom sink why not also take a minute to spray down the mirror? This recipe will help your mirror shine and help to prevent fogging from the shower. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
8 drops lemon essential oil
 
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Spray the solution onto the mirror and wipe with a dry cloth.

LILYBART Lemon
BATHROOM SINK CLEANER

Speaking of kids, they love watching this recipe in action!  

Ingredients:

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
6 drops lemon essential oil

Combine baking soda and lemon essential oil.

Sprinkle into your sink.

Pour the vinegar on top.

After the fizz settles, scrub the sink with a damp cloth or sponge and then rinse clean.


SURFACE DISENFECTANT 

Perfect for shared gadgets and countertops,
this recipe will tame lingering bacteria. 

Ingredients:

16 drops rosemary essential oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil 
1 cup water

Blend all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle. Shake well and spray generously. Gadgets may also be dipped in this solution then air-dried.

LILYBART Whole Lemon
DISINFECTING WALL CLEANER

With little ones, there can be fingerprints on the walls, on the light switches, and just everywhere! This is a great cleaner for removing those smudges and germs.  

Ingredients:

5 drops thyme or lavender essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil 
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Please note, tea tree oil should only be used on walls painted white. Lightly spray the dirty walls and wipe with a clean damp sponge. 

FLOOR WIPES

The best part about these cleaners is that your children can be involved in wiping up their sticky spills. This is a recipe you can keep at the ready in a sealed container.  

Ingredients:

10 drops rosemary essential oil
10 drops geranium or lavender essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil 
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
old t-shirts cut into rags
storage container with a sealing lid

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. 

Soak t-shirt rags until they absorb most of the liquid. Immediately transfer the rags to the storage container, topping off with about 1/4 cup of the remaining liquid to keep them moist. 

Whenever there is a spill, your homemade wet wipes are ready to go. Wash the rags after use and start the process all over again.


STAIN SPRAY

This was probably the hardest recipe to trust. I felt certain that a harsh chemical stain spray was necessary to save my children’s clothes from stains. Luckily for me and my kids, there are natural alternatives.  

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil-based soap
(such as Dr. Bronner’s  Pure Castile Liquid Soap) 

1/4 cup glycerin

2 tablespoons borax
10 drops tea tree essential oil

1 3/4 cups water

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Spray generously onto a stain and then launder as usual.

For stubborn stains, avoid the drier, because heat will set a stain.  Try line-drying instead and then work on the stain again.

LEARN MORE

MP’s DIY Series

EverGreen Zero Waste

PlasticOceans.org

About Alyssa Reindel

Founder of EverGreen ZeroWaste, Alyssa has more than 15 years of experience in waste diversion. A relentless proponent of education and hands-on participation, she immediately said yes to writing our DIY eco-cleaning article.  Among many accolades, she has won awards from the E.P.A. and the National Recycling Coalition. Her local company grew from greening events into curbside compost collections, waste education programs, and supporting the needs of families, businesses, and municipalities in the Roaring Fork Valley.