Creative Organic Green ~ Detox For Your Home

Summer is the time of year that we start eating lighter and detoxing. It’s time for summer cleaning of body, mind, and home! While there is a lot of focus on what we eat, often not enough attention is paid to how we clean our homes… Making sure that all of your household cleaning products are naturally-derived is extremely important – especially if you have children. The products we use every day may give off toxins that we then breathe in or absorb through our skin. They may also pollute the air in our environment. Studies have shown that environmental toxicity is a contributor to many conditions such as autoimmune disease, heart disease and even cancer(1). The chemicals found in many common household cleaners are carcinogens which mean that they can cause cancer. Bleach and ammonia are highly toxic and, when mixed together, they are a lethal combination(2).  Other chemicals which are hormone and endocrine disruptors are glycol ethers and phthalates (3) so it’s important to be able to identify every ingredient on a label that you are using in your home. If you can’t identify it, don’t use it. With just a few simple ingredients, including some wonderfully fragrant essential oils, you can disinfect and clean, as well as rid your home of bacteria, mold, viruses, unpleasant odors, and dust mites.

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As a caution, when you buy essential oils you should beware of anything that says “fragrance added.” If it does not say “100% (pure) essential oils” then the ingredient is synthetic. Most of the fragrance used in household cleaning products and deodorizers are synthetic. There is nothing natural about them and they are harmful to your health. Essential oils are great for the home since they are non-toxic and they possess many therapeutic properties that will benefit you for a clean healthy home. They are antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal – and of course, they smell great.

These are some recipes I created to get you through all your spring cleaning. I use sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) in all three recipes so you don’t have to go out and buy too many essential oils; however, I am also giving you a list of essential oils you can substitute. The citrus oils are all antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal so you can replace orange oil with lemon (Citrus limon), grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) or lime (Citrus aurantifolia) essential oil.

It’s also fun to experiment and mix scents that you like. It might even make you enjoy cleaning!

General All-purpose Cleaner

Lemon (Citrus limon)

Lemon is one of the most popular citrus fruits in the world. It is extracted from the rind of the fruit. It is antiseptic, a disinfectant, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, making it a great all-purpose household cleaner. It was even used during World War I as a disinfectant in hospitals. Lemon essential oil is calming but it is also refreshing to the mind, as it helps lift negative emotions. It is believed that inhaling lemon essential oil helps to increase concentration and alertness; therefore, it can be a great room freshener in offices.

 

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

Orange Sweet is a citrus essential oil that is extracted from the rind of the orange. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-microbial. It is also very uplifting for your mood, making it a good scent to have in any home. Sweet orange essential oil is an excellent degreaser and cleaner due to an ingredient called, d-Limonene. A study conducted by The University of Arkansas and Colorado State University found that Valencia orange (Citrus sinensis var. valencia) essential oil inhibited E. Coli and Salmonella during the refrigeration process of beef(3). It also inhibited Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is a deadly staph infection(4).

 

Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of a herb. It is a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica). It is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic. Bugs tend not to like it, so it is a good choice to add to an all-purpose aromatherapy blend around the house.

 

White Distilled Vinegar

White Distilled Vinegar is one of the best cleaning ingredients for the home since it is a natural disinfectant. It can help to kill mold, bacteria, and viruses. In addition, it is very inexpensive.

 

Directions for Use:

You will need a sixteen-ounce size spray bottle.

 

Essential Oils:

20 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)

30 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

15 drops Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

White Distilled Vinegar*

Distilled Water*

*Fill the remaining bottle with a 50/50 combination of white vinegar and distilled water.  I prefer distilled water but if you don’t have distilled water, use filtered water. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use because the essential oils and water will separate. If you want to change the scent, from time to time you can substitute with lime, grapefruit, eucalyptus (Eucaplyptusspp.), clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia).

You can use this blend as a general cleaner for your kitchen, especially for the countertops, refrigerator, cabinets and even wood surfaces.

Window Cleaner

I like using an eight-ounce size bottle since it’s smaller and easier to handle and it will fit in any cabinet. If you want to make a sixteen-ounce bottle, just double up the recipe.

 

Essential Oils:

3 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)

3 drops Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

White Distilled Vinegar*

Distilled Water*

*Fill the remaining bottle with a 50/50 combination of white vinegar and distilled water. I prefer distilled water but if you don’t have distilled water, you can use filtered water. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use because the essential oils and water will separate. If you want to change the scent from time to time, you can substitute lemon with lime, grapefruit or orange.

Bath and Sink Scrub

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)

Clove essential oil is extracted from the buds of the clove plant. It is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, antiseptic and antiviral, making it a great choice for cleaning tubs and sinks.

 

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

 

Pure Liquid Castile Soap

Make sure that your soap is pure Castile. I use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap because for over 150 years it has been a family-run business and the quality of the product is never comprised for profit. The soap is pure and organic, with no dyes, whiteners or synthetic fragrances. The bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic so you are doing something good for the environment. They are available in different scents such as orange, sweet almond (Prunis Dulcis), eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and lemon, and the soap blends perfectly with essential oils. You should have this product in your home as it has so many uses and can replace many products. I also use it as a hand and body wash, and shampoo – and you can even wash floors and clothes with it.

 

Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate)

Baking soda is right up there with vinegar as a cleaning superstar! It is non-toxic, absorbs odor, and it is great for sinks and tubs due to its abrasive texture. It has many uses in the home – from brushing your teeth to shining silver. I never use toxic oven cleaners. Instead, I mix baking soda and water to get rid of spills in my oven. You can rub it on with a soft cloth or leave some on the spills overnight and then wash it the next day.

Use a twelve-ounce glass jar with an airtight clamp lid or a screw top.

 

Essential Oils:

5 drops Clove bud (Syzygium aromaticum)

5 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

½ cup Pure Liquid Castile Soap*

½ cup Baking Soda*

*I mix equal parts of baking soda and castile soap to make a paste. If you want to make a bigger batch just double-up the recipe. Add the baking soda and castile soap to the jar, then add the essential oils. Once you have all of the ingredients in the jar, mix it together with a spoon or spatula. You can apply a small amount to a cloth or sponge to clean.

As the seasons change, or you just want to try a different aroma, you can use ten drops of any of the following essential oils, or just mix two essential oils together. They all have antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.

 

• Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

• Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus globulus)

• Rosemary ct. cineole (Rosmarinus officinalis)

• Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita)

• Lemon (Citrus limon)

• Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

 

Wood Cleaner

Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

Olive Oil (Olea europaea)

Olive oil moisturizes dry wood and gives it a shine.

White Distilled Vinegar

See above description under General All-purpose Cleaner

You will need a two-ounce flip top bottle.

 

Essential Oil:

15 drops Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis)

½ ounce of White Distilled Vinegar

Olive Oil (Olea europaea)*

*Fill the remaining bottle with olive oil. Once you have all of the ingredients in the bottle, shake it prior to every use. Put about a tablespoon on a soft cloth and wipe down the wood. Apply more as needed.

clean-with-herbs

Creative Organic Green Household Helpers

Ever wonder if those commercial cleaning products and indoor pesticides you use might do more harm than good? You’re not alone. Natural home-care products {many of which contain herbs} are growing in popularity as more homemakers become aware of indoor toxins. The use of certain cleaning products has been linked to higher rates of asthma, inducing the condition in some people, as well as aggravating the condition in those who already have this chronic inflammatory disease. And although you can buy many excellent nontoxic products for your home, it’s easy and fun to make your own. Just remember that even plant products can be toxic under some circumstances, and the same cautions given for other herbal uses also apply here.

SIMPLY CLEAN SOLUTIONS

With just a few basic ingredients, you can make safer “green” cleaning products for a fraction of the cost of the commercial products and without the scary ingredients. Distilled white vinegar {which contains acetic acid} has anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties and can eliminate mineral deposits from sink and bathroom fixtures, as well as cookware. Acidic lemon juice kills germs on countertops, cutting boards, and more. Baking soda deodorizes and dissolves grease and dirt. Mixed with other ingredients, it makes a gentle but effective scrub. All-natural castile soap made for centuries with olive oil, not only washes dirt and grease from your body, but also from household surfaces and laundry.

Many herbs have potent disinfectant properties, too. Basil, bay, cardamom, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, ginger, hyssop, lavender, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, rose geranium, rosemary, sage, spearmint, and thyme are cleaning powerhouses. All contain a multitude of plant chemicals that possess antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral actions. By adding a few drops of these essential oils to your homemade cleaning products, you can boost their cleaning power and impart a delightful fragrance that makes cleaning more pleasurable.

Because essential oils break down plastic over time, it’s best to store your homemade cleaning products in labeled, dark glass containers. Plastic spray bottles are fine for short-term storage of smaller quantities. Also, remember to store all cleaning products, even those made with natural ingredients, in a cool, dark location where children and pets cannot reach them.

KITCHEN COUNTER-TOP SPRAY

Use this fragrant solution to disinfect countertops, refrigerator shelves, and painted surfaces, including walls and wood trim. Feel free to experiment with other antibacterial essential oils, such as basil, thyme, or lemon.

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup water

10-12 drops rose geranium essential oil

In a small, dark glass jar, combine the vinegar, water, and oil. Stir. Pour small amounts into a spray bottle as necessary.

GENTLE SPEARMINT SCRUBBER

This non-scratching, chlorine-free paste is perfect for cleaning cookware, countertops, and porcelain sinks and tubs. Lemon and lemon verbena essential oils also work well in place of the spearmint.

1 cup baking soda

1 tablespoon liquid castile soap

10-12 drops spearmint essential oil

Warm water {90 to 110 degrees F}

In a small, dark glass jar, combine the baking soda, soap, and enough water to form a thick but pourable paste. Stir in the essential oil. Apply to surfaces, wait for 5 minutes or more, then scrub with a sponge. Rinse off the residue with water.

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