According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors where pollutant levels may be 2 – 5 times higher than outside. Some contributing factors include off-gassing paints, carpeting and vinyl flooring, hidden mold and pet allergens. Some of the worse culprits are found right under our sinks and in our closets. Petroleum and chemical based household cleaners and detergents pollute our homes and our environment.
Good news! Forgo those harsh chemicals altogether. With a minimum of effort, and some creativity, you can easily make your own cleaning products from inexpensive and common household ingredients. These will make your home clean and green!
Use borax, a natural mineral cleanser and deodorizer, to clean grease away. Sprinkle onto the greasy surface and rub with a damp sponge or cloth. If that doesn’t cut through the grease, try a degreaser made with citrus oil, a renewable resource extracted from citrus rinds.
All Purpose Cleaner
Two methods. Add either to one gallon of water.
- Combine 3 teaspoons liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s is a good choice) and 1⁄4 cup vinegar
- Combine 1⁄4 cup lemon juice with 1⁄4 cup borax
Use in a spray bottle or bucket and adjust proportions depending on the job. Borax and soap act as disinfectants. You might want to add a capful or two of concentrated citrus cleaner to water. To disinfect you can add a few drops of tea tree oil or a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to any mixture.
Get your windows and mirrors squeaky clean. Two methods.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of vinegar along with 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon vegetable-oil-based liquid soap or dishwashing liquid into 2 cups of water
- Mix 1⁄8 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water
Pour either mixture into a refillable spray pump bottle then mist the glass and use a good quality squeegee or reusable cotton cloth to wipe it clean. The vinegar smell will dissipate shortly, however, you could try substituting the water with rose, orange blossom or lavender flower waters. True flower waters, or hydrosols, are food grade beverages bottled after the steam distillation process used to extract essential oils from flowers. These can typically be found at Indian grocery stores and some Asian markets.
For a scouring cleanser, mix baking soda and a little water into a paste. Use hydrogen peroxide to bleach any food stains clean. Sprinkle baking soda in and around toilet bowl. Let sit for a few minutes and scrub clean.
Mildew & Lime Deposit Remover
Mix 1/2 cup borax and enough warm water to thoroughly dissolve it. Add 1⁄2 cup white vinegar, mix well and apply. Make a fresh batch for each use.
Use 1⁄4 cup baking soda and 1⁄2 cup vinegar. Pour baking soda, followed by the vinegar, down the drain. Close the drain until the bubbling and foaming stops. Pour boiling water down the drain; then use a plunger or a snake to further dislodge the clog.
Look for dishwashing soaps and dishwasher detergents that contain surfactants derived from renewable vegetable sources like corn and coconut oils. Make sure they are labeled phosphate- and chlorine-free.
Ant & Roach Controls
An ounce of prevention is key. Keep counters and storage areas clean and dry. Store food in tightly covered containers. Try this if the little bugs persist. Mix equal parts of powdered sugar and baking soda and sprinkle where cockroaches might live. For ants, apply a few drops of peppermint oil inside the house where the ants are seen entering, wash countertops with equal parts vinegar and water, or find where ants are entering and squeeze lemon juice in the hole or crack. Put the lemon peeling around the entrance.
Rethink your use of disposable paper and consider reusable products, such as washable cloths or cellulose sponges (avoid natural sponges because harvesting them damages marine ecosystems). If you do need paper towels, buy ones that are made with a high content of post-consumer recycled material and are processed chlorine-free.
Crunched for time? Outpost has just what you need!
- Non-chlorine bleach made with food grade hydrogen peroxide
- Natural drain openers that use enzymes and bacteria to eat away at clogs or to use regularly to safely keep your pipes clean
- Tub & tile cleaners made with concentrated vinegar
- Toilet bowl cleaners without chlorine
- Automatic dishwasher detergents without phosphates and chlorine
- A variety of citrus cleaners made from citrus rinds
- Laundry soaps made from biodegradable ingredients that break down quickly and are very concentrated (most laundry soaps require as little as 1 ounce per load)
- Paper products made from 100% post-consumer recycled material and are chlorine-free