Last January, one of my ‘resolutions’ for the new year was to eradicated chemical cleaners from our home. I was first going to ‘use up’ what we already had, and then make the switch. That took almost ten months and then we moved. Now that we’re returning to our own place, I’ve been revisiting that old resolution and making conscious steps to make this change in our home.Â Please welcome Delena from The Modern Aboriginal Mother – she’s going to share with you (and me) why and how she made the change from chemical cleaners to natural alternatives.Â Please leave any questions, thoughts or comments below!
Have you ever looked at your supply of house cleaners and wondered if there was an easier way? For those of you with family members who have asthma or other sensitivities, have you ever worried about how all those chemicals were affecting them?
I’m an asthmatic, too, and Cleaning Day used to trigger the most horrific asthma attacks that even my inhalers wouldn’t completely help. It got so bad that I would dread cleaning anything, and it was torture! What’ll happen when I have a baby crawling around? I thought.
The idea that my son could get into the cleaning cabinet and make himself dangerously ill is what motivated me to experiment with other cleaning alternatives. Growing up, my mother used to stick a box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors, and would use it on her coffee mugs to get rid of the black stains at the bottom of the cup.
One day I tried it for myself, and after that there was no stopping me! The more I discovered about natural cleaning alternatives, the more I experimented. Cleaning Day became fun for the simple fact that I no longer had to cough and wheeze and clutch my inhalor for dear life.
If you’re anything like me, sometimes a new process can seem so daunting you don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you’re wondering if these alternatives will get the job done as well as the supplies you use right now. I can understand that. All I can say is that after about ten years of natural cleaning, we are happier, healthier, and I no longer have any worries about cleaning hazards around my baby. In fact, everything I use is safe to ingest; not that it would taste very good, I imagine, but I never worry about calling Poison Control if my daughter gets into my cleaning supplies.
Making the choice to go with natural cleaning is to be applauded; what we expend in a little more time and effort is rewarded tenfold in health, safety, and peace of mind.
The first thing to do would be to look in your cabinets and refrigerator. Do you have baking soda? Lemon juice? How about apple cider vinegar? Old newspapers lying around?
Congratulations! You have a great start to your new cleaning supplies!
So where to begin? What, exactly, do you need to start moving away from cleaning with harsh chemicals and using more natural cleaning supplies?
Your introduction to the foundational ingredients of chemical-free cleaning
Baking soda: This one is your staple, and the base of just about every cleaner you’ll ever use in the kitchen or bathroom. It’s a great natural scrubber without damaging surfaces. It deodorizes as well as brightens surfaces. Over time, it’ll whiten grout without bleaching the tiles beside it; it’ll give the tiles a nice shine, though.
Apple cider vinegar: This makes a fantastic all-purpose cleaner, and is great on glass. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, and you have a glass cleaner that can’t be beat. And for an environmentally-friendly alternative to paper towels, use newspaper to clean the glass: the ink won’t get on the glass (it will on your fingertips, maybe) and it’s recycleable!
Apple cider vinegar is also a gentle disinfectant and a great deodorizer. The vinegar smell disappears once it evaporates, leaving behind a fresh clean scent without the harsh chemical smell.
Lemon juice: This is another amazing brightener. It also dissolves hard soap scum and hard water deposits. A mixture of two parts water to one part cider vinegar and one part lemon juice cycled through the coffee machine will clean it really well. It shines brass fixtures and copper pots without scratching or damaging them, too.
Where natural cleaning gets really fun is when you work with essential oils to enhance the effectiveness of your basic cleaning supplies. In Part II of this post, I’ll go into the best E.O.’s for cleaning, and give a few of my favorite cleaning recipes.
Until then, have fun experimenting!