By Megan Westover
Spring is here, and with it is spring cleaning! If this is drab for you, or you don’t like all the chemicals in commercial cleaners, then it is time to celebrate! I’m going to share with you a few ways to detoxify this spring with easy to make homemade cleaners, that don’t have all the harmful ingredients. Let’s face it, we absorb lots of things through our skin and lungs, so this year when you clean your house, you don’t have to worry about cleaning out your body when you’ve done with your house!
Essential oils have many constituents. This short and sweet list includes monoterpenes, phenols, oxides, aldehydes, and esters. Some of these are weakly acidic, and therefore, disinfecting. Ironically enough, essential oils are also high with some of these constituents and are not only good at cleaning out your cells but good on counters, laundry and toilet bowl as well. The fragrance is an added benefit of using them in your DIY cleaners. When using essential oils always use a glass container as the oils will eat away at plastic over time.
Note that every essential oil is antiseptic to some degree. Some contain higher antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties than others. Trying to decide which one to use can be overwhelming so here are some tips. Tea Tree is a green cleaning powerhouse. This oil is very antifungal and antimicrobial making it useful for shower corners, sinks, and anywhere mold or mildew likes to grow. It can be a disinfectant in your kitchen and around the house. During the cold season, wipe down your doorknobs and light switches with a solution of water and tea tree oil. The uses are endless. Peppermint goes well with this to leave a refreshing minty aroma.
The citrus oils such as orange, lime, and lemon are great for cutting grease and cleaning a variety of surfaces. 2 cups water, 1/2 cup vinegar and ten drops of your favorite citrus essential oil can be mixed to clean cupboards, tables, chairs, floorboards, mirrors, or floors. If you add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to this mixture and it is especially useful to revive and nourish wood.
Then we have the bathroom. A great bathroom scouring recipe is ½ cup baking soda, 2 tbsp. salt, ¼ cup washing soda and 10-20 drops essential oil. This recipe is good on any grime in your tub or sinks. Washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle next to the laundry boosters, or google “How to make washing soda”.
For the toilet try ½ cup baking soda, 1 cup water, ½ cup castile soap, 10 drops tea tree, and 10 drops cinnamon. Put this in the toilet and let set for 10 min before scrubbing. After that spray with hydrogen peroxide and let that do its thing and scrub again or just flush. These recipes will clean your house without the expensive and toxic cleaners you will find at the store. They are a fraction of the cost and clean quite well.
Some tips: vinegar and baking soda are both good cleaners, but when mixed, although they fizz, this chemical reaction directly neutralizes the cleaning power and gives them a neutral pH. Use them separately for best results.
Rubbing alcohol mixed with vinegar is a good combination as well, however mixing essential oils with this is not as effective because the alcohol “cleans” the essential oil as well as other surfaces.
Sweet orange oil by itself is excellent for tough grease messes and most sticky residues. I was recently cleaning the remains of sticky tape on a window, left from taping and painting my house. It had been hardened by the sun and cold and was not coming off without a razor blade. I put some orange oil on it, and within a minute it had softened enough to come off with a little bit of rubbing with a green scrubby. I also love cleaning my stove top with it, and it takes the bacon grease off like a pro. It even takes off the old dust and grease that builds up on high surfaces and doesn’t come off without a fight.
Try these recipes and don’t hesitate to try your own with a variety of essential oils. They clean and disinfect and leave your house clean and fresh. Lastly, here are some good combinations of oils to try. Happy cleaning!!
- Bathrooms – Tea Tree and Peppermint or Lavender
- Laundry – Sunburst, Lemon, or Orange
- Kitchen – Orange and Tea Tree
Other oils useful for cleaning: