I am hesitant to use the word “green.”
It reminds me of people who don't shave their armpits and have bumper stickers that say things like “Love your Mother (insert picture of the Earth).”
Sorry to offend, if you don't shave your armpits.
I, for one, do shave my armpits. But this is not relevant.
While I don't believe in a “Mother Earth,” I do believe in God's created world. And I love God's creation. LOVE IT. Right now, His creation looks like this:
Today we are venturing into “green” cleaning. I like to think of it more as natural cleaning. Homemade cleaning. Homestead cleaning. Frugal cleaning. The Lord has given us a season in our lives where we must watch our finances closely, so finding homemade, natural alternatives to cleaners is a great way for us to spend less money. Plus, we get the added benefit of knowing exactly what ingredients are being used to clean our home.
Some would argue that there are many harmful effects that chemicals from commercially produced cleaners have on our bodies and our environment. While I don't have vast enough knowledge to know the details of it all (research the cleaners you use to see what you can find!), we have chosen to try and eliminate some of these chemicals (and save money!) by making our own. We started with simple changes that didn't take a lot of time or effort – a new way of doing the same old thing. So, I have listed a few cleaning products from our home. Alternative and plant-based, biodegradable cleaners are gentle on our skin, our senses, and our environment.
1) I clean almost every surface with diluted vinegar. Vinegar is a classic cleaner used for many years – our grandparents used it! They knew what was up. Vinegar cuts grease, removes odors, and helps remove stains. I use a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water in a recycled spray bottle. I use this and a washrag to clean dirt off the walls, the toilet, the mirrors, the counters, the stove, the refrigerator, etc. The smell of the vinegar will only stick around for a few minutes (I am a sick person – I love the smell!)- but it dissipates quickly.
2) We've talked about this soap before. It is a wonder. I use this for a face soap, hand soap, body soap, and all purpose soap around the house (ie: washing walls or baseboards, cleaning toys, etc.) I just use a wee-little squirt in a warm bucket of water and go to work. It's magic. Put this into a hand pump, or a small squeeze bottle, instead of your current hand soap! Easy change.
3) I use this when I got grime to scrub. I use it (along with steel wool) to scrub my kitchen sink, my bathroom sink, my shower, etc. Baking soda, a mineral based cleaner, gives you that “grit” to really help clean. It also helps to neutralize odors. I sprinkle this on the carpet before vacuuming sometimes to help with carpet odors (ie: smelly dogs). Ecover also has a great product that I use on occasion. It's pretty inexpensive, is planted-based, and does a great job.
Ecover Dish Soap
4) I buy a gigantic-bottle of this for $5 at the health food store and use it for months. I love it. You need just a teeny-bit and it cuts grease like nobody's business. It's the only natural dish soap that I have tried because I liked it, so I've been loyal ever since. It's also plant-based.
5) A perfect alternative to chemical bleach. I use this to whiten my whites, just like regular bleach. My Mom is a bleach lover. She's all about it. I haven't converted her yet – but maybe someday. Rumor has it that bleach literally never degrades, so imagine what it is doing to our water sources once it's flushed down the drain! “Oxygen” bleaches can be just as effective and much more friendly to the environment. Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and a natural disinfectant. We also use peroxide to clean cutting boards when need-be to disinfect.
6) Not something you typically think about using, but there are some great essential oils used to help freshen your home. We use lots and lots and lots of essential oils, adding them to our cleaners, to encourage a clean home.
Essential Oil Room Freshener
7) This is what we use instead of perfumed candles or plug-ins. I add about 1 cup of water to a squirt bottle, then just add in about 20 drops or so of an essential oil. My favorite to use are lavender, lemon, and peppermint. Or a combination of either. Lavender, lemon, and peppermint are all natural! Then, I just go room to room after cleaning and spray into the air. It's delicious, uplifting, and chemical free. Not to mention frugal! I purchase all my oils HERE.
Air Filter – Plants!
8) I try to keep a plant in every room of our house. Plants are one of the easiest and most effective ways to freshen your air. Research house-plants to find out the different air-filtering qualities of each (some are more efficient than others). I use pothos because they are easy to keep alive, pretty, and great filters.
9) While this isn't exactly a “product,” it is my go-to weapon. It does a number on soap scum, kitchen-sink-nastiness, and bathroom-sink crusties. It's amazing what a little steel-wool and elbow grease can accomplish. Don't underestimate the power of elbow grease! I know, it's a little more work, but you can do it!
10) I don't have wood to polish, but I have heard of a lot of people using olive oil (careful, this can go rancid!), coconut oil (this works best) or even almond oil. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you've got a nice, fragranced, chemical-free polish.
Here is a link for some other great ideas:
I love homemade products because they are cheap. And they are easy to make at home. Cheap and easy – that's my style! I am sure that others out there have 1,000 other great, simple ideas for frugal and natural cleaning products. Post in the comments if you have one that you would like to share – I am always up to try new ones!