Going green has been a hot topic for many years now. And for good reason. Our grocery store aisles are loaded with thousands of products containing ingredients such as methylisothiazolinone (MIT), polydimethylsiloxane, sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), 1,4-dioxane and Triclosan, just to name a few. The problems with these and other unnatural ingredients include:
- Endocrine disruption
- Groundwater contamination
- Energy and resource demands
While some companies are beginning to use more environmentally-friendly ingredients, finding a truly natural product at the store can be tough. And confusing. “Green” has become a marketing tool which means the front of a bottle may say things like “cruelty-free” or “no phosphates” to earn your trust but flip the bottle over and you will likely find a different story. For example, the ingredients list on the back of an all-purpose cleaner made by a popular company claiming its ingredients are 98% naturally derived includes methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and benzisothiazolinone (BIT). These are not natural. Or safe.
In some studies, MIT has shown to be allergenic, cytotoxic and possibly even neurotoxic. BIT is an immune system toxicant and is also classified as an irritant for skin, eyes, and lungs. Chemical companies will argue that these ingredients, in small amounts, are safe. Whether you have personally experienced a problem with either of these ingredients, though, is only half of the point. Why use a toxic ingredient when plants and minerals will do the job just as well, if not better?
Okay, so how can you clean your house safely? Make your own cleaners! With a few basic ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemons, essential oils and Castile soap, you can clean pretty much anything. (Bonus: you’ll save money, too! Yes, the essential oils are $5-$7 a bottle but you only use a few drops at a time so they last a very long time. I bought mine a year ago and still have more than half of every single bottle.)
I’ve spent the last several months researching websites, reading books and trying out different recipes. Here are a handful of my favorites.
1 bar grated castile soap (approximately 2 cups) – any scent
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
Pour all ingredients into a container (I store mine in a recycled apple sauce jar) and shake well. I use one or two teaspoons of powder per load of laundry. Also, I’ve found that it helps to let the mixture begin to dissolve in the water for a minute before adding laundry.
Just for fun, I did a cost comparison between this formula and my old store bought brand. A jar of homemade laundry powder costs approximately $4.29 and lasts me 6-8 weeks. A bottle of store-bought costs $6.99 and lasts about 4 weeks.
2 tsp baking soda
2 capsules calcium/magnesium powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp bentonite clay
Pour ingredients into a small container and shake well.
Note: This is a powder formulation. There are other recipes on the internet which use essential oils and coconut oil (check out more recipes here at WellnessMama). I’ve tried those and I liked them but I feel that the powder is easier to manage. I dip a dry toothbrush into the powder and begin brushing. No need to add water. The baking soda will cause you to salivate. Also, due to the cinnamon and clay, your mouth will look brown while brushing (and your sink when you rinse). Don’t be afraid! It won’t stain your teeth. In fact, my teeth have become whiter from using this powder. One last thing…the bentonite clay and calcium/magnesium powder will help remineralize your teeth. There are many testimonials on natural blogs that these ingredients can even reverse cavities.
I did a cost analysis on this one, too. The tooth powder comes to $1.66 for the above recipe and lasts about 6 weeks. The last tube of toothpaste I purchased was $3.50.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
I found this recipe courtesy of Apartment Therapy. Juice the lemon and strain the seeds. Pour the lemon juice, olive oil and water into an old glass spice jar and shake until emulsified. Use a small amount on a soft cloth and wipe down wood surfaces.
Note: This recipe is perishable so you’ll need to make a fresh batch each time.
½ cup vinegar
Castile liquid soap
Essential oils of your choice
Okay, I don’t have a specific recipe for this one. I usually just put a stopper in my kitchen sink, fill it with warm water, pour in some vinegar, a dash of baking soda, a small squeeze of Castile soap and a few drops of eucalyptus and tea tree oils.
First I’ll dip a sponge in the solution and clean my counter tops and table and then I’ll mop the floors. The only word of caution I have is that baking soda and vinegar can have a reaction so go slowly. That’s also why I start out with a sink full of water.
Yoga Mat Cleaner/ All-Purpose Disinfectant/ Room Freshener
5 drops lavender oil
5 drops eucalyptus oil
5 drops tea tree oil
5 drops grapefruit seed extract (GSE)
8 oz water
Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake well before each use. I originally found a few ideas on Pinterest via Yogava.com for yoga mat cleaners and combined a few oils I like best for my own recipe. If you’ve ever tried hot yoga, you know how sweaty your mat gets. This solution disinfects and keeps my mat clean. Simply hang your mat over a towel bar and spray generously. Wipe down and let the mat dry completely before rolling up to store.
This spray works really well as a room freshener as well. In fact, my husband likes it so much he now requests I make an entire bottle just for him to use on sweaty helmets and knee pads.
Do you have a favorite homemade, natural recipe? Share it in the comments!