Say “goodbye” to harmful chemicals and find all you need for DIY Natural Home Cleaning products for your home!
Last spring, as I anxiously awaited the birth of my first daughter, I came across a news article that blew me away. In a nutshell, women lather, layer and spray on an average of 168 chemicals each day. I decided in that moment, I might not be able to fully protect my family from the immeasurable Hong Kong air pollution levels reported daily on my iPhone app, but I would do my very best to eliminate excessive chemicals, potent cleaners and unnecessary products in our home.
I read book after book vowing to educate myself and invest in the health of my family. In spite of all I have read since then I am still convinced that reading product labels without going cross-eyed is near impossible. Lucky for you there are a few simple steps to nixing the “nasties” that do not require an organic chemistry primer. Lets start right under your kitchen sink! A few simple tweaks can make all the difference.
1. Less is more
Dispose of the expensive bottles of commercial cleaners including bleach, toilet scrub, glass cleaner, deodoriser and aerosol air fresheners; opting to stock up on a few inexpensive cabinet must-haves (well except for the essential oils…they are a bit of an investment). This list includes: vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, distilled water and a selection of high-quality essential oils. These key ingredients are so versatile. Vinegar dissolves soap scum and kills mould. Baking soda absorbs odour, softens water and neutralises minerals. Castile soap dissolves oil that binds dirt to the surface. Safe surface cleaning is especially important to me because my almost 6 month old seems to put everything in her mouth these days.
Here are a few of my favourites homemade cleaning solutions:
All Purpose Cleaner I – Mix the ingredients below in a glass spray bottle, then spritz this mixture on countertops, chairs and even baby toys.
¼ cup castile soap, unscented (my favourite is Dr. Bronners)
1 cup distilled water
8-10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
6-8 drops tea tree essential oil
8-10 drops geranium essential oil
All Purpose Cleaner II (also works well on glass surfaces) – Mix the ingredients below in a glass spray bottle, then spritz this mixture on countertops, chairs and even baby toys – this one even works on glass.
1 cup vinegar
3 cups semi-cooled down boiled water
1 tiny squirt castile soap, unscented (optional)
2 drops lavender essential oil
To make this a disinfecting spray, add in 15 drops of lemon essential oil per every 4-6 ounces of water.
Soft Scrub – A great alternative to Cif, providing a squeaky clean solution to scrubbing sinks, toilet bowls and tiled surfaces.
¼ cup vinegar
½ cup baking soda
2 drops lavender essential oil
To make, simply mix the baking soda and vinegar. Wait a few moments for the fizzing to subside, then drop in lavender and scrub away.
A Quick Guide to the Essential Oils Noted Above:
- Eucalyptus – antibacterial, antiviral and natural antiseptic
- Tea Tree – antibacterial, antiviral, and strong antiseptic
- Geranium – antibacterial and works as an air purifier
- Lemon – natural antiseptic with cleansing and purifying properties, great at cutting through grease and grime; also nice for added shine
- Lavender – antibacterial and antiseptic properties; derived from the Latin name Lavare, which means “to wash”
Insider Tip: Lemon essential oil is also a great remedy for tarnished silver, and paired with a few drops of olive oil it works wonders to polish wooden furnishings.
2. Use a dehumidifier
I know they can be quite an investment item, but they are well worth every dollar. Believe me, I lived here 8 months before breaking down and buying this little gem…bad idea! Hong Kong humidity levels stand unmatched (and that is coming from a gal ousted from her southern roots in the USA). Plus, a dehumidifier is key in discouraging mould growth, which proliferates in a very damp and warm environment. Toxic mould is known to be a hidden allergy, which can cause toxic respiratory harm for infants, young children and adults alike before it is even detected.
3. Ditch the use of paper towels for sustainable cloths
Do the environment a favour and stop contributing to the growing stockpiles of trash; instead load up on inexpensive dishtowels from Ikea or Target. Plus a few microfibre cloths for streak free surface cleaning and dusting.
4. No need to use fragranced filled clothing detergents
There are safer ways to fresh laundry! I love Shoosha, Unscented and Organic Sensitive Skin Laundry Soap from iHerb. This product stands behind its motto: Pure. Organic. True. It is free from chemical perfumes, dyes and synthetic materials. After washing and drying, spritz your clothes, sheets and towels with a combo of 1 cup water + 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil. This is key to banishing stale odours, and it leaves your textiles with a luxuriously, fresh scent!
5. Skip chemical laden plug-in air fresheners, candles or sprays
As an alternative, use a diffuser filled with effective essential oil combos. My favourite essential oils are from Young Living, sold right here in Hong Kong. Essential oils are safe and effective additions to your household cleaning routine, filled with many beneficial properties. It is worth the investment to source 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Here are a few of my favourite recipes for the diffuser:
Immune Support: Diffuse 6-8 drops of Thieves essential oil (a blend from Young Living) for 10-15 minutes 3 times a day
Purify: Diffuse 5 drops each of Purification 9 essential oil (a blend from Young Living) and Lemon essential oil for 30 minutes 3 times a day
Refresh: Diffuse 5 drops each of Joy essential oil (a blend from Young Living) and Lemon essential oil for one hour 3 times a day
Relaxation & Serenity: Diffuse 6-8 drops of Lavender essential oil for one hour 3 times a day.
Insider Tip: Muji sells a great home diffuser, and it is just the right size with all the necessary bells and whistles. Added bonus…it does not break the bank.
6. Avoid drain-cleaning products.
These products are likely the most toxic of all and especially harmful to our water supply and our apartment building’s infrastructure. Instead of these potent concoctions, pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of vinegar. As soon as the bubbly reaction subsides, pour in a boiled kettle of water. This clever combo is a natural way to banish drain backup.
7. Don’t be selfish.
Involving the kids in your journey to a healthier home is a great way to teach them about personal health and hygiene, basic chemistry and how their choices affect the world around them.