The Only 3 Household Cleaners You Need!

Cleaners

When my daughter started crawling, and putting everything she could find in her mouth, I really started questioning our household cleaning products. Although I had an idea that they were somewhat toxic, I never realized the full extent of their destruction until I started to do more research.  Turns out, the common household, multi-purpose cleaner is far more toxic than I’d imagined, and inside the home, it’s our little ones, pets, and elderly who suffer from these products the most.

So before I talk about the alternatives, I want to first convince you why you should stop using the poison you currently use to clean with.

1. Health: Household cleaners enter our bodies through absorption in our skin, or inhalation when we breathe. These products contain carcinogens that cause and/or promote cancer growth, neurotoxins that disrupt your nervous system, and “hormone disruptors” that interfere with the body’s natural, chemical messages.

Here are a few (of the many) common ingredients found in household cleaners, and the effects that they have on your health.*

  • Ammonia: Found in glass cleaner, oven cleaner, drain cleaner, car-polish, and multi-purpose cleaners, is known to irritate the eyes, nose and throat, cause kidney and liver damage, and when mixed with chloramine bleach, the highly poisonous chloramine gas is formed.
  • Fragrances: Oh, fragrances…you are the worst! Phthalates are a common fragrance ingredient in floor polishes, glass cleaner, fabric softeners and deodorizers–they are endocrine disruptors, and have even been found to affect the sperm count in men! Air-fresheners contain cancer-causing benzene and formaldehyde (so ironic).
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs): Degrade into nonylphenols (NPs), which can mimic the hormone estrogen. In laboratory experiments, NP has been shown to stimulate the growth of human breast cancer cells. NPEs can be found in stain removers, all-purpose cleaners, air fresheners, toilet bowl cleaners, degreasers, and car wash products.

2. Environment: Cleaners make their way down the drains, and end up in oceans, streams, and ground water. Many of the chemicals they contain are proven to cause adverse reproductive effects in fish and other aquatic organisms, contribute to algae blooms, and cause toxicity leading to death in marine species.

Not only is what’s inside the bottle harmful to the environment, but the plastic bottle itself is contributing to the seemingly endless amounts of solid waste entering the landfills each day.

3. Savings: Making your own cleaners costs a fraction of the price compared to commercial cleaners.

4. Detox and De-clutter: If you look under your kitchen sink, or laundry room cupboard… or wherever you happen to keep your cleaning supplies… how many different cleaners do you have? It seems like there is a different cleaning product for every surface in your house. We all have (had) those rusty cans we bought a decade (maybe two decades) ago, with the skeleton on the side, that never gets used. I’m telling you now, you don’t need it—dispose (safely)  of it all, and replace it with homemade alternatives. Disposing of your household hazardous waste (HHW) is cleansing for the mind, body and cupboard-space.
Common Cleaners

 
cleaners replaced

*For a list of the many, common ingredients found in household cleaners, and the specific effects they have our bodies and the environment, read this  article put out for the David Suzuki Foundation, and this  provided by the Organic Consumers Association.

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Over the last year I’ve experimented with several different homemade cleaners. I have found three that I love and they do the job better then the 16 toxic ones they replaced.

Below is a list of the ingredients I use to make them…you’ll notice that you can pronounce them all.

About the Ingredients:

  • White Vinegar: Vinegar (acetic acid) deodorizes, cuts grease, and due to its level of acidity, it kills bacteria, mold and germs. It is non-toxic and completely environmentally friendly.
  • Citrus:  Citrus, lemons in particular, are high in citric acid, which makes them a great grease cutter and disinfectant. It can also be used as a stain remover because of its mild bleaching properties. The lemon peels I use help give the cleaner a fresh, lemony scent.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap: This soap is eco-friendly, fair trade, Non-GMO, and is a great alternative to harmful detergents! It is very concentrated, so it’s best to dilute it for cleaning purposes. There are so many uses for castile soap, from shampoo to dish soap, and I use it in many recipes, so stock up if you’re along for the ride!
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol): Although environmentally friendly, this is one ingredient that I still want to keep out of my daugher’s reach, and prolonged exposure is also warned to me harmful—so I’m suggesting you should not “huff” it like glue for an extended period of time. That being said, and since you’re not a bunch of morons, Isopropyl alcohol is a fabulous cleaning ingredient. It’s ability to evaporate quickly makes it a great glass cleaner, and since it is 70-99% ethanol, it’s obviously a great disinfectant too.
  • Essential Oils: Tea tree oil, and Lavender oil are my favorites essential oils for cleaning due to there disinfectant qualities. Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties that can kill staphylococcus, e-coli, shigella, and salmonella, making it a super hero in the kitchen. There is a long list for what Lavender oil can do–it’s so versitile. Check out the health benefits of lavender oil here. Lavender oil as a cleaning agent is a powerful disinfectant with a beautiful scent.
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The Only 3 Household Cleaners You Need

Cleaner #1: Multi-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • Citrus Peels (majority lemon)
  • 1-2 Cups White Vinegar
  • 15-20 Drops Essential Oils.

Start by collecting your citrus peels. I add them to a bag in the freezer until I have enough to fill a jar (any size you’d like.) Once you have enough, cut the peels into quarters, and place them skin side out (so that it looks pretty while it’s sitting on your counter for the next week.) Cover the peels with white vinegar, seal with a lid, and leave to soak. After a week, strain the mixture into a spray bottle, and add your choice of essential oils—I use orange and tea-tree in this recipe. It’s now ready to use as a kick-ass, eco-friendly, non-toxic, multi-purpose cleaner.

Tip: When used with baking soda, this is the best bathroom cleaner going, and can seriously conquer soap scum. Simply spray your sink/toilet/tub with the cleaner, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub!

photo
The photo on the left is even after he tried cleaning the break dust off with “tire cleaner.” The tire on the right has just been cleaned with lemon peel-infused vinegar and baking soda!

Cleaner #2: Glass and Floor Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Isopropyl Alcohol
  • 1 Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 15-20 drops of essential oils (I like Lavender in this recipe)

Mix equal parts Alcohol, Vinegar and Wate, along with 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oils. Use in a spray bottle for use as a glass cleaner, and your spray mop to use as a floor cleaner.

Cleaner #3: Multi-Purpose Castile Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • Water
  • Essential oils.

Fill a spray bottle full of ¾ water (do this FIRST to prevent the castile soap from bubbling over), and fill the remainder with your favorite Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. Add 15-20 drops of essential oils, and gently swirl to mix. This is cleaner is great in bathrooms, and for cleaning kid’s toys, and sticky messes.

I hope you like these eco-friednly alternatives! Feel free to leave a reply or email me directly with any questions–I’d love to answer them!

Ready to Detox Your Home?

Step 1: Go around you home and gather all the cleaners that you’d assume would kill you or put you in the hospital if you were to drink them.

Step 2: DO NOT DUMP THEM DOWN THE DRAIN! Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) needs to be disposed of properly. Contact your local Regional District, Landfill or Recylcing Depot to find out where they take HHW. It may also be helpful to read this article.

Step 3: Make the cleaners I’ve listed, or experiment with your own!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only promote products that uphold to Modern Hippie Health and Wellness’s values.

40 comments on “The Only 3 Household Cleaners You Need!

  1. Many thanks Carly, can’t wait to get started. I am now in the process of saving my citrus peelings. I am sensitive to anything with a petrol chemical base, which is pretty much everything in the cleaning isle at the store. It’s so nice to have an alternative.
    Sincere best wishes for your continued success. Kathleen

    1. Kathleen, I appreciate your kind words–such great motivation. I have actually read that most cleaning products do, in fact, have a petrol base. Not surprised you’re sensitive to it. I hope this cleaner works out for you. Let me know it you have an questions along the way.
      Carly

    1. It can keep for months and months. The vinegar is like a natural preserver, think “pickling”.

      And I’ve read that you shouldnt use it on brass.

  2. I use this for everything now. So much better than any chemical based product and safe around my lovely granddaughter! I’m glad you shared this. It will have a positive effect on our planet if more people use it!!

  3. I’ve just bought my spray bottles & am ready to strain my citrus that I’ve had soaking. I’m really excited to be trying out a homemade safe cleaner! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge & information.

    1. Hi Maria! That’s fantastic, so happy you’re jumping onboard! And thank you very much for your kind words, they just put a big smile on my face. Have a great day.
      Carly

    1. I’ve slowly stocked up on my essential oils as a need them, and now I have a pretty good stash. However, Amazon has some nice box sets, and I think I actually have a link to one on my “Amazon Store’Page 🙂

  4. Hello I was just wondering is it only the peels that can go in? Or say I squeezed the juice out of the lemon can the whole thing go in with the pulp and everything? Oh and love the site by the way!!

    1. Hi Danielle, glad you’re loving the site! The whole lemon could go in, I suppose….But I’d use the juice for something more useful, like Probiotic Lemonade (recipe under Real Food Recipes), because the vinegar alone has sufficient acidity. I don’t know, just seems like a waste to me, but I’m sure it would work! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  5. I just found your blog while looking for Xylitol toothpaste recipes….can’t believe I haven’t found it sooner–I love it! I love the printable recipe card also–nice to have one that isn’t in my chicken scratch! Added to FB so I can catch all of the latest! Thanks for blogging for natural products!! 🙂

  6. I just found your blog, and I LOVE it!!! I have been making my own cleaners, detergents, etc. for years now!! I am so excited to try fermenting and the toothpaste and mouthwash!!! Thank you!!!!

  7. Hi Carly!
    Love your blog! I haven’t read all your comments, so I hope this hasn’t been asked before. What would you recommend as a toilet cleaner? I have a septic system also.

    Thanks!!

    1. Hi Sara! For my toilet cleaner, I use the lemon-infused vinegar and baking soda. Step One: Spray the toilet inside and out with the cleaner. Step Two: Sprinkle baking soda all over the inside of the bowl, then let it sit for a minute before scrubbing. Ideal for septic 🙂

    1. It works lovely on my wood floors! But depending on the finish, I can’t speak for every floor! I would test out a small area first.

  8. Hi Carly. I have been binge cleaning with my first batch of citrus and vinegar spray. Adding baking soda along the way takes it to a wholenuthalevel. Its a bit of an obsession: My shower door and oven window has never been clearer, without much effort. Cupboard tops, floors, I’m allover it. Nice clean smell too, not super vinegary. As mentioned yesterday, my pores appear to be getting smaller too, not because of the All-Purpose-Cleaner though. Your 3 step facial kit is awesome! Grapefruit scrub, lavender cleanser and moisturizer make my skin happy. Thanks MHH and be well!

    1. Hi Jenny, thank you so much for your feedback! I know how exciting it can be to clean your house with ingredients in your pantry, and actually have it work – really well! Happy Spring Cleaning!

    1. Yes, they do, but the vinegar smell doesn’t linger. The essential oils help with that a bit, but they don’t completely mask the smell. Personally, the smell of vinegar while cleaning doesn’t bother me and it’s a much healthier alternative to chemical cleaners.

  9. Hi. I have just recently started making my own cleaning product which I love. But I live in the UK and cannot get castile soap in a liquid form. Is there something that can replace this, as there are so many ‘recipes’ that call for it? Thanks and I loved the 1st 2 recipes.

  10. I love these cleaners. Thanks so much for a wonderful blog. I found the glass cleaner lacking a bit in the shine department so I added a very strong cup of black tea to the mixture, and it did the trick!

  11. You should really use Ethanol as opposed to Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol). Isopropanol is an oily alcohol and leaves a residue that isn’t so healthy and keeps the surface from being truly clean. In labs (I’m a molecular and cellular biologist) we use a 70% ethanol solution to clean surfaces.

    1. That’s very interesting! Thank you for this information, Yvonne. I’ll definitely try good ol’ vodka next time for comparison 🙂

  12. Hello Carly
    I have been a bit of a health nut for more years than I wish to say, but somehow never knew about Dr Bonners until recently. I stumbled onto your website through links, and I must say I just became a very happy camper. I think it is a godsend since my sensitivities to many products has just jumped off the scoreboard(even Dove bar soap). This all began after a TOTAL detox regimen. I guess we don’t know until we’re cleaned out how toxic most commercial products really are. I came across a similar laundry soap recipe somewhere else, but your site has made me smile. I look forward to “working with you” for many many years. Thank you again. All I have to do now is stop sounding like a total zealot to family and friends.
    Sincerely
    Richard

    1. Haha, thank you for your comment, Richard! Reading it made me smile. I look forward to having you “onboard.” Please, never hesitate to reach out, ask a question, or share knowledge of your own 🙂

  13. Carley,

    I’m so glad I found your site! I am going to try each of your recipes! REALLY! At least as many as my wife will let me try. Lol. We are making the lemon vinegar solution and I am making some ginger beer right now. We love your site! Please keep it up ????????

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