Why I Make My Own Natural Cleaning Products, And What I Use

I grew up in a household where every weekend was dedicated to cleaning. My two older sisters could not leave the house on a Saturday unless the house was spotless. If the bathroom didn’t smell like bleach or harsh chemicals it wasn’t considered “clean.”

I remember watching my mother scrubbing, away with her yellow gloves. The windows were wide open and on the floor next to her was the pile of brightly colored cleaning solutions that she used, and often mixed together.

I remember the smell being so bad it made my eyes water.

Once I had a home of my own, I too started my large collection of cleaning products. Every week I was trying something new. Certain products made my eyes water, and my skin sometimes turned itchy and dry. It also became expensive to replenish these products.

I had become a little more cautious of my cleaning decisions once I had started a family. In my mind, I figured if it made your eyes burn, irritated your skin and smelled horrible, it probably wasn’t healthy for me or the people around me. Once I started to research and educate myself on these topics, it had become life changing.

I started to make changes on the types of products I purchased, including food.

In the beginning of my transition, I started off purchasing items in my mind I thought were more “healthier” and “green,” because of the packaging on the bottles. I was finding that even these items had hidden toxins in them and were very expensive.

So, again I continued to research and I would ask myself “why is it so expensive to live healthy and toxic free in the United States?” A lot of the healthier products that I could find including cleaners, baby formulas, and detergents were brands from Europe. It had become time consuming and exhausting researching, reading reviews, and spending money trying to figure out what was best.

I eventually said,“Screw this, I’m going old school!”

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It was then that I decided to start making my own cleaning products using basic conventional items. After experimenting with a few different formulas I was able to find what worked great for me. I use these items on a daily basis and feel good knowing that there aren’t as many harsh toxic chemicals. I am also not spending a lot of money to do it either.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have made some good changes, but I have not fully converted… yet!

I do use some store bought cleaners. Especially when it comes to “poop” and toilets. I use one basic cleaner that does contain bleach and I use it once or twice a month for those deep cleans. In between that, I use my own cleaning solutions.

Not everyone has time to research and make their own cleaners, so for those of you who would prefer to go and just purchase cleaners, a good resource would be to go onto EWG.org.

They have a team of researchers that review cleaners and give them an overall rating based on what is in them. So, if you were currently using a product that had a low rating and switched to something of a better one, this would be a huge improvement! You will be surprised to see the ratings some of these so called “natural” cleaners actually get. The only downfall is that these better rated products can be a little more expensive and may only be sold in health food stores or online.

Small changes can make a huge difference, especially for your health and your family. I am so excited to be able to share some of the upcoming tips and ideas with you hoping that you will feel inspired!

Here are some of the natural products I use:

The items/ingredients in these cleaning solutions have a variety of uses. I will go into depth on some of them in future posts, but for now I will give you a brief description of each and why I use them.

It is also very important to understand the difference between a cleaner and a disinfectant. A disinfectant does not necessarily clean (i.e. lift dirt off/ cut grease). So, this is the second part of a two-step cleaning process (first part is the actual cleaning with a cleaner).

It is also important to test your surfaces to make sure it won’t be damaged by certain solutions.

Vinegar:

Why I use it? It’s inexpensive, non-toxic and has an endless amount of uses. It has antimicrobial properties that make it great for dealing with mold, mildew and germs. It’s great for cleaning glass and stainless steel. It eliminates odors and can also be used to wash produce.

A few things to note: It does have a funky smell which will dissipate, and because of its acidic properties you need to be careful as to what type of surface you use it on.

Vodka:

Not just for making cocktails! Go out and purchase the largest and cheapest brand of vodka you can find and go nuts! Due to its alcohol content it will clean, deodorize and sterilize many items making it a great disinfectant. It’s great on many surfaces such as glass, stainless steel, counter tops, upholstery and clothing. It removes stains and is great for cleaning diamond jewelry.

Rubbing alcohol:

This is a strong disinfectant. It easily removes finger prints making stainless steel and glass glimmer! You just have to be careful not to overdo it. I only use this once in a while for when I want my appliances to look especially clean or to disinfect points of contact where required i.e. cutting boards, bathrooms, door handles etc. Make sure when using it you are in a well ventilated area. The smell dissipates quickly but is strong.

Baking Soda:

I love to sprinkle this magic powder-like fairy dust. It has many uses. It’s a super-effective (but gentle) abrasive and is a great natural deodorizer. You can use it on laundry, carpets, upholstery and to clean pots and pans.

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Denture Tablets:

If they are safe enough to clean teeth, they must be great for cleaning! These are perfect for cleaning the toilet, removing stains, cleaning tea kettles and coffee carafes and you can even clean and deodorize your drain.

100% Pure Essential Oils:

Essential Oils are purifying and deodorizing. The three types that I use often are tea tree, lavender, and lemon. These have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that make them perfect for general cleaning. They are good at combating mildew, deodorizing, and freshening linens. (I like to add the lavender to my vinegar mixtures to makes it smell better).

Note: these should also be tested on surfaces before use. Tea tree oil may irritate skin in its undiluted form so be careful when handling.

Dr.Bronner’s Castile Soap & Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Cleaner:

I love using Dr. Bronner’s products! It makes me feel like a better human being just purchasing them. They are made with certified fair trade ingredients, not tested on animals and they have a whole bunch of facts and uses which you can read about on the really cool bottle. The best part is a little goes a long way, so this stuff will last you!

Castile Soap (which I use in the peppermint flavor) is a milder and purifying soap. I have used it on my skin, to clean wooden floors, and it works great on cleaning make-up brushes.

Sal Suds is more concentrated and has a higher pH which makes it better at cutting grease. This diluted with water makes a great multipurpose cleaner. Use it on floors, counters, and to wash dishes.

If you can’t access these products, liquid dish soap diluted in water will work just as well.

For the next few months I have the privilege of sharing all of my cleaning and organizational techniques with westchesterwoman.org. Looking forward to your feedback! Comment below with any questions or comments you may have.

Happy cleaning!

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angiewestchesterwoman@gmail.com'

Angelina Russo

Angelina Russo is a Westchester interior designer and a Mamaroneck mother of a 4-year-old, with another on the way. She’d love to see your own creations and answer your questions, send her an email at angelinarusso1111@gmail.com.

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