Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes for Earth Day

I first became interested in healthier ways of living when I was pregnant with my first child. It suddenly seemed essential to change my habits to counteract the negative effects modern day lifestyles have on our health. At the same time, I was suddenly obsessed with protecting the environment for my future children and grandchildren. So began a 20 year journey to leading a healthier, less toxic, less wasteful life. Some days I am good and some days not so much. Of course I buy plastic water bottles when I forget my reusable and I’m thirsty, and yes, during this pandemic, while I am making my own hand sanitizer (see recipe below), I also bought lysol wipes and have been using them to wipe down mail and groceries before bringing them inside. We do what we can, when we can and should find comfort knowing that even our smallest efforts add up to collectively make a difference. Conservative estimates suggest that we are exposed to more than 700,000 different toxic chemicals on a daily basis, the majority of cleaning chemicals currently used in the U.S. haven’t been adequately tested for their effects on human health. According to Global Healing Center, it isn't abnormal to be exposed to 2,100,000 toxins each and every day and we have no idea what that exposure is doing to us.
With those dire numbers in mind, and in continuing to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, here are some simple ways to be kinder to the earth and ourselves by leading less toxic lives while keeping our spaces clean and fresh with not much more than Baking soda, lemons, water, soap and vinegar. Enjoy!

Hand sanitizer:
Mix 2/3 C rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, 1/3 C 100% pure aloe vera gel and 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil in a bowl. (Be careful to keep alcohol away from your skin) Use a funnel to transfer mixture in to an empty bottle.

Lemon Dust-cloths:
These Dusters are fabulous for cleaning your furniture without spray polish. Prepare several at a time and store them until needed.
Make a solution of two parts water, two parts vinegar, and 2 drops lemon oil or olive oil. Soak dust cloths (old cut up t-shirts or towels) in this solution and squeeze out excess, leaving them just damp.
Pare the rind from enough lemons to lay a couple of pieces on each smoothed out damp cloth
Fold or roll each cloth and store in a clean jam jar (Any cleaned out jar that is air tight with a screw lid, such as spaghetti sauce etc)
After use, boil dust cloths and re-infuse with lemon and oil.

To make wool and cotton blankets or towels soft, fluffy and free of soap, add 2-cups of vinegar to rinse cycle.

Try Powder detergent instead of liquid, powder contains far fewer chemicals than liquid detergent equivalents.
To reduce the amount of detergent powder you use for each load and to make it more effective, substitute baking soda for half the normal dose.

Substitute BORAX for BLEACH. It is an extremely effective anti bacterial, fungicidal, cleaning and bleaching agent that is almost as effective as normal bleach but much healthier option for us and the environment (although keep your pets away, Borax has a higher toxicity for animals). Add a 1/2 C Borax to your wash load with detergent powder to boost its cleaning power and deodorize the wash.

General Kitchen and Bath cleaning:
Mix baking soda with water to make an alkaline solution that will cut through grease dirt on most surfaces. Baking soda used dry is a fantastic abrasive powder, and mixing with distilled white vinegar will increase its cleaning power.

Toilet bowl cleaning and staining:
To freshen up your toilet bowl and remove stubborn stains, spray neat vinegar around the bowl and brush clean. Leave to soak overnight for stubborn stains.

Lime Deposits on Faucets (taps):
Soak a Terry cloth rag in vinegar, then wrap around faucets and areas of build up. Leave for 1/2 hour and rinse clean.

Clean the inside of your refrigerator with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Alternatively, dissolve 1 T Borax in 4 cups warm water and use to wipe refrigerator clean and deodorize at the same time.

For refrigerator odor keep a saucer of baking soda inside the refrigerator to absorb all odors replacing it every 2 weeks. Instead of throwing old baking soda away, pour into your kitchen sink drain, followed by a kettle of boiling water to keep drains fresh and odor-free

Make a solution of one part vinegar and one part WARM water. Pour in to spray bottle and spray on to glass. Rub with dry soft cloth (old t-shirts work really well) then polish with crumpled newspaper for perfect shine.

Wooden Chopping Boards:
Wooden chopping boards are more ecologically sound and healthier for us (they harbor less bacteria) than plastic ones (wood has natural antibacterial properties that work to help bacteria caught inside disappear)

Clean your wooden chopping boards with vinegar and/ or lemon juice. This will not only clean but deodorize and disinfect as well.
Keep boards used for bread and vegetables separate from those used for meat. After chopping raw chicken, scrub boards with soap and boiling water.

To disinfect both wood and plastic boards, spray with white vinegar, leave for 1/2 hour and rinse.

Cleaning Silver:
My favorite recipe and perfect for quarantine when you are looking for things to clean, rather then next thanksgiving when you are crazy busy!
Sprinkle baking soda in boiling water with a with a pinch of cream of tartar powder, a pinch of salt and a piece of aluminum foil. Soak silver pieces and watch as they magically transform to a perfect shine and sparkle. Rinse off residue and Voila!

[] To remove cooking odors from the kitchen, simmer a solution of vinegar and water in a pan for 5 minutes.
[] Sprinkle baking soda over carpets to deodorize them. Leave for an hour then vacuum.
[] To remove odors from the Microwave oven, fill a microwave safe bowl with vinegar, and boil in the oven. Any dried food left over will loosen, which you can then wipe clean with a soft damp cloth.
[] To remove stale smells from lunch boxes or cookie tins etc, dip a slice of bread in vinegar and leave in the container overnight.
[] Sprinkle baking soda into the bottom of garbage cans to remove unpleasant odors. After taking out the garbage, add some water and swish around the bottom of the can. Pour out, leave to dry and then add more baking soda for next time.
[] To remove odors from shoes, sprinkle baking soda inside them and leave for a couple of hours.

OK - granted this does make you a little stinky... but it is so effective:
Mix one part garlic juice with five parts water and keep in a spray bottle. Shake well before use and spray on any exposed parts of the body. (To make garlic juice, start by peeling 1 head of garlic and then pureeing the peeled garlic cloves in a food processor. Next, pour the pureed garlic into a strainer and place the strainer over a bowl. Finally, pour the garlic juice through a coffee filter into a glass bowl before using it or storing in the fridge).

At a picnic, or buggy beach, spray above solution on the edges of your blanket or towel (better then smelling like garlic yourself!)

For outside eating our sunbathing areas, plant or surround where you will be with
marigold, rosemary and sage plants.

If you have trouble with ants or silver fish etc, wipe down kitchen surfaces with undiluted (neat) vinegar to discourage visits. This will also disinfect your surfaces.
Try these natural Moth deterrents combined in to a pretty fragrant pot pourri and place around the house in any locations you are concerned about. (Avoid mothballs, they are made with naphthalene which can be fatal to small children and pets, not to mention the nasty musty smell they leave behind on your clothes and spaces)
[] aromatic cedar chips [] bay leaves
[] dried lemon peel
[] lavender
[] rosemary [] rose petals

For polishing Chrome:
Make a paste from baking soda and water, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove deposits.

Stay tuned... coming up next... recipes for natural baths and beauty remedies...