So you’re looking for a non-toxic, all natural cleaner that biodegrades, is non-polluting, and cheap to make from safe substances in your own home. Sounds impossible? Believe it or not, it’s simple! We’re starting an ongoing series on making natural cleaners at home. This week we’re showing you how to make an everyday spray cleaner that’s naturally antibacterial and antifungal.
What’s the most toxic place in your home? For most of us it’s probably the cleaning cabinet. We have a myriad of cleaners that have long warnings about its toxicity, that we use almost daily. An easy way to go green would be to ditch these chemical laden cleaners and opt to make your own. Here’s a simple spray cleaner for everyday use!
Most ingredients for a general cleanser start off with half a cup of distilled water. While it sounds a little ultra-purist, the rational is that tap water contains things like lime and dissolved metals that can interact with other ingredients and reduce their effectiveness. For example, soaps form insoluble salts (soap scum clumps) in acidic or hard water.
By far the most common and most effective ingredient for your home cleanser is 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar. Vinegar has a long history of cleanser use and in 1998, a National Institutes of Health Study found that vinegar was effective against some strains of E.coli, adding “The combined use of vinegar and sodium chloride [salt], with use of an appropriate treatment temperature, was found to be markedly effective for the prevention of bacterial food poisoning.”
A third ingredient found in most general cleansers is castile soap. Castile soap is made with only with all natural vegetable-based fats (including olive oil). These fatty oils help break up and dissolve grease and oil stains. The tricky part is balance the mix of vinegar and soap. Too much vinegar will make the mixture too acidic and convert the soap into those insoluble salt clumps. Therefore, avoid mixing vinegar and castile soaps directly together. Mix them in water and in small amounts. If clumps do form, you’ll need to temporarily empty the cleaner from your spray bottle and wash it out with hot water. The clumps can clog the spray bottle’s nozzle. A favorite castile soap for many is the inexpensive Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castile Classic Soap which you can typically find at any health food store and now in most grocery stores.
Essential oils are the fourth common ingredient. Concentrated and strong smelling, use only a few drops (up to half a teaspoon) at a time. All essential oils (a distilled oil containing the essence of the plant) have good disinfectants with antibacterial, anti fungal and even antiviral qualities. The most common essential oils used in cleaning solutions are eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, orange, and tea tree oil. Tea tree has been shown to be highly effective with clinical results against Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA. Be careful with tea tree oil if you plan to use this cleaner around your pets as it may be toxic for your dog or cat.
Essential oils also impart a lovely perfume to the cleaning solution so as you clean, you’ll notice aromas of eucalyptus, lavender, lemon if you add these to your mixture. Eucalyptus oil, for example, can also help repel insects. A cleaning solution with this in it can be used for natural pest control on house plants.
Are you looking for an enzymatic cleaner to help with some of those organic stains around your home? Try this recipe for a natural enzyme cleanser:
(Recipe courtesy of Eco Karen)
- 2 Liter Wide Mouth Plastic Bottle
- 2 C or Enough citrus fruit peels to fit half the bottle. Oranges, Lemons, Lime,
- 1/2 C Brown Sugar
- 1 Tsp of active yeast
- 1 Liter of water
- Funnel – to add brown sugar
- Strainer or cheese cloth
- 1 C Apple Cider Vinegar AFTER the enzyme is done fermenting
- Pick a bottle that has a wide mouth and make sure to follow the proportions in this recipe. Do NOT double the recipe in this bottle. Chop up any citrus fruit scraps into chunks that will fit into the opening of the bottle. Add water, sugar, yeast, and shake for about 30 seconds. Then, close the cap LOOSELY so the trapped air can escape and not build up in the bottle.
- You’ll see the foam on the top in a day or two because of yeast fermentation. Shake the bottle daily for the first few days to mix the yeast and let out the air.
- After about 2 weeks, the enzyme will look opaque like the first picture. Strain the pulp and the peel.
- Add apple cider vinegar to the liquid and store the liquid in a glass jar. You can create an all-purpose cleaner spray bottle with 1:10 ratio to water and clean away to your heart’s content!
You can also check out our Pinterest boards for more natural cleaning products and tips!
(Photo by Diego3336)