We finally have green grass! It felt as though this winter may never come to an end, but we made it, and now it’s time to celebrate Spring! New life, new beginnings, new possibilities. Time to plant the garden, break out the summer clothes, and yes, do some spring cleaning! I never thought I’d say I enjoy cleaning, but when I discovered that cleaning doesn’t need to make your eyes burn and smell like bleach, I became very interested in making and finding natural alternatives to traditional cleaning products.
We read about the dangers of ingesting chemicals through our food, but there are other ways we are consuming toxic chemicals that pose a danger to our body and the environment. If you walk down the cleaning product isle in the grocery store the smell is overwhelming, and as far from natural as you get. These intense manufactured fragrances and chemical cleaning agents added to these products easily enter our body through our skin and lungs. When we eat food, it is filtered by our liver and kidneys, but when we breath them in or touch them they get directly absorbed into our blood stream. They also produce toxic waste water which pollutes our water systems and soil that ultimately produce our food.
The great news is that there are easy, inexpensive alternatives to the harsh chemicals in traditional cleaning products. The following are some of the most common ingredients for greening up your home:
*Natural soap: unscented or naturally scented liquid, flakes, powders, or bars (avoid soaps that contain petroleum).
*Lemon: a strong food acid, lemon is a very effective antiseptic (bacteria killing).
*White vinegar: cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, stains and wax. Be careful with vinegar and lemon juice on surfaces that can break down easily like grout. The citric acid can damage these surfaces over time.
*Borax: sodium borate or “borax” cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans walls and floors. It is a mild skin irritant so use with caution if you have sensitive skin, especially if used to clean laundry.
*Essential oils: add to any mixure to create a wonderful smelling product! Commonly used oils are sweet orange, lemon, grapefruit, rosemary, and lavender.
Here are three easy recipes to start your own collection of natural cleaning products!
1. All-purpose cleaner: mix 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/2 gallon water, and a few drops of orange, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil.
2. Window cleaner: mix 2 teaspoons white vinegar in 1 quart of warm water, put in a spray bottle and spray on windows.
3. Bathroom mold cleaner: mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray on mold, wait one hour, rinse.
If you don’t have the time or interest in making your own products there are some great natural cleaning products on the market today. I love CitriSolv concentrated all-purpose cleaner. It has an amazing orange scent and works well on all surfaces including wood. I also love Seventh Generation 4X Concentrated Laundry Detergent in Geranium and Vanilla. It is made with natural essential oils, is hypoallergenic, and comes in a cardboard package that is easy to recycle. Dr. Bronner’s makes great smelling bar soap that is gentle on your skin and comes in a variety of fragrances using only essential oils.
I strongly believe that our physical, emotional, and spiritual health has as much to do with how we treat the environment as it does how we treat our body. Using alternative cleaning methods is effective and much kinder to the environment and ourselves. You can find the ingredients and products listed above at most large grocery store chains or at your local health food store. Happy cleaning!
Shawn Clavelle earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Vermont. She is currently a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition working toward certification as a holistic health coach. Shawn’s vast clinical experience and knowledge of the healthcare system makes her proficient at helping others design their own treatment plan through structured goal setting and continuous evaluation of progress. Using a holistic approach with a focus on nutrition, she helps uncover the obstacles to good health and provides simple options for making better lifestyle choices.
Shawn has a Spring Health Boot Camp coming up next month! Each Tuesday in May from 5:30-6:30, she'll be sharing information and guidance on how to lose weight healthfully and cultivate a health centered lifestyle. Learn more about it here.