In the world of holistic nutrition, we care very much about what we put into our bodies, but what about the stuff we put into our environment? As a self-proclaimed neat freak, I pride myself on keeping a clean, tidy home. Admittedly, I’m a Recovering Bleach Queen: Once a week, I used to bleach my bathroom and kitchen until everything sparkled. In the last five years, I’ve altered my definition of clean as I’ve learned more about the dangers of common chemicals found in household cleaning products. I researched alternatives and ditched my faithful bleach. But alternative products labeled “all natural” weren’t as natural as they claimed to be, and they were often quite expensive.
More research eventually led me to the DIY realm, and I’m happy to share some quick tips I’ve discovered with you. With spring in full bloom, I think you’ll find these easy-to-make products to be gentle on the wallet, the skin, and the environment. Let’s start with homemade soap.
Every home needs an all-purpose soap.
See great step-by-step instructions here.
Start with castile soap as a base. I use castile soap as a floor cleaner, body wash, dish soap, and hand soap. Experiment with dilutions for each specific use. It will not work as a carpet or window cleaner.
Castile soap is easy to make, with just two ingredients:
1. Lye: Look for potassium hydroxide (found on Amazon), which will create a liquid soap that lathers. Potassium hydroxide is formed by reacting sodium hydroxide with impure potassium. It is usually sold as translucent pellets.
2. Oil, such as olive or coconut, or a mix of the two:
Olive oil is mostly long-chain fatty acids, which creates a fine, moisturizing lather that’s easy on the skin. Traditional castile soap was made with 100% olive oil.
Coconut oil has mostly medium-chain fatty acids and creates soap with a solid cleaning ability and large bubbles. A gentle warning: Making soap with coconut oil can be drying to the skin because it grabs and holds oil really well.
You’ll also need a crockpot, an immersion blender, and distilled water to make this soap. Add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance, if desired.
For sparkling, streak-free surfaces:
I’ve found that a simple solution of vinegar, water, and lemon does the trick! I fill a spray bottle about ¾ full with white vinegar and top the bottle off with water and a hefty splash of lemon. This is my go-to, streak-free surface cleaner for kitchen counters, side tables, walls, and mirrors.
For carpet stains:
I fill a spray bottle with one tablespoon of castile soap, three tablespoons of vinegar, two teaspoons of baking soda, and two cups of warm water. This works like a charm on even the toughest pet stains.
Pro tip: Every year I hold myself to a new environmental challenge. Two years ago, I gave up disposable paper towels and purchased a roll of reusable bamboo towels. I still have about half the roll left – such a money saver!
There you have it. Three DIY cleaning product tips to make your spring-cleaning experience more enjoyable and environmentally friendly. Happy Spring.
Rebecca Lederman graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts. She is passionate about living a sustainable, compassionate and healthy lifestyle and hopes to inspire the same passion in others.