You can certainly look to the EWG databases for pre-made nontoxic cleaning products, but several months ago, I decided to make many of my own. I began with google searching and came across the blog From Faye, which I found super helpful. (Thank you, Faye!) I also got some recipes from a coworker and a pamphlet I received from EWG after donating (some small amount). So, from these combined sources, I bring you the following tidbits and recipes for all natural, nontoxic cleaning!
You can adjust the amounts of these ingredients, too; sometimes I add more of one thing, less of another, but the following are some pretty good guidelines.
Distilled white vinegar: You know how people say you can use Windex for everything?Well, vinegar is the new Windex, people! (Seriously, EWG rates Windex as a D, so I had to get rid of it, and lo and behold, I found vinegar to work just as well. Amazing. Load up on this!)
Baking soda: absorbs odor
Hydrogen peroxide: bleaching agent and powerful anti-microbial
Lemons: cut grease, adds lovely scent
Castile soap: (such as Dr. Bronner’s, but any will do) vegetable oil-based soap
- Dr. Bronner’s has a cheat sheet of all the things their soaps can be used for, and how to dilute the soap for each use. Awesome!
Sodium Percarbonate: I have not yet used. EWG says it’s a great whitening agent because it oxidizes. They also recommend using gloves when using because it can be a skin irritant.
Microfiber cloths: a must for dusting (I didn’t learn this until I was 32; I cannot believe how much time over the past 27 years I wasted using a regular cloth, or how much waste I created using paper towels!)
Spray bottle: for all the items in your new recipes
Two recipes below. Seriously, I use this everywhere I’d use Windex — glass surfaces, windows, mirrors, sinks (though I also just use vinegar to clean sinks), the oven, the microwave, my counter tops…. really, almost everywhere except wood and leather surfaces.
- (1) What I use: 1 cup water; 1/4 cup vinegar; 2-3 drops of dish soap (I use Planet or castile soap). Shake well before using.
- (2) From EWG: 1/2 t. washing soda; dab of liquid soap; 2 C very hot tap water.
I’m sure EWG’s recipe is great, but I love mine, and I don’t have to make sure the water is hot, and I don’t have washing soda, so for me, it’s a bit easier. I have loved it, too, so I don’t feel the need to switch just yet.
- 1/2 cup castile soap; 2 cups water. Voila!
Wood and Leather Surfaces
Before using vinegar on any leather or wood, I’d spot check it to make sure it doesn’t ruin the finish. All the pieces in our home work well with the below recipe, but you never know which pieces might discolor.
- 1/2 cup Vinegar; 1/2 cup olive oil; juice from one small lemon. Shake well.
You can use as much or as little lemon as you want. I tend to use more for the added fragrance.
Mildew & Lime Scale Remover
EWG recommends only vinegar – awesome! They also rate CLR as nontoxic (A rating), and since we have some in the house, I’ve stuck with that.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 1 cup water; 1 cup baking soda; 1 cup castile soap; 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix well (after bubbles subside).
- 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon salt; 1 tablespoon water.
EWG says to make a paste and put this on the sides of the oven, let sit for 8 hours, and then wipe clean. For the bottom of the oven, sprinkle baking soda all over, then spray with water bottle, let sit for 8 hours, and wipe clean.
- All-purpose cleaner; baking soda.
As noted above, I typically clean my kitchen sink (and bathroom one) with the All-Purpose Cleaner. Once and a while, though, I use baking soda, too. I just sprinkle baking soda all over the sink, then spray the All-Purpose Cleaner over it.
- 1 cup baking soda; 1 cup vinegar.
Pour baking soda down the drain, follow with vinegar. Let sit, and then pour a large amount (1/2 gallon or more) of piping hot water down the drain.
- 1 cup vinegar; 1 cup water; lemon (optional)
I typically spray my cutting boards with vinegar (or vinegar & lemon), let sit for a few, and then wipe up with water. You can mix everything together, too, though.
Removing Baby Poo Stains
- Castile soap (thanks, Rhiannon!). I put some castile soap over the stain, rinse it out with water as best as I can (not particularly thorough most of the time), and let sit until I get it in the wash.
- I know there are make-your-own solutions here, but I’ve been using Planet, and I like it. That said, some of the baby clothes still have stains on them after I wash them (things I didn’t treat with castile soap beforehand). My mom swears her Tide would have gotten these out, but I can’t do it – EWG’s database gives Tide an F, citing reproductive and developmental toxicity and cancer concerns, among other harmful factors.
- I just purchased Oxiclean Baby Stain Fighter to supplement the laundry. I’ll update once I try it! (It received an A from EWG.)
- Get one with a HEPA filter! HEPA filters pick up all kinds of small particles that other vacuum filters don’t — exactly the kind of harmful particles we don’t want on our floors, on our baby’s toys, in our food, etc. (Totally realize this is kinda out of place here, but hey, we’re talking about cleaning!)
Random Items that Work Wonders
- Removes sticky residues (like those left over from price tags on glassware)
- Apparently removes tarnish from copper and brass. I cannot wait to try this!