For many of us, the warmer weather of spring brings with it a desire to do some serious cleaning. However, conventional cleaning products can do more harm than good as we are exposed to various toxins such as phthalates, triclosan, 2-butoxyethanol, chlorine, and more. Some products common in the US have even been banned by the European Union because of the risks associated with their use. In addition to human health risks, these chemicals can end up in waterways and contaminate ecosystems, killing wildlife and vegetation. In recent years, an increased consumer interest in safer cleaning products has unfortunately given rise to “greenwashing” by companies who market their cleaners as natural and safe when in fact they contain the toxic chemicals.
Fortunately, making your own cleaning products is easy, affordable, and fun! With just a few basic supplies, you can build your own collection of natural cleaning products at a fraction of the price of store bought cleaners. The following recipes can easily be doubled or tripled, so invite friends over, make some herbal iced tea, open the windows and spend some time putting together your new natural cleaning kit! Be sure to label each of your creations so they do not get mixed up. A basket full of these cleaning supplies also makes a wonderful housewarming gift!
Room and Linen Spray
This spray can be used to freshen up the air in a room, or applied to mattresses and bedding.
1 ounce witch hazel
3 ounces water
10-15 drops essential oil (learn how to choose quality EOs here)
Small spray bottle (I use 4 ounce glass bottles found here, with these fingertip mister lids.)
Using funnel, add witch hazel, water, and essential oils to fill bottle. Give the spray a good shake before using. For linen spray, lavender essential oil is a classic option. To freshen other rooms, try citrus oils such as lemon, orange and lime, or herbal oils such as rosemary or mint.
Dust this powder onto carpet or rugs and allow to sit for 10 minutes before vacuuming. The baking soda absorbs odors and the essential oils freshen the whole room.
2 cups baking soda
10 drops essential oil
Quart mason jar
Put baking soda and essential oils into jar, close it, and shake it up to mix in the oils. If you have an old spice jar or powder container you can use that to make it a little easier to sprinkle, but it is not necessary. Any of your favorite essential oils will work in this recipe; my favorite combination for carpet powder is lemon and rosemary.
Dishwashing liquid soap
This soap can be put in a recycled squirt bottle and used to scrub dishes.
1 bar castile soap, grated (or other natural/handmade bar soap)
½ cup baking soda
1 tablespoon washing soda
2 quarts water
15 drops essential oil
Recycled dishsoap bottles
Heat water on stove and add grated soap; be careful not to let it come to a boil as it could bubble over easily. When soap is melted and mixed into the water well, remove from heat and add baking soda, washing soda, and essential oils. Allow to cool and pour into bottles. If it seems too thick to pour, reheat slightly and add more water. Climates vary, and in my humid climate it might require less water than in very dry climates.
These handy little tablets can be used in the dishwasher in place of commercial dishwasher detergent. Plain white vinegar can be added to the rinse aid spot if desired.
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
½ cup citric acid
½ cup salt
A few drops essential oils (optional)
Ice cube trays
Large jar for storage
Mix all ingredients and pack into ice cube trays, filling each spot about halfway. Leave overnight or as long as it takes the tablets to become firm. Remove from trays and store in jar with lid. Use one tablet for each load of dishes. Lemon essential oil is so nice in these tablets!
1 bar castile soap (or other natural/handmade bar soap)
2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax
10 drops essential oil (if desired)
Large jars for storage, such as quart mason jars
Finely grate bar of soap, and mix with washing soda, borax, and essential oils. Store in jars and use 1/8 cup to ¼ cup in each load of laundry.
A few notes:
For all purpose cleaner and more natural cleaning recipes, see this article.
For the laundry soap and the dish soap, I use end pieces or other “seconds” from my batches of handmade soap. If you would like to try making your own herbal soaps, see these instructions here.
Making your own cleaning products can seem like a big time commitment, but it does not have to be. When you have an hour or two free, set aside that time and make big batches of these products. Once you have all the supplies needed, you can make enough products in one afternoon or evening to last six months to a year. I rarely make just one batch of any of these products; I tend to double or triple each recipe and make enough to last a long time. This way, you do not need to make new batches every few weeks. If you have several friends interested in making these products, you can host a fun craft night and have each person bring a supply or two. With these recipes, you will be well prepared for natural spring cleaning!