Go Green While You Clean: 7 DIY Alternatives to Potentially Hazardous Cleaning Products

Do you purchase green cleaning products? If so, youíre part of a growing trend, as more people today are turning to environmentally friendly, chemical-free (commonly referred to as ďgreenĒ) cleaners to disinfect their kitchens and bathrooms, wash their dishes and floors, and clean their laundry.

Green is Kinder to You and to the Environment

The "green" in the name reflects products that are kinder to the earth, explains Candice Scholl, a naturopathic doctor at the New Hampshire Natural Health Clinic in Bedford, NH. "Green/earth-friendly cleaning products are also friendlier to you, your family, and your pets," she says. Better yet, "many natural products are made from ingredients you have at home like vinegar, baking soda, and various cooking oils and essential oils, so crawling/walking over them, absorbing them through the skin, inhaling them or ingesting them in small amounts is much safer than the unnatural, chemical-filled products that you may currently be using with various warning stickers all over them."

Is Green Worth the Cost?

Some green or natural products can cost more than chemical-based options, but Scholl points out that many of them can be worth the expense, especially when you figure that one natural product can often do multiple jobs so you might just need to invest in one bottle and be able to skip all of the other cleaning options, making it cost efficient.

Another benefit of green cleaning products is that they can help avoid the growing problem of antibiotic resistance that can occur with conventional products, like antibacterial hand soaps typically used to kill germs. "While most antibacterial soaps just contain alcohol to kill germs or a mild skin antibiotic that isnít used orally to treat infections, using these soaps continuously can cause the bacteria to adapt and overcome susceptibility to the products that once killed them," Scholl explains. "The result of this is that bacteria/viruses may not be easily killed by alcohol or skin-protective antibiotics in the future," she says.

DIY Green Cleaning Recipes

With so many reasons to go green, it can be well worth it to shop for such items at your local supermarket, discount house, health food shop, hardware store, or health-conscious website. You can also make your own cleaning health-friendly products at home. Try Schollís tips for mixing up your own green products:

  1. To clean windows: Wipe windows and mirrors with a damp cloth dabbed in white vinegar. "This will leave windows and mirrors sparkling clean without any streaks," she says.
  2. To clean furniture and remove lime scale: Diluted vinegar can be used to dust and polish furniture, remove water rings left behind on furniture, clean marble, leather products, remove carpet stains, clean grout or remove masking tape residue. It can also be used to clean your floors. For best results, combine one cup of white vinegar with one bucket (about 5 gallons) of warm water. This mixture can also be used to wash your hair, prevent and treat acne, and remove lime-scale build-up on shower heads and faucets. (For the latter, soak a paper towel with concentrated vinegar for five minutes, then tie it around the faucet/shower head for 20-30 minutes, depending on the amount of build-up. Rinse off with water afterwards).
  3. To keep insects away: "You can also make an insect repellent with vinegar by rubbing it undiluted onto your skin, or it can be sprayed onto your stone pathway or driveway to help slow weed growth," Scholl says.
  4. To protect pets: Vinegar can be used in pet care, to prevent fleas and ticks from biting. If it's OK with your pet's vet, "Start by adding ľ tsp. apple cider vinegar to your petís drinking water. Slowly increase to 1 tsp. over a few weeks. This will help decrease their susceptibility to flea and tick infestation. You can also add a few drops of vinegar to your petís bath water to help prevent fleas and ticks from landing on their skin. Just rinse your pet well afterwards with warm water," she says.
  5. To get rid of surface residue: "Diluted vinegar [10 percent solution, one part vinegar to 9 parts water] mixed with baking soda can be a great, soft-abrasive cleaning tool for scrubbing surfaces clean that have a build up of soap residue, mildew, or caked-on food from shower tiles to counter tops to cooking pans."
  6. To polish furniture: "Furniture polish is made with one cup of vinegar, one cup of boiled linseed oil [you can find this at your local hardware store] and one ounce of Friarís Balsam, an herbal tincture thatís available online or in a vitamin shop. Mix the ingredients together in an airtight container, like a Mason jar, and apply to furniture with a soft cloth," Scholl says.
  7. To polish floors: "You can prepare non-slip wood floor polish with two cups of vinegar, two cups of spirits of gum turpentine, [this is different from regular turpentine and can also be found online] and two cups of boiled linseed oil; mix together and rub onto a wood floor with a cloth. Do not buff the floor, or it will become slippery. Instead, allow the floor to air-dry."

In addition, "Avocado, olive, and grape seed oils can also be used to moisten and hydrate your skin, prevent wrinkle formation, and improve the quality and thickness of hair," Scholl says.

Find More

To find more recipes for DIY cleaning products, Scholl recommends visiting realsimple.com and wellnessmama.com.

Candice Scholl, ND, New Hampshire Natural Health Clinic, reviewed this article.

Resources

Scholl, Candice. Naturopathic Doctor, New Hampshire Natural Health Clinic in Bedford, NH. Email interview January 19, 2015.