Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Make Your Own Eco Cleaners

Over the past few months, I have been leisurely reading Easy Green Living, an ultimate guide to positive environmental choices in your home, by Renee Loux.  It has really got me thinking of ways I can make positive eco changes in my kitchen.  The first thing I thought would have to go were the paper towels.  It is crazy how many paper towels I use for the smallest cleanup job.  After doing a little research, I purchased Zwipes, a huge stack of microfiber towels.  I read a ton of reviews on Amazon, and decided to purchase these.  So far, I have been really pleased.  The texture of the microfiber towel is great for scooping up crumbs, and scrubbing countertops.  The best part is instead of throwing them away, you just toss them in the laundry.  The Zwipes I purchased came in a 36-pack, so I am always set with enough until my next load of laundry.  I have been paper towel free for the past couple weeks, and haven't missed them once.  The rest of my eco endeavors focused on homemade cleaners, which used everyday products around the house, plus a couple specialty items that you can find at Whole Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, or your local health food store.

I don't know about you, but cleaners such as 409 or Fantastik, really freak me out.  Sure they clean, but a lot of times after I clean my countertops, I am rolling out pizza dough or setting vegetables directly on the counter.  I just keep thinking of all the chemicals such as chlorine, solvents, and who knows what else, that are sneaking into my body.  That said, there are some better cleaning choices you can make, such as Biokleen, Mrs. Meyer's, and Method, just to name a few, but I was much more interested in making my own formulas.

My first cleaner I made was Lavender-Lemon Disinfecting Spirits Spray.  This spray smells so good, and I love it for disinfecting my wood cutting board, or for a light clean on my counter tops.

Ingredients for Lavender-Lemon Disinfecting Spirits Spray, adapted from Easy Green Living, makes 1 pint:

-1/4 cup vodka (a cheap one works just fine)
-1/2 cup 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
-1 cup water
-10 drops essential oil of lemon (optional)
-10 drops essential oil of lavender (optional)

In a spray bottle, combine all ingredients, and gently stir to mix them.  Do not shake the bottle, or the hydrogen peroxide will go flat and lose its action.  Spray the surface and wipe clean, or spray and let dry.  This will keep indefinitely.

The All-Purpose Citrus Spray is great for tough grime.  It has a strong smell from the vinegar, but it quickly dissipates.  It works great in the bathroom and kitchen on mineral stains, hard water deposits, and soap scum.  This is pretty much my go to cleaner for everything.

Ingredients for All-Purpose Citrus Spray, from Easy Green Living, makes 1 pint:

-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
-1 tablespoon Citra-Solv Cleaner and Degreaser concentrate
-1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap or castile soap (I used Mrs. Meyer's)
-1 1/2 cups warm water
-1/2 teaspoon total antiseptic essential oils (see note below)

*Note: Cinnamon, clove lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, oregano, rosemary, sweet orange, tea tree, and thyme are all great antiseptic essential oils.  I mixed lemon and rosemary for my spray.

In a spray bottle, combine all ingredients and shake well to mix.  Solution will keep indefinitely.  Just spray and wipe/scrub.

I love the All-Purpose Oxygen Bleach Spray.  Oxygen bleach is much safer than chlorine bleach because it is nontoxic and safe for humans and the environment, plus it is a powerhouse cleaner.  I love using it in my bathroom and it is great for laundry stains too.  Just be sure to leave out the essential oils, because they can stain your clothes.  Also, the active oxygen will dissipate in a day or two, so make in small batches if you aren't using a lot.

Ingredients for All-Purpose Oxgen Bleach Spray, from Easy Green Living, makes 1 pint:

-2 tablespoons oxygen bleach powder
-2 cups warm water
-1/4 teaspoon antiseptic essential oils of your choice (see note above)

Place oxygen bleach powder and warm water in a spray bottle, and gently swirl.  Then add the essential oils and swirl again.  Don't shake the mixture, or the active oxygen will dissipate.

For general cleaning, spray and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, and then wipe with a sponge or rag for most effective action.  For laundry stains, spray it directly on stain until it is thoroughly damp, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before washing.

And finally I made Clear and Clean Glass Spray, which worked nicely, especially if you use newspaper to wipe the glass.

Ingredients for Clear and Clean Glass Spray, from Easy Green Living, makes 1 quart:

-1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
-1/2 teaspoon liquid soap (dish soap or castile soap)
-1 3/4 cups water
-8 drops essential oil (I used lavender because I love it)

In a spray bottle, mix together all of the ingredients. Spray cleaner on glass, window, or mirrors and wipe until clear.

I hope you can replace at least one of your cleaners with a homemade one.  If you want to learn more eco tips, purchase Green Easy Living here.