There are few things that feel as relaxing as a crisp, clean home. Fresh sheets, shiny floors, sparkling bathrooms, and Ahhhhh, that smell!
A clean home comforts us. It's a reassuring measure we take not only because it feels nice, but because a clean environment makes us feel healthier.
But before you reach for your favorite bottle of cleaner consider this:
- In the past 40 years, at least 70,000 new chemicals have been released into the environment through new consumer and industrial products and food.
- Male and female infertility are on the rise. Research is now pointing to pesticides as a viable cause.
- Women who work in the home have a 54% higher death rate than women who work out of the home. - Toronto Indoor Air Conference, 1990
- Each year more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic diseases. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US, costing the health care system $18 billion annually. The prevalence of allergic rhinitis (inflamed nasal membranes) has increased substantially over the past 15 years.
- Asthma ranks among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 14.9 million persons.
- According to the U.S Poison Control Centers, "A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds and more than 50% of all poisonings occur at home with children under 5 years of age."
- Asthma is the #1 cause of absenteeism in schools.
- There has been a 25% increase in the last 25 years in cancer incidence among children under 15 years of age.
- ADD/ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed childhood behavior disorder today. More than two million (3-5%) children have ADD.
- Thirty years ago the 3 major childhood illnesses were chickenpox, measles and mumps. Now it is asthma, ADD and cancer.
- Brain cancer in children is up 40% in 20 years.
Although what we eat is a huge factor in conditions such as asthma and cancer, certainly exposure to harsh chemicals, toxins and carcinogenic cleaners cannot help. Fortunately, your home can stay clean without store-bought cleaners.
Here are my tips for keeping a clean home without the toxins. Surprisingly these tips also save a ton of money. Win-win!
- Dry clothes on a clothesline- Our grandparents did it. It works just fine. We save around $30 a month by not running our dryer. An added bonus: My husband's co-worker recently inquired what laundry detergent we use because he 'always smells so fresh'. *note. At the very least hang your sheets and bedding outside to dry. Sunshine naturally whitens and freshens and the smell is so much better than all bottled detergents try and mimic. As a bonus the sheets come off the line looking pressed smooth like hotel bedding. This adds to the look and feel of the bed.
- Make a natural cleaning kit- I recommend white vinegar, castile soap, and baking soda bottle suitable for sprinkling. I keep a handful of essential oils to scent them as I please. Tea tree, lemon oil, bergamot, lavender and peppermint.
- All purpose cleaner- First I recommend trying a damp cloth for wiping up any uglies. I find that quite often water is enough. When that's not enough I turn to my all purpose cleaner which is a spray bottle filled with 1 Tbls Castile soap (I like eucalyptus) + 1/2 c vinegar + water. I like to add a few drops of lemon oil. Shake, and spray.
- Floor cleaner- 1 cap of castile soap and a bucket of water. Lemon and tea tree oil are a nice combo for a pine-sol-like smell.
- Laundry detergent- Castile soap. A capful or two does the trick. I use washing soda (different than baking soda and found on the laundry aisle).
- Fabric softener- This one is so easy it's stupid. I use white vinegar poured straight into the fabric softener compartment of my washer. I promise your clothes won't smell like vinegar, but I didn't believe it until I tried it either. So try it 😉 I like to add a few drops of oil. Lavender is nice for this.
- Glass cleaner- vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio works great! It's a strong smell, but if fades quickly. Wipe the glass with old newspaper for a beautiful streak-free finish.
- Room Spray/ Air freshener- I have a small mister bottle (like a travel size hairspray pump sprayer) that I add a blend of 20ish drops of whatever oils I'm feeling. Then I fill the bottle with distilled water (to keep the sprayer from clogging over time). The oil will separate so be sure to give it a good shake before you spray. My favorite spa-like scent is bergamot + peppermint. So lovely and fresh!
Give it a try and start incorporating these recipes into your routine as you run out of the store bought kind. Truly, you won't look back. I still have a few cans of store-bought cleaners I am in the process of using up since they were purchased in Costco multipacks. Fortunately, I have almost worked my way through them all, but it has taken years literally. I bet you will find, as I did that, that once you start using the natural cleaners the store-bought versions kind of repulse you. I begin to notice how much more my nose stung when I sprayed scrubbing bubbles, and how many scary/toxic labels covered the bottles.
These days, I take comfort in knowing that when I clean my house it not only seems clean, fresh and healthy, it actually isn't going to make us sick. This is the most comforting clean home feeling of all.