Cleaning your house the 'Non-Toxic Way'

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Many of the cleaning products available to the consumer from your local supermarket shelf contain toxic chemicals which are a cocktail of respiratory irritants, hormone disruptors and neurotoxins.

Cleaning your house the 'Non-Toxic Way'

Many of the cleaning products available to the consumer from your local supermarket shelf contain toxic chemicals which are a cocktail of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), known respiratory irritants, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins and known Carcinogenics.

As parents we are warned of the dangers of these cleaners and told by the manufacturers to keep them in locked cupboards away from small children, but what happens when we use these chemicals to clean our houses? When these toxic chemicals are used VOC are released into the air, and a small amount of these cleaning products are left behind on surfaces every time they are used to clean. These are then absorb into the body through the air and the skin. Young babies and children who's brain, internal organs, respiratory systems and immune systems are all developing are especially vulnerable to this kind of exposure because they spend so much on the floor, and put objects in their mouths. Another danger with toxic chemical cleaners is that by unknowingly or accidentally combining different cleaning products, dangerous chemical reactions that cause potentially lethal gases can be formed e.g combining ammonia or vinegar with bleach.

What are the safe alternatives

One of the most important things that you can choose to do for your whole families health is to switch to cleaning with only non-toxic ingredients, this is also one of the easiest changes you can make, as all you require to make your own effect cleaning materials and ordinary household ingredients.

Baking Soda
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a naturally occurring earth mineral. An Odour absorber, abrasive and all purpose cleaner Baking soda is a natural substance that maintains the pH balance. Baking soda neutralizes both acids and bases, so it actually eliminates odours rather than just covering them up. Baking soda can also act as a very mild abrasive cleaner perfect for removing stains from sinks, counter tops and even fine china. Baking soda causes dirt and grease to dissolve in water, so it is very effective in cleaning kitchen counter tops, refrigerators, and stove tops.

Salt is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic. Salt can be used to remove stains from counter tops, absorb grease and when dissolved in vinegar can be used on non-porous surfaces.

Vinegar is an acidic liquid processed from the fermentation of ethanol in a process that yields its key ingredient,acetic acid. White vinegar is often used as a natural household cleaning agent. With most such uses dilution with water is recommended for safety, reduced risk of damaging certain surfaces, and budgetary reasons. A straight 5 percent solution of vinegar (the kind you can buy in the supermarket) kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mould, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). Cuts grease, removes stains and is an excellent water softener. Vinegar is an effective odour-causing bacteria killer, hard-water stain and mineral deposit remover and all purpose cleaner.

Lemon/Lime Juice
Lemon and Lime juice are another natural substance that can be used to clean your home, they have a low pH level and therefore kill most of the bacteria in your house. Lemon/lime juice can be used for natural odour control and as a natural colour-safe bleach. Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits.

Essential Oils:

Jasmine Essential Oil will kill mould and mildew, simply mix 10 drops with half a litre of water in a spray bottle, shake well and spray on to the problem area then leave it to work its magic. This oil also works very well as a cleaner and a whitener.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil is the best for cutting grease. Add some eucalyptus oil to your cleaning recipes and it will work great on those rings around the bath and grease on mirrors . Will also cut through soap scum, so is great to add to a final rinse. It is antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral.

Tea tree oil is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia which is native to the north east coast of Australia. This oil has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti fungal action and helps to cut through grease.

Thyme Essential Oil works great as a disinfectant and has all of the properties of being anti fungal, antiviral and antibacterial.

Lemon Essential Oil works best on odours. It is also has anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Lavender Essential oil has all of the properties needed for cleaning. It is antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral.

Soap cleans by dissolving oil that binds dirt to a surface. Opt for natural vegetable oil based soaps such as Castile (This soap is biodegradable and can be found in the form of a liquid, powder or bar) To create a liquid soap simply grate some of the bar in to very hot water.

Non-Toxic Cleaning Recipes

Kitchen Cleaners:

To clean exterior and interior walls, dissolve 2 tbs. baking soda in 1L warm water and wipe all surfaces. For stubborn spots, rub with baking soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, wet cloth. (This works well on other enamel-finished appliances as well.) To clean interior fixtures, such as vegetable bins and shelves, wash in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry.

Pots and Pans
For Burned, and crusted on foods - Soak or boil a solution of 2 tbs. baking soda per 1L of water in each pan. Let stand until particles are loosened, then wash as usual. Use a mild or moderate abrasive if necessary. To clean a greasy pan easily, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of baking soda to the water in which it is soaking.

Copper pan cleaner
Sprinkle the surface of the pans with coarse salt. Rub the salt into stains with the cut half of a fresh lemon.

No-Stick Cookware
To remove stains from non-stick surfaces, pour a solution of 1 cup of water and 2 tbs. baking soda into a pan, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil or to boil over the side of the pan. Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and dry.

Baking Dishes - Enamel, Ceramic or Glass
Soak in hot soapy water, then scour with salt or baking soda and rinse thoroughly.

Drinking Glasses
- Occasionally soak drinking glasses in a solution of vinegar and water to really get them clean - it makes them sparkle! - When a quick dip for crystal glassware is needed, prepare a solution of baking soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a litre) and brush with a soft toothbrush. Very good for glass coffee makers and Thermos jugs too.

Spot-free Dishwasher Rinse
 Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your automatic dishwasher. Wash dishes as usual.

Coffee/Tea Stains
To remove coffee stains from cups or counters, rub with baking soda paste.

Drain Opener and Garbage Disposal Cleaner
For slow drains, use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog-free. 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda 1 cup white vinegar 5 litres boiling water 1/2 a lemon Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water. If you are using this technique on a garbage disposal unit, finish by pulverising the lemon in the unit to keep it fresh smelling.

Oven Cleaners
- While the oven is still warm, sprinkle salt or baking soda on the spill. If the spill is completely dry, wet the spill lightly before sprinkling on salt. When the oven cools, scrape away the spill and wash the area clean.
- Sprinkle water on the bottom of the oven and cover with baking soda. Let it sit overnight. The next day wipe off the baking soda and apply liquid soap with scouring pad. Rinse.
- Sprinkle/spray water followed by a layer of baking soda. Rub gently with a very fine steel wool pad for tough spots. Wipe off scum off with dry paper towels or sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry.

- Mix 1/2 a cup of baking soda into 5 litres of hot water and 1 cup of vinegar and clean with this solution.
- Mix a 1/4 of a cup of baking soda with 1 litre hot water. Add 20 drops essential oils from list, cool and store in a spray bottle.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 1/4 of a cup of lemon juice with 2 cups hot water. Keep in a spray bottle and use as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.

Glass Cleaners - Windows and Mirrors
- Use undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle or
- Equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle or
- 1/2 a cup of lemon juice and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle or
- 1/2 a cup of vinegar or lemon juice, 2 cups of water and 1/4 of a teaspoon of vegetable oil based soap.
- No-Streak Glass Cleaner: 1/4 of a cup of white vinegar 1 tablespoon of cornstarch 5 litres of warm water Mix the ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into spray bottle and spray on. Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper, buff to a shine. (Use crumpled newspaper instead of paper towels for lint-free results.

Scouring Powders
- Baking Soda or Dry Table Salt. These are mild abrasives and can be used as an alternative to chlorine scouring powders. Simply put either baking soda or salt on a sponge or the surface, scour and rinse.
- Non-Abrasive Soft Scrubber: 1/4 a cup of baking soda Vegetable-oil based liquid soap 5-10 drops of antibacterial essential oil such as tea tree, lavender or lemon oil In a bowl, mix the baking soda with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add chosen oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well. Keep in an air tight jar.

Garbage Disposal
To eliminate garbage disposal odours and clean and sharpen blades, grind ice and used lemon rinds until pulverized.

Floor Cleaner
1 cup of vinegar 1/4 of a cup of baking soda 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil-based liquid soap 8 litres of hot water Combine all ingredients, stirring well to dissolve the washing soda. Mop as usual.

Furniture Polish

Mix 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 a cup of lemon juice and you have a furniture polish for your hardwood furniture.

Metal Cleaners

- Rub with a paste of baking soda and water.
- To magnetise tarnish away, soak silver in salted water in an aluminium container; then wipe clean.
- Soak in boiling water, baking soda, salt, and a piece of aluminium foil.
- When a quick dip for silverware is needed, prepare a solution of baking soda in tepid-cool water (l level teaspoon to a litre) and brush with a soft toothbrush.

- Mix equal parts salt and flour with a little vinegar, then rub.

- Rub with undiluted vinegar.

- Rub with lemon juice and salt, or hot vinegar and salt.

Stainless Steel
- Rub with a paste of baking soda and water.

Odour eliminators

- Put a few slices of lemon rinds in a pot of water, simmer for 1-2 hours
- Place baking soda in an open container. Good for closets, refrigerators and other small enclosed spaces
- Place lemon slices in an open bowl in the kitchen
- Lemon and baking soda spray:
Dissolve baking soda in 2 cups hot water, add lemon juice, pour into spray bottle, spray into air as air freshener
- Vinegar in a cup or bowl rids rooms of odours.


- Baking Soda:Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to a load. Boosts cleaning power and leaves clothes feeling soft and smelling fresh.
- Vinegar:Add one cup to a load. Eliminates odours and boosts stain removal. Add to rinse cycle and it helps rinse the soap from clothes.
- Lemon Juice:Mix with cream of tartar to make a paste and apply to stains. Mix half and half with vinegar and immerse stained clothing. Add to rinse cycle to help rinse out soap.

Bathroom Cleaners

Toilet Bowl Cleaners
- Baking Soda and Lemon Juice. For removing a stubborn stain, like toilet bowl ring, mix enough baking soda and lemon juice into a paste cover the ring. Flush toilet to wet the sides, then rub on paste. Let sit for 2 hours and scrub thoroughly. For less stubborn toilet bowl rings, sprinkle baking soda around the rim and scrub with a toilet brush.

- 1 cup of baking soda, 1/2 a cup of white vinegar. Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
- Liquid castile soap and baking soda, scrub with a toilet brush.

Tub And Tile Cleaners
- Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda like you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
- Vinegar and Baking Soda. To remove film build up on bathtubs, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Next, use baking soda as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Vinegar. Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 5 litres water.
- Baking Soda. To clean grout, put 3 cups of baking soda into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 cup of warm water. Mix into a smooth paste and scrub into grout with a sponge or toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dispose of leftover paste when finished.
- Rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in baking soda. Rinse well, and dry with soft cloth.

Plumbing Fixtures
- To clean stainless steel, chrome, fibreglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp of baking soda in 2 litres of water. Wipe on fixtures then rinse.
- Vinegar and Paper Towels. Hard lime deposits around taps can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.

Shower Heads
- Metal Shower Heads: To remove deposits which may be clogging your metal shower head, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one litre water. Then completely submerge the shower head and boil 15 minutes.
- Plastic Shower Heads: Combine 500mls of white vinegar and 500mls of hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for about one hour.

Rust Stain and Hard Water Deposit Remover
Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and let stand until spot disappears, rinse.

Lime Deposits
Soak with full strength white vinegar