That aisle--you know the one that wreaks of chemically smells that clog up your nostrils. The aisle is crammed with cleaners, gels, sanitizers, spritzes, and sprays to clean our homes.
Should we really be using these products? Are they safe? Are they economical? Are we paying a price that is much higher than what scans at the check out?
There are tons of recipes for homemade cleaners and the internet can be an overwhelming place to be if you want to quickly find the right recipe! I have referred to Clean and Green since 1991 but there are plenty of other books and resources.
Don't confuse less toxic and toxic free with 100% safe.
Understand the ingredients that you are using--check the MSDS or a website like Debra Lynn Dadd's. Use essential oils with care. I refer to the book Essential Oil Safety when I have questions about essential oils.
Tips to Make Homemade Cleaners Part of Your Life
- Be willing to experiment with recipes.
- If you are just starting, start with one or two cleaners.
- Keep ingredients stocked and on hand.
- Make cleaners in batches so your cleaning shelf is stocked and ready when you need to clean. I make at least two bottles of each of the cleaners that I use regularly. It saves time having to drag out all the ingredients, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and so forth.
- Use quality spray bottles to save on frustration!
- Use quart mason jars to mix cleaners and store cleaners. Using mason jars allows you to use boiling water to dissolve ingredients and use essential oils. Mason jars are also easier to fill and keep as a supply to fill spray or squirt bottles.
- Mark jars and bottles clearly!
- Don't forget about soap nuts and plain ole soap and water!
- Again, less toxic and non toxic doesn't mean risk free--so store homemade cleaners up and away when appropriate. Check MSDSs (I've included a few links below to get you started) for each new ingredient you are interested in using.
- Read the gory details of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Environmental Protection Agency and Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
- Learn more about the Safer Chemical movement.
- There are thousands of books and websites with recipes for homemade cleaners but I recommend checking a few books out from the library or buying a book to have on the shelf as reference.
- Annie Berthhold-Bond (1990). Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Nontoxic and Environmentally Safe Housekeeping. Ceres Press. ISBN: 1866101019.
- Debra Lynn Dadd's website is a terrific resource along with her book (2011) Toxic Free: Home to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals that are Making You Sick. Tarcher. ISBN: 9781585428700
- Follow the Environmental Working Group's blog
- Check Material Safety Data Sheets online
- Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young (2014). Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. ISBN: 9780443062414. This book made my eyes cross with the mirco-font! The data that are crammed into the over 750 pages can help you make a clear decision about how to use essential oils including dilutions and situations when not to use essential oils. Data are collated and detailed regarding adverse skin reactions and oral reactions. Plus, understand adulterations and essential oils and essential oils and contamination. This is my go to for once and for all clarity when I am using essential oils.
Material Data Information Sheets
- Baking Soda MSDS
- Bio-Pac and Oasis Dish Detergent MSDS
- Bio-Pac and Oasis Laundry Detergent MSDS
- Borax (20 Mule Team) MSDS
- Dr Bronner's Product Line MSDSs
- Vinegar 5% acidity MSDS
- Washing Soda MSDS
Be safe and toxic free. (disclaimer)
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