Happiness is Homemade – and the secret ingredient is love.
Most commercially manufactured cleaning products contain myriads of chemicals. These can leave residues that are toxic to the health of your family as well as our natural environment. Families across the country are looking for ways to become healthier and more eco-friendly, and are quickly realizing that the two go hand-in-hand. While creating a life-style that is both healthier for you and more gentle to the Earth, we’re returning to the “less is more” approach to living – which also tends to save money.
When we look back a few generations to a period of time where family units had to be more sustainable, we find valuable lessons. There was a time, not long ago, when people survived just fine (and often longer and healthier) by concentrating on the basics. Successful independent living came from “working with what you had” and taking only what you needed. There wasn’t always 36 flavors of toothpaste to choose from, baking soda worked great… with no harmful side effects… so baking soda it was.
It was also just a few generations ago that there was no concern over the cleaning products you used on your body or in your home. The majority of these were homemade from safe, natural substances. Today this is a different story.
There are now over 70,000 chemicals available on the market in the United States. These show up virtually everywhere including: toothpaste, deodorant, laundry detergent, food, cosmetics, fuel, plastics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, household cleaners, municipal runoff, industry waste and even our tap water. Most of the chemicals approved for use in this country have never had adequate safety tests performed relating to long-term human contact. In fact, of the few tests available, we know that around 600 of these synthetics can, have, and will cause cancer and other health problems.
There are many things we can do to help change this fact. First, however, we learn all we can about what chemicals may harm us and our families, where they are and how to avoid them. Next, we start cleaning up our homes. This can be not only educational and healthy, it can also add a lot of creative fun for the entire household.
Get back to basics. Make your own laundry detergent, dish-washing liquid and other household cleaning supplies. If you’re really motivated, make your own shampoos, toothpaste and other personal care items too. These are fun to make, healthier for you and our shared planet, and often these products work better than their chemically enhanced counterparts.
Below are just a few examples of the many options available. Start experimenting and see what works best for your family!
Homemade Laundry Detergent (Powdered):
- ½ cup Borax (20 Mule Team)
½ cup washing powders (powders, not soda)
1 bar natural soap (or castile soap)
Take an old cheese grater, shred the bar of soap into small pieces. Mix with Borax and washing powder in a sealable container, shake it all up. Use 1 tablespoon for each regular sized load of laundry.
Homemade Laundry Detergent (Liquid):
- 2 cups Borax
2 cups washing powders
1 bar natural soap (or 1/2 cup liquid castile soap)
Bring 4 cups of water nearly to a boil, turn off the heat, add soap flakes (or liquid soap) and stir until dissolved. Next, pour 2 ½ gallons of warm water into a 5 gallon bucket. Add soapy concoction and stir in Borax and washing powders until dissolved. This can be made into a thicker gel by adding a couple tablespoons of glycerin. When cooled, pour into your old recycled detergent bottles, milk jugs, etc. If the liquid is too thick, add water and shake. Clothes will come clean using about ½ cup of liquid per load; ¼ cup if you’ve decided on the thicker gel version.
General Household Cleaner:
- 1 teaspoon castile soap
1 teaspoon Borax
1 quart of warm water
Mix it all up, use it for cleaning virtually everything in your house. For floors, stoves or other tough jobs, add a few squirts of lemon juice. Alternate version: 1/2 c. vinegar – 1/4 c. baking soda – 1 qt. warm water
- 1 cup water
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2-3 drops castile soap
15 – 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (a mixture of lavender, tea tree and orange smells delicious!)
Mix together in a spray bottle. After sweeping, mist the floor and mop with a warm, damp mop. This works great on wood, tile and even linoleum floors.
- 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar
1 quart of warm water
Put it in a spray bottle and you’re ready. To avoid streaks on the glass, use old newspaper to wipe off the spray!
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup castile soap
- 1 tablespoon peroxide
Make a paste and apply with coarse sponge or scrub brush.
Avoid soaps with chemical perfumes. If you would like to add a nice fragrance to your laundry soap or other cleaners, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils (lavender, tea tree oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, etc).
The possibilities are simple, safe and virtually endless. Have fun exploring the these options and discovering your own favorite non-toxic cleaning recipes!
Adapted from my original article at Atlanta Outdoors Examiner.