Thank goodness fall is finally here! Cool weather and an excuse to drink more coffee (yes please!) But why, oh why, does it have to mean flu season too?
*sighs and grabs cleaner...
Nobody likes germs. We get down-right territorial if they think our homes are a potential petri dish. We might be tempted to grab the strongest, "most powerful" cleaners we can think of to make sure germs suffer ALOT on their way out. Something like Bleach and chlorinated cleaners, right? Well, they kill germs for sure... but they're not so nice on us either!
One study published in 2017 in PubMed's journal showed chlorination products can injure the lining of nasal passageways and make young children sensitive to airborne allergens. Add the findings of another study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and you begin to see a link between asthma and toxic cleaners. In this study involving 10 countries and more than 3,500 asthma-free individuals, researchers found that after 9 years, those using spray cleaners at least once per week to clean their homes had a 30% to 50% increased risk of developing asthma over that time. Yikes!
(If you're interested in more studies done on cleaning products and the effects they can have on our bodies, check out EWG's guide to healthy cleaning - they list some good studies and findings on negative side affects of toxic cleaners!)
So how do you know which cleaners are toxic? Here's some resources and tips we use to keep our homes chemical-free and clean.
Cleaning out the Cleaning Cabinet
Whether you want to check the ingredients in cleaners you're currently using or want to buy a pre-made natural cleaner at the store, here's a few apps and sources you can use!
A good way to check the safety of your cleaners is through EWG’s guide. You can search their list of over 2,500 products and look at a cleaner's ingredients and toxic scale rating. They also provide a handy guide on understanding just what the ingredients on backs of cleaners really mean.
To make it even easier, "there's an app for that..."
You can download a free app to look up cleaners before you buy. "Think Dirty" is a great resouce - it's free, easy to use and has a quick bar-code scan option to check the toxicity of some common cleaners.
I’ve run across a few products that aren't listed in the app, but I just end up searching them on EWG's site or look up specific ingredients to double check before I buy.
Another free app to try is "Detox Me". It focuses more on why you should avoid certain chemicals in products. Think of it like a "get clean coach". It shows ingredients to avoid and gives tips on how to choose better cleaners or hygiene products.
Note - Be careful on the store-bought natural cleaners.
They can be full of synthetic fragrances!
Using natural plant-based cleaners are a great start to healthy cleaning - they're safer to use and just as tough on germs and bacteria as their more toxic-counter parts.
But you can always make your own! DIY cleaners can save you big $$ in the long run and you can make them with common products already in your home.
Don't worry, making your own cleaner is nowhere near as hard as it sounds. It's like heating up a frozen dinner kind of easy on the DIY Pinterest scale... In its simplest form, you just need a spray bottle, vinegar, essential oils and water.
Here's our top 4 ingredients for making your own cleaners!
What they do - A lot. Here's some properties of essential oils:
- anti-bacterial - kills bacteria (sweet orange, lemon)
- anti-viral - kills viruses (oregano)
- anti-microbial - anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral all in one! (tea tree)
- air freshening - deodorizing and purifying (eucalyptus)
There's lots of oils with these benefits - these are just a few to get you started. Most oils have more than one cleaning use too, so you can switch it up to find your favorite scent and what works best for you! For a more detailed list, search essential oils for cleaning with the "Use" category on our shop page!
White Distilled Vinegar
What it does - Acetic acid (a.k.a. white vinegar) deodorizes, dissolves gunk, dirt and grime, and kills bacteria. Note - vinegar's acidity can damage some surfaces like unsealed marble, stone or granite, and waxed furniture - check out this list from Reader's Digest for surfaces to avoid when using vinegar!
What it does - Kills mold, mildew and disinfects surfaces. Adding a little bit to a bathroom cleaner recipe boosts anti-fungal benefits!
What it does - Dissolve grease and dirt because of its mild alkaline (more basic) chemical composition. It also absorbs gases to purify air and is a good abrasive for tough stains and grout!
Basic Cleaner Recipe
To get you started, here's a quick and easy all purpose cleaner recipe! Below are the basic building blocks for an antibacterial and disinfecting cleaner to use on household surfaces. Plus some scent options for you to choose from too! ;)
NOTE: Because of vinegar's higher acidity, best not to use this cleaner on unsealed marble, granite and untreated tile.
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
- 40 - 50 drops total of essential oils
- 1 3/4 cup water
Essential oil options:
- Lemon (20 - 25 drops) + Eucalyptus globulus (20 - 25 drops) - freshens & purifies air
- Rosemary ct cineole (20 - 25 drops) + Lavender (20 - 25 drops) - anti-bacterial & freshens air
- Sweet Orange (30 drops) + Tea Tree (20 drops) - anti-microbial & kid safe!
- Lemon (25 drops) + Cinnamon (12 drops) + Clove (12 drops) - strong anti-bacterial & anti-viral
- Lemon (30 drops) + Sweet Basil (20 drops) - anti-bacterial & anti-viral
Have a question? Our certified aromatherapists would love to help... leave a comment on this post or shoot us an email at email@example.com with your Q's!