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We’ve been talking a lot about why we should switch to natural cleaning. Cleaning green helps keep the environment clean but it also helps our homes stay clean and we in turn are healthier for it.
We’ve also discussed the different ways to clean naturally. This often means relying on vinegar, baking soda, or oil to clean and polish our homes.
Originally I planned on talking about different store bought products that you could buy but truth be told, I just can’t bring myself to recommend any of them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great natural brands available to buy but each one had at least one ingredient that I wasn’t super happy about. Thus I decided to skip doing that post.
If you are curious about buying store bought cleaning products then I highly recommend looking those products up on EWG’s Healthy Cleaning Guide. It’s not a full proof method but it’s a great starting point.
They give products a rating based on the ingredients… personally I’d take those ratings with a grain of salt. It’s always best to click the whole way through and look at the products ingredients to see if EWG rated the product the same way you would (for instance, to me a product shouldn’t be an A if there are a few C’s in the ingredients.)
Today I thought I’d take a minute to focus on the natural cleaning basics and what makes them so amazing.
These are the tried and true ingredients for most homemade cleaning products. These are the ingredients that I have no issues with promoting because they are basic and non-toxic.
Green Cleaning Basics
This is the basic scrubbing ingredient for most natural cleaners. If you want a natural way to scrub off gunk then baking soda is the ingredients to use! It’s just simple sodium bicarbonate. Nothing harmful in it at all.
Favorite Uses: Scrubbing sinks and tubs, making pots and pans look like new, cleaning the oven.
Favorite Brands: Honestly, when it comes to cleaning any will do. If you are looking for cruelty free and not processed with chemicals then I recommend Bob’s Red Mill.
EWG Rating: A
When vinegar is mentioned for cleaning, it is usually white distilled vinegar that is referred to. Sometimes apple cider vinegar is used but that isn’t often as apple cider vinegar is usually more expensive and it’s the good stuff that we’d rather use in and on our bodies instead of cleaning with.
Vinegar is a great disinfectant and is actually almost as good as bleach when it comes to killing germs and bacteria (vinegar kills around 80-90% whereas bleach kills 99.9%)
Favorite Uses: Cleaning windows and mirrors, all-purpose cleaner, disinfecting surfaces, fabric softener, dishwasher rinse-aid.
Favorite Brands: Once again, for cleaning you do not need to be too picky. However you can make sure to avoid petroleum based vinegar by buying vinegar that is made from grains. Often times the grains means corn based so if you are wanting GMO-free vinegar it’d be best to go organic.
EWG Rating: A
Not so much a cleaner as a polisher, olive oil is a great oil to keep in your cleaning arsenal. Just like oil is a great moisturizer for skin, it’s also a great polisher and restorer for wood.
Favorite Uses: Polishing wood, help restore wood, fix squeaky doors.
Favorite Brands: I don’t have a particular favorite brand when it comes to olive oil. Olive oil on the markets are often actually mixed with lesser oils and yet still labeled olive oil. If pure olive oil is important to you when it comes to cleaning, you’ll likely need to do a bit of digging.
It’s really just basic soap but soap can clean a lot. It’s also great to mix baking soda into and make your own scrub paste.
Favorite Uses: Mixed with baking soda to make a soft scrub for scrubbing tubs, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner.
Favorite Brands: There are many castile soaps out there but two favorites are Dr. Bronners and Dr. Woods.
EWG Rating:A (generally… make sure to check your particular brands ingredients)
Essential oils are not necessarily a cleaning basic but they are often added to cleaning products for either their smell or for increasing the cleaning ability of the cleaning product. There are hundreds of essential oils but when it comes to cleaning some favorites are orange, lemon, peppermint, and tea tree.
Favorite Uses: Add to vinegar to help cover up the smell, as a natural air freshener, adding tea tree increases disinfectant abilities.
Favorite Brands: Essential oil brands are a much debated thing. Everyone seems to have their own favorite brand. The important thing is to buy from a reliable brand. If you’ve never heard of it, then it’s possible that it’s not that great.
Of course, there are plenty of great brands out there that you’ve likely never heard of but unless you want to do your work and research like crazy, I recommend sticking to brands that everyone seems to trust. I personally love Aura Cacia but I’ve been known to use other brands as well.
EWG Rating: C – Yes I know… this is not a good rating. However if you look into the ratings for essential oils you’ll usually find it’s because of their strength or certain concerns (like some shouldn’t be used on skin in the sunlight – check out my post on how to use essential oils safely!).
So EWG doesn’t give essential oils a perfect A but I personally view them as safe so long as you know how to use them and use them safely.
Washing soda is pretty similar to baking soda. In fact, you can apparently make your own washing soda by cooking baking soda!
Washing soda is like baking soda in extra strength. It’s not a common ingredient for wiping down surfaces but you will find it in homemade dishwasher detergents or laundry detergents.
Favorite Uses: dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents.
Favorite Brands: Honestly, I’ve never seen washing soda that was not Arm & Hammer brand. I’m sure others exist out there but A&H is the only one I ever seem to see.