As parents, we all want what's best for our children. We ensure they eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and are safe from harm. But what about the products we use to clean our homes and children's belongings? Some traditional cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can have questionable or unclear effects on our health and the environment.
Therefore, many moms and dads prefer to keep cleaning simple and natural. Luckily many non-toxic alternatives can be just as effective as store-bought cleaning solutions. Here are the five natural items you can use to clean almost anything (and we bet you already have most of them around your house.)
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally occurring white crystalline powder commonly used as a leavening agent in baking. It works by its natural chemical properties as a mild alkaline substance that can neutralize acidic compounds and dissolve dirt, grease, and grime.
When mixed with water, baking soda creates an alkaline solution to break down organic matter and loosen dirt and debris. This makes it effective in cleaning various surfaces, including kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, carpets, and more.
Baking soda can also act as a mild abrasive, helping to scrub away stains and grime without damaging surfaces. It is gentle enough to use on delicate surfaces like glass yet effective enough to tackle tough stains on surfaces like tile and grout.
Overall, the alkaline nature of baking soda makes it an excellent cleaning agent that is both versatile and effective. Here are some ways you can use it around the house.
Food-Safe Kitchen Cleaning:
- Lunch Boxes: Sprinkle baking soda inside the lunch box and use a damp cloth to wipe it clean. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and can help remove stubborn stains.
- Cutting Boards: Sprinkle baking soda on the cutting board and use a damp sponge to scrub it clean. Rinse with water and dry.
- Add half a cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent to help remove stains and odors.
- For deep stains, mix baking soda with a small amount of water or vinegar to make a paste. Apply the paste to the soiled area and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing as usual. (this works great for backpacks)
- Sprinkle baking soda onto a damp cloth and use it to clean surfaces. As a natural abrasive, baking soda can help remove stains and grime.
Vinegar is made by fermenting various substances, such as grapes, apples, rice, or malted barley, into alcohol, which is then allowed to undergo a second fermentation process to produce acetic acid. Vinegar can vary in strength, acidity, and flavor depending on the type of base ingredient used and the fermentation process.
Due to its acidic properties, it can dissolve and remove dirt, stains, and bacteria. Along with being effective, vinegar is much less expensive than many commercial cleaning products. It can be purchased in large quantities for a low price. Additionally, it is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Food-Safe Kitchen Cleaning:
- Mix equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle for an all-purpose, food-safe cleaner. Vinegar has been shown to kill some food-borne pathogens and can be made more effective by mixing it with salt. Use this solution on counters, eating utensils, and lunch boxes.
- Adding ½ cup of vinegar to your laundry cycle has multiple benefits. Vinegar helps to soften clothes by breaking down any residual detergent or minerals that can make fabrics stiff and scratchy. Additionally, vinegar can help to freshen and deodorize your clothes.
- Use the same equal parts vinegar and water spray around all surfaces throughout your home. In the bathroom, pour a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush for a sparkly clean bowl without scrubbing.
3. Soap Nuts
This is the least common item on our natural cleaning list. Soap nuts are a natural alternative to laundry detergent. They contain saponin, a natural surfactant that can help remove dirt and stains. Our children's clothes and linens come into contact with their skin daily. Using natural and chemical-free laundry products can help reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.
Soap nuts have many advantages over traditional laundry detergents and stain removers. Soap nuts are:
- Sustainable: Soap nut detergent or powder is grown in nature (it's actually a fruit), so it's much earth-friendlier in creation and disposal than standard detergent. They grow on trees, can be easily produced with harmful farming practices, and are biodegradable.
- Affordable: Soap nuts are not expensive to purchase, and they can be used multiple times before they are disposed of.
- Save Water & Energy: You can skip fabric softener and the rinse cycle, which puts some more cash back in your pocket.
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4. Lemon Juice
Lemons are a fantastic natural cleaner due to their high acidity, natural disinfectant properties, pleasant aroma, versatility, non-toxic and eco-friendly nature, and cost-effectiveness. Their acidic nature helps cut through grease and stains. At the same time, their antimicrobial properties make them effective in killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Lemons are versatile and can be used on various surfaces, making them a great alternative to commercial cleaning products. They are also non-toxic and eco-friendly, making them a safe choice for cleaning tasks. Additionally, lemons are cost-effective and widely available, making them a practical choice for natural cleaning.
Here are different ways to swap out chemicals for lemon juice around the house:
Food-Safe Kitchen Cleaning:
- Squeeze some lemon juice onto a damp cloth, and you can use it to wipe down most things in your kitchen! Lemons can be used to clean countertops, cutting boards, stovetops, sinks, faucets, and lunch boxes. Lemons can also clean household items like glassware, silverware, and brass or copper.
**However, it's important to note that lemon juice is acidic and can potentially damage certain surfaces, such as marble or granite countertops, so always test it on a small, inconspicuous area before using it on a larger scale.
- Skip the bleach. Lemon juice can help brighten white fabrics like white clothing or linens. Add about half a cup of lemon juice to the rinse cycle of your laundry to help remove yellowing or dinginess from white fabrics.
- Lemon juice can be used to clean bathroom surfaces, such as sinks, faucets, and shower fixtures. The acidic nature of lemon juice can help break down soap scum, hard water stains, and mineral deposits, leaving your bathroom fixtures clean and shiny. It can also be mixed with water as a natural window and mirror cleaner.
In conclusion, you can rely on something other than harsh chemicals and toxic cleaners when cleaning your house. Nature has provided us with some fantastic, eco-friendly, non-toxic alternatives that are effective and safe for you, your family, and the environment. Baking soda, vinegar, soap nuts, and lemon juice are versatile natural items that can clean almost everything in your house, from countertops to carpets, without leaving behind harmful residues or toxins.
Not only are these natural items effective, but they are also affordable and readily available, making them a practical and sustainable choice for cleaning your home. Plus, using non-toxic, natural alternatives reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals, promotes a healthier living environment, and minimizes your environmental impact.
So, next time you're reaching for a cleaning solution, consider using one of these natural alternatives to clean everything in your house. Your home, your family, and the planet will thank you!