One of my goals for 2020 was to make regular changes in my life to reduce my impact upon the planet. I’ve already taken lots of small steps towards this goal and there is a long way to go. First on my list to tackle – toxin free kitchen cleaning products.
What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
I believe most people would replace their toxic kitchen cleaning products with gentler alternatives if they had the information to do so simply and cost effectively. I’ll confess that my past experience with ‘green’ cleaning products hasn’t always been positive. I’ve tried many products that either don’t work, involved A LOT of elbow grease or cost a fortune. My challenge was to find products that were effective and didn’t break the bank.
This project was so exciting for me. I am a self-confessed clean freak. Almost nothing gives me more of a buzz than a perfectly organised wardrobe, a tidy pantry or a clean home. I love the clean smell. I love the clarity in my head when all clutter is gone … yes, you get the picture. But more important than my OCD tendancies, is my desire to look out for my families health and do my bit for our planet.
So I set to work researching, in the hope that I could ditch my under sink cupboard of nasties and come up with suitable green alternatives. And the great news – I am super happy with the outcome. The home-made cleaners that I’ve tried and tested are super simple to make, smell amazing and cost less than any cleaning product you can purchase at the supermarket. Best of all, they actually work and are a pleasure to use – no more toxic fumes. So let’s get to it. Find out my formula and join me in making a difference.
The greatest threat to our planet, is the belief that someone else will save it.
HOME MADE TOXIN FREE ALL PURPOSE CLEANER
All purpose cleaner is the one cleaning product I use the most throughout my home. I use it for everything from my stone bench tops, cupboard fronts, timber dining table, marble coffee table, concrete and timber floors and so on. This product needs to be gentle enough to use on any surface as well as effective at cleaning. It also needs to have a formula that doesn’t need to be rinsed off. One simple wipe and I need to be done.
The first thing that became apparent when I began my research was that many all purpose cleaner recipes include chemicals that require rinsing or shouldn’t be used on typical surfaces found in a home. Lemon juice and alcohol for instance should not be used on timber. Vinegar should not be used on grout, stone, concrete, aluminium or cast iron. Baking soda is abrasive and leaves behind a filmy grit unless rinsed thoroughly. Borax also needs to be thoroughly rinsed from all surfaces and your skin after use.
This homemade all purpose cleaner recipe is is safe for stone, timber, marble, laminate, stainless steel, tile, vinyl, and more! I stick to a glass cleaner (see recipe below) or vinegar and water for glass and mirrors. It is incredibly easy to make with just three ingredients (or two if you’re not concerned about a scent). It will literally take you 30 seconds to put together.
My biggest lesson from this entire process was that we so often use chemicals when we don’t really need them. Simple can be just as effective … add a natural scent, and it can be superior.
WHAT ABOUT DISINFECTANT?
I am a strong believer that we generally don’t need to disinfect. But what about you germ freaks out there? I do understand that there are times when you feel better using a disinfectant – If you have a sick family member or a pet accident for instance. There are two effective non-toxic disinfectants – white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Vinegar kills germs due to the acetic acid. It works well on stainless steel, glass and laminate but avoid using on grout, natural stone or concrete, cast iron and aluminium.
Hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule, so unlike bleach, it breaks down into oxygen and water and is kind to the environment. Use it diluted to 3% (how it’s usually sold) to remove stains or to disinfect. Beware hydrogen peroxide can bleach fabrics, corrode metal and damage wood and natural stone with overuse.
Some essential oils also have properties that can help with disinfection. These include tea tree, peppermint and lemon oil. Always select essential oils that are are safe for the people and pets in your home.
HOME MADE TOXIN FREE GLASS CLEANER
This home made glass cleaner is natural enough that you could almost drink it. (Don’t! It won’t taste great and you may get a little more of a ‘buzz’ from cleaning than usual.) The two surprising ingredients are alcohol and cornstarch.
Each ingredient in this recipe combines to create a product that cleans well and leaves your glass streak free. The alcohol removes dust and dirt and evaporates quickly. The acid in the vinegar breaks down hard water deposits. The corn starch acts as a very fine abrasive to tackle stubborn grime. I think it does take a little more elbow grease, but the end results from this product are great. I’ve also done the numbers and even if you incorporate (inexpensive) vodka instead of rubbing alcohol, this glass cleaner is cheap.
I add 10 drops of lemon essential oil to my glass cleaner, which makes it smell wonderful. This is not generally recommended as essential oils can leave streaks. Seems to work for me though.
Oven cleaning has always been something I’ve dreaded! The smell, the fumes … uggh. I can practically feel the toxins leaching into my body! It also has to be my biggest failure as a self-obsessed clean freak! I could count the times I have cleaned our oven in ten years on one hand. And before you think how lucky I am to have someone else to clean the oven … no. I am confessing that my oven has not been cleaned properly more than 5 times in 10 years … eek. To get away with this I have to be particularly tidy with my cooking … but still!
Luckily for me, our 10 year old oven recently exploded. Yes, you heard me. The glass door literally exploded into thousands of pieces and it was no longer able to be repaired or used. I say luckily for me because it was long overdue for a serious clean :).
Our new AEG oven has pyrolytic cleaning and recently I decided that enough was enough. I was going to give this pyrolytic cleaning caper a shot. I removed the rails and grills and let it do it’s thing. I had no faith and thought the entire process would be an utter waste of time and yes, I was seriously contemplating calling ‘The Oven Man’.
I want to let you non-believers out there (like me), know that you can have faith in pyrolytic cleaning. I was blown away. The interior of the oven was incinerated and I was left with a tiny pile of ash on the base of the oven. Even the glass door was sparkling. My message – forget oven cleaners and get yourself a self-cleaning oven. I pledge to be more diligent with my oven cleaning from now on. Promise.
As for the chrome components, I have heard that soaking them in a couple of inches of water and 1-3 cups baking soda overnight does wonders. I couldn’t be bothered with that, so mine were simply washed in hot soapy water or placed in the dishwasher.
And that’s it for my toxic kitchen overhaul. I have found that these two home made cleaning products are all I really need to use on a regular basis. I have a white stone bench, so I use non-toxic Gumption Multi-purpose Cleaner to bring it back to it’s whitest glory every now and again, but otherwise that’s it. The entire family enjoy cleaning with my new home made products because of the beautiful scent and lack of toxins.
So give them a go and let me know what you think. You’ve really got nothing to loose. You might even save some money and help our planet while you’re at it.
One person can make all the difference in the world. For the first time in recorded human history, we have the fate of the whole planet in our hands.