Having long ago abandoned fancy designer lotions for natural alternatives to keeping my skin healthy and smooth, it occurred to me one day that I ought to likewise banish chemically laden products from my cleaning cabinet.
After all, if you tend the surface of your body with care, why not attend to the myriad surfaces of your home – counter tops, floors, sinks, bathrooms and mirrors – with the same care?
It just makes sense.
Thankfully, numerous companies now offer “green cleaners.” If you’ve never tried them, check them out. From Whole Foods to Target, most stores have at least some environmentally friendly products – a step in the right direction.
Better yet, you can easily create your own custom cleaning products. Frankly, I was surprised by just how easy – and cost-effective – this is!
And with the addition of essential oils (in lieu of caustic chemicals), cleaning becomes an aromatherapy experience. Here are the medicinal and characteristic qualities of some commonly available oils, courtesy of the Aromatherapy Bible by Gill Farrer-Halls:
- Orange: antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, uplifting
- Lemon: antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, stimulating, clarifying
- Eucalyptus: analgesic, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, astringent
- Peppermint: analgesic, antiseptic, astringent, stimulant, decongestant
- Lavender: analgesic, antidepressant, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, sedative
- Tea tree: antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, bactericide, fungicide, stimulant
Have fun creating your own unique formulas in three of my favorite DIY cleaners – instructions below – and enjoy the multiple benefits these oils offer. (Just remember to pick scents that everyone in your home enjoys.)
And if you’re new to using essential oils, don’t stress it. It’s best to keep things simple and pick one or two combinations to start with. It’s impossible to go wrong if you pick scents you love.
Some combos I like:
- Citrus (orange and lemon) and peppermint
- Eucalyptus and lavender
- Eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint
- Lavender and orange
- Lavender and tea tree
- Peppermint, eucalyptus and lemon
For countertops and glass
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of unscented liquid castile soap
- 10-15 drops total of your favorite essential oil
Put all of these into a 16-ounce spray bottle and shake well.
If you aren’t into blending your own oils, consider Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps instead. Available scents include almond, eucalyptus (one of my favorites), lavender, orange, peppermint (another favorite), rose and tea tree.
Or for a soap-free option, go with 8 ounces each of white vinegar and water in a 16- ounce spray bottle. It’s great for mirrors, glass and non-wax wood floors. Keep a small spray bottle of it in your car for sparkling windows and a clean dashboard. It’s infinitely more pleasant than the chemical smell of Windex or the pre-treated wipes you often get at the car wash.
While you can use the simple water/vinegar solution mentioned above on non-waxed wood floors, floors that are waxed need a gentler solution. The following mixture provides a high shine and can also be used on wooden cabinets.
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup lemon juice
Put all of these into a 32-ounce spray bottle and mix well. Spray the floor and dry mop until clean and shiny.
I love this recipe from Floracopeia, an outstanding provider of sustainable essential oils. The oil(s) used in this formula are highly antibacterial.
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1 cup of borax
- 1/2 cup of sea salt
Put all of these into a mixing bowl and mix well. Then add 10 drops each of three of the oils listed below (30 drops total) – or, if you prefer, 30 drops of one favorite or 15 drops each of two.
- Tea tree
Stir well and spoon the mixture carefully into a container with a shaker top, such as a used spice bottle or a clean, grated-cheese shaker.
Image by Chiot’s Run, via Flickr