Inside: Natural cleaners are all the rage. Now more than ever homemakers are trying to reduce the number of harsh chemicals they allow into their homes by making their own household cleaners with products they already own. Find out if using natural cleaners in your home is right for you.
Before diving into whether natural cleaners are the best solution for you, we need to first delve into finding out if using any cleaner is even necessary.
There’s a distinct difference between cleaning and disinfecting. The reality is if you’re just cleaning a surface, all you truly need is a microfiber towel and water. Don’t believe me? That’s the science behind the overly expensive, need to take out a second mortgage, Norwex cleaning cloths.
Lightly soiled areas can be cleaned with water and a microfiber towel; however, heavier soiled areas such as those that are sticky from maple syrup, rubber marks, or petroleum-based grunge, would require a cleaning agent stronger than water to remove the mess.
If you want to disinfect a surface, then you will need to utilize some sort of cleaning agent that kills germs. Although you’re technically cleaning, disinfecting is cleaning on steroids.
Is it necessary to disinfect your living room or bedroom? If someone was recently sick, it would be a good idea, but ideally, kitchens and bathrooms should be the two main rooms in the house you want to disinfect.
Are natural cleaners really safe?
When it comes to natural cleaning products you can buy at your local grocery store or big box store, you’ll want to read the ingredient label. Due to cleaning agents not being ingested, the FDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list all of the ingredients on the panel, where-as the EPA requires manufacturers to list ingredients that are active disinfectants or potentially harmful.
Rest assured, there are chemicals of some sort in the green or natural household cleaners you purchase from the store. If the thought of any chemical in your cleaner bothers you, you’ll want to make your own natural cleaners.
Some natural cleaners have a chemical called Cocamidopropyl Betaine. CAPB is a synthetic chemical compound that is derived from coconuts. Even though companies who use this claim it to be “natural” due to coming from a coconut, synthetic’s are not natural, so in essence, they’re tricking consumers into thinking it’s all-natural. Now if it was made with 100% coconut oil, then that would be something different.
With that said, if you truly want a natural cleaner, you’ll have to make it yourself.
If you really want to use a cleaning agent that’s natural or green, it will be in your best interest to whip up a bath of cleaner yourself. This way, you’ll be assured you know exactly what’s in it.
Although, making natural cleaners is great if you have the time, there are a lot of homemakers that continue to purchase store-bought cleaners for many reasons.
Pros and cons of homemade natural cleaners
- It’s cost-effective.
- You know exactly what’s in your cleaning product.
- It contains fewer allergens.
- It’s cruelty-free.
- It’s gentler on your skin.
- There are no harsh chemicals that may impact the health of your family.
- It’s safer for families with small children and pets.
- It’s great for cleaning everyday household grime.
- It’s not as effective in reducing antimicrobials as some commercial cleaners.
- It may require more elbow grease or a longer wait time.
- The smell of vinegar can be overbearing.
- Mixing agents together without researching potential product-to-product interactions, which can cause serious damage to your lungs, or worse.
- Vinegar works as a disinfectant, but only works against some germs, like E.coli and Salmonella. Vinegar doesn’t kill influenza or COVID-19.
Natural cleaning supply list
Since you decided to go the route of natural cleaners, you’ll want to make sure you have some basic supplies.
- Baking soda
- Castile soap or Sal Suds
- Containers, spray bottles, or glass jars
- Distilled water
- Essential oils (optional)
- Hydrogen peroxide 3%
- Microfiber cloths
- Vodka or rubbing alcohol
- Washing soda
- White distilled household vinegar
Tips to remember when it comes to natural cleaners
Baking soda & vinegar – The chemical reaction that occurs when baking soda and vinegar meet may seem like the perfect cleaner and ready to tackle the toughest dirt and grime. When combined they basically just turn into salt and aren’t the “powerhouse” cleaning agent everyone claims them to be. Although together they work great to clear a drain (due to the chemical reaction), they should never be kept together in an airtight container, as the combination can cause an explosion.
Castile soap – Never mix Castile soap with any acid such as vinegar. Although it doesn’t cause a severe chemical reaction, it does turn the soap into a pile of goo that sometimes resembles slime, making it difficult to use.
Hydrogen Peroxide – Never use hydrogen peroxide that’s higher than 3%, as higher levels are toxic if ingested. Most stores will sell the 3% hydrogen peroxide. If you work in the healthcare industry or know someone who does and they supply you with your hydrogen peroxide, please be cognizant of the percentage. Health-grade peroxide should only be used in a healthcare setting.
Never mix hydrogen peroxide with ammonia, household bleach, or vinegar, as the combination can cause severe respiratory injuries.
As a general rule, it’s best to never keep hydrogen peroxide mixed with any cleaner you plan on storing. If you’re going to be using a recipe that includes hydrogen peroxide, you’ll want to whip up a fresh batch before your cleaning session. If you have leftovers, discard them immediately down the sink or toilet.
Washing soda – Although it’s considered safe, washing soda is highly alkaline, and undiluted washing soda can damage your eyes and skin. It should also never be confused with baking soda, and never be ingested. Always wear protective equipment, such as an apron, household gloves, and even eye protection, when using washing soda. Washing soda should only be used in conjunction with laundry, and should not be involved with any cleaning products that are used where food is either served or stored.
Borax, which is Boric Acid/Sodium Borate Salts, didn’t make this list due to being an irritant and has been proven to cause some sperm reduction in lab animals. Now, people are different from lab animals, but if you’re looking to go the natural route, you’re more than likely not going to want to use something that was tested on animals (even if those animals are mice).
You can learn more about Boric Acid at Regulations.Gov.
Are natural cleaners the best choice for you?
Like everything in life, we need to make some decisions. Although natural cleaners make for an affordable and great cleaning product, some people would rather go with store-bought cleaners.
Since we’ve already gone over the pros and cons of natural cleaners, it would only benefit you in knowing the pros and cons of store-bought chemical-laden cleaners.
- They’re always readily available and there’s a huge variety.
- They offer antibacterial properties.
- There will be no chemical mix-ups causing severe chemical reactions.
- There are products made for specific cleaning needs.
- No thinking involved, just spray, wipe or swish, and you’re done.
- Perfect when you can’t find peroxide, vinegar, or other items in the stores due to a pandemic or other store shortages.
- You can use coupons to get a great deal.
- They can expel toxic fumes.
- They can be somewhat expensive.
- They can aggravate asthma or other respiratory or allergy symptoms.
- They can be an irritant to the eyes, and throat or cause headaches and other health problems, including cancer.
- They can contain flammable ingredients.
- Most store-bought household cleaners require to be used in a well-ventilated room.
Regardless, if you’re team “homemade natural cleaners” or “store-bought cleaners”, keeping a clean and germ-free home should always be a priority. Whichever route you go, chose it because you feel it’s in the best interest of you and your household, not because it’s the latest fad or someone told you to.
Are you considering switching over to natural cleaners?
What was your reasoning for switching to or considering using natural cleaners? Share in a comment.