This world is full of viruses and unfriendly bacteria, and that has made chemical cleaners a staple in homes everywhere. Whether it’s about children, seniors, or overall health, keeping the home free of microscopic nasties is a big priority.
Big brand chemical companies may get all the credit when it comes to cleaning, but there are natural options that can knock out germs and deliver a fabulous toxin-free shine. Whether you’re looking to cut back on asthma aggravations or you want to go green for the family — pull out those chemicals under the kitchen sink to make room for these healthier eco-friendly alternatives.
Thanks to a composition of 5% acetic acid, vinegar boasts an acidity that can kill a whole list of germs — viruses and bacteria included. It’s a famous natural cleaner that’s favored by green and thrifty moms everywhere, especially since it’s a safer alternative to bleach that isn’t nearly as taxing on grout and flooring.
Vinegar can find a place in every cleaner’s heart, but there are a few things worth noting. Its acidity makes it a great disinfectant, but it doesn’t seem to have much power with bacteria like salmonella. The slimy biofilm keeps vinegar out and allows the bacteria to continue thriving, so anything that comes into contact with raw meat and eggs are at higher risk of such contamination. In this case they’re better cleaned with hot soapy water, a stronger disinfecting agent, or used with a combination of vinegar and a strong antimicrobial essential oil.
And while vinegar makes a quick and convenient disinfecting spray, it’s not going to work much magic for fixtures needing a good scrub down. It can help loosen up soap scum because of basic chemistry (soap = base, vinegar = acid) but there’s sure to be some sweat involved. Maximize cleaning efforts by using a natural abrasive powder that will maximize elbow grease potential.
Sodium bicarbonate has its place in the hearts — and bellies — of bakers everywhere, but it’s just as worthy of space in the cupboard as it is under the sink.
This mild alkalizing agent serves as an abrasive that makes scrubbing both gentle and effective. It also doubles as a deodorizer thanks to its ability to neutralize odors. When it comes to scouring the soap scum and rings in sinks, toilet bowls, and bathtubs, using baking soda practically guarantees a quicker and easier cleaning.
Cream Of Tartar
Lovers of meringue and snickerdoodles already appreciate this little powder, but it deserves a whole lot more love. This gentle abrasive is an excellent scouring agent with whitening abilities that can kiss those stains, rings, and discolorations goodbye. If that isn’t cool enough, it turns out that the tartaric acid we call cream of tartar is a direct byproduct of the wine-making process, so your cleaning efforts double up to repurpose too.
All that talk of hydrogen peroxide being good for our wounds seems to be a myth; but whether or not it’s an antiseptic, it IS a cleaner. The bubbling action of this natural compound makes it a powerful debriding agent that can lift even the most stubborn dirt to the surface. Due in part to this, it makes an excellent whitening agent that can clean up rings and stains of every kind. If your bathroom has mold problems and tile grout, this is a must-have.
Have you seen all the essential oil posts popping up on Pinterest and Facebook? If you have yet to jump on the bandwagon, then their cleaning benefits are sure to change your mind.
Essential oils boast fabulous fragrances that happen to come with fabulous compounds. Plants like tea tree and oregano have a composition that makes them incredible antifungals, and herbs like lavender and lemongrass serve as strong antibacterials. Whatever the needs of your bathroom or kitchen may be, every room in the house can benefit from essential oils. Just make sure you’re buying quality oils that aren’t diluted or extracted with chemical solvents.
While you’re scrubbing, make sure that your cleaning equipment is as clean as your countertops. Items like dish brushes and sponges can become a breeding ground for bacteria, so they should be cleaned regularly. Mops should be well-rinsed and dried, and rags should be washed with hot water. Sponges can be safely sanitized using the microwave, and remember to use the dishwasher to disinfect sponges and brushes alike.
[About the author: Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!]