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5 non-toxic household cleaners you can make yourself

Household cleaners are essential for keeping your home clean, but many are full of toxic chemicals that can seriously harm your health over time, including triggering chronic inflammation. But did you know that many of these cleaners can be replaced with non-toxic versions that you can easily make yourself and which can do just as good a job?

Toxins from household chemicals can be absorbed through the skin or the airways and can lead to chronic inflammation. For more on chronic inflammation and the damage it can do to your health, please take a look at this dedicated article. Non-toxic options do exist but they tend to be very expensive. Why not try out some of these homemade alternatives and start detoxifying your home? They are simple to make, smell great and won't break the bank. The only downside here is that they may take slightly longer to make than simply lifting a bottle off the shelf in the supermarket but those few minutes could well make a big difference to your long-term health.

Most of these formulas call for the use of essential oils. This is mostly to provide a fresh and pleasant smell and so you can do without them if you don't mind the smell of vinegar. That said, certain essential oils do have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and so if you don't mind spending that little bit extra you will receive double the benefit. I tend to use tea tree and eucalyptus as their anti-bacterial credentials are well established, and also because I love the smell. Lavender, peppermint, citrus and rosemary are also good alternatives to choose from. Safety note: while these cleaners are non-toxic, they are still harmful if consumed and should be kept away from children. Always ensure that you label your cleaning products and write the ingredients on the back in case a child or animal consumes them accidentally.

1. General purpose cleaner

This cleaner is intended to replace your all-purpose kitchen surface spray. This also works as a glass and mirror cleaner, however the more watered down version given later is less likely to leave streaks. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle.

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup white vinegar (you can also use lemon juice but it's a lot more expensive)

  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil

  • 2 drops of tea tree oil

2. Toilet cleaner

You don't need bleach to get the germs out of your toiled bowl. Vinegar and baking soda do a great job, with a little essential oil to leave a fresh aroma. Feel free to swap out eucalyptus for your favourite essential oil. To use, combine the vinegar and essential oil in a spray bottle, then spray the entire contents in and around your toilet bowl, including the outsides. Sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda around the inside of the bowl so that it all fizzes up then scrub with the toilet brush to make sure all the germs are taken care of.

  • 1 cup of white vinegar

  • ½ cup of bicarbonate of soda

  • 10 drops of eucalyptus oil

  • 2 drops of tea tree oil

3. Window and glass cleaner

Similar to your all-purpose cleaner but with more water to prevent streaking. Additionally, windows tend not to have as many germs as surfaces so don't need as strong a formula. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle.

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cup white vinegar (you can also use lemon juice but it's a lot more expensive)

  • 5 drops of eucalyptus oil

  • 2 drops of tea tree oil

4. Washing up liquid

Washing up liquid is a very simple one to make as it uses the much overlooked castile soap, which is incredibly effective at removing dirt and grime. Castile soap originates from Spain's Castile region and is traditionally made with olive oil. Modern version often use cheaper vegetable oils, but the product should nevertheless be 100% natural and free from animal products. Combine the ingredients in a re-purposed washing up liquid bottle or other suitable container. I don't recommend adding essential oils to this formula as traces may remain on the dishes after washing.

  • 2 cups of liquid castile soap

  • ½ cup of water

5. Bubble bath

There's nothing like a relaxing bubble bath at the end of the day, but most commercial products contain artificial fragrances and chemicals such sodium lauryl sulfate. If you are trying to eliminate toxins from your home, bubble bath should be one of your first ports of call. It is relatively simple to make a lovely foaming bath soap that you can tweak to get the perfect level of foam for you. Then you can experiment with your favourite essential oils to find your ideal proprietary bath blend. To assemble, simple combine the ingredients in an empty BPA-free plastic bottle, then give a gentle shake before each use as the glycerin may have settled on the bottom.

  • 1 cup warm water

  • ½ cup liquid castile soap

  • ¼ cup vegetable glycerin

  • 1 tsp chamomile essential oil

  • 1 tsp lavender essential oil

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