How to Start Making Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies at Home

Making your own cleaning supplies at home is really very easy and there are so many benefits – it saves a ton of money and if you use the non-toxic ingredients I suggest, will also benefit the environment, save your health and make your home much safer, especially for children and pets.
Clean House, Clean Planet Book

I was inspired to start making my own cleaning supplies when a good friend of mine, Tana, introduced me to this fantastic book, (affiliate link) “Clean House, Clean Planet.” The author, Karen Logan, does an excellent job of explaining the toxic chemicals in store-bought cleaners and makes a very convincing argument for making your own alternatives that won’t send you or your children to the emergency room if ingested. So, if you’re a book person and like to have physical paper in front of you as you mix away, then “Clean House, Clean Planet” is for you. Otherwise, if you’re cheap like me, here are my online recipes that are very similar to the ones in the book that I have used!

Clean House, Clean Planet Book Review

See how much I’ve used this book? It’s falling apart! The author explains which chemicals are typically found in all kinds of cleaners and what harm they can cause, then gives a recipe for alternatives to make at home with a list of ingredients, the supplies you’ll need, and how to make and use it.

First, Start Collecting Containers

You’ll Need:

  • A shaker container (like an empty parmesan cheese container, or large spice container like minced onion or oregano)
  • 8 oz and 16 oz. Spray Bottles (Hardware stores like True Value, Ace, Home Depot and Lowe’s, and there’s always Amazon (buy here). sell ones of very good quality, which is important so your hand doesn’t tire as you squirt and so they last a long time).
  • Squirt Bottles (I use old shampoo and conditioner bottles)
  • For Laundry Detergent save your old laundry detergent container so you will have the measuring cup for each load.

Then, Start Collecting Ingredients

  • Baking Soda (where to buy)*
  • Super Washing Soda (where to buy)**
  • White Distilled Vinegar 5% Acidity (where to buy)
  • Liquid Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s) or all an natural liquid dishwashing soap
  • Essential Oils with Antibacterial and Antiseptic properties like: Tea Tree Oil, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus, (or these fabulous blended oils) Purification or Thieves (where to buy high quality essential oils)

*Can be purchased at any grocery store, but I like to buy the 13.5 pound bag from Amazon
**In the laundry aisle of grocery stores

Borax – Safe or Not?

Borax is a naturally occurring compound that is mined directly out of the ground. It can be harmful if ingested, but is still green and doesn’t harm the environment or ground water (Crunchy Betty has a great post about Borax if you want more info.). So, my suggestion is to keep your cleaning products that contain Borax out of reach of children and if you use a cleaner containing Borax on countertops or food preparation surfaces, just wipe clean afterwards with a wet washcloth, then rinse it clean. UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, I have ceased to use Borax. I’d rather air on the side of safety, so now I use just baking soda or super washing soda to replace it.
It’s also important when using Borax to mix it with hot water first so it dissolves, then add the rest of your cleaning ingredients.

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)
This amazing oil has a reputation for having antibacterial properties, and has been proven in recent medical studies that show that it has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic qualities. It was even shown in recent trials to be more effective for treating head lice than prescribed drugs! It comes from the Tea Tree of eastern Australia, and was used by the indigenous people to treat cuts and wounds, inhaled to treat coughs and colds, and used as an infusion to treat sore throats (for more info, visit wikipedia.com).  It is your secret weapon in natural cleaning products to kill bacteria!

If you have asthma or are very sensitive to strong smells, add as much as you can handle to your cleaners or do without it all together. Vinegar and Borax also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. 

Vinegar

White Distilled Vinegar (where to buy) also has a long history and reputation of fighting bacteria and diseases (going all the way back to Hippocrates, according to wikipedia.org!) According to care2.com, the Heinze company (which makes vinegar) says that straight vinegar (like the kind you buy in the store that is a 5% solution) kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs (viruses), but they cannot print that on their products because the company has not registered its vinegar as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s hard to argue with it’s 2,000-year-old reputation as an antibacterial!

Baking Soda

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used baking soda (where to buy) as a cleaning agent, like soap? It has countless uses and is really a magical organic compound. I use it as shampoo because it is an effective cleaner, but is so gentle and doesn’t dry my hair out.

A Note About Green CleanersMake Labels for your cleaning supplies for safety

I’ve found that green cleaners work just as well as commercial ones, but sometimes they do take more time to work. So, for hard, dirty jobs, let the cleaner sit on for several hours or even overnight and wipe clean. I’ve done this countless times with Castile Soap and it works wonders to remove hard water stains and stuck-on food! Also, experiment with your recipes. You may find you need more baking soda, for instance, if you have a job that needs scrubbing. Or you may want to add more Tea Tree Oil or Vinegar to clean something containing bacteria, mold, or mildew.

Label Your Containers

It really helps to label your containers with the ingredients and recipes so you don’t have to look them up every time you have to refill them. Many of my recipes contain free printable labels with the recipe so you’ll never have to look them up again! This also makes it safer when there are children around so you know what’s inside.

Click here to See All My Natural Cleaning Recipes in One Place!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.

Comments

  1. When we use green and environment friendly cleaning products, we are doing a great favor to the place we are living in. It’s like contributing to complete environmental services even in our own little way.

  2. Great post! I would caution though that 20 Mule Borax is Borax NOT super washing soda. They have completely different chemical make ups. Arm and Hammer is the only one who makes super washing soda and Ace Hardware is the only brick and mortar store I have ever been able to find it in. (You can buy it online but it is a dollar or two more expensive). People online always *claim* this can easily be found in laundry aisle but I live outside of DC in a very populous area and NO stores carry this, except the aforementioned Ace Hardware.

    • Oh really? I’m surprised you haven’t found super washing soda in your grocery store. I found found it in several and have never lived in a big city. It must depend on the chain. Another reader said she found it at Walmart. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. I’ve found arm&hammer super washing soda at my local Walmart and grocery store here in Illinois.

  4. I love this post thanks for sharing. I believe it worth mentioning however that the doctor Bronners site recommends not mixing vinegar and castille soap. It apparently causes them to work against each other. Instead they recommend using the vinegar as a rinse agent.

  5. Pat Mitchell says:

    Please, please, do not use anything with Tea Tree Oil if you have pets! It can be deadly. They don’t even have to lick it. They can absorb it through the skin and it can be just as deadly.
    http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/tea-tree-oil/

  6. Dr. Drake Anderson says:

    I just wanted to state that Borax is NOT Boric Acid. Boxax itself is perfectly safe to use in your home. It is Boric Acid that has issues and toxic reputation. Let’s be honest, everything can be harmful if handled incorrectly. Borax itself is fine and safe in cleaning products. All research that is out there is actually about Boric Acid not Borax. Due to this unfortunate mix up people are afraid of something they really shouldn’t be. If you want to omit it by all means do, however, there is some things I feel do not fair well from omitting Borax. Also, Washing Soda is Arm and Hammer not Borax (at least I have never seen a Borax washing soda).

    Just some advice from your friendly Biologist.

    • Thanks for the advice, Dr. Drake! 🙂 Yes, I’ve always understood that Borax is not Boric Acid, though I’ve read several articles of people who knew that and still didn’t like Borax. Plus, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) which I use all the time to see how safe a product or ingredient is or isn’t, gives Borax an F for potential endocrine and reproductive toxicity. Here’s the rating.

  7. I have clicked on the links to see your cleaner recipes, but they all link back to this same page, which doesn’t contain any recipes. Is there a mistake here?

  8. You should use glass squirt bottles as certain essential oils can react with plastic ones and leech out harmful things. Which is obviously what we are trying to avoid by making our own cleaning products.

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