“But do they really work?”
This is the question we most often hear from skeptics on the topic of DIY cleaning products. And it’s a tough one to answer. Some will be effective and some won’t, because it comes down to the knowledge of the DIY-er.
How to Make a Natural Cleaner That Works
While the process of making your own natural cleaners isn’t an exact science, there is some science to it. We recommend doing the following things to make sure you have cleaners that are really fighting germs, lifting stains, and getting things clean.
1) Begin with the proper ingredients.
Whether or not a natural DIY cleaner works effectively is dependent on how much you know about the ingredients you’re mixing together. Did you know that mixing vinegar with liquid castile soap causes a reaction that unsaponifies the soap, breaking it down into its original oils? You end up with a curdled, oily substance that looks like goopy cottage cheese. Instead of boosting your cleaning experience, this acid and base actually cancel each other out.
So how do you know what the right ingredients are for each recipe? That takes us to our next recommendation.
2) Learn from people with experience.
Most people don’t have the time, money, or patience to figure out how to make all of their own household cleaners. The good news is that some of us have done all the legwork for you. There are several great ebooks, print books, and websites out there where you can get all the information you need to start making your own cleaners, without having to make all the horrible newbie messes and mistakes. We have written an entire book on how to make all your own cleaners (60+ recipes), and you can find it here.
3) Employ a little trial & error.
A little trial and error on your part may be necessary even once you have all the right recipes and ingredients. Most of the individuals who have done the legwork of creating DIY recipes don’t have fancy laboratories and millions of dollars to fund product research and testing, so there may be some variables you’ll have to deal with.
Hard water is one factor that makes a few DIY cleaning recipes tricky for some. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use homemade cleaners, but simply that you may have to tweak a recipe or two, or use more of a cleaner than originally recommended. We always encourage people not to give up if a DIY cleaner doesn’t give results the very first time.
Practice makes perfect!
4) Tune out advertising.
I believe mainstream media is the biggest reason many people don’t believe DIY cleaners can actually work.
When the new Clorox campaign states that “Bleach means clean,” it’s no surprise that we doubt anything else could kill germs effectively. Yes, commercial cleaners may work, but they also introduce toxic chemicals into a home that you are working so hard to keep clean AND safe for your family.
Even some of the so-called natural cleaners contain chemicals that you wouldn’t want in your home. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reminds us that, “Some manufacturers may tout a positive aspect of their product but ignore health or ecological concerns associated with other ingredients.” This means that even if you’re shelling out the extra bucks for a “green” cleaner, you may not be getting what you think, and you might as well be making your own so you can control the ingredients.
So when you’re working hard to reduce toxins and find DIY cleaners that really work, tune out the media that might be selling you lies/half-truths, and trust what you know about simple, natural ingredients.
Put simply, no one cares about your family as much as you!
Natural Ingredients for a Cleaner That Works
One of my favorite homemade All Purpose Cleaners is formulated with a few simple ingredients that I know are effective in cleaning household surfaces.
Hydrogen Peroxide (3%): This common medicine cabinet staple can kill bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungus. It is listed with the Environmental Protection Agency as a sterilizer. It can be used to disinfect all your surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom, remove stains, and even to clean mirrors and stainless steel. I like to use it full-strength because it’s already diluted (3% hydrogen peroxide, 97% water) when you purchase it. Note: Hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to light, so must be kept either in its original bottle (with an added spray nozzle) or transferred to another opaque spray bottle.
Essential Oils: Essential oils are the volatile oils extracted from various parts of plants. In addition to their wonderful aroma, certain essential oils are known for their antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and germicidal properties. I love adding essential oils to a DIY cleaner to further enhance its effectiveness.
Anything else? No. This is how you keep DIY cleaners really simple, cheap, and effective!
Enjoy this recipe.
Lavender Mint Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
You will need:
- opaque spray bottle or the original hydrogen peroxide bottle with added spray nozzle
- 16 oz. hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- ½ teaspoon lavender essential oil (find pure lavender EO here)
- ½ teaspoon lemon essential oil (find pure lemon EO here)
- ⅛ teaspoon peppermint essential oil (find pure peppermint EO here)
Combine all ingredients in bottle, attach spray nozzle, and shake to combine. For best disinfecting results, spray on surfaces and leave for several minutes before wiping clean.
Do you use natural cleaners in your home? What are your favorites? Share below!