Five Natural Ingredients for Homemade Cleaning Products

Wish I looked this good during spring cleaning.
By Wmpearl (Own work) [CC0], via
Wikimedia Commons

Cleaning products can get expensive in a hurry and most of them are full of nasty substances. If you have a sensitivity to things like bleach, it’s an especially good idea to start making your own cleaning solutions.

Since it’s spring cleaning time, I figured I’d share my five favorite cleaner ingredients.

Tea Tree Oil
This essential oil is extracted from a plant originally found in Australia and New Zealand. It’s been used for centuries to treat wounds, and in WWII, it was used to sanitize medical tools. Back then, it was actually known as “catheter oil” to some people. Australian troops were given tea tree oil in their first aid kits, as well.

This oil has been proven in labs to kill the MRSA bacteria, and is also used as an antifungal agent. It’s a great oil to include with a counter or floor cleaning solution, especially when you want some extra disinfectant goodness. Tea Tree might also keep bugs away, since it can repel some insects.

Eucalyptus Oil
This aromatic essential oil is best known for its use as a decongestant. It’s commonly used in cough drops and chest rubs. In addition to clearing the sinuses, it’s also a germ killer.

You can also use it in cleaning to break up residue from tape and other adhesives. I’m fond of using this one in the kitchen, because it’s also a de-greaser.

Be careful when using this oil undiluted, though, because it might cause skin irritation.

Lemon
There’s a reason why lemon scent is used in some commercial cleaners. Of course, its scent is refreshing, but the fruit can also be used to clean copper surfaces, freshen drains, and get rid of hard water on faucets.

Fair haired people have used lemon oil for centuries to lighten their hair, but the bleaching quality can also be applied to stained counter tops and laundry, as well.

Lavender Oil
In addition to being relaxing, lavender is another disinfectant and insect repellent. It’s another option for small stain removal in clothing, and can be a great ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.

You can also make your own dish-washing soap with it by adding a few drops of the oil to unscented soap. I rather like this idea, because lavender is very good for the skin, and I don’t have a dishwasher. I’ll have to try this when we run out of what we have now.

Vinegar
This is one of the most versatile and widely used natural cleaners. You can use it as a base for counter cleaners, pour down you drains to deodorize them and use it to clean glass, as well.

It’s nontoxic, but it doesn’t smell all that great. The scent is easily remedied by adding a bit to lemon juice to it.

These ingredients can be used for a broad range of cleaning jobs, and they’re mostly safe to use. There are a few things to be aware of, though:

  • Pure essential oils are dangerous when taken internally, so don’t drink them and keep them out of reach of children.
  • Some of these ingredients may damage wood finish, so clean those surfaces with care.
  • Most essential oils carry with them the risk of skin irritation when undiluted. The two exceptions to this rule are tea tree oil and lavender oil. Once most oils are diluted enough, though, you should be safe.

In addition to keeping toxins out of the house, you’ll also be making your home smell absolutely beautiful when you use these ingredients in cleaning.

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