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Something happened around 2007. The whole world seemed to be interested in something I'd always done - maintaining a home on a budget with natural resources. It kind of surprised me and also elated me. I was ready to share with every person I knew how you could have a sparkling clean home without a huge investment. And then a bajillion different companies popped up out of nowhere, promising amazing cleaning results with no harmful impact on the planet or our health. Suddenly, it seemed fruitless to even try to explain that the whole process was simpler than signing up for a natural coop, scouring store shelves for packaging containing special leaf emblems, or making expensive weekly trips to over-priced natural chains. Even Clorox claimed to have a natural remedy for dirt. So I gave up. If the choice is between sitting around drinking wine and arguing with giant chemical companies over their ingredients lists, I choose wine. Naturally.
Now, eleven years later, I'm still using the same cleaning products I've always used and the number of "natural" cleaning options has only tripled. Each product promises the same thing - natural cleaning that rivals the old-school methods. But can they really live up to the hype? I don't know, to be honest. I've never tried them. And here's why: I can make a truly natural cleaning product that lasts months, leaves my home smelling amazing, and costs only pennies right here in my own kitchen! So why would I spend $10 on a bottle of hope?
You see, I have extremely sensitive skin. Even the slightest brush with a fragrance or synthetic chemical can cause my entire body to break into a rash. More severe reactions can lead to my eyes swelling shut, my airways constricting, and my purse emptying into the Emergency Room doctor's pockets. So finding a natural way to clean my home was a necessity from the moment I began living on my own. Do I still spring for natural products? Absolutely. I buy natural shampoo, conditioner, body lotions, toothpaste.. the whole nine yards. All of those items can be costly, so I enjoy offsetting the cost by keeping my home cleaning routine simple and cheap. Here are the toiletries I use, including affiliate links, in case you're interested in my tried-and-true tested favorites. It's taken me a decade to assemble the absolute best natural cosmetics that don't cause weird itches or funny bumps. And sometimes these companies change their ingredients, resulting in an old-standby becoming a real mess for me. But here's what's working for me now. If you're only interested in home cleaning, scroll on down to my recipes under these links:
I'm not an expert on chemical compositions and I can't guarantee these products will work for you. This is just a round-up of the products that I'm currently using with great results. We're all different. So I'd advise you to test the product on a small area before you lather it on your whole body.
GLASS + ALL PURPOSE CLEANER
3/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c water
10 drops essential oils
When I say "all purpose" I'm not kidding. I use this everywhere. Even on my hardwood and tile floors. I mix up big batches every couple of months, switching out the essential oils I use for the season. In the fall, I like to use Cinnamon essential oils, mixed with rosemary and a dash of mint. In the Spring, when I'm craving floral smells, I tend to go full-tilt with lavendar oil. Then I throw in some lemon and sweet orange essential oils for Summer. When we're sick, I make a special batch of cleaners containing eucalyptus and mint essential oils. In fact, I used this batch all last Winter and it helped keep our sinuses clear. To be honest, there's no real recipe to how I mix these smells. I just add drops until I've gotten a smell that makes me happy in that moment. That's actually a really fun process. I love creating these scents in our home.
I store the batches in old vinegar bottles and pour them directly into a bucket for mopping or a glass spray bottle for cleaning counters, windows, spot cleaning, etc. This is my favorite glass bottle. It's from Sally Organics and is durable and inexpensive! I keep about 10 of these on hand and label them with painter's tape or washi tape. They come with lids, do you can more easily store the ones that aren't being used at the moment. And they've never leaked or broken on me. I really do love them! Here's my favorite washi tape, too. It keeps my look consistent and the colors match my whole-home color scheme. They're actually delightful to see stored or hanging around the house. So cheerful!
For mopping, I use a very simple and durable microfiber mop. The mop heads are machine washable. Don't dry them and they'll last you years!
For wiping down windows, counters, dry dusting, and cleaning toilets (yes, toilets!), I spray my all purpose solution directly onto the surface and buff dry with these machine washable microfiber towels. I wash all of my reusable cleaning cloths on a sanitary (high heat) wash cycle so I never have to differentiate between bathroom and kitchen cloths. In fact, when I'm doing a whole house clean, I start in the kitchen and use the same towels to dust the bedroom and bathroom sinks. Then I finish off the day by cleaning the toilets. No germs transferred and no wasted resources.
For dry dusting blinds and ceiling fans, as well as decor items and dressers, I use this AMAZING microfiber duster. I've never had one that works as well as this does. I wash it weekly and let it air dry to keep it good as new.
I use a broom and dustpan for everyday cleaning downstairs. This helps keep the cat hair and crumbs at bay. I actually have a full size broom, a small broom and dustpan combo, and a teeny broom for small messes. The smallest one is perfect for my daughter. She's learning how to help keep the home maintained and it fits perfectly in her hands and looks like a toy (so she enjoys the chores)!
For weekly cleanings and our upstairs carpet, I use two vacuums regularly. I unleash our Roomba in the bathrooms while I'm vaccuuming the downstairs with our upright. Then I spot check the bathrooms and get any hair in crevices with the hose tools. After that, I vacuum the entire upstairs with the upright. I love this one because it converts to a canister for our stairs, has really amazing attachments, is easy to empty, and has easily converted pile options. I've owned four Dysons in my life and none of them ever made me as happy as this one does. And it's FAR less expensive!
Here's the Roomba we've had for five years. It's not my favorite vacuum ever. But it does save us a little time when we're readying the house for guests.
HEAVY DUTY CLEANING / TUBS, SINKS, + TILE
2 cups baking soda
2 cups vinegar
Seriously. It's that simple. I pour the baking soda all over the entire surface to be cleaned and then slowly add vinegar to create a paste. I scrub it in, using these scrub brushes, which I keep in every bathroom and beside the sink, then rinse with water. For stainless steel sinks, I buff dry with a microfiber towel. It's amazing how much cleaner the surfact looks when done.
Lastly, because I know you'll ask - Let's talk about laundry. I use a detergent that offers a light scent without skin irritation. But I dilute it by using only half of the recommended amount and filling the remaining cup with white vinegar. Then I put 1/2 cup of baking soda directly into the drum. Every cycle. Every color. Every time. This keeps my clothes looking and feeling fresh and stain-free. It also reduces the need to clean my washing machine tub, which saves water since I'm not running a cycle just for that! Here's the detergrant I use and the dryer balls I love which elminate the need for chemical-laden dryer sheets. I add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls to freshen the clothes. For sheets, I like lavendar. For clothing, I mix it up. Sweet Orange is my favorite for everyday wear, while Mint keeps the buggies away from our outdoor clothing.
So there it is! My whole-home cleaning guide. I hope this helps you! Reach out if you need clarification or want to add something. I always love hearing your feedback!
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