• Spring (for All-Natural) Cleaning

    Make your own products to avoid chemical cocktails
  • Making your own cleaning products might seem like a charming notion — after all, retro is pretty hip right now. But ridding your home of store-bought, chemical-laden cleaners is more than just a cute idea and a paean to days gone by. It's a legitimate step toward creating better health for you and your family.
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    • Make Your Own
      The following are a few of VanWyhe's super-simple and super-effective recipes for non-toxic and chemical-free cleaning solutions.

      Multi-Purpose Powder
      1 cup baking soda
      1/4 cup borax...
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      Make Your Own
      The following are a few of VanWyhe's super-simple and super-effective recipes for non-toxic and chemical-free cleaning solutions.

      Multi-Purpose Powder

      1 cup baking soda

      1/4 cup borax

      Essential oil (add drop by drop you achieve the aroma you want)

      Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Sprinkle mixture onto surface and scrub. Store in a labeled and sealed container. This powder can be used as a base for several other cleaning solutions.

      Heavy-Duty Tub Scrub

      1 cup Multi-Purpose Powder (base)

      2 T big-grained sea salt

      Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Sprinkle mixture onto surface and scrub. Store in a labeled and sealed container.

      Tub & Sink Soft Scrub

      cup Multi-Purpose Powder (base)

      Liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap

      In a mixing bowl, combine powder with enough liquid soap to make an icing-like mixture. To store, scoop into a glass jar and add one teaspoon vegetable glycerin to keep moist.

      All-Purpose Cleaner

      1 quart warm water

      1 tsp. Multi-Purpose Powder (base)

      2 tsp. liquid soap

      cup vinegar

      Combine ingredients. Pour into a squirt bottle for use and storage. Use on countertops, floors, and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. (But be aware that, over time, vinegar can dissolve grout between tiles.)

      Furniture Polish (Varnished furniture)

      Drops of lemon essential oil

      cup warm water

      Combine ingredients and pour into a squeeze bottle. Mix well and squeeze onto a soft cotton cloth. Cloth should only be slightly damp. Wipe furniture with the cloth and finish by wiping once more using a dry, soft cotton cloth.

      Floor Cleaner

      2 oz. of liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap)

      Bucket of warm water

      Add liquid soap to the bucket of warm water. Apply with a mop. Great for vinyl, ceramic tile, stone, or marble flooring.

      Wood Floors & Carpets

      Vinegar

      Water

      Essential oils (add drop by drop until you achieve the aroma you want)

      For floors, mix equal amounts of vinegar and water in a basin or bucket. Add oil. Mix well and apply with a mop. For carpets, combine ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on stains. Let sit for several minutes, then clean with a brush or sponge and water.

      Window Cleaner

      1 cup rubbing alcohol

      1 cup water

      1 T vinegar

      Essential oil (add drop by drop until you achieve the aroma you want)

      Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour into a spray bottle for use and storage. Clean windows with crumpled newspaper or cotton cloth. Don't clean windows that are warm from the sun.

      Toilet Cleaner

      1 cup Multi-Purpose Powder (base)

      1/2 cup vinegar OR cup lemon juice

      Sprinkle the Multi-purpose Powder (base) in the toilet bowl. Add vinegar or lemon juice until the acid and base begin to fizz. Scrub with a toilet brush.

      Drain Cleaner

      1/2 cup Multi-Purpose Powder (base)

      1/2 cup vinegar

      Boiling water

      Pour base down the drain. Follow with vinegar. After 15 minutes, pour in boiling water to clear. Use only with metal plumbing — plastic pipes can melt. Do not use after applying commercial drain opener, as it can create dangerous fumes.

      Air Freshener

      Distilled water

      10 to 20 drops of essential oil

      Combine ingredients in a small, decorative spray bottle. Use at home to freshen a room. Make a travel-sized bottle to carry with you in your car or purse.

      ___



      Fresh and Clean

      Parnell says people may balk initially at the cost of some essential oils. But a little goes a long way, since you usually use just a few drops at a time. She offers these recipes:

      Laundry Detergent

      cup washing soda

      cup baking soda

      cup borax

      cup soap flakes or finely grated pure bar soap (such as Fels- Naptha)

      8 drops of essential oils

      Add soap flakes or finely grated pure bar soap to powder mixture and stir, then add essential oils and combine well. Store in airtight container. Use scant cup per load, or cup for large loads or extra-dirty laundry. If you wash in cold water, dissolve in warm water prior to adding to wash. Double, triple or quadruple recipe, if desired.

      Laundry Stain Remover

      2 parts hot water

      1 part baking soda

      1 part peroxide

      1 to 3 drops lemon essential oil

      Mix amount for one use. Spot treat stains and allow to sit overnight. Launder as usual.

      Dishwasher Rinse Aid

      1 gallon white vinegar

      15 to 30 drops lemon essential oil

      Pour essential oil into bottle of vinegar. Add to dishwasher's rinse aide compartment.

      Dishwasher Powder

      1 cup borax

      1 cup washing soda

      3 tablespoons salt

      10 drops essential oil

      Mix borax, washing soda and salt together, then add essential oils and combine well. Store in airtight container.

      All-Purpose Cleaner

      cup white vinegar

      1 3/4 cups water

      1 tsp. borax

      30 drops essential oil

      Combine ingredients in 16-ounce glass spray bottle; shake thoroughly.
  • Making your own cleaning products might seem like a charming notion — after all, retro is pretty hip right now. But ridding your home of store-bought, chemical-laden cleaners is more than just a cute idea and a paean to days gone by. It's a legitimate step toward creating better health for you and your family.
    Chemical mix hazards
    Vince Smith, assistant professor of sociology and environmental studies director at Southern Oregon University's Center for Sustainability, cautions that many of the ingredients that are labeled as safe for use in the United States have been banned in other countries.
    "We have tended against what environmental science calls 'the precautionary principle,' despite that many other countries exercise that," he says. "They believe that until something is proven to be safe, it won't be utilized. Here, we operate under the assumption that until something is proven to be harmful, it's safe."
    Consumers adopt the same faulty logic, believing that things like household cleaners are strictly tested and monitored and that, "if it's on the shelf, it must be safe."
    Truth is, that's not necessarily so.
    Smith explains that the United States produces such a large number of chemicals with so many potential uses, it's difficult to stay on top of testing them. Then the untested chemicals are combined to create new products, and you wind up with a cocktail effect that creates basically a new chemical with an even more unpredictable nature.
    Then, consumers tend to mix products once they get them home — in ways that can be far more dangerous than they imagine.
    "A lot of people will mix ammonia and bleach at home," Smith says, "and they wind up with a toxic compound on their hands that is lethal."
    Smith notes that things like phenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates are a few of the chemicals to avoid, but he advocates making your own to avoid any potential problems. It's safer, more cost effective and easy.
    "If something calls itself antiseptic or antibacterial, it's designed to kill things. That's what it does," he says. "And a lot of cleaners have no ingredients listed on them because it's not required. From a scientific perspective, I find that a bit startling. I would like to know what I'm putting on my kitchen counter, where my kids put their hands."
    Simple solutions
    Libby VanWyhe, manager at the North Mountain Park Nature Center, part of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, is a proponent of creating homemade options that work.
    "You get high-quality disinfecting properties from natural components," says VanWyhe. "And they're just better overall. The antibacterial annihilation you get from store-bought products has the unintended consequences of making microbes more resistant. The stronger the antibacterial solutions, it presses the organisms to evolve to beat them and we end up with supermicrobes that then become very difficult to kill with anything on the market."
    To make the most of VanWyhe's recipes, she recommends buying the base ingredients in bulk and keep a large supply of the Multi-Purpose Powder (see sidebar) on hand at all times, since it's the foundation for many homemade products. Also, keep all of the supplies in one big container, with everything you need it in one place when it's time to mix up a new batch.
    "It can be daunting if you think you have to start fresh every time, like you have to stand in front of your cabinet and say, 'Let's see, how am I going to make my toilet cleaner today,'" VanWyhe says. "If you have everything all in one kit, then you don't have to rethink it every time."
    Karen Parnell, energy medicine practitioner at Orenda Energy Arts in Medford, emphasizes the use of essential oils in homemade products. The place to start, she says, is with research. Different oils have different qualities and can affect your home and even your mood in different ways. For example, Parnell shares, lemon, wild orange and bergamot are great for degreasing; cinnamon, melaleuca, oregano, clove, thyme and rosemary can combat mold; and cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, marjoram, melaleuca, oregano and thyme have both antibacterial and antiviral properties.
    Kick off your spring cleaning by cleaning (out) your cabinets, get a few basic ingredients on hand — save money by buying them in bulk — and get cleaning.
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