After a recent conversation with friends about removing toxic chemicals from their homes, I started thinking about what cleaning chemicals I keep around the house. While I wasn’t looking to detoxify my home as my friends were, I was motivated by the desire to find cheaper cleaning solutions that are also family-friendly (for babies, children and pets).
Food for thought: the regular store-bought chemicals we all know have been tied to faster lung function decline in women. The Environmental Working Group (based in the USA), has been a site I’ve used for several years when it comes to checking out the ingredients in my children’s sunscreen. Recently, I read their article about the chemicals listed in our every day store-bought cleansers. Some of the ingredients are not completely disclosed on the label – words such as ‘fragrance’, ‘colourant’, or ‘preservative’ don’t really tell you what it is. Some of the ingredients that are disclosed lead to harmful respiratory effects – ingredients like sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) and quaternary ammonium compounds.
Reading labels can be time-consuming and confusing. The list of carcinogens, asthma instigators, and poisons is long! I do want to minimize my risk of inhaling toxic fumes while cleaning (or while my housekeeper is cleaning), but to be honest my biggest motivator is cost and simple ingredients I can pronounce! The recipes below are far less expensive to make and you can easily tell the doctor what your pet or child consumed if they got a hold of the cleaning bottle! Whatever your motivation, the recipes I’ve tested meet the criteria of being affordable and less toxic!
All-Purpose Cleaner – P13.50/bottle with Essential Oils
(put in a spray bottle)
1 tsp Sunlight Extra Nature dish soap
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups of filtered water
*Optional: 30 drops essential oils (10 drops lavender, 10 drops lemon, 10 drops peppermint)
Gently shake before use. Spray countertops, glass, mirrors, stovetop, furniture, showers and sinks, etc. Use with a microfiber cloth for the most streak-free finish on shiny surfaces.
(Caution: Do not use on granite. Vinegar is very acidic and could remove the sealant on granite, dull the finish and cause etching.)
Tile Floor Cleaner – P1 per bucket
To 4 Litres of warm water, add:
● 1/2 cup of vinegar
● 1 teaspoon dish soap
(put in a spray bottle)
1:1 ratio filtered water: vinegar and a drop or two of dish soap
Spray after each shower and it keeps the tiles clean
All-Purpose Cleaner + Baking Soda + water to rinse
Spray All-Purpose Cleaner around the toilet. Sprinkle in the baking soda. Allow it to foam then scrub with a toilet brush and flush the toilet to rinse. Spray with extra water to remove any residue.
Scouring Powder – P12.10
1 cup bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/2 cup salt regular table salt, cheapest you can find
A jar with holes in the lid
Squirt liquid soap
Add baking soda and salt to the jar, and mix/stir very well until combined, then cover with the lid. Start with a wet surface and wet sponge. Sprinkle powder liberally on the surface. Add a squirt of liquid soap on the wet sponge, and scrub away. Rinse well.
For extra tough stains, spray some All-Purpose Cleaner on the scouring powder and wait for it to foam. Rinse well.
1 glass jar with lid
Citrus peels – lemon rinds, soft citrus peels, orange peels, etc.
Fill a glass jar with citrus and cover with vinegar. Set aside for 14 days. After 14 days, strain the peels out of the vinegar and return the vinegar to the jar.
Usage: Use in place of vinegar & citrus essential oils in any cleaning recipe. Smells great and has great anti-bacterial, de-greasing properties.
- 2 Litres of white spirit vinegar: P12.90 (P1.53 per cup)
- 500 g bicarbonate of soda: P17.15 (0.62 thebe per tablespoon)
- Spray bottle: re-use an old bottle
- 500 g Salt: P 7.99
- 750 ml Sunlight Extra Nature Dish soap: P32.99 (0.22 thebe per 5 ml tsp)
- **Essential Oils: 10 ml bottles available at Dischem & Health Alternatives = 200-250 drops per bottle; P 60-120 per bottle
I hope you have found these tested recipes helpful. I love sharing knowledge, that’s why I always write about what I know. Please have a read of some of my other articles like Gaborone Gems: Off the Beaten Path and Tips for Raising Kind and Generous Children.
Please also try these recipes out and let us know if you have any other favourite cleaning solutions.