DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning

When our family decided to go zero waste, one of the first things I looked into was DIY cleaning products. I researched the products that I was using like bleach, window cleaners, fabric softeners and surface sprays and was shocked by the dangerously toxic ingredients that I was spraying around my home everyday. The hidden toxins in the products I was using were linked to cancer, asthma, respiratory problems, hormone disruption, reproductive issues along with other health issues.

I quickly decided that I wanted a non-toxic, greener cleaning routine for my home, as I didn’t want to subject my family to the potentially harmful effects of nasty chemicals. The thought of my children taking a bath in the residue of toxic chemical cleaners completely freaks me out, so I decided to detox my cleaning products.

Do you find that you have a cupboard full of cleaning products for all different purposes?

I use four main homemade non-toxic cleaning products, that work great and also smell awesome! I’m a mama of two and I know that many people may not think they have the time to make their own cleaning products. However, the recipes below are super quick and easy and, as they are non-toxic, children could help to make them with you!

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

  • †††††††2 cups water (boiled and then cooled)
  • 2 tbsp of castille soap/eco dish soap
  • 5 drops each of tea tree and lemon essential oils
  • Pour into a glass spray bottle or reuse an empty cleaning spray bottle
  • Give it a shake to mix.

This multi-purpose cleaner is non-toxic and can be used all around your house. I find that a 500ml spray bottle is the perfect size bottle.

Disinfectant Cleaner

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (boiled and then cooled)
  • 5 drops each of tea tree and lemon essential oils.

This disinfectant cleaner can be used with just vinegar, but I like to add water and essential oils to reduce the smell of vinegar.

I use this on harder to clean areas like sinks, drains and around the bathroom. I do tend to use the multi-purpose cleaner first for sinks, showers and baths.

Avoid use on: granite, marble, stone, iron or wooden surfaces.

Floor Cleaner

  • 9 litres hot water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tbsp castille soap/eco dish soap
  • 5 drops each of tea tree and peppermint essential oils.

Mix all of the above ingredients into your mop bucket. I find that this floor cleaner has a streak finish on my floors and it also smells amazing.

Glass & Mirror Cleaner

  • Equal parts of water (boiled then cooled)
  • Equal parts of vinegar.

Spray on glass and mirrors and wipe with a dry glass cloth (not microfibre) and keep wiping until there are no more streaks.

Zero Waste Cleaning Tips:

  • Cut up old clothes (that are in too bad condition to sell/donate) to use as rags
  • By cleaning frequently, you will reduce the need for heavy cleaners
  • Avoid plastic scrubbing brushes. I use biodegradable dish brushes , which I find are more durable than the previous plastic dish brush (the ones where you just change the heads, but still have lots of plastic waste).
  • Avoid ‘wipe’ products, you do not need them! Use rags/cloths etc. that can be washed, they are better for the environment and your pocket.
  • Opt for compostable cloths/‘sponges’, that you can cut into small pieces and add to your compost bin.
  • Bulk buy your white vinegar- it will save you money in the long run.
  • Don’t underestimate fresh air – open your windows rather than using toxic air fresheners.

33 Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a super versatile product, so I’ve come up with a list of all the different ways that I have used it…

Cooking

  • †One of most obvious use for coconut oil is for cooking and baking. It is said to be better to cook with than other oils, as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidation.
  • Add 1-2 tbsp to your morning coffee for a creamy taste to replace dairy-based lattes. (It is best to blend it in, but if this isn’t an option you can add it to your mug first, then add hot black coffee).
  • Whizz into your smoothies for a natural boost of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT are easily absorbed by the body, compared to other fats and are believed to suppress hunger, increase energy levels and increase metabolism.
  • Use instead of butter in your mashed potatoes.
  • Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate together and then use as a topping to ice cream (my fave is Swedish Glace). The mixture will instantly solidify and taste awesome, as well as looking cool!

Skincare

  • †Use as a complete body moisturiser. It is 100% natural and usually comes in a glass jar (which can be reused or recycled). In cooler environments it will have a solid consistency, but as soon as it is worked into skin it will melt away and create a lovely sheen.
  • Add to your reusable/washable makeup pads to easily and gently remove makeup. It is probably one of the safest makeup removers, as it contains NO nasty chemicals.
  • Replace your shaving foams with coconut oil. (Tip: best used with a safety razor, as the blades won’t clog up as easily as crappy disposable razors. Safety razors are awesome as they contain no plastic and the metal blades can be recycled).
  • Use to soothe dry lips. Decant into a small container for on the go.
  • Mix with arrowroot powder and your favourite essential oil, for a natural deodorant.
  • Add to your used coffee grounds to create a body scrub. I like adding a few drops of peppermint oil to my homemade body scrub.
  • Add a dollop of coconut oil to use as a bath soak.
  • Work coconut oil into your hair before shampooing, for a deep hair conditioning treatment.

Baby

  • Create a bum spray to compliment reusable baby wipes. Simply combine 6oz water, 2 tbsp coconut oil and 1/2 cup witch hazel and voila: a natural, zero waste, cheap bum spray for baby’s sensitive skin.
  • Use to soothe nappy rash. Not only will it relieve the pain, it will fight infection and promote healing, as coconut oil has antibacterial qualities.
  • Apply coconut oil to cradle cap and leave for 20 minutes before washing off, by gently rubbing with a warm, wet flannel.
  • Use coconut oil for baby massage. Baby massage has numerous benefits, from alleviating colic, promoting better sleep and bonding with your baby. Using coconut oil will provide a natural massage lubricant and also moisturise baby’s skin.
  • There is evidence that coconut oil is 30% more effective at reducing the severity of eczema in children compared to other mineral oils.
  • I used coconut oil on my stomach during and after pregnancy to reduce the likelihood of stretch marks– it worked for me, I wouldn’t use anything else and many other mothers swear by it too!
  • Coconut oil is said to stimulate milk supply during breastfeeding, as it contains lauric acid.
  • It works great to soothe sore or cracked nipples, due to the early weeks of your newborn breastfeeding like a demon.
  • A little coconut oil can relieve heartburn, as it said that it cleans the bacteria out of your oesophagus to relieve acid reflux.

Health

  • Apply a little coconut oil to nostrils to help relieve hay-fever/allergic rhinitis/pet and dust allergy symptoms. This is much cheaper than buying the shop-bought barrier balms.
  • Add coconut oil and baking soda together to create a natural teeth whitener.
  • Coconut oil has antimicrobial qualities, which make it great for mild ear infections. Just melt a blob of oil and decant into a dropper bottle and leave to cool to room temperature, before adding a few drops to the affected ear.
  • As coconut oil is a natural analgesic (pain-reliever), it can be used on chicken pox, insect bites and poison ivy stings to help with the pain.
  • Coconut oil can be used for the ancient practice of ‘oil-pulling,’ which is ever-increasing in popularity. Take a tablespoon of coconut oil into your mouth and swish it round for at least 10 minutes (ideally 20 minutes)! I know this may seem like ages, but it is scientifically proven to effectively combat bad breath and plaque by drawing out impurities and moisturising oral tissue. Best done when you don’t have a toddler asking you a million questions!

Household

  • Combine 3/4 cup coconut oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice, as a natural furniture polish.
  • Create a non-toxic insect repellent by mixing 1/4 cup melted coconut oil with 20-30 drops citronella essential oil. Pour into a jar and then leave to set in the fridge. Rub into the skin to keep pesky bugs at bay.
  • Condition your chopping boards and wooden/bamboo dinnerware by rubbing coconut oil onto the surface to restore the wood, as well as removing bacteria.
  • Make non-toxic play dough! Over a low heat, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil and then add 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 2 tsp cream of tartar and gel food colouring of your choice.
  • Mix coconut oil and baking soda to form a paste, which works great to scrub away soap scum and mildew from the bath.
  • Remove sticky residue from jars by wiping coconut oil to the sticky part and leave for at least 5 minutes, then wipe away with a cloth.

Tip: Keep one jar of coconut oil for the kitchen and one for the bathroom, to avoid any cross contamination.

Getting Started – 5 R’s of Zero Waste

Firstly, what is Zero Waste?

Adopting a Zero Waste lifestyle, means that you essentially aim to send nothing to landfill.  For our family, of course, we do send items to landfill- we are not a perfect zero waste family, but we strive to be the best we can be.  Sometimes it’s called Low Waste, but for the purpose of this blog I will stick with the term, Zero Waste.

According to Bea Johnson (a Zero Waste influencer), there are 5 R’s of Zero Waste:

Refuse what you do not need.

Reduce what you do need.

Reuse by using reusables.

Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse.

Rot the rest (compost).

The order of these 5 R’s is of particular importance…notice that recycle is near the end?

recycle-1-1308687

 

So, let’s look at the 5 R’s in a bit more depth:

Refuse

  • Turn down freebies– don’t accept leaflets etc. (by all means talk to the people handing them out).  Leaflets are a waste of resources, and by refusing them you can help reduce the demand.
  • Opt for paperless bills– most companies are paperless now, which is great!  You can also turn off your postal marketing for other accounts, e.g. catalogues.

Reduce

  • Declutter your home.  Donate and sell unwanted items (please don’t just throw them out).  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?
  • Reduce shopping trips.  By reducing the trips to the shops and by keeping a shopping list, you are automatically less likely to buy things you do not need.  I love keeping a list (on my phone) of items that I think I ‘need’ – I usually realise that it was just a passing ‘want’ and many of the items get deleted off the list.

Reuse

  • Switch disposable items to reusable items.  Here are just a few ideas:  stainless steel water bottle like a Klean Kanteen; shopping bags; cloth nappies; cloth wipes; reusable make-up cloths.
  • Avoid food shopping waste.  Take your reusable bags for your shopping and use cloth bags for loose fruit and veggies.  You can also take jars for bulk items and wet items like olives from the deli.

Recycle

  • Have you refused, reduced and reused?  If so, it is important to know your area’s recycling policies.  Think of recycling as a last resort…it is not the answer.  Much of our plastic waste, unfortunately, gets exported to other countries.
  • Buy second-hand or in bulk.  If you have to buy new, opt for items made out of glass, metal, wood or cardboard, avoid plastic.

Rot

  • Find a compost system that works for your household.  Fruit and veggie peelings, hair, coffee grounds and nail clippings are all compostable.  Compostable waste does not breakdown properly when sent to landfill, as air cannot get to the organic waste properly.  Instead, it produces harmful methane into the environment and contributes to climate change (this is something I didn’t know until recently).

 

“Composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months.” www.recyclenow.com

 

If you try and stick with these guidelines, it will really help you to adopt a greener lifestyle.

Remember that everything that every person does to help the planet DOES make a difference.  Zero Waste is not about being perfect, it is about making conscious decisions about what you buy and consume and about doing the best that you can.

 

Thank you for reading this Zero Waste blog post.

Sending you love and light,

Louise 🙂

 

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

Featured photo by Byron Mctaggart from FreeImages

Recycling photo by jaylopez from FreeImages