Do you worry about your baby crawling around on the freshly cleaned floor that still seems to be gassing off Pine-Sol? I did.
Are you looking for something that you can use on your kitchen counters and not worry about food being contaminated by it? I was.
I began this journey when my second baby was starting to crawl around on the floors. (If my #1 ever reads this, I’m sorry buddy, you were my test child and I didn’t know any better. You got the chemicals.) I began thinking about what was being left behind on my beautifully clean floors.
It seems that there is a very real danger in a lot of cleaners out there. Especially ones that end in -sol. Like Pine-sol and Lysol, for example. These products contain phenol which is a very toxic derivative of coal tar. The health hazards that have been presented by pets that have ingested this chemical (from licking their paws or the floor) range from respiratory problems to kidney or liver damage. It seems that there is much more documentation for animal poisonings but (for me) it stands to reason that if your dog can get sick from your chemically-treated floor, then so can your family.
I started out by buying the “Natural” and “Green” cleaning products from the store. Some of them worked pretty well but I found that I was still feeling weird from the fumes. Especially when I cleaned tight places like the bathroom.
And I’m CHEAP!!! Those store-bought natural cleansers can cost a pretty penny! So I went searching for a better way.
Would you know that two of the best natural cleaning agents can usually be found in your own home?
VINEGAR and HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
Yep, vinegar is a great anti-fungal agent and kills bacteria but alone it’s not a disinfectant.
That’s where hydrogen peroxide comes in. When these two are paired together, they create a disinfectant that is more powerful than bleach but is perfectly safe for people and animals.
“By itself, vinegar is not a disinfectant, but when used with hydrogen peroxide, it kills bacteria more effectively than any commercial cleaner. Susan Sumner, a food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI) in Blacksburg, Virginia, published the following formula in Science News. Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of plain white or apple cider vinegar. Pour each liquid into its own spray bottle. Spritz the item to be disinfected with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, then rinse with water. Using one mist right after the other is ten times more effective than usually spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle. Tests at VPI found the two sprays used together killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces; this spray combination is more effective than chlorine bleach. It doesn’t matter if you spray with the vinegar first, then the hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa. There is no lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic if any reside remains. This combination works exceptionally well for sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces, including wood cutting boards.” Natural Home magazine, Jan 2002
Just fill two spray bottles with each of the liquids. You need to make sure that the hydrogen peroxide has a light-proof opaque bottle. When hydrogen peroxide is exposed to light it begins degrading and becoming ineffective. (You can always just buy a product that comes in a dark spray bottle and wash it out very well but if you’d like directions on making your own “light-proof” spray bottle, head over here.)
I’ve been using this cleaning method for over a year now and I’m definitely not looking back. The cost of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide is far lower than the cost of commercially produced cleansers. Also, my cleaning supply shelves are a lot less cluttered! I used to have a different product for everything – a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen de-greaser, tub and tile, etc, etc. Each costing $4-$5! It feels great to be able to pass up that aisle at the grocery store knowing that I only need a handful of household items to clean my whole house. (I’ll discuss other natural cleaning agents in future posts.)
My bathrooms and counters are sparkling and my “chemical headaches” are gone. I just spray each bottle and wipe down everything with a cloth. So easy! For all the wonderful benefits, my family is willing to overlook the slight vinegar smell for an hour or so!
Here’s a great floor cleaning recipe to get you started:
One 5 gal bucket of hot water
~ 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda
A few drops of liquid Dish Soap