cleaning supplies

Photo courtesy Pixabay/Monfocus

Seasons are changing, folks, and it’s time to bust out your very own DIY, eco-friendly cleaning supplies to help you transition.

As summer turns into fall and the warm air turns crisp, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to clean out the wardrobe or bring out the winter bedding. However, the dust bunnies hiding in the corner will not make you feel cozier, nor will the dusty windows bring any autumn joy. The open-window days of summer are over, and it’s time to clean the apartment and start the colder season in fresh comfort.

It’s no secret that unleashing the fresh linen Lysol spray in a stuffy room can be a game-changer for airing out a living space. Traditional household cleaners, however, aren’t always the best for your health, especially if you are breathing in cleaning chemicals regularly.

So, how do you balance the need to keep your apartment free of germs while also preventing the inhalation of harmful chemicals? The solutions are simpler than you might think:

  • Do your research. Many household cleaners that advertise as being “green” can still contain harmful chemicals. Knowing how to decipher the ingredient list will make it easier to find the right products for you.
  • Make your own products. Control exactly what products you clean with by making your own! This is especially helpful if you have sensitivities to ingredients or want to go completely green with your cleaning supplies.

Let’s talk a bit about chemicals before delving into the homemade products.

Cleaning chemicals 101: what you need to know

spray bottles

Photo courtesy Pixabay/bluebudgie

Most common household cleaners contain chemicals which produce gases known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gases can react with other chemicals in the air to cause irritation in the eyes and respiratory system, and can also affect the nervous system in extreme cases.

There are many kinds of VOCs, and each one causes different effects. For example, tobacco smoke contains VOCs which damage the lungs and contain cancerous chemicals. Many indoor cleaning supplies, as well as certain paints and varnishes, contain their own versions of VOCs which can be harmful to humans and the environment.

According to lung.org, these are just a few of the products which contain VOCs.

  • Paint, paint strippers
  • Varnishes and finishes
  • Adhesives
  • Flooring, carpet, pressed wood products
  • Cleaners and disinfectants
  • Furniture
  • Pesticides
  • Air fresheners
  • Cosmetics and deodorants
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dry-cleaned clothing
  • Arts and crafts products: glues, permanent markers, etc.
  • Wood burning stoves

Maintaining good circulation and ventilation indoors is important for preventing the buildup of these harmful gases. In colder seasons when windows get shut and fresh air is kept firmly on the outside, it’s vital to keep indoor air clean for your own health.

Be an informed buyer

If you don’t want to make your own products, make sure to look for eco-friendly cleaning supplies next time you shop. The biggest tip? Read, read and read again. Product labels will not always list every ingredient, unfortunately, so ask your good friend Google for some help if you’re unsure about a product.

Things to look for:

Look for products with low or no VOCs. Avoid air fresheners completely, as manufactured aerosols are almost never good for air quality.

Keep away from flammable ingredients, as well as artificial fragrances and irritants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has a great list of “Safer Choice” products that are safer for human and environmental health.

Here are some great stores from which to buy eco-friendly cleaning supplies:

How to make your own eco-friendly cleaning supplies

cleaning a kitchen sink

Photo courtesy Pixabay/pascalhelmer

Don’t think that you have to spend thousands on fancy ingredients. In fact, everything you need to make your own cleaning supplies may already be in your cupboards! Vinegar, for example, is a great antibacterial ingredient, and baking soda does wonders for cleaning stains and residue.

Here are some more ingredients that you may already have:

  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cloth rags
  • Spray bottles

Start your journey of green cleaning with these simple eco-friendly cleaning recipes.

Eco-friendly cleaning spray

You will need:

  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Lemon (optional)

Fill the bottle halfway with water, and fill the rest with the vinegar. Boom. It’s as easy as that. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to give the mix a fresher scent if you’d like.

You can use this spray for countertops, wood, toys, bathroom surfaces (showers, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, etc…), mirrors, glass and practically any other wipe-able surface.

Eco-friendly porcelain cleaner

You will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Sponge

This porcelain scrub is good for removing stains, scratches and mineral buildup from sinks.

First, clean the sink of any food or dirt, then wet the sides and bottom with water. Plug the drain and lightly sprinkle a fine layer of baking soda over the bottom of the sink. Use the sponge to scrub the bottom of the sink, during which the baking soda will become slightly pasty as it mixes with the water. Scrub until as much of the dirt has been lifted off the surface as you can manage.

Add a dash or two of hydrogen peroxide to the sponge (wear dishwashing gloves if this makes your skin uncomfortable!) and scrub again. The baking soda paste will likely become clumpy, but no worries. Scrub until the color and scratches clear up as much as possible, then let the paste sit in the sink for about 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the sink with water, and there you have it!

Repeat this process as often as needed to keep your porcelain sinks clean and shiny!

Clean onward and upward!

Now you know how to make two of the most commonly-used cleaning supplies! A quick Google search will reveal an eco-friendly alternative for practically every household cleaner you own. Before you start experimenting with combinations and recipes, however, be sure to read this helpful article on ingredients that should never be mixed!

Cleaning may be a chore, but with these eco-friendly cleaning supplies, your apartment will always be fresh, healthy and environmentally-friendly!

Happy cleaning!

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About Colleen Ford


Colleen Ford is a writer and artist based in Spokane, Washington. She loves to hike, camp, bake and paint. She's also got about four gallons of kombucha brewing at the moment, so there's that.