One of the things I especially liked about the Montessori school where my older daughter went was all of the household supplies they had available to the children. I loved the idea of incorporating my children into all aspects of life- letting them help in the cooking and cleaning to learn general life skills (especially since they are particularly interested in this at the age of 3-5).
When we took her out of the school, I was convinced that this was one thing I wanted to implement in my own home, but needed to do more research to find cleaners I was comfortable with kids using. (This was when I was moving toward using more natural ingredients anyway, but I hadn’t updated my cleaning supplies yet.) After looking into the commercial ‘natural’ options like Seventh Generation and Method, I came across a number of articles sharing all of the common household ingredients that could also be used. I decided to give them a try.
After doing some experimenting with different natural ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to clean (well) with some very basic, common ingredients. Besides being convenient and healthy, they were also super economical. Score!
Here are my three favorites:
Baking Soda- This is a miracle ingredient as far as I’m concerned. Like coconut oil, it gets used for ALL SORTS of things around here! As far as cleaning is concerned, though, it is great for scrubbing out tubs, grout, sinks, drains, etc. It has both whitening power and light abrasion so it scrubs well while still being gentle.
Though I try not to put a lot of oil in the drain, since I use jojoba oil for washing my face the sink can get a layer of gunk fairly quickly. Baking soda always makes it look sparkling clean in no time!
Our grout wasn’t installed properly (they didn’t seal it) and baking soda has cleaned it better than any of the yucky commercial cleaners I tried before going natural. I was stunned!
Baking soda is also good for removing stains from laminate and granite countertops.
Vinegar- I’ve filled all of my spray bottles with vinegar- it works great as a window/mirror cleaner, surface cleaner, etc. It is great for streak-free windows (better than any commercial window cleaner I’ve ever used). It also works great as a dishwasher rinse aid.
If you are not thrilled with the smell, adding essential oils can mask the smell (and add additional properties like targeting specific bacteria like salmonella, ecoli and MRSA). Check out this recipe for more ideas on proportions and the benefits of different oils.
While I typically use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar works just as well.
Witch Hazel- This is a more recent addition to our cleaning cabinet, but recently we had the need for removing the sticky backing from stickers and labels from some surfaces, and witch hazel was a hero! It is also great for a number of different skin conditions and has been great across the board, but when it comes to kids and stickers it has been a lifesaver!
A spray lid makes this especially easy to use. Witch hazel, like vinegar can also be used as an all purpose cleaner and is great for cleaning floors!
One last tip- if one of these ingredients isn’t doing the trick, try combining! Baking soda combined with witch hazel or vinegar is even better for extra tough jobs! Baking soda with vinegar is fun anyway, what with all its fizzing action.
What do you think? Have you used any of these ingredients in your house cleaning routine? I’d love to hear additional uses and ideas in the comments below!