Many commercial cleaners and personal hygiene products contain ingredients that can be harmful to your health and to the environment. The chemicals in these products not only impact your own health and your immediate environment, but also they can ultimately end up in the waterways and aquifers that we all depend upon for clean water.
Luckily, it is easy to take ownership of the products that you use. By shopping carefully and reading ingredients, you can choose options that are designed to be healthier and lessen environmental impact. You can also choose to make your own products so that you have full control of the ingredients and proportions that you use. The added bonus? Purchasing ingredients is generally much cheaper than buying commercial products, saving you money while you save the environment.
Tip: Buy cleaning supplies at bulk stores so that you can use your own containers instead of purchasing products in disposable packaging.
Here are some recipes to help you get started. Since individual preference plays a big part in finding the right recipes, we've offered several choices in each category. Try them out and see what works best for you!
Dishsoap¼ cup Castille soap • 1 ½ cups boiling water • 1 tbsp baking soda (+/- ½ tsp)
Instructions: Put Castille soap and baking soda in a mason jar, and slowly pour in boiling water, stirring constantly. Close the lid and shake to mix.
Dishwasher Detergent1 tbsp washing soda • ¼ tsp citric acid
Instructions: Place in dishwasher soap container, close and run. For very hard water, run the ‘light’ wash cycle with 1 ½ tbsp washing soda, then run a rinse cycle with ⅔ cup of white vinegar.
Laundry Soap1 bar ivory soap, grated (or ½ cup soap flakes) • ½ cup kosher salt • ½ cup baking soda • ½ cup washing soda
Instructions: Mix all ingredients and store in a jar. Use 1 tbsp per load of laundry.
Window CleanerWhite vinegar • Spray bottle (optional)
Instructions: Put vinegar in a spray bottle or pour onto a lint-free cloth and wash windows the same way you would with a commercial window cleaner. The vinegar will evaporate to leave a streak-free pane.
Tip: No need for paper towels! Buy (or sew) a set of lint-free cloths to clean up spills and wipe things off.
All-Purpose CleanerBaking soda
Instructions: For stains or spots that soap and water can’t tackle, use baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda over the surface and gently scrub with a wet cloth to wash away grime or stains. Baking soda is great because it is a slightly abrasive stain remover, making it easy to quickly scrub away even stubborn messes. Note that white vinegar and baking soda react together so don’t mix them unintentionally.
Tip: If you are having trouble finding a shampoo recipe that works for you but would like to eliminate plastic waste, try buying shampoo in bars instead of bottles. You can find shampoo and conditioner in bar form at many natural food stores and online.