Cambrian: Opinion

Spring cleaning? Throw out products with harmful chemicals and do it the natural way

All the cleaning supplies you need, minus chemicals.
All the cleaning supplies you need, minus chemicals. Special to The Cambrian

OK, I confess, rainy days give me the excuse not to clean.

“I don’t want to freak out the cats with the vacuum, so I’d better not do that.” What about the rest of the chores, you may ask. Hey, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Ahem. Right.

Anyway, for those of you who are going stir crazy or getting ready for spring cleaning, it’s time for me to revisit my rant about supplies. Make your own! Why? Because I genuinely care about your health and that of the planet. You do not need to buy fancy, brightly colored bottles of toxic chemicals to make your house safe for habitation! They do quite the opposite!

I know so many folks with allergies and other health issues that most commercial products — cleaning, personal hygiene, etc. — contribute to that I just shake my head in wonder. Seriously, a study by UC Davis reported that water will remove 99 percent of germs. I kid you not.

Wipe with water, then dry off — that is the key to removing the germs. Water is a solvent, and then the cloth removes them.

Rule of thumb for store-bought: only buy products that list all its ingredients. Avoid things like 2-butoxyethanol, glycol ethers, alkylphenol, dyes, fragrances, ethanolamines and other things you can’t pronounce. See for more information.

I keep about five things in my house for cleaning besides old T-shirts: white vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, Dr. Bronners SUDS (castile soap is great but de-saponifies/separates when mixed with vinegar) and Oasis Laundry/Dish Soap. I mix these in various combos with hot water and often tea tree, lavender, oregano or thyme essential oils (all antibacterial, with tea tree also being antifungal and antimicrobial). OK, so six. Well, seven if you count cheap vodka, a great alternative to rubbing alcohol (I always hope my massage clients don’t think I’ve been boozing if they use the bathroom after I’ve sprayed it).

Make a paste with baking soda and castile soap/SUDS for soft scrub and leave on the surface for awhile if badly stained. Rinse with ½ vinegar water and ½ water.

All-purpose cleaner (including for most floors) is the same as that rinse. Add essential oils of your choice if you don’t like the smell, usually 10-20 drops.

Clean toilets by sprinkling in baking soda in the bowl then spray with pure vinegar. Let sit and then scrub (pumie sticks are great for worst stains).

Wipe shower doors with vinegar followed by a wipe-down with baking soda mixed with water (mind you, distilled water in our terribly hard water area works best).

Clean windows and mirrors with ½ vinegar and half distilled water. Wipe with old T-shirts, microfiber cloths or newspapers — or a squeegee.

Zap mold with straight vinegar or peroxide or mix with baking soda and let sit. You can turbo boost cleaners with a teaspoon here or there of washing soda as well.

Feel free to contact me for more ideas.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian. Contact her at
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