All Purpose Cleaner

Cleaning products is one thing I feel everyone knows have an environmental impact. They contain hazardous chemicals that kill enormous amounts of good and bad bacteria. It’s obviously important to keep your living expense clean, but at what expense to the environment? My household typically uses CLOROX Clean-Up in our bathroom.

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Only the active ingredient Sodium Hypochlorite is listed on the bottle, but the other ingredients make up for 98.16% of the product. Ingredientsinside.com give the full list of ingredients which include: Water, Dimethicone/Silica/PEG Distearate Antifoam, Fragrance (my least favorite ingredient on every list ever. What is used to make the fragrance!?), Lauramine Oxide, Sodium Hydroxide and Sodium Silicate

While the claim is that these heavy hitting chemicals are essential for the product’s effectiveness, their effect on our environment and ourselves is immense. These cleaning agents too easily leach into our environment and out of their containers. In many cases in history, components in cleaning products have been proven to be “too harmful” for the environment and end up banned by governments. However, many of these products sub-parts that have been recognized as very harmful continue to be used in manufacturing. Phthalates, which are used in the packaging of heavy chemicals because they can withstand decomposition for longer, have been shown to readily interrupt several developmental processes due to their estrogen mimicking properties. The United States government has acknowledged this research and begun to regulate industries in the disposal of the substance. However, companies are not restricted by any regulations regarding their use in consumer products, cleaning product packaging or use in cosmetics.

As more people become aware of this, there has been a large push for greener cleaning products. Still, companies have taken advantage of this trend and stamped some of their products as green when in fact, they often are not. There are companies doing the right thing and using environmentally sound components, but the average consumer may not think it is worth it to pay more for these products. For one of my homesteading experiments I decided to make my own all purpose cleaner to test whether or not all of those excess chemicals are really necessary.

I used: 1/4 C white vinegar, 2 T baking soda, 4 C hot water and 1 lemon.

Lemon and vinegar are both acidic and good for degreasing. They both upset pH balance, fighting bacteria. Baking soda is an alkaline and neutralizes the pH of surrounding environments so the combination of the three is great for cleaning.

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I combined the vinegar, baking soda and hot water and squeezed the juice of one lemon into the mixture. I left the lemon rinds in as the baking soda dissolved. After letting sit for about 10 minutes, I poured the mixture into an empty spray bottle.  I first took on our bathroom counter. Before and after pictures below (I’m truly ashamed of the before picture).

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I got similar results with each surface I cleaner, even the annoying stain on the stove that’s been there for weeks. While the necessity for something stronger may be necessary for surfaces like toilet seats or things that have touched raw meat, I’m extremely pleased with how my cleaning spree turned out and so are my roommates.

Happy homesteading!

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