I’ve already done a cleaning hacks post which has a lot of solutions for your cleaning specific things, this post covers the ingredients used. When you start making your own products you’ll be surprised how few ingredients you actually need. Yes, as you get into it you’ll probably want to add to your list of essential oils, and as you come across those occasional tough jobs will add some ‘heavy duty’ ingredients, but to start off with there is a whole repertoire you can make with just a few ‘basic’ ingredients you probably already have around your house!
Here for you is my go-to list of cleaning ingredients, it includes all the stuff I have in the house, and a couple I haven’t needed but you might.This is everything that I use to clean or mix to make cleaning products.
Incredibly versatile, some of the attributes that make it so are:
- It’s alkaline, so it can cut grease and oil
- Its crystal structure makes it a gentle abrasive
- It buffers pH, a great deodorizer as it chemically neutralizes odours
- For laundry it softens water and helps to maintain neutral pH so that detergent can work more efficiently. It also keeps your colours from fading and gets whites brighter
- It can lift dirt by fizzing in vinegar (see below), or effervescing in water
Being an acid, it’s great for breaking up water mineral deposits (like limescale on your shower heads), and dissolving general dirt. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties making it useful for fighting mildew and germs alike. It’s even effective and safe enough to use in place of spray weed killer
A note on the Baking Soda and Vinegar combination
I think it’s important to explain this one a bit as there seems to be some confusion out there because of the chemical reaction that occurs when these two meet.ear with the science for a minute:
Bear with the science for a minute:
- Each molecule of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) contains a sodium atom, a hydrogen atom, an oxygen atom, and a carbon dioxide molecule.
- Vinegar contains acetic acid, each molecule of which contains a hydrogen atom, and an acetate ion.
When combined, the hydrogen atom in the acetic acid meets up with the hydrogen and oxygen atoms in the baking soda to form a molecule of water, while the acetate ion grabs onto the sodium atom and forms a salt, sodium acetate (a salt). The carbon dioxide molecule, free of its other chemical bonds, can now escape, and bubbles forth as a gas.
So, the end result of this reaction is basically salt water, which is why people argue that there is no point to it scientifically when both baking soda and vinegar have such outstanding properties separately. The important thing to remember is that it’s mainly the reaction that’s doing the work here, the ‘fizzing’ helps to loosen the dirt, so don’t mix baking soda and vinegar together, store them, and then expect them to work.
For example, pour baking soda down your drain (let it sit fro a few minute to allow it’s ability to cut through grease get to wor)k, then pour the vinegar down and let the reaction jolt everything loose, follow by a boiling water shot to rinse it all away.
Soda crystals (washing soda)
Sodium carbonate decahydrate is extracted from the ashes of many plants growing in sodium-rich soils, it is also synthetically produced in large quantities from salt and limestone. Think of soda crystals like baking soda’s big brother. It is highly alkaline and therefore corrosive due to it’s oxidation effects, giving it amazing grease cutting powers. It also helps to deodorize, but fighting grease and stains are it’s primary roles.
Simply ensure you buy pure, undiluted essential oil. Grade differences pertain to the quality of the fragrance, for household cleaning, they are insignificant. Essential oils should come in either blue or brown glass bottles. If stored away from heat and direct light, some essential oils retain their potency indefinitely. Citrus oils are an exception; they usually last for about one year. Use only the amount of oil called for in a recipe. Adding more won’t make a super-strong formula; instead, it can increase the risk of skin irritation.
There are a plethora of essential oils that can be used for cleaning and for adding to cleaning products for their scent etc. I’ve picked just a few for the combination of properties each one has:
Cinnamon Oil: Antibacterial and antiseptic. Powerful against mold and mildew. Also effective against pests.
Eucalyptus Oil: Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, germicidal and deodorizer. It’s also a great grease buster, and pest deterrent for moths, silverfish, cockroaches, dust mites, and insects like ants.
Lemon Oil: Antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant, and astringent, the aroma is also considered antidepressant, invigorating, and refreshing. It also has stain removal properties.
Peppermint Oil: Antibacterial, antiviral, and insecticidal. It also acts as a natural pest deterrent for ants and spiders. The scent is considered uplifting and some even use it as an air freshener.
Pine Oil: Effective at killing yeast spores, E.coli and other household germs. Also good at cleaning mold and mildew.
Tea Tree Oil: Antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, bactericidal, and insecticidal, it is a hard one to skip over when it comes to cleaning the bathroom or kitchen. The scent is a little strong on its own, so it is often combined with other essential oils.