DIY Household Cleaners: Tough on Dirt, Gentle on You

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Instead of using harsh chemicals, there are many natural and safe recipes for DIY household cleanersCommercial household cleaning products are highly toxic and environmentally unfriendly. They irritate your body and cause it stress. Because of the fact they are ever present in the home and are used on surfaces you regularly come in contact with, cleaning products tend to produce long term stress than assaults the body over time, causing the body’s stress response to remain engaged chronically without any time to rest. Substituting DIY household cleaners for harsher detergents can have a powerful effect on health.

The body’s stress response is designed to get the body back to a normal state quickly and then race back to zero, so this state of constant stimulation of the stress response begins to wear down the system. Symptoms range from fatigue and difficulty concentrating to low libido and irritable bowel. The breadth of symptoms from the dysregulation of the stress response are intrinsic to the nature of the body’s reaction to stress, which can be described as a neuroendometabolic stress response system, comprised of functional circuits that encompass many neuroendocrine as well as metabolic systems and organs of the body. The involvement of such disparate systems throughout the body is why a dysregulated stress response can trigger so many varied symptoms throughout the body.

In the modern world, stress is incredibly easy to come by, so any action taken to reduce stress helps the body. Removing caustic, commercial cleaners from your home will reduce the stressful toxic load on your body and grant your body some reprieve. Here is a list of some common, safe, and environmentally friendly products that you can use around the house.

DIY Household Cleaners

  • Baking Soda – Able to clean, scour, deodorize and even soften water
  • Borax – Also known as sodium borate, it works like baking soda and can even clean wallpaper and painted walls.
  • White Vinegar – Excellent remover of grease, mildew, odors, stains and wax build up
  • Citrus Solvent – good for removing oil and grease. Can clean paint brushes as well.
  • Lemon – Effective against many bacteria found around the house.
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – Excellent disinfectant.
  • Washing Soda – Also known as SAL (sodium carbonate decahydrate) soda. Good for washing restroom tiles, sinks, and tubs. Do not use it on aluminum and use caution as it can irritate mucous membranes.
  • Cornstarch – Shampoo carpets and rugs. Also used to polish furniture.

Keeping so many DIY household cleaners can be a handful, try this all-purpose cleaner out: mix a quarter cup of baking soda with half a cup of vinegar into a half gallon of water. This mixture can be stored for a while. It is useful for bathroom cleaning such as removal of water deposit stains on and around shower stalls, windows, mirrors, and chrome fixtures.

Your home floors are often in direct contact with the soles of your feet, use these floor cleaners and polishes to keep your body safe:

  • Wood: use a 1 to 1 ratio of vinegar and vegetable oil. Apply a thin coat on floor and rub in well.
  • Painted wood: mix 1 teaspoon of washing soda with 1 gallon of hot water and clean.
  • Brick and stone tiles: mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon water and clean. proceed by rinsing with clear water.

DIY household cleaners: Lemon oilMost of us have a can of Pledge® stored in our storage closet for furniture polishing. Next time, try this formula instead:

  • Varnished wood: add a couple drops of lemon oil into a half cup of warm water. Pour into a spray bottle and shake well. Spray onto cloth and wipe. Finish by wiping furniture again with a dry soft cotton cloth.
  • Unvarnished wood: mix 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and apply using wide strokes

Clean your clothes with a safer alternative: mix 1 cup of Ivory soap or Fels Naptha soap with half a cup of washing soda and half a cup of borax. Use 1 tablespoon for lighter loads and 2 tablespoons for heavier loads.

Bathroom mold is a big health concern and a very common problem. Try this DIY household cleaners suggestion out: 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray on affected areas and wait for 1 hour before rinsing.

For those pesky carpet stains, try this safe concoction out: Use equal parts white vinegar and water and mix in a spray bottle. Apply directly on stain and let sit for several minutes before cleaning with a brush and warm soap water. For those real tough stains, mix a quarter cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. A paste forms. Rub the paste into carpet and leave for a couple hours before vacuuming.


DIY household cleaners




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