Monday, March 13, 2017

Natural Cleaning with Herbs

In a quest for a life with less chemicals and more natural scents and ingredients around me, I started growing herbs to cook with.  I made teas and cooking blends and introduced my family to the joy of herbs in the diet.  My favorite scent is lemon.  I grow lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemon scented geraniums, lemon thyme and lemon basil.  I found in researching these wonderfully scented plants, that not only were they tasty in cooking and tea, but that they enjoy many germ fighting properties as well.  And when I combined them with other natural disinfectants like vinegar, herbal essential oils and lemon juice I could create cleaning solutions for my household that were effective and non-toxic.

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant because of its acid content.  Plain white vinegar is 99% effective against most bacteria.  Lemon Juice, which is basically citric acid, breaks down the cell membranes of bacteria much like sterilization by heat does.  The pleasant scent can also cut the harshness of straight vinegar.  Add to that the natural disinfecting power of herbs and herbal essentials oils and you have a perfect combination for cleaning and disinfecting without harsh chemicals.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Herbs:

Thyme -The essential oil of thyme contains thymol, a natural phenol with powerful and proven antibiotic and disinfectant properties that kill common household germs. Thymol is at least 18 times as effective as phenol (used in commercial germicides), but much less toxic. Tests have shown its effective against Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Ecoli.

Sage, like thyme, contains natural phenol so is effective on germs and has many anti-fungal properties making it a perfect partner in the bathroom.

Rosemary contains camphor, a powerful anti-microbial.

Lavender – often seen only as a pleasing scent is a perfect partner for cleaning as it has a gentle germ-fighting power.   It can also be used as a disinfectant and insect repellent and Lavender is an antiseptic, natural antibiotic, sedative, detoxifier.

Lemon Grass -  with a very long history of use in traditional Indian medicine to help reduce fevers and fight infectious illness. Lemongrass essential oil is an antimicrobial and it resists contagion. It is a good sanitary disinfectant as well.

Lemongrass Cleaning Cloths
You can use micro fiber cloths, old cloth diapers or torn-up t-shirts.  These do-it-yourself duster cloths offer convenience of disposable furniture wipes without the guilt of contributing to the landfill.  Make several at one time.  I use cloths about 10 to 12-inches square which fit well in the hand.  This recipe will make about 40 cloths this size.  I find 10 to 12 cloths fit nicely in a 1 pint wide mouth mason jar.

3/4 cup water
1 cup white vinegar or lemon thyme herbal vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon grass essential oil
10 to 12 drops of lemon essential oil
Dust cloths or rags
1 or 2 wide mouth pint-size mason jars and lids

Combine water, vinegar, lemon juice and essential oils in large bowl.  Soak dust cloths in the solution for 30 minutes.  Squeeze out cloths, leaving them slightly damp.  Lay the cloths out flat, then fold each cloth in half or thirds and roll up.  Place rolled cloths in a glass jar.  Cap tightly with a screw lid.  To use, unfold the cloth and wipe down surfaces as usual.  Launder dust cloths when dirty and infuse again with the mixture.  Because of the lemon grass oil and vinegar these will not get moldy even though you keep them damp and they smell terrific, giving your home a fresh clean scent.

These wonderful smelling cloths can dust woodwork, scrub shower walls and doors, disinfect sinks, tubs and tile and are even good on porcelain toilets and toilet seats.  And if you do not want to make your own we do have these wonderful cleaning cloths for sale. 

Herbal Vinegar Spray
The spray is perfectly safe and very effective to use at full strength, but can be diluted 50/50 for lighter jobs.

Fresh or dried herbs
Distilled white vinegar

Roughly chop 1 to 2 large handfuls of fresh or dried herbs and place in a glass jar with a wide mouth and a plastic lid (good choices are lemon verbena, peppermint, rosemary, lemon balm or lavender.)  Add vinegar to fill the jar.  Replace the lid and leave for a few days or weeks (I generally like to wait 2 weeks) to infuse, then strain out the herbs.  Pour into a plastic stray bottle. 

Ways to Use your Vinegar Spray:

  1. Clean your coffee maker.  Fill the reservoir with a full strength, undiluted thyme vinegar.  Run the vinegar through one cycle.  Run two cycles of water to rinse.
  2. Remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables.  Wash them in a mixture of 2 or 3 tablespoons of sage and/or thyme vinegar per quart of water.  The antifungal qualities of sage will also help with natural borne fungus and the antiviral qualities of thyme will help against bacteria.
  3. To cut grease and absorb odors on your wood cutting board, wipe down with a lemon, thyme or basil vinegar.
  4. Clean and freshen the microwave mix ¼ cup herb-based vinegar and 1 cup water in a small bowl and heat for 5 minutes.  This will remove lingering odors and soften baked-on food spills.
  5. Mildew removal.  Full strength vinegar, especially thyme vinegar will remove mildew from a shower curtain.  You can add a couple drops of lemon essential oil for a sweeter smell.
  6. Floor cleaner.  To clean floors and kill germs try this recipe: 1/8 cup liquid soap, ½ cup thyme vinegar, ½ cup herbal tea (peppermint smells great, lemon cuts grease, thyme and sage will kill germs.)
  7. Keep your dishwasher clean and fresh.  Add ½ cup herb vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Finally here is something simple and quick you can make to use all around the house for general cleaning.  Washing soda, also known as Soda Ash is sodium carbonate.  I obtain mine (made by Arm & Hammer) at the WalMart, but many grocery stores and health related stores also stock it.
I have heard that some people have trouble getting washing soda so I found this post that explains how to turn baking soda into washing soda

All-purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant

2 cups hot water
¼ cup white vinegar
½ tsp. washing soda
15 drops tea tree essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle and shake well.  To use, spray on surfaces, especially cutting boards, counter tops and toilets.  Wipe with dry cloth.

 Variation: add ½ teaspoon of liquid castile soap to 2 cups of this cleaner for a great all-purpose cleaner.

Enjoy the scents of Spring and Spring cleaning without masking them with chemicals and have a wonderful March!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...