Home Clean Home Naturally
by Shubhra Krishan

A whiff of fresh lemons, the soft smell of a ripe banana, the gentle fragrance of green tea…imagine your senses suffused with these wonderfully soothing scents as you move from countertop to window-pane to floor, cleaning and disinfecting your home. Dozens upon dozens of pure, natural, non-toxic cleaning agents are sitting right under your nose, waiting for you to notice them. Here are six of my favorite ones: Lavish some lavender care on your laundry: Add 10 to 12 drops of lavender essential oil to the rinse cycle of your washing machine for a fresh fragrance. Then fill a spray bottle with water and add 1 drop of lavender essential oil to it. Spray this fragrant liquid onto clothes before drying or ironing and you’ll never need another fabric softener.

Wake up your windows with vinegar: Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into a 1-quart spray bottle. Top up the bottle with water, add 10 drops of lemon or orange essential oil to the solution and shake. Spray the mixture on a dull window and scrub with an old, crumpled newspaper for a good-as-new sparkle. Disinfect with herbs: In a large, clean glass jar, put a handful each of fresh rosemary, sage, and mint leaves. Cover the jar completely with organic apple cider vinegar and close the lid tightly. Let the solution sit undisturbed for one month to six weeks. Then strain the mixture into a spray bottle, and use it to disinfect cutting boards, telephones, doorknobs, and other surfaces that attract germs. Give your carpets some Tea-LC: Cut open a few bags of green tea. Sprinkle the leaves on your carpet, leave them for fifteen minutes, and then vacuum them up. Your carpet will smell fresh and lovely. Tea—black or green—is also effective on wooden furniture stains. Dip a cloth in cool tea, and wipe stains off the chair or table.

Try this fruit, er, boot polish: Banana skins don’t always trip you up. Make them do a good deed: Rub a dull leather shoe with the inside of a banana peel, then buff it with a soft flannel cloth to remove banana traces and odor from the surface. Your shoes will shine like new! Treat your sink to a lemony sparkle: Don’t throw away that used lemon or orange! Drop it in the kitchen sink, add a handful of crushed ice, and run the garbage disposal. This will not only replace the stale-food smell with a fresh citrusy one, but also sharpen the disposal blades, thanks to the grinding action.

There! Isn’t it easy to keep your home clean without using commercial cleaning products? Why, you might ask, should one bother with all these natural ingredients when so many efficient commercial cleaners are readily available in the supermarkets? To find the answer, go to your computer and type “toxins in household cleaners” in an internet search engine, and you’ll find some eye-opening—and I might add, frightening—information. Here is a small sample of what I found: Commercial bleach contains chlorine fumes that can irritate your skin and eyes. Carpet cleaner contains a chemical called perchlorethylene which has been found to cause anemia, liver and kidney damage. Nitrobenzene in furniture polish can harm your skin and lungs. The toxic vapors from bathroom spray can cause headaches, nausea, skin rashes, burns, lung irritation and even liver damage.

Surf the Internet some more, and you’ll find hundreds of horror stories from real people like you and me about how badly their health has suffered from using such harmful cleaning products. So, the next time you go shopping for cleaning supplies, avoid that array of green and blue liquids and walk across to the salad dressings and baking needs aisles of your supermarket! If you’re new to natural cleaning, this super-simple recipe will take care of almost all your cleaning needs: Mix together: 1 gallon hot water,1/2 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons baking soda. Pour this solution into a spray bottle, shake well, then spritz and wipe.

Presto! Your sink smiles, your tiles glow, and your lungs heave a sigh of relief! If you find the smell of vinegar too strong for your liking—and I know many people do—add ten to fifteen drops of lavender or lemon essential oil to the liquid; you’ll have a pleasant fragrance to enjoy afterwards.
With the money you save on commercial cleaners (baking soda and a big bottle of vinegar will cost you less than $5), you can buy eco-friendly cleaning products from a natural health store. Or, even more fun, you can create your own cleaning products using some of the ideas I’ve shared with you. Enjoy your new, naturally clean home!

Shubhra Krishan is author of the new book, “Radiant Body, Restful Mind” (New World Library, 2004). She has worked in print and television journalism for fourteen years, including as an on-air personality and anchor for India’s largest television channel. For more info on her book, please visit: www.newworldlibrary.com, call 1-800-972-6657 ext. 52 or email es.kay@usa.net