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DIY Cleaning Products

The commercial cleaning industry is a huge market with a consistently positive growth rate-- an average of 6.6% in the past 10 years. In 2017, it was predicted to be a $78 billion market; it was also predicted that the average family spent $600 per year on cleaning supplies.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American non-profit activist group that does research and advocacy work on agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. They examined over 1000 ingredients commonly used in household cleaning supplies, and found that over half of these cleaning products had ingredients which cause harm to lungs. One in five contained ingredients which can trigger asthma, a worrying number given that 25.7 million people in the US alone suffer from asthma. Some of the most dangerous ingredients in household cleaning products include:

Chlorine Bleach-- fumes contain chlorine and chloroform. This has been linked to respiratory and neurological defects, as well as cancer. Chlorine is also a highly reactive chemical that can react with ammonia or vinegar and form other dangerous compounds.

Formaldehyde-- a known carcinogen.

Antibacterials-- although the FDA banned 19 anti-bacterial compounds from hand and body soaps, they can still be found in cleaning products.

2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE, BCEE, Butyl cellosolve)-- this substance is on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act list of toxic substances. It is a skin and eye irritant.

Diethylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether (DEGME, Methoxydiglycol)-- this substance was banned in the EU from use in cleaning products, and is linked to reproductive health effects.

Making your own cleaning products can not only protect personal health, but also stop environmental pollution caused by the production and disposal of commercial cleaning products.

As with any cleaning product, results vary. It cannot be guaranteed that the below recipes are 100% safe and effective. It is advised to test out products before widespread use, and as always, keep products labeled and out of reach of children.

Below are some easy recipes for DIY cleaning products:

1. All-Purpose Cleaner

1/2 cup vinegar

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 gallon water

Combine; use for water stains on mirrors, windows, etc.

2. Carpet Stain Remover

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

Combine and pour into spray bottle; spray on stain, let sit for several minutes, then clean with warm soapy water.

3. Dishwasher Soap

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine; increase washing soda concentration if water is hard.

4. Toilet Scrub

1/2 cup baking soda

10 drops tea tree essential oil

1/4 cup vinegar

Pour baking soda and tea tree oil into toilet bowl; add vinegar and scrub.

5. Garbage Disposal Cleaner

1 cup vinegar

Water (as needed)

Pour vinegar into ice cube tray; top off with water. Once frozen, toss several cubes down disposal and let run.

6. Pan Grease

Salt (as needed)

Add salt to pan; scrub.

7. Silver Cleaner

Aluminum foil

Boiling water

1 cup baking soda

Pinch of salt

Line sink or bucket with aluminum foil, shiny side up; lay silver on top of aluminum, pour in water, baking soda, and salt. Let sit for several minutes.

As an alternative: rub silver with toothpaste and a soft cloth; rinse with warm water, and air dry.

8. Fabric Softener

20-30 drops essential oil of choice

1 gallon white vinegar

Combine; add 1/3 cup per laundry load.

9. Disinfectant

2 cups water

3 tablespoons liquid soap

20-30 drops tea tree oil

Combine; use as an alternative to bleach disinfectant.

10. Cutting Board Cleaner

1/2 Lemon

Kosher salt (as needed)

Rub lemon over cutting board, let sit for 10 minutes; rinse. For deeper clean, sprinkle salt over cutting board before rubbing with lemon.