Ah, spring! I’ve been working hard cooking my spring menu for my personal chef clients to rave reviews. I’ve really honed my new knowledge of combining prebiotics with probiotics in my menu options so you get the best of both worlds. No, kombucha alone is not the panacea.. but more on the foods you need in your diet to feed the probiotics in this previous blog post.
Anyway, besides fiddleheads, wild garlic and asparagus, spring also evokes CLEANING. Here I’m going to treat you with my favourite home cleaning recipes I’ve collected over the years that have replaced chemical products that live in most homes. My favourite go-to DIY cleaning products use pantry items and all purpose soap for the most part. All you really need are a few spray bottles, 3-4 essential oils, all purpose unscented soap and baking soda. I see you all with your essential oil diffusers, it’s time to put those powerful plant scents to good use. Come to think of it, maybe this should be an e-book one day.. or maybe even a workshop! Let me know because I’d be happy to be booked to show you in person!
So why make your own cleaning products? Well, ultimately it’s cheaper. Buying what you need for everything can last you around a year. I was especially motivated to create recipes during my environmental science undergrad and learned how daily chemicals that are used for cleaning affected your lungs and skin. A lot of volatile chemicals (fancy words that mean compounds that float around in the air when released) react with water (ie, in your lungs) and are no bueno because they can burn your them or become carcinogenic. Skin-wise, a lot of the same things can happen when these chemicals come into contact with the water in your cells. Even if I wear gloves, I don’t love the idea of industrial cleaning products on surfaces that I may put food onto, or books, or cell phones that touch my face. There was so much care taken for the safety of using these chemicals in chemistry class, why would they be so commonly used in households with little education on how to use them. There are also people that have allergies to the scents in store bought cleaners (hi, dad!).
Thus, started my quest to find what essential oils and compounds worked best as cleaning products. Back in the day, I worked at Dairy Queen and the manager there was amazing. On top of the chill vibes, she also insisted on cleaning surfaces with vinegar. I was a little annoyed that everything would kinda smell like french fries when we cleaned at the end of the day but vinegar has a ton of powerful cleaning properties like breaking down oils and killing germs, viruses and bacteria. Coupling this powerful product with essential oils makes it unstoppable.
Essential oils however are not inherently safe on their own. Do not ingest them into your body and they should not be put directly on the skin in their pure form (there are a couple exceptions). Certain ones can be diluted and put into cosmetic products, in diffusers and, in this case, in cleaning products no problem. For more on safety and possible contraindications for health conditions, pregnancy and babies running around, check out this article. If you’re a pet owner, this is a great list for ones you should avoid.
Tips on putting together your own starter kit:
Essential oils: A lot of the time, health food stores have sales on them. Try to buy organic if you can afford it to support healthy crops of these precious flowers and herbs that these essential oils are distilled from. You can build up your inventory slowly if you can’t find a good sale on them. Start off with lavender and sweet orange oil. Both are antibacterial and smell amazing in the diffuser. Please be wary and read the ingredients and only buy 100% pure essential oils with no added ‘natural scents’. That would defeat the point of making your own all natural cleaning products.
Baking soda: I’m pretty sure this is way cheaper in bulk. Bring a big glass jar with you to your favourite neighbourhood bulk emporium and you’ll have it for the year (or 2).
Vinegar: Just get your run of the mill white distilled vinegar. Apple cider vinegar may stain.
All purpose unscented castile soap: I think the most popular is the Dr. Bronner one but I’ve usually just bought big bottles of all natural unscented all purpose soaps at Costco or a hardware store. I haven’t seen these though in years so lately I’ve been trying Terra 20’s dish soap that they tout can also be used for cleaning other surfaces. I don’t like the smell but it cleans well.
Spray bottles: Brownie points if you save old bottles that have narrow spouts with a screw top (like an old glass vinegar bottle or alcohol bottle) and buy just the spray component that screws on top. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend dollar store spray bottles, I find they break quickly. You can find small glass spray bottles with dark glass (ideal for preserving essential oil potency) at herbalism, most health food or bulk stores. Otherwise, on a budget, you can get empty travel spray bottles at drug stores for the smaller quantity sprays.
All Purpose Kitchen Counter Spray
#Cheflife. Stores indefinitely.
2 cups warm water
½ cup white vinegar
5 drops sweet orange oil
2 drops lavender
2 drops eucalyptus
2 tbsp unscented liquid castile soap
Combine in a spray bottle. Shake before use and spray on your counters. Wipe immediately or leave on the surface for 15 min before wiping to get the most antibacterial action out of the spray.
Bathroom Tub, Tile, Sink & Toilet Paste.
Lol @ ‘toilet paste’. This is also great for kitchen sinks and oven surfaces. Does not store so just make enough paste that you will use.
Stir one to one parts:
All-purpose castile unscented soap
5 drops peppermint, sweet orange or lavender essential oil for desired scent.
Using a sponge or brush, clean surfaces with this paste and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
I love this one. This makes one mop bucket full.
¼ cup all purpose unscented liquid castile soap
½ cup white vinegar
2 gallons warm water
10 drops lavender, lemon or rosemary essential oil (optional for antiseptic properties / meditative smells)
Yoga Mat Spray
Sorry elitist yoga studios, my spray is cheaper.
Stores indefinitely in spray bottle if properly stored in a dark cool place.
1 cup water
3 drops sweet orange essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops tea tree oil
Place all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake before use and spray over mat after a work out. Don’t wipe, let it sit for 15 min. Roll up the mat!
Mould and Mildew Spray
I live in an old building and black mould accumulates quickly in the condensation around my windows in the winter, gross. I made this spray for that and also use it in the grout of my bathroom tiles. Note: You can scale up the recipe if you have a larger bottle because it lasts indefinitely stored in a cool dry place.
¼ cup water
¼ tsp tea tree oil
Shake before use and spray on problem dry mould surfaces. Do not wipe off.
Ok, writing all of this out makes me want to roll up my sleeves, put on a bangin’ playlist and get to cleaning. Happy spring everyone! If you try any of these out use the #evabeeclean on Instagram and tag me @chefevabee. Happy cleaning!