3 Best Essential Oils For Cleaning

essential oil

If you make your own cleaning products, you likely love that you can get your home sparkling clean without any dangerous chemicals, like those found in most name brand cleaning products. You also probably know that homemade cleaners can smell pretty…blah.

That powerful “clean” smell you get from conventional cleaners may make your home feel disinfected, but that aroma comes from a host of toxic chemicals. How else do you think a bathroom cleaner could smell like fresh mountain rain or strawberries?

Unlike conventional cleaners, homemade cleaning products don’t smell like much. Most recipes call for different varieties of a few staple ingredients like, baking soda, white vinegar, oil, salt, soap and water. In fact, using just these ingredients you can make a non-toxic oven cleaner, scour your wooden cutting boards, scrub your toilet bowl to shiny perfection, polish your furniture and more. Unfortunately, while these ingredients make for powerful, chemical-free cleaning, they smell quite bland. And in the case of vinegar, they can smell strong in not such a good way. That’s why most green cleaning recipes also call for essential oils.

Made by steaming or cold pressing raw plant material, essential oils are the distilled liquid essence of a plant. From tea tree to cilantro and grapefruit to vanilla, you can find most any plant or herb in an aromatic essential oil form.

These concentrated liquids can do more than just make your cleaning products smell fabulous. They can disinfect, purify and even remove stains—all without any toxic chemicals in the mix. Essential oils are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial. Some, of course, work better for cleaning than others. These three essential oils will not only give your products a delicious aroma, they’ll also punch up your homemade products’ cleansing properties.

Lemon essential oil

Made by cold pressing the rind of fresh lemons, lemon essential oil smells intoxicatingly like a fresh, ripe lemon. Add a few drops to your favorite homemade cleaners to infuse the scent of lemon throughout your home. It will give your home that distinct Pine-Sol lemon smell without any of the nasty chemicals. Lemon essential oil can also help brighten and remove stains. Add a few drops to a gallon of water when mopping your white tile floors, or use it with your homemade laundry detergent to brighten white clothes.

Peppermint essential oil

With its refreshing minty scent and powerful antibacterial properties, peppermint essential oil is a perfect complement to homemade cleaning products. Add a few drops to your favorite homemade spray cleaners and spritz the mixture on areas that need particular antibacterial attention, like bathrooms and kitchens. As an added bonus, peppermint also acts as a natural pest deterrent.

Also, don’t be afraid to mix your essential oils to create aromatic blends. Peppermint mixes especially well with other essential oils popular for cleaning, including lavender, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary.

Tea tree essential oil

Made from the Australian Melaleuca tree, tea tree essential oil offers antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties. It works especially well to get rid of mildew and mold around the house. Simply mix two teaspoons tea tree oil with two cups water in a spray bottle. Then, spritz the mixture on moldy or mildewy areas, like showers. Don’t rinse off the mixture. Let it work away at those yucky substances. You can also use this spray anywhere that has a musty smell.

Tea tree can add a lovely, medicinal smell to your cleaning products. Add a few drops to a bucket of soapy water before you mop your floor to permeate its distinctive scent throughout your home. Or, add several drops to your favorite homemade laundry detergent to give your clothes a fresh, therapeutic scent.

Where to find essential oils

Look for essential oils at health food stores. They usually come in tiny green or blue bottles. When shopping for essential oils, make sure to look for pure, undiluted essential oils that don’t have any extra carriers, diluents or other additives. Also, try to find certified organic brands.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudsonGoogle+ and Pinterest.

This article was originally published on OrganicAuthority.com, an organic living blog. View the original articleimage: cafemama

Leave a comment

Filed under Organic Authority

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

lightbulb

Taking it easy on the planet can also mean lower utility bills every month. Double score! Whether you rent or own your place, you can still make easy changes to save energy. These five simple ways to make your home more energy efficient may seem like no-brainers, but everyone needs an eco-reminder every once in a while. And, once you master these, then you can get into the really big stuff. You know, like solar panels and water-saving toilets!

Switch your bulbs

If you haven’t switched from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs, what are ya waiting for? CFLs will cost you a bit more, but they last at least six times longer than their incandescent counterparts. Plus, CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, according to Energy Star. Those energy savings will translate to a lower electricity bill. LEDs last even 2 to 5 times longer than CFLs and also use less energy than incandescents. Plus, LEDs don’t contain the small amount of mercury like CFLs do, which has caused some concern among consumers.

Besides switching out your bulbs, you can also make good everyday eco-choices to lessen your energy use when it comes to lighting. It may seem like common sense, but don’t turn your lights on during the day. Break that bad habit of flipping on a light whenever you go into a room and use sunlight instead. It’s free! At night, why not go the romantic route and light a few candles instead of using electricity once in a while?

Plug in power strips

Simply adding a power strip to those high traffic areas where you plug in a lot of devices can reduce your energy usage. How? Anything plugged in still sucks up energy, called “vampire energy,” even when turned off. It’s not just a teeny bit of energy, either. The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off or in standby mode, according to Energy Star. Rather than going around and unplugging every cord around your home, you can easily switch off all of your devices at once with just one button on the power strip.

Do laundry at night

Embrace your inner night owl and knock out those chores, or the laundry at least, at night. Your electricity bill will thank you. Doing laundry during “off peak” hours saves energy. While you’re at it, wash your clothes in cold water. It will save your colors and also save you some dough. Want to take it a step further? Give your dryer the cold shoulder and air-dry clothes on a clothesline or drying rack when the weather’s warm.

Adjust your thermostat

Go check your thermostat. Do you think you can handle tweaking it up or down 5-8 degrees, depending on the season? According to Energy Star, heating and cooling your home typically makes up more than 50 percent of your utility bill, so adjusting your thermostat even in small amounts can help save you significant energy—and money. For even more energy savings, invest in a programmable thermostat that automatically regulates your home’s temperature.

Shorten that shower

Hey you beauty queen, take shorter showers (and skip the baths!) and you’ll have extra money to spend! You know, on the essentials—like organic beauty products. If you invest in a low-flow showerhead, you’ll save even more money on your water bill and the additional costs of heating the water. According to Energy Star, using a 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low-flow) showerhead during a 10-minute shower will save about five gallons of water over a typical bath.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudsonGoogle+ and Pinterest.

This article was originally published on OrganicAuthority.com, an organic living blog. View the original articleimage: adapted from Tiago Daniel

Leave a comment

Filed under Organic Authority

10 Household Cleaners To Avoid At All Costs

cleaners

Nothing like mopping your floors, scrubbing your counters and cleaning your shower with hazardous waste. That’s essentially what you’re doing if you use many name-brand household cleaners to get your home spic-and-span. But you eco-conscious clean freaks probably already knew that.

If you’re concerned about your health and helping the environment, your toxic household cleaners were likely the first to go. And for good reason. The household cleaning industry is largely unregulated and companies aren’t required to include ingredient lists for cleaning products, like they are for food, drugs and personal care products.

Companies take advantage of that lack of regulation to make bogus claims about their cleaning products and to include toxic chemicals in their products without letting consumers know. Hidden behind vague terms or not stated at all, it’s hard to know just how bad these chemical concoctions really are for your health and for the environment.

That’s why the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization known for its personal care product database, has created a new database that includes more than 2,000 household cleaners. The EWG ranked the cleaners based on how hazardous their ingredients are and how much information they include on their labels.

The EWG debuted its EWG Cleaners Database in September 2012. The non-profit also released a list of cleaners for its Hall of Shame. Take a look at some of the worst offenders the EWG has uncovered—so far.

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

Perhaps one of the worst because it undeservedly boasts the title “green”, this all-purpose cleaner from Simple Green contains 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent known to damage red blood cells and irritate eyes. Despite its “non-toxic” claims on its labeling, this all-purpose cleaner also contains a secret blend of alcohol ethoxylate surfactants; some chemicals in this family are banned in the European Union.

Even worse, the EWG notes that the company website instructs the user to significantly dilute this product when cleaning. Actually, Simple Green calls it “custom dilute,” as if it’s some fabulous product feature. Yet, the cleaner is packaged in a spray bottle that implies it can be used full strength, which means possible higher exposure to the toxic chemicals in this product. Awful.

Scrubbing Bubbles – Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner & Extend-A-Clean Mega Shower Foamer

Despite its cheery cartoon scrub brush mascot, Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom and shower cleaners should do anything but bring a smile to your eco-loving face. These products contain chemicals banned in the European Union including DEGBE, which can irritate and inflame the lungs. The European Union bans this chemical in household cleaners in concentrations above 3 percent. These products contain up to 10 percent.

EASY-OFF Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner Aerosol Spray

Besides dissolving the gunk in your oven, the chemicals in this cleaner can also burn your skin and eyes. The label says as much. It advises users to avoid eyes, skin, mucous membranes and clothing. On top of that you should also wear long gloves when using it, avoid breathing in the mist, use only with adequate ventilation and do not ingest it. Something so dangerous has no place in the your eco-home.

Target’s Up & Up Cleaners

Unlike food, cosmetics and drugs, ingredient labels are not required for cleaning products. Some companies choose to include their ingredients because of consumer pressure—others do not, including, Target’s Up & Up brand cleaners. This brand’s toilet bowl cleaner and glass and surface wipes list no ingredients whatsoever. Other cleaners in its line of products list only one or two ingredients, or use vague terms. Hiding something, eh?

Lysol Disinfectant Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Lime & Rust Remover

You know many household cleaners on the market pose serious health hazards, but what about death? This toilet bowl cleaner from Lysol even states on the label that it is “harmful or fatal if swallowed”. The label also suggests wearing safety goggles as a bit of this acidic concoction can cause “irreversible damage” to eyes. So not worth a clean toilet.

Ajax, Dynamo and Fab Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergents

How does mixing in a little formaldehyde into your washer full of laundry sound? That’s what you do if you use any of these Phoenix Brands detergents. As a known human carcinogen at its worst, formaldehyde has also been found to cause asthma and allergies. The company only lists this information on the product as a technical disclosure for workers.

Comet Disinfectant Cleanser Powder

One hundred forty-six: that’s the number of chemicals the EWG found in this common household toilet cleaner. Some of the chemicals are known to cause cancer, asthma and reproductive disorders. The most toxic of the chemicals found, including formaldehyde, benzene, chloroform and toluene, are not listed on the label. The EWG states that little is known about the health hazards of most of the hidden chemicals.

Citra-Solv Cleaner & Degreaser

Even though some cleaners contain ingredients derived from plants instead of petroleum, that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Case in point: this cleaner and degreaser is made from d-limonene and orange oils from citrus peels. Sounds innocent, but when sprayed into the air these oils can react with trace levels of ozone air pollution to form ultra-fine particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Clorox, Fantastik, Febreze, Formula 409, Easy-Off, Lysol, Mr. Clean and Spic and Span

Many of these brand name spray cleaners are laced with ingredients that cause asthma, including quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine. These chemicals can trigger asthma attacks and even cause new cases of the disease. These products essentially spray these dangerous chemicals directly into your home’s air.

DampRid Mildew Stain Remover Plus Blocker

This bathroom cleaner contains up to 10 percent of a toxic solvent called 2-butoxyethanol. Canada only allows this chemical’s use in non-aerosol cleaners up to 6 percent. As if that wasn’t enough of a hazardous toxin for one cleaning product, this product also includes nonylphenol ethoxylate, a chemical prohibited in cleaners in the European Union.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudsonGoogle+ and Pinterest.

This article was originally published on OrganicAuthority.com, an organic living blog. View the original articleimage: BrittneyBush

Leave a comment

Filed under Organic Authority