Friday, November 9, 2012

Green Cleaning: All-Purpose Spray

I'm leading off my series on green cleaning with an all-purpose spray. I already talked about some of the standard ingredients needed to make your own household cleaners here, but I'll list them out with each recipe and go a little more in depth on the reasons they are used and why.

I've only tried two all-purpose spray recipes and so far I'm loving the second. The first recipe I used was not by any means bad, I just didn't love it, and if I don't love it, I don't use it. I was confident that it was doing it's job as far as cleaning is concerned, but I didn't care for the fact that it:

  1. Contained borax - I also outlined here my feelings on borax. While it has not been found to be particularly harmful, if I can make a spray that does the job without it, why not?
  2. It left a film on my kitchen table. I'm not sure why, but I have my theories and I wasn't a fan. It's funny, it was only on my kitchen table, nowhere else. 
  3. I don't feel like it ever mixed well, I expected to have to shake the bottle to mix the oils in every use, but the bottle always had solids stuck to the sides and that bothered me.
So, I took the recipe I used and compared it to a couple of others and recently made this one:

All-Purpose Spray
 - 3 Tablespoons Vinegar
 - 1/2 teaspoon Washing Soda
 - 1/2 teaspoon Castile Soap
 - 2 Cups Hot Water
 - 20 drops essential oil (optional - I used tea tree)

Simply mix the ingredients together and you're done! Personally, I mixed the washing soda into the hot water first to dissolve it, then added the soap and then the soda. 

The original recipe did not call for essential oils but I added them for a couple of reasons. First, scent and second, tea tree oil has natural anti-fungal/bacterial/septic properties. So I felt like it gave it an extra oomph. You could also add lemon or orange for a nice scent. Or, you could use a certain scent of Castile soap. I used peppermint. The peppermint mixed with the slightly woody/earthy smell of the tea tree is very refreshing.

Now, let's talk about actually cleaning with the all-purpose spray. As its name implies, this spray is your go-to for regular household jobs. I mainly use it in my kitchen for cleaning off my counter tops, stove top, kitchen table, sink, etc. Another thing I have fallen in love with for cleaning is my Microfiber Scrubby Cloths. I just got these from Zulily for a great price along with my BPA free spray bottles. They are amazing. They clean well, have a nice little scrubby piece, and wash great. The mixture above is a general cleanser and will provide sanitizing properties, however I wouldn't say it is strong enough for something such as cleaning a cutting board where raw meat has been. Some recipes have tried to adjust for this by adding hydrogen peroxide. This is good, in theory, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.

Hydrogen peroxide is absolutely approved for sanitizing after raw meat and such (proven to kill salmonella) and is also an effective bleaching agent. So why not just add some to the mixture? Have you ever noticed that when you buy peroxide it comes in a dark bottle? That is because, when exposed to light - as well as other elements, peroxide loses it's potency. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide mixed with vinegar in on bottle creates an entirely new solution that will not do what it is intended to do. So, my advice is to get a bottle of peroxide and screw a spray nozzle on it and keep it next to your all-purpose spray. Then when you need it, you can spray some on the surface to be disinfected followed by your all purpose spray and you should be good to go!

Hopefully, you like this recipe as much as I do. I love feeling at ease with what I am using to clean my house!