4 DIY “Feel-Good” Household Cleaners You’ll Fall in Love With This Cold & Flu Season

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With fall (and the inevitable cold and flu season) right around the corner, maintaining a hygienic home will soon be a priority. I’m a bit of a clean freak and have traditionally opted for the strongest cleaning products possible. Unfortunately, research says that these intense cleaners may actually be doing more harm than good. A couple of years ago I made the switch to more natural options and never looked back. Recently I started making my own cleaners – it’s fun, affordable, and they work extremely well!

Why I Made the Switch

Multiple studies have surfaced suggesting that antibacterial cleaning products promote the creation of “superbugs”. These are bacteria that have adapted to become resistant to antibiotics and antibacterial cleaning products. According to Dr. Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University School of Medicine, modern antibacterial products are formulated to linger, creating an environment that fosters the development of dangerous, resistant bacteria.

Additionally, these products are incapable of discriminating between “good” and “bad” bacteria. A disruption like this in your home may negatively impact the functioning of your immune system as well as encourage mold formation. This is such a problem that in 2016 the FDA banned 19 of the most common antibacterial additives used in soaps.

Some cleaners may even pose immediate health risks. Glass cleaners typically contain ammonia in the form of ammonium hydroxide. At high concentrations and prolonged inhalation, airborne ammonia can potentially lead to respiratory irritation. If ammonia is accidentally mixed with chlorine (like in bleach), the result is a toxic, odorless, and colorless gas that you do not want to be breathing!

Alternative Cleaners & Recipes

Essential Oil Based

Multiple studies have shown essential oils to be effective in killing microbes. Although many essential oils possess the ability to kill bacteria, one study found that oils such as oregano and basil are particularly potent.

Feel Good Disinfectant Spray

Prep time: <3 mins

What you’ll need:

  • 8 oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 oz. isopropyl alcohol
  • Distilled water (or boiled tap water)
  • 10 drops of Oregano
  • 15 drops of Sweet Orange
  • 10 drops of Cinnamon
  • 10 drops of Cinnamon bark
  • 6 drops of Eucalyptus
  • 5 drops of Balsam Fir

(Alternative Recipe):

  • 8 oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 oz. isopropyl alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • 10 drops of Oregano essential oil
  • 10 drops of Lemon essential oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree essential oil
  • 5 drops Basil

Directions:

  1. Add the essential oils, alcohol, and water (filling to the top of the bottle) in that order.
  2. Shake and use as a disinfectant when needed.

P.S. I like using the first recipe is during the winter months and the second during spring/summer!

Probiotic Based

It turns out that probiotics do more than just improve your gut health! One study showed that using them as part of a cleaning regimen in hospitals increased the amount of good, non-pathogenic bacteria on surfaces while also helping to decrease drug-resistant bacteria! If you don’t want “bad” bacteria to build up in your home, try using a cleaner with added probiotics every once and a while to restore the balance!

Because making your own probiotic spray takes a little longer, I would also recommend using Airbiotics all-purpose cleaning spray.

Bring Back the Bac All-Purpose Spray (acquired from Fermenta)

Prep time: approx. 8 weeks

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 an orange
  • Freshly filtered water or non-chlorinated water
  • Spray bottle
  • Blender or food processor
  • One-way valve for mason jar
  • ½ gallon mason jar

Directions:

  1. Cut the orange into small pieces, and toss it into a blender or food processor, along with the lemon juice and vinegar. Blend until the orange is finely chopped.
  2. Pour out into the mason jar, and fill to the 6-cup mark with non-chlorinated water.
  3. Place the one-way valve on the jar and let the mixture sit, at room temperature, for 1-2 weeks.
  4. Remove the airlock lid, and strain the liquid removing the solids completely. Return the liquid to the mason jar.
  5. Add more non-chlorinated water, just to return it to the 6-cup mark. Place one-way valve back on the mixture and let it sit for another 4-8 weeks, or until all it starts to smell like orange vinegar.
  6. Replace the valve at this point with a storage lid, and your cleaner is ready to use.
  7. To use, dilute with a ratio of 1-part cleaner to 3 parts water for spray cleaner. Dilute at a 1:10 ratio for other cleaning tasks.

Alcohol Based

Alcohol is your go-to if you really need to disinfect your home. Using isopropyl alcohol or ethanol is especially great during the winter months because they are extremely effective against the flu virus. Combine this with some essential oils and you’ve got a one-two punch to knock out the flu virus and prevent its spread!

Citrus Disinfecting Spray

Prep time: <2 min

What you’ll need:

  • 16 oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup of distilled water (or boiled tap water)
  • ¼ cup isopropyl alcohol (70-90%), can alternatively use ethanol (I like using vodka)
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 8 drops each of Lime, Lemon, and Tea Tree essential oils

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in your spray bottle, shake to mix, and spray on surfaces.

P.S. This is also really great to use on glass (windows, mirrors, etc.).

Vinegar Based

Vinegar is one of my very favorite go-to household cleaners. One older study showed that vinegar is an effective – and safe – antimicrobial agent. I use this Refresh-mint All-Purpose Spray on EVERYTHING: appliances, mirrors, glass; I even spray it on my plants for pest control.

Conclusion

By making your own cleaning products you help your pocket and the environment while protecting your family from toxic chemicals found in many commercial brands. You’re basically saving the world by making your own concoctions! Be sure you keep these products away from your fur babies and children: healthy for your home doesn’t mean that ingesting them is safe!

 

Kara Montgomery, neurotoxicology researcher, product development specialist Kara believes the small choices of what we expose ourselves to on a day-to-day basis have a profound impact on our overall health. As a published neurotoxicology researcher, Kara has studied the link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease, participating in studies that have garnered around $1 million in NIH funding. With this knowledge, Kara takes a critical eye to the products and habits all of us engage with on a regular basis. She holds a BS in Neuroscience from King University.

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