Trying to use fewer chemicals in your home? Frustrated with the higher prices of healthier options? Switching to natural cleaning and personal care products need not be expensive. Consider adding these five products to your regimen and enjoy the savings!
White vinegar is optimal for household use. Raw apple cider vinegar is ideal for personal care use. White vinegar costs approximately $2.50 per gallon at most big box stores. Raw apple cider vinegar is not as readily available and costs approximately $5.00 for 32 ounces.
Uses for white vinegar. Keep it simple and pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and use for general cleaning. Dilute if desired or add a favorite essential oil. Make a citrus version by steeping the white vinegar in citrus peels for 1-2 weeks. There are so many uses for white vinegar around your home, there is an entire website dedicated to the topic at VinegarTips.com.
Uses for raw apple cider vinegar (ACV). Make a heavy-duty cleaner by combining ACV with antimicrobial herbs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, and others (see our Naturally Healthy Bathroom article for our Vinegar of the Four Thieves recipe and how-to video). Use undiluted vinegar as a hair rinse or skin toner to help restore healthy pH. You can make a luxurious hair and skin conditioner, Queen of Hungary Water, by combining ACV with restorative herbs such as lemon balm, comfrey, rosemary, and others.
- Baking Soda
A 2-pound box costs approximately $1.30 and goes a long way in your home. Add 1/2 cup to your regular load of laundry. Make a soft scrubber by combining with a bit of liquid castile soap. Polish silver with a blend of 3 parts water to 1 part baking soda. Use as a drain deodorizer and sports equipment deodorizer. Keep an open box of baking soda in your home and/or fridge to help absorb odors. You can even make your own washing soda, a stronger cleaning agent, from baking soda (see How to Make Your Own Washing Soda).
For personal care, pat baking soda under your arm for a natural deodorant. Use as a foot soak or add a small amount to shampoo. Make a paste of baking soda and water to treat insect bites. Baking soda makes a gentle facial exfoliant. Use 3 parts water to 1 part baking soda and rub in a circular motion on your face.
Note: There is no aluminum found in baking soda, though it is often found in baking powder. Baking soda brands like Bob's Red Mill and Frontier offer a more natural product since they mine their baking soda directly from the ground. Arm & Hammer uses a chemical reaction process to derive baking soda from the mined ore (described in their website's FAQs). The more expensive brands may be worth the investment when it comes to personal care products.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective sanitizer consisting of water and oxygen. A 32-ounce bottle costs less than a dollar. Peroxide breaks down in sunlight, so it is best stored in brown or opaque bottles. Attach a spray nozzle to the top of the bottle to have on hand for disinfecting kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Peroxide used in combination with white vinegar effectively kills microbes such as E. coli and salmonella. (See this article for more information.)
Peroxide is an excellent bleaching agent. Add 1 cup to a load of laundry in place of bleach. Sterilize washing machines and dishwashers by running a cycle with 1 cup hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide can be used to lighten hair as well as whiten teeth. Find out more in this article, 26 Amazing Benefits and Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide.
Salt has been used in cleaning, personal care, and food preservation for generations. A versatile mineral with thousands of uses, salt comes in a variety of forms. Unprocessed sea salt is optimal for consumption, while iodized and refined salt is fine for cleaning. A typical container of salt costs less than a dollar. Salt works well for cleaning cast iron. Make a paste with water and scrub. Combine club soda with salt to clean carpet stains.
Sea salt mixed with baking soda and water makes a deodorizing mouth rinse. A combination of salt and baking soda works as a tooth powder. Salt mixed with olive oil can help alleviate itching from poison ivy or insect bites. For more suggestions on integrating salt into your household, see 46 Smart Uses for Salt.
Pumice is formed from volcanic lava that combines with water, then froths and hardens into pumice. It too has been around for centuries. It is completely non-toxic and useful for cleaning and personal care. Pumice sticks are readily available for less than two dollars; check the cleaning aisle of your local big box store. Pumice stones, a bit less abrasive for use on skin, cost a bit more.
Pumice sticks are effective rust and lime stain removers. Too much pumice can be abrasive, so test all surfaces first. For toilet bowl stains, consider the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover. For greater effectiveness, wet all pumice with water before using. Use pumice to remove rust on outdoor metal furniture. Cosmetic grade pumice can be used to remove stains on teeth.
The five items pictured above cost a total of $7.31. Not a bad investment when you think of the "return" on your health!