Chemicals within the home, especially those used for cleaning can be very irritating to those with eczema prone, sensitive skin. We reached out to our favourite Cleaning Guru, Melissa Maker of Clean My Space for her most simple, safer ways of keeping a home clean while limiting chemical irritants. We use these methods everyday! And we hope you will find them useful, too!
The Many Uses of Dish Soap!
There’s a simple reason why dish soap is a true workhorse in the cleaning world: because a good rule of thumb is to always start every cleaning job with the gentlest, safest, most basic product available to do the job—and that product is almost always dish soap. Dish soap has a million cleaning uses. Here are a few of my all-time favorites.
Floor CleanerJust add a few drops of dish soap to a bucket of very warm water. This is a simple solution that will leave your hardwood, laminate, tile, and even cement floors looking fantastic!
Grease Stain BusterDish soap is easily one of the safest things you can put on fabrics, and it’s especially good at tackling grease stains. Apply dish soap directly to grease stains, rubbing it in gently with your fingers. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse the area with cool water and launder as you normally would. In my experience, this even works on older stains that have been around for awhile!
Quick Blender CleanerIf you want to quickly clean your blender after each use, add a couple of drops of dish soap, then add enough warm water to come up about a quarter of a way up the side. Pop the blender back on the base and blend that mess away. Dump out the contents and rinse well.
Kitchen Cabinet CleanserHere’s something I get asked a LOT: How to clean kitchen cupboards. The answer is pretty straightforward if you have some dish soap handy. Just add 1 part dish soap to about 10 parts water in a container and mix it up. Dunk a non-scratching sponge in the mixture, and gently scrub to remove greasy build-up.
Weed KillerThis is a wonderfully safe and affordable alternative to harsh weeding chemicals. Add a squirt of dish soap to a clean, empty spray bottle, then add 1/2 cup salt. Fill the rest of the way with another Clean My Space staple—vinegar! Just spray this solution directly on any weeds, or in weed-prone areas. Do be careful to contain it, though—it’s non-toxic, but will kill any plant you spray it on.
Marble and Granite CleanerDon’t over-complicate things when it comes to caring for these delicate natural stones. Combine a few drops of dish soap with water in a spray bottle, and use this whenever it comes time to clean up your countertops!
Did you know that dish soap is also an awesome window cleaner? It cuts through greasy films and leaves a nice, clean finish. Just add a few drops of dish soap to a pail of warm water, and you’re good to go. You can also add about a 1/2 cup of vinegar for extra grime-fighting action!
Simple White Vinegar
Why Use Vinegar For Cleaning?First of all, vinegar is a great deodorizer. This might seem counterintuitive because many people think vinegar stinks, but vinegar seeks out those terrible odors, traps them, and ultimately gets rid of them. The next vinegar does well is de-grease, by lifting dirt and grease to the surface. And finally, it leaves a nice streak free shine, which is why it’s such a fantastic glass cleaner. A couple things to keep in mind when you’re using vinegar. It can be harmful if it gets into your eyes, so be careful. What you want to look for is plain, white, 5% vinegar. Make sure that you don’t use it on any natural stone surfaces like marble, travertine or quartz because, over time, it can ruin the finish. Now let’s get to those five great hacks.
Fruit & Vegetable WashYou’ve probably noticed that some of your produce has a waxy coating on it. That’s a combination of pesticides and other products that are used to safeguard your produce while it’s in transport and to help it last longer. But truthfully, you probably don’t want to be eating it, even though it’s FDA approved. To remove that film simply make up your own produce wash:
- Mix together: 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of vinegar.
- You can either put this in a spray bottle, or if you have something like grapes, you can pour it directly into a clean bowl or even a sink.
- Spray your produce, or put your produce inside that bowl/sink and let it sit for a few minutes.
- After the produce has soaked, just give it a good rinse and dry it. Now it’s clean and ready to be eaten.
Laundry BoosterVinegar is a great helper when you’re doing your laundry, and one of my all-time favourite laundry hacks. Just pour a bunch of vinegar in all the different compartments. It helps to lighten and/or brighten fabrics—depending on the colour of your fabric—and it helps to soften your fabrics and deodorize them. If anything’s a little bit stinky vinegar is definitely going to help out. Then, you can just take your clothes and either hang them to dry or put them in the dryer. You’ll notice a big difference, and don’t worry, your clothes are not going to come out smelling like vinegar!
Dishwasher CleanerThere’s a good chance you haven’t cleaned your dishwasher in a while. Honestly, I haven’t either. However, we can both clean our dishwashers very easily with nothing more than vinegar and baking soda. Start by emptying your dishwasher before you go to bed. It’s okay if there are dirty dishes, just pile them onto your counter or into your sink—it’ll be okay, I promise! Take a cup of baking soda and throw it around the bottom of the dishwasher and let it sit overnight. This will deodorize the dishwasher as a first step. In the morning, run the dishwasher on a super hot cycle to remove all the baking soda. Now we’ll start the dishwasher again. For the first couple of minutes, your dishwasher starts to fill with hot water, you want to stop it right there, open it up and dump 2 cups of white vinegar into that water. The vinegar is going to break down odours, remove deposits from detergent, and neutralize other bacteria that builds up. Again, you want that cycle to be super hot—the sanitize cycle if possible. Once that’s done, your dishwasher will smell better and look a lot better too. Remember to reload your dishwasher with those dirty dishes you took out the night before, too!
As you probably know, one of my all-time favourite uses for vinegar cleaning glass. Get yourself a clean spray bottle and add equal parts water and white vinegar, then slowly add about a teaspoon of cornstarch. Give it a good shake and use that to clean your glass. The vinegar will help remove any of that dirt and grease, while the cornstarch works as a gentle abrasive. And of course, when you’re cleaning glass or mirrors, you want to make sure that you’re using a high-quality microfiber cloth so that you don’t leave any streaks behind.
Make Your Cutlery SparkleThis is a great tip that I learned from working at a steakhouse. You know when your cutlery starts to get those weird spots on them that don’t come off even after they’ve been cleaned? Well, this trick will solve that problem. Take boiling hot water, about a cup or two, and add a cup of white vinegar. All of this should be done in a shallow dish or container big enough to submerge the cutlery. Then, simply dump your cutlery into that container and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, pull the cutlery out one by one (if the water is still super hot, you might want to wear gloves to do this) and using a microfiber cloth you’re going to wipe the cutlery wherever it needs it. I love to do this before we have guests over for dinner—it really makes our flatware shine!
Drain CleanerCommercial drain cleaners are among the most dangerous of all cleaning products. Most contain corrosive ingredients such as sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) that can permanently burn eyes and skin. Many can be fatal if ingested.
Here’s a DIY Drain Cleaner:
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Baking Soda
1/4 Cup cream of tartar
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Then using 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, pour it down the drain, followed by 2 cups of boiling water. Wait at least one minute before repeating. The boiling water changes the chemical composition of the ingredients and makes it strong enough to eat through grease and grime. This method may take few tries, but it often does the trick!
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
The corrosive ingredients in toilet bowl cleaners are severe eye, skin and respiratory irritants. Some toilet bowl cleaners contain sulfates, which may trigger asthma attacks in those with asthma and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) which can irritate lungs and burn eyes and skin.
Here’s a DIY Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup dish soap
1/4 hydrogen peroxide
15 drops tea tree oil
Mix all the ingredients together in a squeeze bottle. Then apply to the toilet. Let it sit for a few minutes then clean with a brush. This can also be used in the tub and shower.
One of the primary ingredients in oven cleaner is Sodium Hydroxide, more commonly known as Lye. If you remember that scene from Fight Club, then you know what this stuff can do to human skin. Hint – nothing good!
Here’s a DIY Oven Cleaner:
1 cup baking soda
4 tablespoons dish soap
1/2 cup vinegar
15 drops (sweet) orange essential oil – GREAT DEGREASER
Make a heavy paste, leave for several hours or overnight, then wipe up with clean water.
Much like oven cleaner, degreasers contain a variety of potentially harmful chemicals which when inhaled can have serious side effects.
Here’s a DIY Degreaser:
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup dish soap
20 drops sweet orange EO
Mix up the ingredients in a bowl then apply to the greasy area. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes then wipe away with a clean cloth and water.
Bleach is a highly toxic and dangerous chemical. Bleach causes respiratory problems and the fumes should never be inhaled. Bleach can also burn the skin.
Here’s a DIY Bleach:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
3/4 cup washing soda
Mix all ingredients together. If treating clothing, soak stained garments overnight. Launder as usual. Or use where you would normally use bleach.