DIY Natural Cleaning Products

Simple recipes for a safer home 

 I like to put my handmade cleaning products into REUSABLE glass containers, to help ELIMINATE my use of plastics in my home. Make sure to clearly label all products.

I like to put my handmade cleaning products into REUSABLE glass containers, to help ELIMINATE my use of plastics in my home. Make sure to clearly label all products.

When I clean my home, I not only want it sparkling, I want it safe. Many conventional cleaning products we buy to clean our homes contain ingredients that are not safe for our families, pets or the environment. Luckily it is easy to make your own products that are non- toxic with affordable everyday ingredients. This guide can help you save money and have a safer greener home!

Main ingredients 

  • Baking Soda- (sodium bicarbonate) Helps to absorbs odors and is a mildly abrasive. You can find this in the baking section of the grocery store 

  • Glycerine- This hydrophilic liquid is antiseptic and helps to moisturizer the skin. I love having it around the house to make soap or even herbal tinctures. It can be found in pharmacies or in a natural food store usually with essential oils or other carrier oils. I buy mine in bulk from Amazon.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide- This is a great disinfectant- the household concentration which is usually 3% can be found in pharmacies.

  • Liquid soap- You are looking for a products called Castile soap, a veg oil based product, my favorite being Dr.Bronners.

  • White distilled vinegar- this simple ingredient in the cure all natural cleaner. It helps to remove grease, scum, minerals and can also act as a deodorizer. 

  • Washing soda-  (sodium carbonate ) don't confuse this with sodium bicarbonate as this product is a bit more caustic and can remove wax from flooring (oh no!) , also not to be used on aluminum or fiberglass. Arm&Hammer make a product that can be easily found in the laundry section of the grocery store. 

  • Essential oils (EO)-  These are mainly used to create beautiful scented products but certain products can also help to distinct as well, such as tea tree oil. They are easy to find in natural health foods stores or online.


General Cleaning

  • All purpose cleaner- This product I always have on hand as it can be used for cleaning counters, highchairs, walls, floors, and even carpets. You can mix all ingredients straight into a spray bottle, I like to use glass ones, it is super simple and super effective!

    -1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

    -1/2 teaspoon liquid soap

    -3/4 cup warm water

    -Shake to blend

  • Glass cleaner- Combine 1 quart warm water with 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice, shake to blend, you can mix all ingredients straight into a spray bottle. Add two drops of essentials oils for a nice scent.

  • Hand cleaners- To remove heavy grime from hands combine 4 ounces of beach sand, 1 ounce of pumice powder with enough glycerine to moistine the dry ingredients. Mix all ingredients into a wide mouth screw top jar, you only need a small amount at a time, rub into hands thoroughly.

  • Hand disinfectant- Add ten drops of tea tree oil into 4 ounces of Castile soap, shake to combine.

  • Air Freshener- In a bottle combine 24 drops of EO (suggested scents- grapefruit, lavender, sweet orange, basil, lime ) with 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, fill with about 2 fluid ounces of distilled water, Shake before each use and mist throughout your home or office.

Laundry 

  • Laundry detergent- this is my all time favorite recipe, I got it from my mother and have been using it for years! It's so easy to make and is easy more affordable. MY husband has very sensitive skin so I am always looking for products that are super gentle yet effective to get out heavy stains and this is it! 

    1/3 bar of Fels Naphtha washing soap, or something similar

    1/2 cup washing soap (I like Arm&Hammer)

    1/2 cup borax powder

    20-30 drops of EO

    -Grate the soap and put in a large sauce pan. Add 5 cups of water and heat until the soap melts. Add the washing soap and borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into a bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir! Add 1 gallon plus 5 cups of water and stir. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours and it will form into a gel. Transfer into a cute sealed container. Sometimes this mixture needs to be shaken before use. Use about 1/2-1 cup per load.

  • Fabric softener/ deodorizer- In a large bowl add 2 TBSP. baking soda, slowly add 1 tsp. of vinegar at a time and mix thoroughly until you have added 1/2 cup total. Allow the bubbling to cease completely before adding next teaspoon. Add 3/4 tsp of essential oils (suggested scents- lavender, sweet orange, neroli, cedar wood, bergamot) and stir until mixed. After bubbling has stopped pour into a glass container. To use this product, shake gently before uses and add 2 TBSP. for a small load, 1/4 cup for a medium and 1/2 cup for a large load directly into washing machine.

  • Bleach Alternatives- You can of course use commerical non-chlorine bleach or try adding 1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide in the rinse cycle, or 1/2 cup baking soda to warm/hot water wash cycles. Pro Tip- After your clothes have spun dry in the washer, hang them in the sun to dry, Sunshine is Natures’ natural bleach!

Smells/Pests

  • Garbage/Diaper pail deodorizing pods- In a bowl combine 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon essential oil blend (suggested Lime, grapefruit, lavender, sweet basil and orange), Mix this thoroughly to ensure the oils are evenly distributed thru the baking soda. Slowly add 1/8 cup distilled water, stirring continuously, until moist clumps form. Place 1-2 teaspoons of this mixture into ice cube or mini muffin trays. Allow them to dry for 1-2 days. After they are dry you can tape one pod to the inside of the lid of a garbage can or diaper pail.

  • Moth repellents- My favorite thing to do for those pesky moths, especially when storing winter sweaters and clothing away, is to sew small pouches and fill with fresh cedar chips or dried lavender and pile in between the fabric. If you want to get fancy with your sachets you can combine 2 ounces of dried rosemary, 2 ounces of dried mint, 1 ounce dried thyme and ginseng, with about 8 ounces of whole cloves. Blend this mixture together to fill small fabric sachets and store with your woolens. Also remember to store clean woolens in a sealed plastic bag or in airtight containers. If you have found moths or larvae, you can place the item in the freezer for a couple of days until they die off.  

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Bathrooms 

  • Toilet bowl cleaner- Mix all ingredients into a 16 oz. bottle, 14 fluid ounces of water, 1 1/2 fluid ounces of castile soap, 1/2 teaspoons of essential oil blend (suggested blend sweet orange, texas cedar wood, clove bud, pine, grapefruit, frankincense, coriander, tea tree). Pro Tip- Drain water from the toilet bowl for better cleaning, clean thoroughly and often.

  • Rust remover- Rust stains can be removed from porcelain by scouring with cream of tarter.

  • Tub and tile cleaner- Mix 1-2/3 cups baking soda with 1/2 cup of soap, add 1/2 cup of water and then 2 TBSP. vinegar. You can add a few drops of EO if you would like. Store this mixture in a squirt top bottle and shake before using. Rinse thoroughly to avoid leaving a residue.

  • Natural Soft scrub- Combine 1/2 cup baking soda with just enough vegetable oil- based liquid soap to make a nice thick mixture, like cake frosting. Add about 15 drops of Tea Tree oil. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and scrub sink, bathtub, shower, formica countertops. Rinse well.

  • Mold and mildew- Equal parts of vinegar and water. Spray and wipe clean :)

  • Plastic shower curtains- These are my arc nemesis- one day I will have one of those fancy showers with just a simple panel of glass but until then add 2 cups vinegar to laundry soap in washing machine. Add a few small towels in the washer with the shower curtain. Hang to dry.

  • Bathroom deodorizer- Into a 1 pound box of baking soda, mix 20 drops of EO of your liking. Place open box under the sink or near toilet. Add more EO as needed over the course of three months. Replace baking soda box every three months.

Floors and carpets 

  • All purpose floor cleaner- In a bowl mix 2 TBSP. castile soap with 20 drops of EO of your liking. Pour this mixture into a bucket with warm water and stir until blended. Use this to clean hard surfaces and floor. Do a small test on an inconspicuous area before general use to make sure it does not react with any specific finishings.

  • Wood floor cleaner- Unvarnished floors- Mix 1/4 cup liquid vegetable-oil based soap. 1/2 teaspoon glycerine, 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar with 2 gallons of warm water. For Varnished floors, or no-wax floors, use a damp mop using 1 part vinegar to 10 parts of water.

  • Vinyl floor cleaner- Use a damp mop- mix 1 cup vinegar in 2 gallons of warm water.

  • Urine remover- Mix equal parts distilled vinegar and water. Spray onto the stain. Let stand for 10 minutes before blotting the area with a sponge or paper towel.

  • Carpet odor remover- In a bowl, mix 1 cup baking soda with 1 tsp essential oils of your liking. Add EO blend and stir until all climbs are dissolved, Store in an airtight container. To use this product, sprinkle evenly onto carpet and let sit for about 10 minutes before vacuuming.

 Kitchen 

  • All purpose cleaner- See above in the general cleaning section.

  • Drain cleaner- Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Then create pressure, immediately cover the drain and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Follow with 2 quarts of boiling water. This is a great mixture to use regularly to prevent clogged drains and smells.

  • Cutting board cleaner- Rub a cut lemon onto the washed cutting board with s small bit of salt to eliminate odors.

  • Garbage pail deodorizer- See Laundry section

Living room

  • Leather cleaner- Mix 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vineagr in a squirt bottle, make sure to shake before each application. Circular rub with a soft cloth into leather for cleaning and conditioning, DO NOT use on suede. Make sure to do a test on an inconspicuous spot first.

  • Wood furniture polish- In a 2 ounce bottle combine the ingredients, 2 fluid ounces of jojoba oil, 12 drops of EO blend (suggested scents- orange, cedarwood, grapefruit, pine, clove, frankincense, lemon, coriander). Combine all ingredients and shake well. To use shake bottle and apply a small amount onto a soft cloth and lightly buff the wood furniture.


Favorite products 

Dr. Bronners- Natural Castile soaps in a variety of scents

Simple green All purpose cleaner- A heavy duty natural cleaner if you are feeling too lazy to make your own

Aura Cacia Essential Oils- Amazing blends and single Essential Oils

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Helpful Green Tips 

  • Make sure to put all products into clearly marked containers.

  • Even though these are non-toxic products, still keep out of reach of children.

  • Squeegees are great tools to help clean windows!

  • To get rid of crayon marks from the walls or wherever else your child has chosen to be a graffiti artist , rub area with a small amount of toothpaste and a damp cloth. (Not on wallpaper) 

  • Do a small test on an inconspicuous area before general use to make sure these recipes do not react with any specific finishings.

Chinese Medicine Diet Recommendations

Learning ways to eat that bring your body into balance! 

Chinese Dietary Therapy

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a holistic and comprehensive system of health that views the body in accordance with nature. It puts the utmost importance on lifestyle choices and nutrition, and if these fail to bring the body into balance then it is time to look into herbs and acupuncture. In TCM there is no distinct difference between food and medicine, meaning that food itself can sometimes be all the medicine you need. Food is viewed as a powerful tool to help create and maintain wellness.

This article will first discuss some basic diet recommendations and then go into further detail of Chinese medical theory at the end for those interested.

The Basics Of The Chinese Medicine Diet

The basis of healthy eating in regards to TCM is filling most of the diet with fresh foods that are free from chemicals, preservatives, and over-processing. These foods are seen as the most vital, that is full of Qi.

Vegetables should be cooked only lightly to preserve beneficial enzymes and vitamins. People should eat according to their particular constitution (more on this below!) with the largest meal of the day in the morning. Beans and grains should be soaked and properly cooked to allows for easy digestion. Not only is a healthy diet integral to optimal health, it is crucial to get physical and mental exercise as well as rest. 

A Little Bit Of Theory

According to Chinese medicine, every food and herb has a nature, flavor, and organ system/meridian associated with it. The nature describes the effect of the food (or herbs) on the temperature of the body, while the flavor describes the taste.

Instead of viewing meals as a breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates (sugars), and fats, Chinese dietary therapy utilizes the flavors and natures of foods as a guide to a well-balanced meal. Learning how to utilize the nature and flavors of foods and herbs is really where the true healing capacity of this diet lays.

There is also the belief that the seasons have a profound impact upon our well-being, and eating according to the seasons can have great impacts on our health. We are immensely influenced by changes in the climate and we should learn to live and eat in balance with those changes. 

Chinese diet therapy also focuses on a mentality that “like treats like.” For example if woman had a particularly heavy menstrual cycle and was feeling fatigued, then eating some extra red meat or foods high in iron can help. If someone was struggling with pain in their joints, some bone broth can do the trick. Also foods that resemble parts of the body are often used to help support that specific part: walnuts for the brain, pomegranates for women’s health.

Food As Everyday Medicine

There is a lot to learn when it comes to Chinese medicine but even learning and incorporating the basics into your everyday life can have profound impacts. The main lesson here is to observe your body and its patterns to learn what it needs to find balance. Some simple ideas are if you are feeling over heated- eat come cooling cucumbers, feeling bloated or have edema- cut down on your salt intake.

Here is a great compilation of recipes to try out.

Digging Deeper Into The Chinese Medicine Diet

If you want to go deeper into Chinese dietary therapy it is advised that you see a Chinese medicine practitioner or acupuncturist. They will be able to figure out a pattern differentiation of your current constitution. This will usually be an explanation of where the body is out of balance in regards to the five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood) or organ systems (heart/small intestine, spleen/stomach, lung/large intestine, kidney/bladder, liver/gallbladder).

Once you have this information you will be able to make more informed decisions of what flavors, and natures of foods can nurture your body best.

5 Natures, 5 Flavors

Nature (Temperature)

The nature of foods and herbs describes the temperature changes that they cause within the body. (Warming foods help to move the blood and qi of the body to the surface and may cause sweating.) This not only has to do with the energetic properties and inherent temperature based-natures of the foods themselves but with how the foods are prepared or cooked (roasting, broiling, and heating equating to warm while iced and raw correspond to cold). Also plants that take longer to grow such as carrots, ginseng, cabbage or rutabaga are considered to be warmer foods then those that grow quickly such as cucumbers, radish, and lettuce.

Warming foods can help to stimulate body functions and raw food can help cool us down. Too much hot or warming foods can over stimulate our system while ingesting too many raw or cold foods can slow down our digestive processes. Like all things in Chinese medicine, it is about creating balance and finding harmony within your system, so eating a variety of warm and cool foods can help to create a well-balanced diet.

  1. Hot

  2. Warm

  3. Neutral

  4. Cool

  5. Cold

Flavor

Understanding the five flavors of Chinese medicine is a very important part of its dietary therapy. They are associated with a specific organ system or meridian and they have inherent qualities that have a very powerful impact upon that organ itself. These flavors can help create balance within the body and can also help to bring a person into harmony with the seasons. It is also important to note that too much of a specific flavor can also do harm to its corresponding organ system . For example sweet foods can help to tonify the spleen/ stomach and improve digestive function, but too much sweet foods can result in weakening the digestive capacity and creating sugar imbalances like diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

  1. Sour

  2. Bitter

  3. Sweet

  4. Acrid (spicy/pungent)

  5. Salty
    (Additionally some people consider Bland to be a flavor, but this isn’t directly associated with the five element theory, even though bland foods and herbs can be very beneficial and are associated with diuretic actions. Otherwise they are considered a division of the sweet flavor.)

Organ System Association

In Chinese medicine the organ systems (zang-fu) are a detailed blue print of the makeup of the human form. The organ systems are not only the physiological tissue that comprises each vital organ but the entirety of its bio-mechanical pathways, mechanisms, and associations with nature such as emotion, taste, sense organ, season, color, and time. 

The five flavors are directly linked with a specific organ system and each flavor helps to benefit its related organ system, but over consumption of a specific flavor can cause harm as well. Sour foods are associated with the liver and gallbladder (as well as the health of our tendons and ligaments), so too much sour food can cause injury or pain and cramping of our sinews. Bitter foods, such as coffee, are associated with the heart/small intestines organs in Chinese medicine and while coffee can stimulate fluid circulation and help increase your metabolism, too much can be overly drying on your body.

  1. Sour- liver/gallbladder

  2. Bitter- heart/small intestine

  3. Sweet- spleen/stomach

  4. Acrid- lung/large intestine

  5. Salty- kidneys/bladder

 image thanks to catsnotes.com

image thanks to catsnotes.com

Energetics And Therapeutic Uses Of The Five Flavors

  • Sour: Astringents, helps to control Qi, blood, shen, essence. Helps retain our needed body fluids, moves inward and downward

  • Bitter: Clears and purges, helps to dry dampness, consolidates yin, and calms sen, has desending movement

  • Sweet: Supplements, tonifies and moistens, reduces side effects of other herbs, lifting action

  • Acrid: Causes upward and outward movement, dispersing, promotes Qi and blood circulation, lifting action

  • Salty: Energetically leads downwards and softens hardness, helps purge

Examples Of Foods Related To The Five Flavors

  • Sour: Some examples are pomegranate, vinegar, lime, lemon, fermented foods

  • Bitter: Parsley, mustard greens, kale, collards, dandelion greens, collard greens, burdock root, coffee

  • Sweet: Rice, chicken, whole grains, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions, squashes, corn, fruits

  • Acrid: These foods include things like scallions, daikon radish, ginger

  • Salty: Seaweeds, miso, sea salt, tamari, pickles, ocean fish, shellfish

 Rice Congee- A well balanced chinese meal

Rice Congee- A well balanced chinese meal

Tips To Incorporate This Diet Into Your Life

  • Seasonal eating: Eating according to the seasons is very important as our bodies also go through cyclical changes throughout the year. This is not only about eating fruits and vegetables that are currently in season, but following the five element examples of foods that can help bring you into balance.

  • Eating at regular intervals: The earth element (spleen/ stomach organ systems) loves a routine, so eating at regular times of the day can help assist the gastrointestinal tract to perform optimally.

  • Make breakfast your largest meal: The first meal of the day helps to ignite your digestive system and the morning hours are also the time when the organs of the digestive system are most active according to the Chinese medicine clock (stomach 7-9am and spleen 9-11am)

  • Cut back in the cold raw foods: Too much cold foods can slow down our physiological processes, and create dampness, and out out our digestive fires, so a Chinese diet tends to stay away from things like ice water, smoothies and too many raw salads. Opt for room temperature water, slightly steamed vegetables, and if you are craving those crunchy raw salads, have a cup of nice warm soup or bone broth first.

  • Eat lots of veggies: Pretty simple advice- fill your plate with mainly fresh lightly cooked vegetables, your body will thank you!

  • Cook and eat mindfully:Taking time to cook and eat is important, so slow down, turn off your phone and chew your food fully. Mindfulness can help boost your digestion, turn around any unwanted relationships around food and make you feel better all around. This new awareness can also help you tune in to any food sensitivities or foods that may not be best for your body.

  • Get up and move! In Chinese medicine the root of many diseases is stagnation, and lack of movement and Qi flow, so make sure you get your blood moving. Daily exercise can help boost your metabolism and improve your digestive function.

 Chinese Tea Eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs


Commentary on pages from the “Nejiing Suwen, Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine” Chpt. 4

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The NeiJing is an ancient Chinese text written sometime within the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) that is believed to not have been written by a single author or at a single time. This text is the foundation of the medicine and is still very much used today for theory and inspiration. Chapter 4 discusses the five flavors. As noted above the flavors all are associated with an organ system as well as an element, or earthly phase. The correspondences referred to within these chapters also relate also to categories such as the five colors, types of shen, seasons and associated body parts (see chart above). The usage of herbs and dietary changes speaks to the root of natural medicine as it tries to treat the cause starting with the least invasive technique to bring about the most change. This essentially lays the basis for the Five Element theory. The Neijing speaks in metaphors and can be quite confusing if read like a story. But if you learn to read it slowly and go over passages a few times you can begin to understand its full meaning. As you become more familiar with tell-tale signs of patterns and the bodies reactions, these paragraphs will make more sense and have deeper and deeper meaning. I was especially intrigued when reading the passages about the power within observation. Observation skills can be very useful when trying to decipher patterns within our bodies and is a main diagnostic for practitioners to uncover underlying causes of disease. For example, the colors of the face, eyes, and tongue play a big part in using this as a tool for diagnosis.

These passages reminds me of how powerful food and herbal medicine can be, and also slightly detrimental if not used properly. Contraindications of the five flavors are discussed in Chapter 23 and this passage brings more awareness about the importance of gaining true knowledge and acceptance of herbal medicine. I feel that the Classic texts offer great insight to being able to access the energetics of Chinese medicine. A blend of knowledge of the classic texts and new scientific discoveries make Chinese medicine, cutting edge and super efficient. I feel that a strong hold in each of these categories is what makes for a master practitioner. This is a great book to access if you are trying to learn more about Chinese medicine, dietary therapies, longevity practices and acupuncture.


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As Master Hsuan Hua says-

“ The five flavors, sour, sweet, butter, pungent, and salty correspond to the five elements. Sour corresponds to wood, bitter to fire, pungent to metal, salty to water and sweet to earth. If you understand the nature of medicinal herbs and foods, you will see that the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys are also classified according to the five elements. The heart is also associated with the predominance of fire, the live with the predominance of wood, the spleen and stomach with earth, the liver with metal, and the kidneys water. In the spring don't eat much of the sour flavor, you will get liver sickness and the eyes cannot see clearly. In the summer, don’t eat much bitter, it will harm the heart. In the late summer, you can eat more of the sweet flavor with no harm, as a little sweet is good any season, but don’t over do it. In the autumn, do not eat much of the hot flavor, you can get lung sickness and in the winter, do not eat much salt, as it will harm the kidneys. Don’t over do it and you will not get sick.”

Resources

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen- written by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir, and Mika Ono- A great book about dietary therapy

The Web that has no weaver- written by Ted J. Kaptchuk- A foundational theory text

Between Heaven and Earth- written by Harriet Beinfeild- Another foundational theory text

Wood Becomes Water- written by Gail Reichstein- Five element basics


*Please note - If someone is making dietary changes due to a chronic health condition, the changes should be slowly and made to become a continuous part of their lifestyle for long lasting results. All suggestions written here are only guidelines and each person should be individually diagnosed by a well-versed practitioner of Chinese medicine and dietary therapy based on a professional Chinese pattern diagnosis. If you want to learn more please don't hesitate to reach out and ask.