In recent years, consumers have been ditching store-bought cleaning solutions for all-natural alternatives. This concept, known as green cleaning, involves ingredients and supplies that are considered to be better for the environment. Because they lack the toxic and mysterious chemicals that store-bought cleaners typically boast, they're also safer for humans and their pets. To top it off, green cleaning enables you to disinfect your space for very little money. An increase in consumer awareness has heightened the popularity of green cleaning, making it an ideal option for the conscious homeowner.
However, there are still important exceptions. Just because popular natural ingredients are safe for home use doesn't always mean they should be used together. In fact, some ingredients are useless or dangerous when combined. If you’re not sure where to start, remember these rules before your next cleaning spree – you’ll be glad you did.
1. Castile Soap and Vinegar
Castile soap is amazing for removing grease and oily residue on a stove top. This is an awesome ingredient to use after a long day of cooking up a storm. Unlike traditional soaps, castile is vegetable-based and is free of toxic chemical, dyes, and scents. When it comes to cleaning, it can be the best friend you didn’t know you had.
Likewise, vinegar can work wonders when it comes to housework. It’s extremely inexpensive and is an amazing disinfectant. Admittedly, the scent can take some getting used to. However, once you’re accustomed to the strong smell, vinegar can work some serious magic in your home.
While both of these ingredients are powerful cleaners, the two should never be combined. Because castile soap is basic and vinegar is acidic, mixing the two yields an unpleasant reaction. The vinegar breaks down the castile soap, forming a goopy substance that is useless for cleaning anything. In fact, any kind of acid would create the same result; lemon juice also falls in this category.
If you’d like to use both of these ingredients in your home, your best bet is to use them separately. Apply castile soap first to remove the pesky residue on surfaces such as countertops. Next, use vinegar afterward as a rinse. It will leave the surface shiny and clean.
Castile soap is also best used with plain warm water.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar
Both of these liquid cleaners are inexpensive and easy to find. Like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide is excellent for disinfecting surfaces without crazy chemicals. While combining the two for a DIY powerhouse cleaner seems like a good idea, it’s actually the farthest thing from it.
Together, these two acids form a corrosive acid that is unhealthy for humans. Known as peracetic acid, this mixture can potentially damage surfaces in the home. Even worse, it may also cause harm to the respiratory system and irritate the skin.
The key is to simply refrain from mixing both these acids in the same bottle; it is perfectly fine to use both cleaners separately. Experts recommend spritzing a surface with one liquid, wiping it down, and then doing the same with the other liquid. The order doesn’t matter; either the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide can be first or second.
Tip: This technique is also a recommended cleaning method for vegetables, too. Because sanitizing vegetables is extremely important for removing bacteria before consumption, this practice is ideal. After spritzing the vegetables, don’t forget to rinse them off with warm water.
3. Baking Soda and Vinegar
Contrary to popular belief, combining baking soda and vinegar isn't effective when it comes to green cleaning. While a toxic substance or gas isn’t formed, this word of caution is more about saving your money.
When these two ingredients mix, the end result is water — lots of it. This is because baking soda and vinegar neutralize each other. While the reaction may be fun to watch, it doesn’t do much as a DIY cleaner. The only scenario where it would make a difference is in your plumbing, as the fizzy reaction can help breakdown some of the grit in the depths of the pipes, but that’s about it.
By itself, baking soda is awesome as an abrasive cleaner. For example, a sponge and baking soda can help remove pesky residue on a pan or dish. Afterward, you can use vinegar to further clean and sanitize the surface, leaving it sparkly clean. It will also help neutralize odors.
If you’re sensitive to the smell of vinegar, try adding a few drops of lemon juice or your favorite essential oil. You can even soak a lemon wedge in vinegar to create citric-infused vinegar. Your space will be clean and smell amazing. What’s not to love?
By keeping these tips in mind, you can get the most of out of your green cleaning ingredients. Most importantly, it will ensure that every DIY cleaner you create is safe for your home and family.