Skip to main content

Spring Cleaning with Nature

Mar 31, 2020 10:00AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson
If you have ever been assaulted by toxic chemicals in toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, or other commercial cleaning products and thought there has to be a better way, then just look to Mother Nature.

There is no shortage of do-it-yourself recipes that will show you how to make everything from furniture polish to toilet bowl cleaners using simple herbs and essential oils that clean, sanitize, and, most importantly, keep toxic chemicals out of your home and away from your family.

There is a long list of herbs that can be used to make cleaning products. One of the easiest ways to use them is to simply put one or a combination of these herbs in a quart-size Mason jar and cover with white vinegar. Leave sitting on your counter for a few weeks and strain for a simple yet effective all-purpose cleanser. Try herbs like lavender flower, cloves, cinnamon sticks, rosemary, eucalyptus leaves, mint, thyme or citrus peel.

Essential oils are a great addition to your homemade products. They are antimicrobial, antiseptic and antifungal, and make your home feel and smell wonderful. They also clean the air, and breathing them is very healing for you and everyone in your household. Using a diffuser is another way to clean and sanitize the air in your home. Some of our favorite essential oils are eucalyptus, lavender, pine, rosemary and tea tree.

Now is the fun part! But be careful; once you start making your own products, it is addictive and you might not be able to stop.

Let’s concentrate on the biggest problem in most homes: floors. Next to the bathroom, this is probably the “germiest” part of your home. Just think of all the places you walk during the day and all those germs that get attached to the bottom of your shoes. Taking your shoes off at the entrance of your home can be one of the best things you can do. And every once in a while, take a cleaning rag of some sort—we like baby wipes, as they are inexpensive and disposable—and wipe the bottom of your shoes.

As for cleaning the floor, a popular trend is an all-in-one spray mop. They work on all floor types and are easy and quick to use, but have you ever looked at some of the ingredients like alkyl polyglycoside, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, and chlorhexidine diacetate? If you can’t pronounce these, maybe it is not a good idea to have them on your floors. What if you have children or babies crawling around? What about your pet? And what about the vapors emitted by these products?

Let’s try something to clean our floors that is just as effective but much safer and actually pleasant. The following recipe is for all types of hard-surface floors and contains ingredients that you probably have on hand.

2 cups water

½-¾ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup isopropyl rubbing alcohol

¼ tsp of liquid dish soap (not castile soap or any soap that is oil-based, as they will be sticky and streaky)

10-12 drops of essential oil (your choice or see the previously mentioned list)

Mix all ingredients together and use as needed. Be sure to let the floor dry before walking on it. If you happen to have one of those all-in-one systems or a flat-headed mop, you can take an old sock or cut up T-shirt and use as a pad to wrap around your mop. Then simply throw in your washing machine, recycle or toss in the trash.

This can also be used in a spray bottle for counters, sinks, cabinets and any other household surfaces. Simply spray, wipe and let dry.

Speaking of the other “germiest” place in your home—what about those bathrooms? Do you have little boys or, for that matter, big boys in your home? Those toilets can become a mess quickly, so let’s look at a quick-and-easy fix. This is a simple disinfecting toilet bomb.

½ cup baking soda

½ cup citric acid

½ cup cornstarch


25-30 drops of essential oil (your choice or see the previously mentioned list)

Storage container (try an ice cube mold)

Place the first three ingredients in a large plastic bag, seal and knead to mix. Add water one teaspoon at a time until the dry ingredients stick together, being careful not to add too much water or they won’t form a ball. Add your essential oil, a few drops at a time until you get the desired scent. Take a handful and press into your ice cube mold and let set until hardened, one to two days. Pop them out of the mold and store in an air-tight decorative glass jar. To use, simply drop one into the toilet and let it pop and fizzle. Once that is done, flush and you are good to go!

Happy Cleaning!

Madalyn Johnson (le� ) and Kathleen Gould (right)


Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit or

Upcoming Events Near You