Skip to main content

‘Herbally’ Clean Homes

Mar 31, 2021 06:35AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson
Several bottles of cleaning products along with cleaning brushes on wood planks (Follow)

Ever ask yourself what is in all those household cleaning products? Most of us can’t even pronounce the chemicals contained in them, like ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate. It is fairly easy to research what they are, and when you do, wow, will you be surprised and probably pretty frightened. Ever wonder why it is recommended that we wear rubber gloves to protect ourselves when using these products? And what do they do to our children and our beloved pets?
According to the article “Household Chemical Products and Their Health Risk,” found on the website “‘All-purpose’ cleaning products usually contain detergents, grease-cutting agents, solvents and/or disinfectants. The specific chemicals in these ingredients include ammonia, ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate, sodium hypochlorite, and/or trisodium phosphate. Depending on the ingredients used, all-purpose cleaners can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat. They can be highly poisonous to both humans and animals if swallowed.”
The article goes on to state: “When working with an all-purpose cleaner, always wear rubber gloves to protect your skin. Also, be sure that there is good air circulation in the room. Open several windows or keep a fan running.”
Thankfully, many folks have switched from harsh chemical cleaners to healthy, fresh and clean herbs; essential oils; and natural substances like vinegar and baking soda. Many of the herbs we grow in our home gardens (or get from our local farmers’ markets) make amazing cleaners, and they are virtually free!
When we harvested our backyard lemons, as an example, we mixed the fresh lemon juice with salt for a nice abrasive cleanser for our pots and pans. We put some of that salt on our cutting boards and scrubbed with half a lemon. Our boards are now clean, fresh and odorless. Next, we mixed 2 ounces of olive oil with one part lemon juice for a wonderful wood polish. We even rubbed down all of our Tupperware with the lemons to remove stains and freshen them up. The list goes on and on. Oh, after you are finished cleaning, put those used lemons and rinds down your garbage disposal to freshen up your drains. This is only one of the many fresh plants you can use, and goodness, don’t even get us started on the amazing uses of essential oils and how they benefit your home and family!
We have so many amazing recipes to share with you that we hardly know where to begin. Let’s travel through your home, refreshing each area as we go. Let’s begin with vinegar and some essential oils.
All-Purpose Cleaner
8 oz white vinegar
4 oz distilled water
1 oz vodka or rubbing alcohol
Now add your favorite essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, orange, rosemary or tea tree. Add a few drops of each or just one—whatever your preference. Put all this in a spray bottle and shake. Use all over the house, from your office, to your kitchen, to your bathroom. The alcohol will preserve this for a while, so make up a nice big batch and use it everywhere.
Fabric-Freshening Spray
1 cup water
⅓ cup vodka
Essential oil of your choice: lavender, orange, lemon, ylang ylang or lemongrass
Mix in a spray bottle and spritz sofas, pillows, sheets, fabric chairs and curtains. So many odors linger in our home fabrics; use this to freshen them up.
Carpet/Mattress Deodorizer
3½ cups organic cornstarch
⅓ cup dried lavender flowers
¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
1 bay leaf
Put herbs in a blender and blend to a fine powder. Add cornstarch and bay leaf and blend again. Put ingredients in a powder-shaker type bottle or use a Mason jar with holes punched in the lid. Shake well. For carpets, sprinkle and let sit for an hour, then vacuum. For mattresses, remove sheets and sprinkle lightly on mattress. Let sit for one hour, then make bed. Your whole room will smell fresh and clean, and you will sleep like a baby. Oh, speaking of babies, this makes a nice baby-bottom powder too.
Herbal Yoga Mat Refresher
Organic thyme leaf or eucalyptus leaf
Essential oil of your choice: clary sage, lavender, any citrus, or geranium
Fill an 8-ounce glass jar half full with dried leaf, cover with witch hazel extract, add essential oil, and infuse for a few days (two to three). Strain the infusion and pour liquid into a 4-ounce glass or plastic spray bottle. Liberally spray your mat and let air dry. Your yoga practice will never smell the same.
Let us not forget the air we breathe and how important that is to our health. Airborne toxins and allergens may not have an unpleasant smell, but they may still affect our health. Purify the air in any room of your house with any essential oil you like, such as peppermint, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemon, lemongrass or rosemary. A few drops in your favorite essential oil diffuser will do the trick.
As you can see, it is affordable and easy (no gloves needed!) to safely get your home in tip-top shape … keeping your loved ones, and the planet, happier and healthier.
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