Green Living

Nine Natural Cleaning Recipes for New Mamas

With the birth of your first (or second or third or . . .) baby, cleaning becomes a completely different creature. Where once you were wiping dust off of surfaces and calling it good, now you’re worried about what your babe’s little mouth may come in contact with. You want surfaces to be clean, and you want your cleaners to be safe.

Here are some safer, natural homemade cleaners that new parents can make with ingredients they trust. The products will clean effectively and safely, letting you worry more about how to enjoy this fleeting time with your new baby instead of what chemicals he is coming into contact with.

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

Ready-to-grab cleaning wipes were the hardest thing for me to part with when I became a new mama. They make cleaning so easy! I was happy to discover that I can have the ease of ready-made wipes without the toxic chemicals. These homemade cleaning wipes are safe on all kinds of surfaces that babies might touch or gum – table tops, chairs, and toys included.

1 cup water
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons castile soap
20 drops of any of the following essential oils (mix and match!): tea tree, lemon, lavender

Mix together and put in airtight container (a canning jar works well with cotton wipes). Store in a cool, dark area. Shake well before using.

When adding essential oils in recipes that will be used around children, please be aware of safety concerns. Essential oils are extremely concentrated, and caution should be employed when using them around children. You may wish to start researching essential oil usage by reading The safety issue in aromatherapy from the Pharmaceutical Press, and these article from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and Learning about Essential Oils.

All-Purpose Vinegar Spray

If you’re new to homemade cleaners and the thought of buying castile soap or essential oils feels daunting, there’s no need to get fancy. Go back to basics with vinegar and water.

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Simply mix the vinegar and water together, pour into a spray bottle, spray onto surfaces, and wipe with a clean cloth.

Due to its acidic nature and antibacterial effects, white distilled vinegar is used in many homemade cleaning products.

Vegetable and Fruit Wash

Your All-Purpose Spray can do double duty once your babe has started eating fresh fruit and vegetables. Instead of using store-bought vegetable and fruit wash, spray hard-skinned food with your All-Purpose Spray, let it sit for a few seconds, and then gently scrub it clean with fresh water.

For softer vegetables, mix your 1:1 vinegar-and-water solution and allow the food to soak for a minute or two, then rinse them off with fresh water.

Citrus-Fresh Vinegar Spray

You can boost vinegar’s cleaning power (and add a delicious scent to your home) by adding 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the All-Purpose Vinegar Spray. Lemon juice is an acid that kills mold, cuts through grease, and leaves a streak-free shine.

Alternatively, save the rinds from your citrus fruit (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, etc.) and cover them with vinegar in a mason jar for a week or two. After they’ve soaked, strain the liquid (so that your spray bottle will not get clogged) and use this citrus-infused vinegar in place of the white vinegar in your All-Purpose Vinegar Spray.

When my two were babies, I skipped buying the commercial baby bathtub and used the kitchen sink for quick baths, or I climbed in with the baby in our regular bathtub. To keep your sink and tub clean and safe for baby skin, use one of these two natural recipes.

Sweet Cinnamon Sink Scrub

This is my favorite sink scrub. It smells wonderful and is perfect for fall and winter, though you can use it anytime.

1 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
5 drops sweet orange essential oil

Mix all ingredients in an airtight container. Sprinkle some of the Sweet Cinnamon Sink Scrub on a wet sink. Use a cloth or soft bristle cleaning brush to scrub the sink (I often add some vinegar when I scrub). Rinse well.

Tub and Tile Scrub

For a sparkling clean bathtub, this scrub is easy to use and more gentle on baby’s skin than commercial cleaners. This scrub is safe for ceramic and porcelain bathtubs, and as long as you scrub gently, it is also safe for stone (remember, baking soda is an abrasive).

3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup castile soap (I love the unscented baby-mild version from Dr. Bronner’s for my newborns)
1 tablespoon water

Mix all ingredients together until dissolved and a paste has formed. Scoop out a small amount and use it, along with a brush, to scrub those hard-to-clean bathroom surfaces. Store any remaining Tub and Tile Scrub in an airtight container.

Basic Liquid Laundry Soap

Commercial laundry detergents can be expensive, and even the fragrance-free versions tend to have some sort of perfume. You can avoid fragrances and other toxic chemicals by making your own laundry soaps from easy recipes.

2 1/4 cups liquid castile soap
1 tablespoon glycerin
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
10-20 drops essential oils of your choice

Combine all ingredients. Shake well before each use. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of solution, depending on how heavily soiled the laundry is, to each load of wash. This recipe should wash up to 13 loads. See Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxin-Free Recipes for directions on how to make a bulk recipe.

Quick-and-Easy Dryer Sheets

Commercial dryer sheets allow your clothes to smell fresh and be free from static, but they rely on toxins that can irritate your baby’s skin. Ditch the toxins and use a natural solution to freshen your clothes in the dryer.

4 or 5 drops essential oil of your choice (I like lavender)
Scrap fabric (cotton works well), washcloths, or unmatched socks.

Place drops of essential oil on a scrap piece of cotton fabric and toss in the dryer with wet clothes.

Felted wool dryer balls are another easy-to-make, nontoxic alternative to commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Toss three to five of them into the dryer with your load of laundry, and they will soften clothes without using chemicals. If you scent the balls with a few drops of essential oils, they will lightly scent your clothing. Wool dryer balls also help to lessen static and, according to some reports, lessen drying time, so that you use less electricity or natural gas to dry your laundry.

Purchase wool dryer balls at your local natural foods store, from a work-at-home mom company on Etsy, or make them yourself using directions include in Homemade Cleaners.

Some of the most toxic household chemicals are found in commercial air fresheners. Most air fresheners work not by eliminating odors through cleaning, ventilation, or absorption, but by adding chemicals to the air. Commercial air fresheners work in two ways. Some air fresheners coat a consumer’s nasal passageways with chemicals that interfere with nerve endings, lessening the perception of bad odors. Other air fresheners mask odors with a stronger fragrance, which overpowers a consumer’s perception of offending smells. Moreover, commercial air fresheners often include volatile organic compounds, which are carcinogenic and neurotoxic.

In short, baby or no baby, you’d be wise to ditch all commercial air fresheners and find more natural ways to freshen your home’s air.

Deodorizing Discs

Deodorizing discs are great in closed containers, such as diaper pails, trash cans, or cabinets. Replace the discs when they are no longer absorbing odors.

10-20 drops essential oils of your choice
1-2 cups water
2 cups baking soda
Silicone molds or muffin baking cups

Mix essential oils in approximately 1 cup of water. Add the baking soda and mix well. Add more water until you have a thick paste. Transfer the mixture to your silicone molds or muffin baking cups, and allow to dry for 24-48 hours. When discs are completely dry, remove from molds.

 

For more safe and natural recipes just like these, check out Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxin-Free Recipes, a book I co-wrote with Mandy O’Brien.

What was your favorite natural cleaner to use when you had little ones underfoot

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  • Life Breath Present
    January 13, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    Wow! Some great cleaning tips and product makes here. I especially like the liquid laundry soap one. When our natural purchased laundry powder is done, I know I’ll be moving to a DIY laundry soap and this recipe looks simple and easy enough, plus you have a bulk one!

    As it stands, I use water and vinegar for everything. In the bathroom, I have our one natural soap that also does teh dishes πŸ™‚

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
      January 14, 2015 at 6:14 PM

      Water and vinegar are my go to cleaning supplies too, well, and baking soda πŸ™‚
      I’ve not found a natural soap that I really love yet, everything I have used has required a vinegar rinse (and that is WAY too much work for this non-dishwasher owning mama). What do you use?

  • Holly S
    January 13, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    I currently use a plain vinegar/water solution to clean my floors. So straightforward, and I never have to worry about it around my son! Love some of the other ideas though. I will have to try the bathtub scrub, and I’ve been wanting to experiment with homemade laundry detergents again! Thanks for all these great recipes!

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
      January 14, 2015 at 6:15 PM

      For my hardwood and tile floors, I use a twist on one of the other recipes in the book – vinegar, water, and several different EOs. Smells so good πŸ™‚

  • Lauren @ Hobo Mama
    January 13, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Great list! We just made deodorizing discs, and I popped them in each trashcan. They took a lot longer to dry than I was expecting (maybe it’s too humid here?), but it worked finally.

    I just the other day refreshed my wool dryer balls with essential oil drops: grapefruit, orange, and ylang ylang. I love the combo! Everything smells so yummy.

    Have you heard any of the backlash on using vinegar to clean? That’s still what I do. Just wondering if you had any comments. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t actually clean or disinfect that well. Since I also use plain water a lot, I decided I didn’t care, ha ha.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Kellie
    January 13, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    These are some great recipes! I’ve recently created a great “air freshener” for my kids’ bathroom that I just love. I put a strand of 20 white Christmas lights into a jar with lots of seashells. The lights work great as a low level light during the day and a nightlight that isn’t too bright as well. But when things get yucky in there, I drip essential oils on the seashells. The shells soak up the oils and make them last for quite a while, as the the lights warm them just enough to diffuse the scent gently throughout the room.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
      January 14, 2015 at 6:41 PM

      Kellie, I’d love for you to share that idea on NPN πŸ™‚ That’s awesome!!

  • Deb @ Living Montessori Now
    January 14, 2015 at 4:48 AM

    I love the recipes, Stephanie! Vinegar and water was always my favorite natural cleaner.

  • Deb @ Living Montessori Now
    January 14, 2015 at 4:49 AM

    I’ll love trying out some of these recipes with my 14-month old granddaughter! I pinned your post to my Babies – Activities and Ideas Board: https://www.pinterest.com/debchitwood/babies-activities-and-ideas/

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
      January 14, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      Thank you, Deb!! I appreciate the love πŸ™‚

  • AA
    January 14, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    For me and my children who are now grown men was just plain white vinegar and water as an all-purpose cleansing solution.

  • Rebecca H
    January 14, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Anything with “all-purpose” in the name, makes it the go-to’s EVER!! With is being so versatile and safe, I never have to think twice about what I’m grabbing and/or if it is safe! I would have to say my next favorite is the Sweet Cinnamon Sink Scrub. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will ASAP. Now I won’t have to second guess if my sink is really clean or not!
    Thanks for sharing some of your tips and tricks with us! Greatly appreciated!

    • Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
      January 14, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      It makes the kitchen smell *so* GOOD!!

  • Dinah
    January 14, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ll have to make those deodorizing discs. My favorite natural cleaner is vinegar and water.

  • Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook
    January 14, 2015 at 2:40 PM

    These are great recipes–except the first one. Mixing soap and vinegar is pointless:
    http://www.lisabronner.com/a-word-of-caution-about-vinegar-and-castile-soap/

    I scrub my sink with baking soda, but it never occurred to me to add fragrance–good idea!

    That Tub and Tile Scrub is one of my favorite cleansers. It’s great for cleaning grubby knitted mittens! I also use it on my face every once in a while for exfoliation.

  • Andrea Reed
    January 15, 2015 at 2:14 PM

    Great tips here Stephanie! I wanted to also share with you how I use Kangen water for completely safe cleaning in our house with babies and pets.

    There’s more info here: http://www.kangendemo.com

    The demo goes into the drinking water at first but my website at http://www.waterforwellness.org has a bunch of environmentally friendly cleaning tips too, as well as how to use the waters for personal care, garden use (we grow GIANT tomatoes with it!), in the kitchen and for your pets.

    We use the special waters instead of laundry detergent, cleaners for floors, windows, counters, and bathrooms. PLUS some of the Kangen water machines produce a water that we use to soak our produce in. It helps financially because the water can remove pesticides from the produce allowing us to buy some conventional produce instead of all organic all the time.

    Thank you for letting me share this info! I’d love to answer any questions about Kangen water. And thanks for posting all this great info! I love to learn new ways to save money and clean in a safer way!

    ~Andrea πŸ™‚

  • Betsy
    January 18, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    I love just good old hot water and vinegar. I also love adding essential oils to my cleaning products (mostly citrus types.) This book and the recipes look great. Love the cover too!

  • Betsy
    January 18, 2015 at 9:27 AM

    I also pinned both images at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/431641945511570930/ πŸ™‚

    • Stephanie
      January 22, 2015 at 6:47 AM

      Betsy! You are the winner! Congratulations!

  • Lynn
    January 19, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    White vinegar and white is my favorite cleaning solution.

  • Alicia p
    January 19, 2015 at 10:43 PM

    Vinegar & water – with the leftover lemons & limes! Great tips! Thanks!!’

    (Not sure why my comment showed up as a reply!)

  • Tammy
    January 20, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Thanks for sharing these. I’ve made my own natural laundry soap for several years. I look forward to trying these cleaners soon. Cute baby on the cover, by the way.

  • Tiffany
    January 20, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Would love a copy of the book!

  • Mrscandance
    January 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Love vinegar and baking soda always a go to!

  • Liz McAuliffe
    January 20, 2015 at 10:16 PM

    I would love a copy of your e-book! I have been cleaning with vinegar for a while now but havent ventured beyond that. I am going to try out your laundry liquid this week.

  • Cora Love
    August 14, 2015 at 4:39 AM

    Great tips and great recipes! It is true that when the baby comes along everything changes about the cleaning! Before I was really not paying attention for what I am cleaning with and I was far from being a perfectionist. Since the baby was born I am cleaning so much and I really care about the products I am using! I am always looking for new natural cleaners recipes and I am really glad that I’ve stumbled upon your blog! Thanks!