Now that we have covered Step 1 for Spring Cleaning Organizing and Inventorying we can begin to make the herbal cleaning solutions for your home so its clean and smells amazing!
In this article I will be discussing the following topics:
– Packaging (what to use to store your homemade cleaning solution)
– Benefits of Herbs and Essential Oils
– Supplies to Purchase to Begin
Before you start mixing and exploring with the fresh aromas of essential oils and herbs, you first want to find some containers to keep your solutions sealed and kept fresh. You may even have most of the containers and equipment around your home. I’ve found that using old tupperware, coffee cans, repurposed commercial cleaning supply containers, and the dollar tree/store has a wonderful selection of plastic wares to choose from also. Old plastic tupperware works great for your dishwasher powders, floor wipes and scouring powders. Coffee cans are great for your wood cleaners and polishes. You can use spice containers with sprinkle tops for your powdered cleaners. You can purchase spray bottles made of tin or plastic at the dollar store. See image below. I prefer using plastic for most of my cleaning containers to minimize the risk of children and pets getting ahold of them, in my case its our very playful and curious dog. I do this to avoid glass shattering and consumption of the solutions that can cause severe harm or death. ***Although these cleaning formulas are made with mostly organic solutions, essential oils can be harmful if ingested and/or could irritate your skin. The oils used for my cleaning solutions come from different plants and should never be consumed in any amount. Treat your cleaning solutions as you would any another commercial cleaning product. Keep out of reach of children and pets!!
Benefits of Herbs and Essential Oils
HERBS – There is nothing more relaxing to me than the scent of fresh herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, mint and many others. Not only do I enjoy cooking with herbs but I enjoy cleaning with them! The aromas are out of this world! Recently, I planted my seeds indoors using left over egg shells to get a jump start on this years herbs. I can’t wait to start seeing green popping up through the soil! Herbs are great for your scouring scrubs and carpet fresheners. To use herbs in your cleaning solutions you first need to dry them. I will post images of this process later in the Summer when the herbs are ready. To dry herbs you need to cut the stalks before or during the flowering when the oils are at the highest and hanging them up for air-drying. You can hang them in the kitchen where you can smell the fresh aroma as you cook or anywhere it’s dry and not too moist and out of direct sunlight. You want to secure the sprigs/stalks by four or five with a string, ribbon, or rubber band upside down by the stalk very tightly so they don’t fall on the ground or floor as they shrink and dry. For beginners, label your herbs so you aren’t confused when it’s time to store them. You can store herbs in any type of container but plastic bags as the herbs will interact with the chemical of the plastic and ruin them. You can use a food dehydrator to dry your herbs quicker but AVOID drying in the oven, herbs will dry quickly and oils will evaporate with the constant heat along with a chance of being burnt. I will be discussing more ways to use herbs in the future when its time to harvest ours!
Essential Oils- You can purchase essential oils in health food stores, by mail order or online. If you don’t have a health food store near you, online is the easiest way. There is a difference between herbal oils. One type is pure, undiluted oil and is not diluted by a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond. Diluted oils are made for massaging and making perfumes and other items. The type I use can be used for for aromatherapy but is not diluted, I will have to do so myself before using them for anything besides cleaning products. Most bottles come with a built-in dropper and the brand I use includes a glass dropper to make measuring the drops much easier. Essential oils can irritate your skin if you come in contact with them directly so use caution or dilute before applying to skin. Given the time and resources, you can make your own oils by steam distillation, but I do not do this because it takes many plants for a small amount which can become expensive for the volume that I use. I prefer just purchasing mine online (which goes a long way).
-Which Oils Should you Buy? There are many wonderful benefits to the oils! Many have antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties. Below are a list of some of my favorites and their attributes:
1. Lavender– Antibacterial, Antiviral, Antifungal and Antibiotic
2. Lemongrass– Antibacterial
3. Rosemary– Antibacterial
4. Tea Tree– Antibacterial, Antiviral, Antifungal and Antibiotic
5. Thyme – Antibacterial Antiviral, Antifungal
6. Cinnamon– Antiviral
7. Bay– Antibacterial
Supplies to Purchase to Begin
There are several recipes you can find online or at herbal stores on making your own cleaning supplies. For the recipes I will be sharing you will need the following items to get started.
-Plastic Containers (Tupperware)
-Cellulose Sponge Cloth
-Baking Soda/Washing Soda
-Cream of Tartar
-Murphy’s Oil Soap
In the next article we will go over “The Kitchen” to discuss how to keep your sinks, oven, stove, microwave and counter tops clean! I will also show how to make your own dish soap and dishwasher powder.