Trying to minimize your exposure to chemicals? Working on simplifying your life? Consider these five DIY household hacks!
Five DIY Household Hacks
1. DIY Washing Soda
Washing soda offers an excellent punch for cleaning since it has a higher pH than its “cousin,” baking soda. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Baking soda has a pH of 8.4, washing soda a pH of 11. (To view the pH values of other common household items, see How to Remove Stains Naturally.)
Spread an ample amount of baking soda on a cookie sheet or any other baking pan. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper if desired. (Doing so makes it simpler to pour the finished product.) Heat in oven at 400 degrees. Remove pan after 30 minutes or so. Allow to cool. Transfer to a suitable container. Voilà: washing soda!
Looking for ways to use your homemade washing soda?
2. DIY Disinfecting Spray
Three simple ingredients combine to make a non-toxic version of the popular Lysol Disinfecting Spray. (Lysol contains dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharinate that is not only difficult to pronounce; it’s hard on the immune system. Learn more about the hazards of Alkyl here.)
Combine 1 teaspoon vodka, 1 cup filtered water and several drops of tea tree essential oil in a spray bottle. That’s it!
The vodka acts as a preservative and a disinfectant. Tea tree oil (TTO) is known for its potent disinfecting properties. TTO, or melaleuca, is also an effective antifungal and antiviral agent. (See Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.)
You can repurpose an old spray bottle or invest in a new one. I love Miron violet glass for sprays. You may be able to do without the vodka as this glass acts as a preservative. Learn more in the post Miron Violet Glass.
Where to Find Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is readily available at most health food stores and online. My two favorite essential oil companies include:
Tea tree oil has a very medicinal smell. If you prefer to mask the aroma or add to the antiseptic properties of your spray, consider adding any of these essential oils.
3. DIY Goo Gone
This affordable degreaser will get rid of those sticky adhesives so that you can repurpose your glass jars. It can also be used on kitchen cabinets or inside ovens for grime build-up.
Combine 1 part oil with two parts baking soda. Stir. Apply to surface and wipe clean with a rag or paper towel. Stubborn adhesives may need more than one application. I soak my jars ahead of time to hasten the process.
4. DIY Reusable Food Wrap
Are you trying to minimize your use of plastic in the kitchen? Do you have glass bowls with missing lids? You’ll love these reusable food wraps!
Required materials include beeswax (or other wax such as candelilla), cotton fabric, and old brush.
Cut 100% cotton fabric into squares. You can adjust to various sizes, depending on the bowl or jar. I like 8×8.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees F. (Any higher and the wax may burn.)
Place cotton squares on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle grated wax over fabric. The amount of wax you will need is minimal (approximately 1/2 ounce).
Remove from the oven as soon as the wax is melted. (Approximately 5 – 8 minutes.)
Spread with designated paintbrush (you won’t be using this brush for anything else) until wax is distributed evenly. I didn’t have a paintbrush, so I used a miswak that costs less than $1. (Learn more about the miswak in the post The Ultimate Natural Toothbrush.)
Hang on a clothesline (or makeshift hanging rack) till dry.
The finished project will fold over jars, but won’t be as air tight as saran wrap.
5. DIY Anti-Microbial Wipes
This recipe is a bit more challenging but well worth the effort. These DIY antibacterial wipes can be used on-the-go or at home. Depending on your essential oil choice, these are safe enough for babies!
Cut one paper towel roll in half. (You will want to use a small roll, or wait until a thick roll is reduced to half its size.)
Combine 2 cups filtered water with two tablespoons liquid castile soap (grate 4 oz. bar of castile soap and combine with 4 c. hot water), one tablespoon coconut oil, one tablespoon glycerine, 4-5 drops of tea tree oil, and a natural preservative like grapefruit seed extract or colloidal silver. (Substitute lavender essential oil for the tea tree oil to create safe baby wipes.)
Remove the cardboard from the inside of the paper towel rolls. Combine your liquid ingredients and pour into an old baby wipe container or glass container that is similar in size.
Place the paper towel roll into the container. Push hard until the roll is immersed in the soap mixture. Pull from the middle of the roll to get it started, before the roll is saturated. Pull the first wipe through the opening and use as needed.
These five household hacks are listed in order of difficulty. Whether you’re new to natural living, or you’ve been on the journey for awhile, chances are you’ll find something new to try!