A sustainable living expert shares how to DIY a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner


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Pop quiz: Where do you think you’ll find more toxins—indoors or outdoors? Answer: Indoors. It sounds crazy, but it’s true (yes, even if you live in a big city). And believe it or not, the ingredients in your average cleaning products aren’t exactly helping your efforts to live a cleaner lifestyle.

“Cleaning products are a common source of environmental pollution, because their ingredients don’t need to be disclosed or tested for safety,” says Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures and creator of the Ruan Detox Immersion. “Plus, cleaning products often require plastic containers, which increases our production and disposal of plastics.”

So what are you supposed to do? Live in a dirty house, or use toxic products to “clean” it up? According to Gushée, there’s a third option. “The best solution is a DIY cleaning approach, because it’s safest for humans, and you can buy safe ingredients in bulk to cut costs and carbon footprint,” she says. (It’s like arts and crafts, but way better for the planet.)

Her DIY all-purpose cleaner uses just five ingredients that you can probably find lying around your house somewhere already.

At our recent Wellness Collective event with Athleta, Gushée taught the attendees how to make her go-to DIY all-purpose cleaner, using just vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, water, and essential oils (most of which you can probably find lying around your house somewhere already).

And if you want to stock up, these ingredients work well solo, too. “Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent replacement for bleach,” Gushée says. “It whitens whites, disinfects, and reduces the risks of unintended cocktail effects that can occur when [traditional cleaning] compounds like ammonia and bleach combine.” Plus, essential oils cut out the need for fragrance, which Gushée says is an ingredient to avoid whenever possible.

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, grab a glass spray bottle, and mix everything together, using two parts water for every one part hydrogen peroxide. Gushée suggests starting with five ounces of hydrogen peroxide, then adding the water, followed by the vinegar and baking soda.

It almost feels too simple—but trust us, it does the job. Finish your non-toxic concoction off with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and voila, you’ve officially cleaned up your cleaning routine.

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