A few ingredients worth keeping an eye on to banish germs from your kitchen, bathroom, and all the spaces in between: tea tree oil, white vinegar, and castile soap, all of which act as natural antibacterials. To make it even easier, we rounded up some of the easiest natural disinfectant recipes to DIY, most of which only require things you likely already have in your pantry. Wishing you a season of happy, healthy cleaning ahead.
1. For marble surfaces: Good old-fashioned soap and water
When it comes to naturally disinfecting delicate surfaces, like marble, the KISS ("Keep it Simple Stupid") mantra rings true. You want something that will get the job done, but won't wreck your finishes. "Keep in mind though that those natural ingredients are powerful too, you should research whether they won't ruin the materials of your home," says Sophia Gushee, founder of Nontoxic Living. With that in mind, she suggests using simple soap and water to keep things clean.
Dr. Bronner's Castile soap
1. Combine equal parts soap and water in a spray bottle.
2. Shake to dilute.
2. For wood floors: Lauren Nixon's lemon-and-vinegar water
Lemons can do a whole lot more than just make your water taste better. When combined with vinegar, they happen to make for great all-purpose cleaners. “Lemons are a natural powerhouse cleaning agent,” food educator and sustainability strategist Lauren Nixon tells Well+Good. “They have citric acid, which is really great for water spots and D-Limonene, which is really great for degreasing, plus lemon oil, which is a really powerful natural fragrance and is antibacterial.” You can use a lemon-vinegar combo on its own as an all-purpose solution, or dilute it with water to safely use on your floors.
1 lemon peel
1 jar of vinegar
Essential oils of your choice
1. Place the lemon rind in a jar of vinegar; let it sit for two to three weeks to create a solution.
2. Combine in a spray bottle with warm water to dilute.
3. Add your favorite essential oils for fragrance.
You'll want to wash your dishes right away (instead of letting them pile up in the sink) thanks to these sweet-smelling, all natural disinfectants. Pick your scent for an essential-oil infused cleanser that can take on even the toughest stains.
2 cups water
1/4 cup soap flakes
1/4 cup castile soap
1 tsp glycerin
2 tsp washing soda (easy to find at hardware stores or superstores)
Essential oils of your choosing (see below)
Glass bottle with spout
For a citrus version:
15 drops of grapefruit oil
5 drops of lemon oil
For an woodsy version:
15 drops of cedar oil
15 drops of jupiter oil
For a floral version:
15 drops of geranium oil
15 drops of lavender oil
1. Bring the water to a low boil in a pot, then add the soap flakes and stir until they’re dissolved.
2. Remove from the heat to let cool, add the castile soap, glycerin, washing soda, and the essential oils of your choosing, and pour into the glass bottle.
3. Shake well before each use. Store out of direct sunlight, it will keep for up to 6 months.
Surprise! You don't need chemicals to achieve a squeaky-clean toilet bowl—you just need an antibacterial essential oil. Home guru and Clean My Space author Melissa Maker swears by tea tree oil for cleaning even the nastiest surfaces.
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup castile or dish soap
1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide
15 drops tea tree oil
1. Combine the ingredients in a clean squeeze bottle with a cap.
2. Squirt the solution around the toilet bowl and, after a few moments, scrub with your brush as usual. Flush and you’re done!
Legend has it that this recipe was used by medieval thieves who used to rob plague-infested homes and graves without catching the disease themselves. The jury's still out over whether or not that's actually true, but according to Jan Berry, the woman behind natural home blog The Nerdy Farm Wife, it's at least potent enough to get rid of whatever germs are lurking around after you go through your evening routine. “Based on the story, the thieves made it with an essential oil, but I prefer to use the whole herb,” she told Well+Good. “It’s more satisfying—you can start with the whole plant in your hand and end up with a product.”
1/4 cup each of chopped fresh rosemary, mint, lavender leaves, sage, thyme, and oregano (If you don't have fresh herbs, you can use half the amount of dry herbs instead.)
Few whole cloves (optional)
1 1/2 cups vinegar
Water, for diluting
1. Place the herbs in a pint-sized canning jar. If you like the scent of cloves, you can add those in here for some added germ-fighting properties.
2. Pour the vinegar over the herbs. Add extra vinegar if to ensure that the herbs are fully covered.
3. Cover the jar with a nonmetallic lid or place a few layers of wax paper or plastic wrap between the jar and metal lid. This will help prevent corrosion from the vinegar.
4. Store the mixture in a dark place for one to two weeks to allow it to set.
5. Strain and store in a glass jar for up to a year.
6. When you're ready to use, dilute with equal parts water. Avoid using on granite, stone or marble.
6. For everywhere else: An all-purpose antibacterial
If you need a natural disinfectant to function all-purpose cleaner, look no further than the most potent antibacterials. "If you have synthetic materials, I would consider including tea tree oil, distilled white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect," says Gushee. Combine them with water for a solution you can use pretty much anywhere (aside from wood and marble, that is).
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