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Switching to Green Cleaning: Natural Disinfecting Spray
I won’t lie, I’ve never been a germaphobe. I was and forever will be that kid that played and rolled around in the dirt (preferably with lots of animals).
I do however happen to have a partner who cannot stand the idea of germs and anything icky and he would not mind using the most heavy duty chemicals to kill ALL of them. Well, that just won’t do will it?!
On my quest to figuring out a healthy balance between the two of us, I kept running into DIY recipes that were supposably disinfecting but in reality were just cleaning (more on that later) or did NOT disinfect.
So I did a little research and turns out it’s SUPER simple to disinfect with a few simple, natural ingredients. Check it out yo!
What is Green Cleaning?
Simply put, green cleaning means using cleaning products and practices that are safe for us, our loved ones, and our planet.
The easiest way to determine which products are safe to use is to access resources provided by consumer watchdog groups like the Environmental Working Group. I aim to only use ingredients and products that have an A or B rating.
If you haven’t yet, read my Beginners Guide to Green Cleaning, where I explain everything you need to know about green cleaning.
Cleaning VS Disinfecting
So what exactly is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting you ask?
Cleaning is the act of using friction (often with soap and warm water) to get rid of gunk (where germs can grow), as well as remove germs that are on the surface. Disinfecting on the other hand destroys or inactivates most of these germs.
But not all products that claim to disinfect actually do so and the truth is some of the most commonly used products are super harmful to both your health and the environment. The way we’ve been taught to use weapons of mass disinfection for everything is something that reminds me of the movie Inception, but let’s set something straight!
Assuming you’re in good health, you can keep your home clean, save money, protect your health and the environment by relying on basic natural cleaners and disinfectants. (If you do have a chronic health problem consult a health professional.)
Why I No Longer Use Bleach
Chlorine bleach was always a staple in our home. It’s relatively inexpensive and kills germs on contact which is why you’ll also find it in a wide variety of cleaning products as well as some laundry and dishwasher detergents. It not only cleans up dirt and mold, but also kills some of the most dangerous bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella, as well as viruses like the flu and the common cold. Sounds pretty good right?
Unfortunately, bleach is also one of the most unhealthy disinfectants you can use.
Here is a short list of issues chlorine bleach has been linked to:
- Accidents with direct skin contact or ingestion
- Skin burns
- Respiratory issues
- Exacerbates Asthma
- Damage to nervous system
- Birth defects
- Dangerous to wildlife and the environment
But no need to panic!
There are healthier greener alternatives available that are also effective in ridding yourself of germs in your home.
Natural Alternatives to Bleach
The two most effective natural disinfectants are vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.
The white vinegar found in most stores is biodegradable and has a 5% concentration of acetic acid which can be used as a safer bleach alternative for low-key disinfecting. However, vinegar does not kill dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus.
Hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule. It kills mold and mildew, sanitizes counters and cutting boards, and removes stains from counters. Contrary to chlorine bleach, it is kind to the environment as it breaks down into oxygen and water. You’ll need a 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide – higher concentrations are dangerous – which is luckily how it’s usually sold.
Research done at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University showed that using both the vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide after each other killed most bacteria (like Salmonella and E-Coli) on contaminated food and surfaces. Pretty cool! Check out the exact method down below!
WARNING: Never mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together into one solution as it is less effective and forms peracetic acid which is harmful to your health.
Green Cleaning Effectively
Using effective green cleaning tools in combination with eco-friendly and effective cleaners will ensure a squeaky clean home in no time!
Making your own cleaners can be the greenest option because you can control the ingredients. This way you can ensure they are safe and eco-friendly, while also being cost-effective and time-efficient!
But most green cleaners fail because they use the wrong ingredients for the task or the wrong combinations.
Some mixtures combine ingredients that neutralize their cleaning effect while others create chemicals reactions that make an even bigger mess or become dangerous.
Must-knows for green cleaning effectively:
- Which eco-friendly cleaning tools will make your life easier
- Which ingredients are safe and eco-friendly
- How to use natural cleaning ingredients
- Which ingredient combinations to NEVER mix
- Which cleaning combinations are effective for certain tasks
If you want to start off on the right foot, grab my FREE ebook: green cleaning for beginners!
Disinfecting Green Cleaning
These are my favorite natural ingredients to make an effective disinfecting spray.
Although the smell can be pungent at first, natural white vinegar is a staple in a green and natural home’s cleaning toolkit.
Use for: Disinfecting, eliminating odors, and removing dirt, stains, mold, and mildew.
Ingredient Caution: Vinegar can’t be used on every surface (like marble and granite). It should also never be combined with baking soda, castile soap or hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide might sound a little scary but break down harmlessly into water and oxygen.
Use for: a great natural alternative to bleach to brighten fabric and lighten tough stains. I also use it in my all-purpose bathroom cleaning scrub.
Ingredient caution: Never combine hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. This creates peracetic acid which is highly corrosive and can cause lung damage.
Weird choice right? But pure unscented vodka (ethanol) is a great green cleaning tool and has virtually no smell.
Use for: disinfecting surfaces, make all natural air freshener spray and DIY window/mirror cleaner!
Tip: Any cheap pure vodka will do the trick!
Pure essential oils are the best secret weapon in green cleaning with antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, degreasing and deodorizing properties.
Use for: natural fragrance, killing microbes, cleaning surfaces, sticky spots, and more. My favorites for cleaning are lavender, melaleuca (tea tree), lemon, oregano, and clove, amongst others.
Ingredient Caution: Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils, and are often synthetic, unsustainably made and carry all sorts of additives. In case you’re curious, I have chosen to use this brand.
Glass Spray Bottle
You’ll need a few glass spray bottles to DIY a few effective cleaners. Although this picture doesn’t do them justice, in addition to being durable and eco-friendly, these from Kuishi are gorgeous too!
I also own a few dispenser bottles that I use for my homemade foaming hand soap and natural body wash. Storage bottles or mason jars are super convenient for safekeeping dry products like natural carpet deodorizer or even natural dry shampoo.
Microfiber cloths make cleaning easy while minimizing the need for harsh chemicals! Use them dry to dust surfaces or remove streaks and grease from stainless steel.
When used wet, together with an all-purpose cleaner or bathroom cleaner, it will make disinfecting and scrubbing quick and easy. They’re also inexpensive, reusable and long-lasting if you refrain from washing them with fabric softener or chlorine bleach.
Natural Disinfecting Spray #1
For most surfaces
Before disinfecting I recommend cleaning the surface first by using some unscented Castile soap and warm water or using this all purpose cleaning spray.
- Foodgrade Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
- White Vinegar
This disinfecting method is super simple but let me start off with saying do NOT mix these two ingredients into one solution! Either attach spray nozzles to your vinegar and hydrogen peroxide bottles or pour into separate dark colored glass spray bottles.
- Spray the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on the needed surface. It doesn’t matter which you use first. Leave to sit for a few minutes.
2. Spray the second disinfectant on the surface and let it dry. You don’t need to wipe the surface with a clean cloth unless you’d like to. You won’t get any lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and neither is toxic to you even if a small amount remains.
Natural Disinfecting Spray #2
For granite, marble & other sensitive surfaces
Before disinfecting I recommend cleaning the surface first by using some unscented Castile soap and warm water with a microfiber cloth.
- 125mL of clean (distilled) Water
- 125mL of Vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
- 10 drops of melaleuca essential oil
- Pour ingredients into a dark colored glass spray bottle.
- Spray the mixture on the needed surface. Leave to sit for 10 minutes and wipe/buff surface with a microfiber cloth.
Pretty easy right? Time to get back to living!
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Eco-friendly & Natural Disinfecting Spray
Gone are the days where you’re only choice is to use heavy duty stuff that can harm your lungs and overall health. Using a natural way to disinfect surfaces around your home is a super easy way to start swapping toxic ingredients for more natural alternatives.
Green cleaning is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself and the environment and doesn’t have to be any harder than cleaning with harmful chemicals. In fact, with safe and effective ingredients and the right green cleaning tools, you’ll be able to save not only time but also money.
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Will You Try Natural Disinfecting Spray? Do You Have Any Tips?
I am always learning and would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below!
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Katelyn has a Masters degree in Nutrition & Health Sciences. She helps people find easy ways to live a healthy life. She loves everything related to nutrition, health, nature, travel, and personal development. She is also Carol’s right hand at Soul Essentials.