Before last week, I never really believed that green cleaning products actually worked. Oh, I suppose I believed that they cleaned “well enough,” just not enough for my house. If you don’t get that assault to your nose membranes when you walk in your “clean” house, then how clean can it really be? By the way, the same went for cuts and scrapes… if the stuff I used to use to clean them didn’t sting a little bit, then I didn’t believe it really was “working.” No pain, no gain, right? You want it to hurt.
Recently, though, I decided to try a little experiment in my house. I had to see for myself if I was doing the right thing using store-bought household cleaners. I never anticipated this awesome fringe benefit…
Incidentally, don’t you love it when you chance on something you’ve spent hours trying to solve the hard way? Fruit flies are my least favorite thing about summer, as they seem to spontaneously hatch from all the gorgeous summer fruit I buy. They’re slow and drunk in flight until you try to whack one dead, then they lazily swerve — every time! — out of the way. I’ve tried bowls of vinegar and dish soap; and contraptions where the flies get trapped inside a funnel design; and still they persist.
After trying this new cleaning solution for my house, I may have found a solution to the fruit fly problem at the same time. But first, a little background…
Even though I love the oils for my body and spirit, I’ve been slow to adopt them for cleaning my house.
I think the reason I was dubious is because, well, for one thing, who cares? Your body isn’t attached to surfaces of your house very much. Yes, you come in contact with them, but they are hard, often cold, planes of glass and wood. You don’t exactly roll on them or cling to them. You walk on them, set things down on them, etc. They don’t need to be pampered like we do. You don’t need to love on the inanimate objects the way you do yourself and your family. (Ahh, the error of my ways.)
Besides, all the products I’ve used all my life are the same products my mother used, and her mother, and my other grandmother. I’m used to cleaning with stuff that ends in “X.” Clorox, Ajax, Windex, etc. Dirty surfaces call for strong chemicals, or so I thought. I’m a creature of habit, too, and loyal to time-tested products. As a child who grew up “branded” in the 70s, cleaning products were all over the soaps’ daytime TV channels; and Mom watched them… I’m sorry, but that stuff sticks.
Then there was that time in the 80s that I tried some “natural” toothpaste, and thought it tasted disgusting. How could anything with “all natural ingredients” clean teeth and freshen breath if it didn’t leave my mouth cold and minty-tasting? I equated that little tube of junk with any and every “natural cleaning” product. Funny how your mind lumps things together.
Then there’s Evelina, who has her own way of cleaning the house. Who am I to interfere with a good system? When my housekeeper tells me to buy her more Pledge, Swiffers, and paper towels, I do it. Would you argue with the boss of clean? She vacuums the undersides of chairs, for goodness sake.
What made me reconsider using essential oils for housecleaning:
Besides the beneficial anti-germ history of pure essential plant oils, I just never thought of them as degreasers, and spot vanishers. Oils are, well, oily. Then I had a big A-ha. I remembered Murphy’s Oil Soap, WD-40, and Goo Gone. All those things are oily, too, and they’re the best de-greasers around, or so I thought. (If you can’t pronounce all the ingredients, it must work! :D)
Also, I remembered all the barefootin’ we do around here, especially in the summer. And where is one of the best places to put Young Living essential oils topically? On the bottoms of your feet, of course! If all the vitaflex points are so receptive to pure essential oils for fixing trouble spots in the body, why would I allow traces of chemicals to easily enter my feet and my children’s feet? I’d be undoing the oils’ good works.
Finally, my friend Suzi urged me to give it a shot. She keeps one bottle of Thieves in her home for everything. She even washes her dishes in it. She advised that you first have to get past the fact that it’s not like your regular dish soap because it doesn’t suds up. But the uber-clean dishes speak for themselves. So I put my doubts aside.
I bought a small bottle of Thieves Household Cleaner and tested it.
My first tactic was to hit Pinterest and round up some recipes for green cleaning with essential oils. I found several, then made a happy-middle-ground recipe of my own for each of the following types: Glass Cleaner, Everyday Household Cleaner, Wood Furniture Polish, and a Deep Scrubbing Paste. (Recipes below.)
The first places I tried to clean were the spots I knew had been overlooked for months, if not years, like that plastic strip above the microwave where it connects to the cabinets. (Yes, my housekeeper is awesome, AND short like me, so that explains the omission.) There was plenty of dusty kitchen grease that no one ever sees. Out of sight out of mind, but moms always know it’s there. I used the glass cleaner on it, spraying it once and letting it sit for about 15 seconds before I wiped it down. The first pass with the rag took off an impressive amount of grease, so I sprayed again and left it on there longer. The second pass took it clean off. Like, squeaky clean. Hmm.
I tried the wood polish and was again really pleased with the glow-y sheen left on the wood, which seemed to drink in the stuff. Pretty!
Finally I tackled the stove top. Now this was a place that I thought for sure would not pass the Thieves test. I mean, baked on splatters of oils and sauces. No way. I recently received the Essential Oils Magazine in with my Young Living order, and spotted the recipe below on page 37. I’ll bet you can guess; combined with a little elbow grease, it worked like a charm. I was a little shocked, and a lot pleased!
Evelina embraced the experiment and went to town. The only thing I forgot was what to do about toilet bowl cleaner. If you know of a good recipe for that, please let me know in the comments!
The Results of Using Thieves in 95% of the Housecleaning Last Week
The first thing I noticed on that first cleaning day (just last Tuesday) was the remarkable non-scent in the house. I used to anticipate that lemony, spankin’ clean bleach scent of a newly cleaned house as the sign that all the germs and dirt were gone. Plus, in my weird way, I actually liked that tingle in my nose and mouth. Over the past few years, though, I’ve noticed that I got a headache every other Tuesday after the house had been cleaned. The smell I used to enjoy became a toxic outgassing I wished would dissipate. Who knows the strange contributions they may have made to my family’s well being? Now I know I can literally eat off the surfaces in my house, they are that human friendly. [By the way, I heard a story about a woman’s husband drinking some of the Thieves Household Cleaner after she’d left it out one day. He told her, “You keep saying how good Thieves is; well I tried it, and I think it tastes kind of weird.” By the way don’t try that at your house. Yes, it’s non toxic. No, you shouldn’t drink it.]
The Serendipitous Fruit Fly Exterminator??
As I’m beginning to acknowledge my misperceptions about green cleaning, I’ve noted some delightful surprises, too. In fact, as a little bonus gift, the fruit flies seem to have flown off in search of riper fruit. Not sure if it was a coincidence, but they were conspicuously absent from the kitchen countertop fruits this week. Gotta love that little perk.
If you’d like to try a small (or large) bottle of Thieves to test this experiment in your own house or apartment, click here. The only other ingredients you need are water, baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Before you throw out all your plastic spray bottles, keep the spray nozzles. They screw onto the tops of vinegar bottles as if they were made for each other. A final tip: as long as you’re buying extra vinegar, make sure the bottle is glass. Even though you are not going to ingest this stuff, you don’t want your oils in plastic. Besides, the glass bottles look cuter with the “Hi, my name is…” stickers, don’t you think?
1 capful Thieves Cleaner
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
6 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
[UPDATE 2016: After a few tries with this, we decided that as much as we like oils, they’re no good for cleaning glass. Stick with water and vinegar for pure sparkle!]
Everyday All Purpose Cleaner
- 1 capful Thieves Cleaner
- 4 cups water
Wood Furniture Polish
- 1//2 cup good olive oil
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 12 drops Young Living lemon essential oil
Deep Scrubbing Paste
- 1/4 cup Thieves Cleaner
- 1/2 cup baking soda
*The FDA has not analyzed this statement for accuracy. This statement is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or heal any known or suspected disease. Consult your doctor.