5 Toxin-Free Recipes to Enjoy (and Scrub Away) Summertime Fun

June 16th, 2015 by Dionna | Comments Off on 5 Toxin-Free Recipes to Enjoy (and Scrub Away) Summertime Fun
Posted in Adults, Compassionate Advocacy, Eclectic Learning, Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature, Environmentalism, Healthy Living, natural parenting

Ailia garden tomatoes

My favorite time of the year is when spring begins its surrender to summer. The garden is planted, the mornings are optimistically warm, the earth feels alive and vibrant with color after the drabness of late winter.

My kids and I dig in the dirt in our backyard, tending to our seedlings, talking to worms, and discovering buried treasure. We get lost amongst our nature center’s forest-within-the-city, looking for birds’ nests, turning over rocks, and scattering insects. We spend as much time as possible out of the house.

Of course along with all of that earth-digging and worm-whispering comes a variety of bug bites and grass-stained knees. And when we do finally return home, we leave dirt-kissed floors in our wake.

Grimy hands and dirty fingerprints on my walls for the sake of play and an education in nature? That’s a trade-off I’m happy to make. But eventually my inner clean freak demands to make herself known. There are a plethora of store-bought cleansers available, but chemically-induced cleanliness for the sake of a pristine house is not a trade-off I’m ok with.

Fortunately, I don’t have to choose – we can have summer fun and a clean house without added toxins. With the power of natural cleaners, I’ve got all I need to repel bugs, dirt, and stains.

Below are five of my favorite toxin-free summertime recipes. They are all easy to make, and without exception, all of the ingredients are easily sourced and quite affordable. Check for the ingredients in your local grocery store, health food store, and my personal favorite, the Frontier Natural Products Co-op.


Essential Coconut Insect Repellent

The main ingredient in most commercially-sold insect repellents in the United States is DEET. But DEET can cause many adverse health effects, and we are better off not slathering it on our skin. There are safer options to effectively repel insects, here is just one:

10-25 drop essential oils (try lemongrass, chamomile, citronella, lavender, and/or rose geranium – the last is especially good for ticks)
¼ cup melted coconut oil

Add the essential oils to the melted coconut oil. Mix well and store in a small container. The next time you head outside, rub some of the Essential Coconut Insect Repellent on your skin. The essential oils will help repel insects while the coconut oil will nourish your skin and provide minimal UV protection.


Essential Hand Sanitizing Spray or Gel

Correct hand washing is almost always as effective at stopping the spread of germs as using hand sanitizer. But if you’re looking for a natural hand sanitizer for those times when hand washing isn’t possible, try the recipe below. If you make the recipe without aloe vera, use it to wipe down shopping cart handles, spray public toilet seats, or clean off picnic tables or other surfaces where your family will be eating or lounging. With aloe vera gel, the recipe makes a bacteria-fighting gel hand sanitizer.

30 drops essential oils (choose from among cinnamon, clove bud, eucalyptus, lemon, lemon balm, ravensara, rosemary, and thyme)
2 tablespoons aloe vera gel (optional)

For a gel hand sanitizer, mix the essential oils with the aloe vera gel in a two-ounce squeezable container, then fill to the top with water. Shake well before use. For a sanitizing spray, fill a two-ounce spray container about half-full with water, add the essential oils. Shake well before use.


Dirt and Mud Remover

If the kids have dragged dirt and mud all over your carpet, try this recipe to safely scrub it away.

dish soap*
1:1 solution hydrogen peroxide and water

Allow wet mud to dry and then scrape and vacuum up as much dried dirt as possible. Using dish soap, water, and a soft cloth, gently scrub at the stain. If necessary, follow with a 1:1 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water.

*You can make a great Simple Citrus Dish Soap by mixing 20 ounces castile soap with 40 drops of your favorite citrus essential oils (try lime and sweet orange).


Summertime Mop Solution

Clean your hard floors and deter insects with this smell-good mop solution.

1 gallon hot water
1 cup vodka
2 tablespoons castile soap
10-20 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix everything together, wet a mop, and scrub the floor. For an added scrubbing boost for tile, vinyl, or laminate floors, sprinkle baking soda lightly onto the floor before mopping, and scrub with the wet mop.


Summertime Stain Remover

When you are laundering your kids’ summer play clothes, take a minute to check them before tossing them in the wash. Fresh stains are easier to remove. For organic stains, such as grass or blood, try the steps below.

hydrogen peroxide
dish soap

Start by shaking or scraping off any loose matter. Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain, let it sit for a minute (as hydrogen peroxide can alter some fabric dyes, test in an inconspicuous area first). Next, squirt a little bit of glycerin and dish soap on the stain. Let it soak for a few minutes. For particularly large or stubborn stains, you can gently rub the stain before putting the clothing in the wash. Wash normally, and check to see if the stain is gone before you put the clothing into the dryer. If it is still visible, try again.


You can learn more about these ingredients, recipes, and more in Homemade Cleaners – Quick-and-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes, the book I co-authored with Mandy O’Brien.

Dirt washes. Walls scrub clean. But childhood marches on. Let it march without any unnecessary toxins.


This article was originaly published in the May/June 2014 issue of Natural Mother Magazine.

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