Cold and flu season is looming. It can be tempting to reach for the bleach and other harsh chemicals in attempt to keep everyone healthy. But why make things worse by polluting your indoor air? Use our handy guide to disinfect every room of your house, naturally.
Disinfecting the kitchen is as easy as keeping lemon juice and vinegar on hand—both are excellent at killing germs and safe to use around food. Dip half a lemon in baking soda and scrub directly onto counter tops, sink and cutting boards. Next, wipe with a damp cloth and dry. (Just be aware: this isn’t a good option for stainless steel or delicate stone like marble!)
Instead of spraying upholstery with a chemical deodorizer, try sprinkling with baking soda, letting it sit for 30 minutes, then vaccuming it up. If you’re addicted to disinfecting sprays like Lysol, try making your own: just combine equal parts vodka (the cheap stuff works great!) and water with 12–20 drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle. This is an inexpensive and totally green all purpose disinfectant and room deodorizer.
Do you have glass shower doors? I love this tip: Wipe scum-covered shower doors or even shower curtains with a few drops of lemon essential oil twice a month. It cleans and prevents grime buildup in the shower. For toilets, add two teaspoons of tea tree oil to two cups of water and spray around the inside rim; let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrub. A mixture of vinegar and water will kill mold in showers and other damp places. Be sure to wash all towels and disinfect the bathroom well with vinegar or alcohol after someone has been sick—germs love those warm, wet places!
Be sure to launder all bed linens in hot water after anyone has been sick, especially pillows! Check the tags, as many pillows can be laundered normally, but some may need special treatment. Remember to wipe down surfaces like phones and light switches that a sick person may have touched. You can use the same recipes mentioned for the bathroom.
When your child has been sick, it’s a good idea to give favorite toys a quick wipe-down with our all-puropose disinfecting spray made with alcohol or vinegar. Hard toys can stand up to this with no trouble. Soft toys can usually be laundered in the washing machine—check the tags and always hand-wash any special “lovies” to prevent disaster! Air-drying is usually best.
Wood furniture can be cleaned with a solution of 2 cups of olive oil or vegetable oil and the juice of one lemon. Work the solution into the wood with a soft cloth and wipe clean. For grimey walls and baseboards, dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in 1 gallon hot water. You can spray this on walls and wipe down, and it stores well for future use.