Clean Your House Naturally: Learn About Natural Home Sanitizers

By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Many plants, including herbs you may have in your garden,work well as natural cleansers. Some can even disinfect to some extent. Thereare some advantages to using a natural home sanitizer or cleanser, but be awarethat they will not kill most microbes, including viruses. For thoroughdisinfecting, you need something stronger, BUT you may just have the rightingredients in your home.

How to Clean Your House Naturally

You can turn to your herbgarden for some natural, safe cleansers, just don’t rely on these tothoroughly disinfect or protect your family from the flu, cold, and otherviruses. For general cleaning, however, try these natural disinfectants:

  • Lavender. Lavender oil mixed with baking soda makes a great carpet deodorizer. Sprinkle it on, let it sit a while, and then vacuum.
  • Mint. Mint oil with lemon juice and water makes a good glass cleaner that repels pests too.
  • Eucalyptus. Add eucalyptus oil to tea tree oil and water for a disinfecting bathroom spray cleaner.
  • Clove. For combatting mold in your home, make a spray of clove oil and water.
  • Rosemary. A great general cleaner is rosemary-infused vinegar. Put a sprig of rosemary in white vinegar with citrus peels and let it infuse for a few weeks before using.

Using Home Products to Safely Sanitize

While you can’t sanitize with natural ingredients to adegree that will keep your family safe from illnesses, it is still possible touse home cleaning products to disinfect and sanitize safely. There are somehealth issues with commercial cleaners, such as aggravating asthma, but usingthem correctly will minimize these risks.

First, when dealing with a potential outbreak of disease, disinfecting, or killing 99.99 percent of germs, takes on added urgency. Begin by cleaning surfaces. For this step, you can use natural cleansers or soap. Then, use a disinfecting agent. Those recognized by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are preferable and will have a symbol indicating this on the label. Also, keep in mind that sanitizing or disinfecting an area is temporary since it becomes “re-contaminated” the moment it is touched again, which includes sneezing or coughing.

Popular household disinfectants include:

  • Bleach is a typical disinfecting agent most people have in their homes, and the one most recommended for use, but it is highly toxic and irritating to airways. Use it with ventilation, or open windows and doors for greater air flow.
  • An alternative to bleach that is less irritating is hydrogen peroxide. You can use 3 percent preparations to disinfect surfaces as long as it is allowed to sit for a minute before wiping.
  • You can also use undiluted rubbing (Isopropyl) alcohol that is 70 percent or higher. It needs to sit on a surface for 30 seconds to disinfect.
  • Household vinegar can be used in place of bleach if nothing else is available. This should be the white vinegar with 4 to 7 percent acetic acid. Mix with water at a 1:1 ratio. It is generally safe to use on most surfaces.

None of these products are recommended for disinfecting skinor hand washing. Washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds isadequate.

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The best disinfectants for viruses and which ingredients to look for

Most household cleaners, from all-purpose cleaners to dish soap, contain surfactants, which bond to oil, germs, and dirt particles, suspending them in water so they can be washed away.

While washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds can remove 97% of germs, household cleaners are better disinfectants for surfaces. That's because for soap to be effective, it has to be rubbed and worked into a lather, while disinfectants kill germs on contact, says Mary Schmidt, MD, an infectious disease specialist in Virginia.

Here's a breakdown of the different active ingredients in household cleaners and what to look for to make sure you're using an effective disinfectant.

Natural Ways To Disinfect Laundry

There are natural ways to disinfect laundry that we have to tackle here one by one and there are several natural laundry disinfectant that can be used in placed of the commercial products. This is one of the many ways to reduce the living expenses and save money for other purposes. But why do we have to disinfect and how to disinfect laundry naturally?

The thinking that we have that the clothes is clean after washed in laundry shop is a little bit misleading. Truth is fresh clothes are dirtier and not hygienic. You may not believe it but here are few reasons:

  • The first reason is that washing machines are generally teaming up with microbes carried from the dirty clothes. Washing machine can be a breeding ground for bacteria including those that are harmful to humans.
  • Even if you sanitize washing machines, you’ll end up washing mixed loads. So by the time wash cycle is complete, the clothes would still have some pathogens and germs.
  • Ordinary detergents just remove dirt from the top layer. The deeper layers and clothe fiber remains home to pathogens even after washing.

Is there a solution then? Yes defiantly, small improvisation, use of natural laundry sanitizer or some homely remedies can ensure that clothes not only sparkle, but become really clean inside out.

Listed below are some natural ways to disinfect laundry after washing.

Lavender This aromatic herb is used for variety of issues, in form of essence and oil. The most basic use is of its aroma. It is also used for improving immune system, getting relief from allergies and relaxing. But where can it be used as fabric sanitizer? By just adding 1- 2 drops along with unscented detergent will render clothes pleasant smell, and disinfect them. Lavender has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Tea Tree oil Another good and natural solutio n to disinfect laundry . Since ages Tea Tree essential oil has been noted for its anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. This is why it is an important ingredient base for most cosmetics, det ergent etc. Putting 2-3 drops of Tea Tree oil in washing machine, with preferably unscented detergent sanitizes laundry. Besides, it gives a tinge of good smell to clothes.

Vinegar and Baking Soda This combination not only works for white clothes, but has many uses for laundry care. Vinegar can be used as a fabric softener. A drop of essential oils like Lavender, Pine, Tea Tree Oil, spruce, pine, orange etc can be added to give clothes a pleasant smell. This mixture can be added during the rinse cycle.

If you use vinegar and baking soda together it will work brilliantly to remove hardest stains and help keep white clothes white. Vinegar also acts as natural disinfectant, killing germs, bacteria or mold present in the laundry, and removing soap residue as well. The backing soda acts as a natural cleaners and scrub.

Grapefruit Seed Extract With 10 percent extract in 90 percent water you can create a great disinfecting liquid and dip laundry one by one in it. Or you can run the grapefruit extract in between the rinse cycle to make your laundry hygienic.

Some Other Important Tips:

  • Try washing clothes with hot water. Often cold water is used to save electricity.
  • Avoid mixed loads. If not this, then at-least exclude undergarments. Wash them separately.
  • Clean washing machines regularly with hot water and detergent.
  • Use a good laundry sanitizer disinfectant to ensure hygiene clothes.
  • Soak kitchen towels and rugs in Tea Tree oil, Eucalyptus oil or Lavender before washing them in the machines.

Popular Products To Disinfect Laundry

So much for natural ways, I was compelled to discuss also the method to disinfect using the commercial disinfectants. Using commercial disinfectants, we can be sure that the laundry is disinfected effectively. Below are some of the commercial products that are available on the market right now.

    Oxygen Bleach
    Oxygen bleaches are effective in disinfecting laundry. But most of us are not familiar with this material. Oxygen bleaches are materials that release oxygen when added to water. So these materials are good oxidizing agent for cleaning and disinfecting laundry but very safe to use. They are both use in white and colored fabrics. There are three types of oxygen bleaches available on the market today.

  • First is the hydrogen peroxide which is in liquid form. It will whiten the whites and brighten the colored clothes while disinfecting it. It removes stains and odor. It is very effective in killing bacteria and helps deodorizing clothes. It is very sensitive to light that may lose its cleaning ability if expose to light for long time. Hence it is placed in a colored container. When its container is opened, its cleaning ability may last up to six months but an unopened container has a shelf life only of at-least one year. Never use hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine bleach, and vinegar because it can form to dangerous gases that can be harmful to human.
  • Second is sodium percarbonate which is available in powder. It removes stain, deodorize and whiten clothes. It is used alongside with common detergent. 2-3 tablespoons of powder is enough with one cycle of load. Its solutions will remain active for 5 to 6 hours so it can also be used with another purpose.
  • The third is sodium perborate which is also in powder form. It is a stable ingredient in many common detergents and other cleaning products which provides and active oxygen during cleaning and disinfecting process.
  • Chlorine Bleach
    Oxygen bleaches are effective in disinfecting laundry. But most of us are not familiar with this material. Oxygen bleaches are materials that release oxygen when added to water. So these materials are good oxidizing agent for cleaning and disinfecting laundry but very safe to use. They are both use in white and colored fabrics. There are three types of oxygen bleaches available on the market today.
  • Lysol Laundry Sanitizer
    They claim that they can kill 99.99% of the bacteria without using any bleach. It’s very gentle to any clothes and can work even in cold water. They become so popular now that it has given a five star by most users.

  • Algae are a diverse grouping of plants that occur in a wide range of environments. Algae growth on walks, water pipes, equipment, greenhouse coverings, on or under benches and in pots is an ongoing problem for growers. Algae form an impermeable layer on the media surface that prevents wetting of the media and can clog irrigation and misting lines, and emitters. It is a food source for insect pests like shore flies, and causes slippery walkways that can be a liability risk for workers and customers. Recent studies have shown that algae are brought into the greenhouse through water supplies and from peat in the growing media. Once in a warm, moist environment with fertilizer, the algae flourish.

    Proper water management and fertilizing can help to slow algae growth. Avoid over-watering slow-growing plants and especially crops early in the production cycle. Allow the surface of the media to dry out between watering.

    Avoid excessive fertilizer runoff and puddling water on floors, benches, and greenhouse surfaces. The greenhouse floor should be level and drain properly to prevent the pooling of water prior to installing a physical weed mat barrier.

    Algae management involves an integrated approach involving sanitation, environmental modification and frequent use of disinfectants.

    Irrigation water can also be a source for pathogens and algae. For information on water treatment technologies for control of algae see the Water Education Alliance for Horticulture:

    Here Are Three Ways To Disinfect the Air in Your Home with Essential Oils

    1. Diffuser

    Diffusers are quite popular now and can be seen anywhere from the office, classrooms, and the home. It utilizes the healing properties of essential oils by breaking them down into smaller molecules, dispersing them into the air for a pleasant or calming effect. This is a natural way to improve and balance your moods and create a healthier environment by naturally purifying the air.

    I have an electric one that can easily be purchased online and have also made my own “low tech” style diffuser. Here’s an article on making your own essential oil diffuser. All you need is a carrier oil, vodka, and some purifying essential oils. You can start with a simple combination of rosemary and lemon, lavender and orange, or eucalyptus and lemon. For more purifying action, try some of these:

    Air Purifying Essential Blend:

    • 10 drops Tangerine
    • 5 drops Tea Tree Oil
    • 5 drops Eucalyptus
    • 5 drop Lemongrass

    Germ Fighter Diffuser Blend

    • 3 drops Cinnamon
    • 3 drops Clove
    • 3 drops Lemon
    • 3 drops Rosemary
    • 3 drops Eucalyptus

    To make a diffuser, here’s what you need:

    1/4 cup carrier oil
    1/4 cup vodka
    15-20 drops of essential oils

    Mix all together and add to a diffuser with bamboo reeds to distribute the scent.

    2. Make your Own Purifying Room Spray

    Using the same essential oil combinations, you can also make a spritzing room spray to purify the air and freshen up a room. By using vodka as an ingredient in the room spray, your natural spray can last months. The reason being is vodka acts as a natural preservative and disinfectant, but if you don’t have any, another option is to use witch hazel, as it contains some alcohol (typically around 18%).

    How To Make a Purifying Room Spray

    • distilled water
    • vodka or witch hazel
    • 10 drops lavender essential oil
    • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
    • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
    • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
    1. Fill an 8-ounce glass spray bottle 3/4 full with distilled water.
    2. Fill bottle 1/4 full with vodka or witch hazel.
    3. Add essential oils to the spray bottle.
    4. To use, shake the bottle to incorporate the essential oils and then spray it upwards to disinfect the air.

    Note: One of my favorite essential oils to use in a room during flu season is Ravensara. When influenza strikes, this essential oil can be added to your room spray to deliver healing to those struck down with flu. Its antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antiviral qualities disinfect the air and its expectorant and immunomodulant actions help those that are sick get better faster.

    3. Lampe Berger

    According to one website, the Lampe Berger is “the oldest and most effective way to remove bacteria and odors from the air you breathe. The original Lampe Berger lamp was designed in France in 1898 by a pharmaceutical dispenser, Maurice Berger, for use in hospitals as a way of removing air-borne bacteria and combating sepsis.” French Institutions used this where hygiene was critical such as hospitals and mortuaries.

    How it works is it burns oil very slowly by means of a catalytic converter (no flame) that is said to kill 67% of all bacteria in your air, eliminates odor-causing molecules in the air through the process of catalytic oxidation and as a result, increases oxygen levels in the room to help fight disease. While fragrances are available, they can be expensive. You can easily make your own using essential oils. This would be ideal for homes that have had recent bouts of illnesses. Read instructions from the Lampe Berger company for set up.

    What you need:

    • 90 percent isopropyl alcohol (this is not the same as rubbing alcohol)
    • essential oils
    • Lampe Berger (I got this one on Amazon)
    1. Add 16 ounces of isopropyl alcohol to a glass jar and add 10 drops of essential oil to your bottle.
    2. Then secure the top and shake the bottle well.
    3. Fille Lampe Berger with the mixture, and allow the wick to absorb liquid for up to 20 minutes.
    4. To use: Light the Lampe Berger with a lighter and allow it to burn for 2 minutes and blow out your flame and if you still have heat after 5 minutes everything is right if not you have too much oil in your Lampe Berger. If you haven’t burned a Lampe Berger in your home before or at least in a few days you will need to burn your Lampe Berger 1 hour for every 600sq.

    Note: Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable. Be present in the room when using a Lampe Berger to ensure a fire does not occur.

    Air Purifying Fragrance

    • 16 ounces 90 percent isopropyl alcohol
    • 2 drops each of lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil

    Germ Fighting Fragrance

    • 16 ounces 90 percent isopropyl alcohol
    • 5 drops each of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary

    Here are 8 more ways to naturally purify the air:

    • Indoor plants
    • Beeswax candles
    • Activated charcoal
    • Change air filters
    • Vacuum regularly
    • Ceiling fans
    • Clean window treatments
    • Salt lamps

    Start your spring cleaning early with purifying the air in your home. Your energy level will improve, you won’t get sick as often, and your home will have a fresh scent to go along with its clean, organized new look.

    Does Vinegar Kill Viruses?

    Hold the sponge. Before you start scrubbing with a homemade disinfectant spray, here's what doctors want you to know about natural disinfectants like vinegar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    As confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 continue to rise in the U.S., so does the surrounding noise of borderline panic. People across the country are hoarding supplies, making it tough to access products like face masks, hand sanitizer, and even toilet paper. The latest product flying off shelves: disinfectants.

    If you're struggling to find disinfectants in local stores, it only makes sense that you'd consider turning to so-called natural disinfectants like vinegar, tea tree oil, and hydrogen peroxide. But just because you read about these cleaners online doesn't mean they're actually effective at killing pathogens, including the novel coronavirus. (Related: How to Keep Your Home Clean and Healthy If You're Self-Quarantined Because of the Coronavirus)

    It's worth noting that there isn't a lot of data on what can kill SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes coronavirus COVID-19—on surfaces. "Because SARS-CoV-2 has been discovered so recently, there haven't been many studies looking at how effective cleaners are against it," says Siobain Duffy, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. "So, in some cases, scientists are assuming what works against other similar viruses, might also work against SARS-CoV-2."

    The same is true for natural cleaners: There are no major studies yet that suggest any of them work against COVID-19. But experts believe some natural disinfectants may be effective given how they act against similar viruses. Here's what you need to know about some of the most common natural cleaning products, plus whether they can help protect you against coronavirus.


    The people want to know: is vinegar a disinfectant? And does vinegar kill viruses? Well, technically.

    While some consider vinegar to be a safer alternative to bleach, there is limited data that suggests vinegar may actually be helpful against certain pathogens. A study in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology compared the efficacy of natural disinfectants like vinegar with common commercial disinfectants like Clorox, Lysol, and Mr. Clean against various pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. The results showed that commercial household disinfectants were "highly effective" against bacterial pathogens while vinegar was "less effective." That said, a bacterial pathogen is different from a viral pathogen, and coronavirus is, well, a virus—not bacteria. To that end, the study's results also showed that "only" the commercial disinfectants, not the vinegar, were effective against viral pathogens. Meanwhile, another study found that a cleaning solution with 10 percent malt vinegar could be effective at killing the germs that cause influenza viruses.

    Still, vinegar is not listed on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s list of registered disinfectants for use against the novel coronavirus. (Related: What to Do If You Think You Have the Coronavirus)

    "[Vinegar] does have acid in it and it has the capacity to damage bacteria and viruses, but it's not something I would recommend using to prevent the spread of coronavirus," confirms infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

    Tea Tree Oil

    Odds are you've seen at least one influencer waxing poetic about the power of essential oils (EOs). Tea tree or melaleuca oil, for instance, is often touted for its acne-fighting benefits, thanks to the EO's antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects.

    But even though tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, there is no data to suggest that it can be effective against coronavirus, says Dr. Adalja. "If someone told me that they had disinfected a surface with tea tree oil, I would follow it with a Clorox wipe," he says.

    And like vinegar, tea tree oil is not listed as an EPA-registered disinfectant for use against the coronavirus. While there is evidence supporting tea tree oil's use in controlling herpesvirus (the virus that causes cold sores), the EO "is not as effective as other disinfecting agents," says Duffy. "There isn't any evidence that tea tree oil can kill SARS-CoV-2 or other similar viruses, and tea tree oil wouldn't be recommended for fighting COVID-19," she adds. (Instead, put tea tree oil to the test with this DIY clarifying face mask if you're stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.)

    Hydrogen Peroxide Disinfectant

    There may be something to this one, says Donald W. Schaffner, Ph.D., a professor at Rutgers University who researches quantitative microbial risk assessment and cross-contamination. Hydrogen peroxide disinfectant (Buy it, $2, is "very effective" against coronaviruses on surfaces when it's left on the area for a minute, he says. (ICYMI, you can come in contact with COVID-19 via surfaces, although the coronavirus is more commonly transmitted through "respiratory droplets.")

    Commonly sold in a less-than-3-percent concentration (solutions above 3 percent can be corrosive), hydrogen peroxide "can be used as-is or diluted [with water] to 0.5 percent concentration" to reap the disinfecting benefits, explains Schaffner. To get to 0.5 concentration, you'd have to do a little math: So, if you have your standard store-bought solution, you'd want to cut it with six parts water.

    Of all the natural cleaning products out there, Dr. Adalja says hydrogen peroxide disinfectant may be the most effective. Still, he doesn't recommend using it as a household cleaner, cautioning that it has the potential to discolor surfaces, including kitchen counters. Plus, hydrogen peroxide isn't listed as an EPA-registered disinfectant for use against the coronavirus, nor does it appear on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommended disinfectants for COVID-19.

    TLDR: Hydrogen peroxide can be an effective disinfectant and/or disinfectant ingredientbut if you have access to some of the other expert-recommended disinfectants for coronavirus, stick to those first.

    The Bottom Line

    If you can, experts recommend cleaning surfaces with EPA-certified disinfectants—and, perhaps more importantly, practicing good hand hygiene 24/7. (Also, pretty please, stop touching your face.)

    "As much as we would like to disinfect the entire environment of the world, the hands are the intermediary between the inanimate environment and us," says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "The important thing is to focus on proper hand hygiene. Focusing on disinfecting surfaces with different solutions is a little like putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable."

    Ultimately, do your best to keep yourself and your space clean, but don't stress over it, says Dr. Schaffner. "Don't worry so much about the inanimate environment," he says. "Wash your hands."

    The information in this story is accurate as of press time. As updates about coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, it’s possible that some information and recommendations in this story have changed since initial publication. We encourage you to check in regularly with resources such as the CDC, the WHO, and your local public health department for the most up-to-date data and recommendations.

    Watch the video: 11 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing!

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