A few weeks ago I taught a DIY cleaning product class at the gorgeous Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in   Pocantico Hills, NY. Before I got around to demonstrating how to make the cleaners, I chatted about what ingredients and materials to use, and, of course, about the reason(s) why everyone should want to minimize the use of harsh chemicals in their homes.

Did you know that in cities like L.A. home products (cleaning products, paints, stains, etc.) are the biggest pollutant after cars?  Or that more than 300 man-made chemicals can be found in our bodies that weren’t there just three generations ago?  We don’t know what effect these toxins are having on our health as they mingle around inside of us. Cleaning product formulas are currently government protected as trade secrets so you either have to buy from a natural product company going above and beyond and disclosing their ingredients on a label, or you can make your own. This way, you’ll always know exactly what’s in your “product.” There’s nothing you can’t make with vinegar, water, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and castile soap. Lovely extras include lemons, olive oil, and maybe an essential oil or two.

Here are some of the DIY cleaner “recipes” I shared from Planet Home:

  • Tub Scrub: Baking soda + natural dish soap + a few drops of water = tub scrub. For a very soap scummy tub, use extra baking soda. Basically a 1 to 1 soap to baking soda ratio. (I tend to mix this in the palm of my hand with no measuring. I also, um, use it to exfoliate my face.)
  • Glass Cleaner: Make a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water. Just like your grandmother used to. Use newspapers instead of paper towels to wipe windows and mirrors.
  • Furniture Polish: Mix 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in a glass jar. Dab solution onto a soft rag for use. Make only as much as needed; it doesn’t keep.

For anyone who hasn’t visited Stone Barns, go!  Here are some pictures of the farm from after the class and book signing. Yes, that is me trying to kiss a chicken. I wanted to give the photo as a present to my butcher. Thankfully the bird was smarter than me and wouldn’t come closer.