Herbal Alternatives to Chemicals

Using Herbs as Cleaning Products

If you are like me, you have a need for cleaning supplies for the home and would be miserable if you didn’t have something to help you rid the home of dirt, dust and bacteria. I have recently backed off of all the “antibacterial” stuff for fear that we lose our immunity when we lessen exposure. I now think there can be a happy medium that works well for all of us. I have begun to implement more natural remedies for old fashioned cleanups. For instance, instead of tossing old sponges into the landfill or spritzing them with bleach or ammonia, I now pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds or so and wala! Bacteria free. They even lose that sour smell they seem to get even after a bleach bath and a soak.

So if you are looking for cheap, easy and natural alternatives to the manufactured items available in the stores, then you will enjoy these projects. You will love the results and want to repeat the experience. Luckily, this will be easy for the most part and the ingredients are cheap and readily available. Some are even free if you are willing to take a walk through the woods. Dig in and enjoy! ….

Homemade Drain Cleaner

When your sink or tub backs up the first thing to do is to turn off all running water and find a way to rid the area of water. Scoop out all standing water into another vessel and do so until the bottom is of the tub or sink is dry.

Once the area is dry, pour 1 cup of Baking Soda down the drain. Yes, I said Baking Soda. Follow it with 1 cup of Vinegar. Yes, I said Vinegar. Cheap stuff and already in your home. Immediately after pouring the Vinegar, plug the drain. Plug it up right after you drop the Vinegar. If this is a double sink, plug both drains and do so quickly.

The drain will start to bubble up and bubbly stuff may come up around the stopper. Make sure it stays down, pushing it in tightly. After about 30 minutes or so check to see if the bubbles have stopped. If they have, unplug the drain and run hot water down it. The drain should run free. And, of course, if it’s really stubborn and it just hasn’t happened yet, just repeat this process as many times as you need to. It’s harmless and non toxic and effective.

Linseed Furniture Oil

This great herbal recipe will also dispel Woodworms. This is fantastic if you have antique wood items that are fragile. If they are kept in a dark place like the attic or shed then they can get worm infested and the surfaces end up being destroyed. If you’ve ever seen the ugly pattern made by the worms you know what heartbreak is.

This easy oil can be made up in advance and used as needed. Store it an Old English bottle that’s been emptied and washed out. You will love what it does for your old wood collectibles.


5 oz of liquid raw Linseed Oil
5 oz of Turpentine
2 oz White Vinegar
2 oz Methylated Spirits

You can get methylated spirits in hardware stores and pharmacies. If you can’t get it locally, then go onto the web. You can get it there.


Pour all the ingredients into a bottle (a glass bottle is best) together at once. Shake it up real good before using and store in a dark cool place where you store your other cleaning supplies. Use it with a soft cloth and polish it into the wood until it shines. When the shine fades, reapply.

Leather Upholstery Cleaner

This great herbal cleaner will also help preserve the Leather surface. If your leather has gone hard, use this mix to make it soft again. The results will surprise you.


2 cups raw liquid Linseed Oil
7 oz White Vinegar


Pour the oil into a glass pot and bring it to a boil. Boil for a full minute and then take off heat and let it cool. When it is nearly cold, mix in the Vinegar. Shake hard before using and use with a soft cloth. Lay it on thick and leave for a few minutes and then polish it into the leather. Use this as needed.

Soapwort Solvent and Scourer

This is a magical, natural and readily available replacement for comet cleansers, washing soaps, laundry detergent and surface cleaners. This was the most popular and commonly used herb for these purposes before industry introduced animal fats to the process and made the products available in easy to use boxes. Since that period, we have moved beyond animal fats and they are not so often used here in America for these products. However, there are still chemicals, dyes and additives in these products and if you are like me and have allergies you are always looking for something that won’t make you itch or break out in a rash.

Soapwort is a beautiful pink or blue flower that climbs up walls and trellises and makes your garden look lovely. It is also nature’s answer to suds and can be used in many ways to clean and wash. Here are some recipes and methods for doing this:

To make a cleansing cloth for washing surfaces and scrubbing:

Chop up Soapwort leaves and roots and then knot them up inside of squares of cheesecloth. Roll them over with a rolling pin and press down to get them to release their juices. Simmer in a big pan full of water for a few minutes. Once warm and wet, wring a little and use as you would a sponge full of soap.

Another method is to obtain a lot of leaves and bruise them in bunches with a pestle in a mortar. Lacking a mortar and pestle, put them in a porcelain coffee mug with a sturdy rounded bottom and press them with a spoon. Put them in a glass saucepan and add water but NOT TAPWATER. Tapwater has chemicals that will kill the sudmaking capabilities of the plant. Use rainwater, distilled water, spring water or filtered water only. Add enough of this water to cover the leaves in a glass pot. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium high, and simmer for a full 30 minutes. Strain this out through a sieve so that the leaves are thrown out and not in the water. The water will be rich and soapy and somewhat sudsy. You can use this as a laundry detergent, a shampoo, to wash the dog, in any way that you would ordinarily use liquid soaps. Be careful not to use too much! Add it in until the suds level looks good to you. It is easy to underestimate the mix and add too much, causing an overflow of suds that are hard to rinse out.

And speaking of rinsing, I have a great herbal water you can fix up quick and use as a laundry rinse. It is also a nice rinse for your hair.

Sweet Waters

Use any combination of herbs that pleases you. Common herbs used in this process are Sweet Marjoram, Costmary, Rosemary, Mint, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Bay and Angelica. Roses, Clove Carnations and Violets are also popular additives. Any mix of these herbs in any amounts are up to your tastes. However, if you are using these waters on light colored or white linens, be careful to choose herbs with light coloring or white coloring rather than reds or blues, which could dye your linens when used. If you like sweet or spicy, if you want rich or thin scents, this is up to you. You mix and match and test a few to decide what you like.

A simple process of making these rinse waters is to use a large amount of herbs and just enough water to cover. You want a strong infusion to get the most benefit from the scents. A large teapot makes a perfect brewing station for making this infusion. Heat almost to a boil and then let simmer until the water is rich with scent. Then simply pour into the rinse cycle of the washer or use in the sink for hand washing and rinsing lingerie. You can also pour this over your hair after shampooing for a rich, lovely smell and shine.

You should use the cleanest water you can obtain for making these waters. Chemicals in tap water can alter the color and the scent of the waters. Distilled waters will make the mix last longer so if you don’t use it all at once you can store it in the refrigerator. So remember to always use the cleanest water you can afford, distilled, filtered, spring or rainwater. Rainwater is free and it’s a clean, vibrant resource.

Ethyl Alcohol (denatured) (500 mL.)

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4 Responses so far

  1. 1

    cleaning supplies should have earth friendly organic ingredients so that they do not harm the environment *”~

  2. 2

    […] curious about what I am talking about here, then read my posts on detergents , air fresheners and dangerous chemicals and how they affect you and your family. And when you are ready to consider a simple, easy, […]

  3. 4

    […] 3. Cleaning products. Try to avoid aerosol cleaning products that emit fumes or gases. This includes pest control products. Buy the pump sprayers or plastic traps rather than the spewing spray nozzles that end up putting insecticide in the air and on every surface in sight. If you use an aerosol glass cleaner or other spray cleaner, open the doors and windows when you do it and allow the room to air out afterwards. Your best bet is to locate fume free products, green products with non toxic ingredients or to go natural with some of my recipes from Herbal Alternatives to Chemicals . […]

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