DIY Your Own Asthma-Friendly Cleaning Supplies

I love to have a clean home, but struggle with the strong smell of commercial cleaners and the impact these chemicals have on our planet. I have had success with making my own household products; non-toxic cleaners, dryer balls, and air and fabric fresheners mostly. I’ve become so obsessed with making these products I now teach a class on the subject as part of my “Asthma-friendly Kitchen” series.

Not only are these DIY products lung and earth-friendly, but they are also super inexpensive. A trip to your local dollar or discount store will get you most of what you need.

Asthma-friendly cleaning

Here’s a list of common household items you can use to clean your home without triggering your asthma.

  • White vinegar - vinegar can be an asthma trigger, so only use it if the smell doesn’t trigger you.
  • Fresh citrus - lemons, oranges, limes and/or grapefruits.
  • Baking soda
  • Castile and Dawn soap
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide - can be used interchangeably with white vinegar.
  • Salt
  • Essential oils - only use if they don’t trigger your asthma. Tea tree, lavender, orange and lemon oils are my favorite.
  • Fresh herbs like rosemary - optional
  • Microfiber cloths, sponges, handi-wipes, scrub brushes
  • Jars (I reuse and recycle jars), spray bottles

Ingredients I don’t recommend using:

  • Borax. Borax is not the same as boric acid, but it’s not as safe as you may think. The National Institutes of Health has found the Borax can have adverse health effects such as hormone issues, toxicity and death.
  • Mixing castile soap with vinegar. The vinegar, or an acid such as lemon juice, will “break” the soap, and turn it back into its original oils. Lisa Bonner explains how this works.
  • Diffusing essential oils as an air freshener. When diffused, essential oils release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can impact anyone’s lungs. This study explains more. Don’t use vinegar on marble, granite or other stones.

My favorite DIY recipes:

  • Disinfectant wipes. Nothing is easier than pulling a disinfectant wipeout of a canister to quickly clean the bathroom or kitchen counters. However, these wipes almost always smell like bleach or a strong fragrance that is used to cover-up the bleach smell. I make my own reusable wipes:
    • 50% white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol 50% warm water
    • A few drops of Dawn dish soap
    • A few drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix all of the wet ingredients in a jar. Roll or fold a few washcloths, handi-wipes or small rags and place them into the jar. Put the lid on and keep in a dark, cool place on your counter. Pull a cloth out whenever you need to wipe down the kitchen or bathroom. Throw the used clothes into the washing machine and make a fresh batch every week.

  • General cleaner that is food, people and pet safe.
    • Glass jar
    • 3 lemon peels
    • 10 sprigs of rosemary
    • 2 cups of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide
    • Spray bottle

Add lemon peels, rosemary, and vinegar or peroxide into a glass jar. Cover and leave in a dark, cool place for three days to let the liquid infuse with lemon and rosemary. Strain and add the liquid to a spray bottle.

  • Glass cleaner is easy to make with 50% vinegar and 50% warm water in a spray bottle. This also works well on mold and mildew. If you want a cleaner that doesn’t smell like vinegar, add fresh citrus peels, or several drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Replace dryer sheets with dryer balls. They are reusable and unscented. It’s easy to make your own. Wrap wool yarn (available at craft stores) into a ball about the size of a softball. Place in a nylon stocking and tie the end in a knot. Wash in hot water and dry on high heat in the dryer. Remove from the stocking and you have a felted, wool dryer ball. A few drops of your favorite essential oils (if they don’t bother your asthma) to freshen your laundry.
  • Oven and pan cleaner. Mix ½ cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish soap, 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into a paste. Spread the paste on stained pots and pans or inside the oven. Scrub with a scrub brush and let sit for 30 minutes or so. Wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Cutting boards can be cleaned by sprinkling salt on the board and rubbing with a halved lemon. This will remove grease and stains as well as refresh the board.

These are just a few of my favorite DIY cleaners. Do you have any asthma-friendly, DIY cleaning recipes? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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