How to Disinfect, Naturally

Cutting boards. Foul smelling dish cloths. Stopping the spread of germs.

It is really important to clean not just so a space looks good, but so that it doesn’t make you sick, and so it doesn’t smell. And this is a place where nature really does shine.

There are many natural disinfectants that are completely natural, and quite cost-effective. Whether you want to make sure your cutting boards don’t share salmonella from your meats to your veggies, or that your family doesn’t catch your cold from touching the refrigerator door, disinfecting is an important step that takes your space a step beyond clean.

Mostly, hot water and soap and a little elbow grease is all you need to disinfect. But especially when you can’t get an odour out or when you touch a surface a number of times in a day (or you just want to be extra sure) there are natural products out there that make disinfecting easier.

Tea tree oil can be added to add to a spray bottle with water and vinegar to spray on surfaces, or added to laundry to take out odours. Add 20 drops of tea tree and 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a spray bottle of water, and you can kill staphylococcus, e-coli, shigella, and salmonella. You can also add ½ tsp of liquid soap to the mixture to give it extra cleaning power.

Even stronger than tea tree, according to a 2006 study, were cinnamon oil, clove oil, and rosemary oil. Add these to vinegar and water for a great smelling spray to use on cutting boards after you have washed them, or on surfaces that you touch a lot, like the flushing handle on a toilet, the microwave door, or a keyboard. They can kill staph, strep, influenza, pneumonia and E. coli, and are a great way to keep your surfaces cleaner and smelling great. Thyme oil is also very effective.

You can also throw these oils in with hot water in your washing machine, to remove mildewy smells from laundry. Try doing foul smelling dishcloths first in a cycle with just vinegar and your choice of disinfecting oils, then a second cycle with water and baking soda. This should remove smells from most machine washable fabrics.

Borax is also a great naturally-occurring substance that helps disinfect and repel bugs without harming septic systems or the plumbing. Two tablespoons of borax with 3 cups of hot water and 4 tablespoons of vinegar in a spray bottle will help you disinfect your space naturally.

What if your garbage disposal needs a little disinfecting? Surprisingly, ice and salt are the best things to remove foul smells, sharpen the blades and disinfect. Rock salt and ice cubes run through the garbage disposal periodically will help you keep your sink smelling clean and working great. You can also use lemon or orange peel to add a little scent while disinfecting.

Cleaning isn’t just about making surfaces shine – cleaning helps you stay healthy. No need for environmentally and health-devastating antibacterials – natural disinfectants do as good of a job with no negative impact.

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