Julie Lopp puts a box of baking soda, borax, castile soap, tea tree oil, cornstarch, hydrogen peroxide, salt and vinegar in decorative baskets and bestows it to her adult children as Christmas presents.
These gifts represent Lopp’s determination to keep her family — and the environment — from toxic harm.

Several years ago, Lopp was diagnosed in the early stages of pancreatic cancer. She is now in remission. The diagnosis came as a turning point in her life to research the toxicity of her lifestyle.

Lopp went back to what her grandmother used to clean with: Basic products that are not detrimental to the brain or body. She does not consider herself an authority, but she’s eager to share her years of reading and experimenting to help others benefit from simple, yet very successful cleaning solutions.

Lopp says making one’s own cleansers “saves gas, time, money — and the planet.” She uses tools that can be found in a typical home, such as torn clothes and socks for rags and used spray bottles. She says it is more ecologically friendly and less costly to make cleaners from scratch. Also, once the basic supplies have been purchased, home cleaners are quick to make.

Listed here are some of Lopp’s simplified recipes. For more ideas, she suggests the book Clean and Green: The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Environmentally Safe Housekeeping by Annie Berthold-Bond.

All-purpose cleaner/disinfectant

½ cup vinegar (or ¼ lemon juice)
4 tbs Borax
4 cups hot water

Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle or bucket. Apply and wipe clean.

Citrus floor cleaner

1 gallon hot water
2 tbs castile soap
15 drops orange essential oil
8 drops lemon essential oil (or ¼-cup lemon juice)

Oven cleaner

2 tbs castile soap
2 tbs borax

Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on oven and leave for 20 minutes. Scrub off.

No-streak glass cleaner

½ cup vinegar (or lemon juice)
¼ tsp castile soap
2 cups warm water

Mix the ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into a spray bottle and spray on. Wipe dry.

Furniture polish

1 cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice

Rub on wood with a soft cloth.

Toilet bowl cleaner

1 cup borax
½ cup white vinegar

Flush to wet sides of bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with toilet brush.

Drain cleaner

Use this drain cleaner once a week to keep drains fresh and clog free.

½ cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon boiling water

Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, and follow with vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

Anti-mold cleaner

20 or so drops of grapefruit seed extract
20 drops of tea tree oil
15 drops of lavender or lemon essential oil
Add to 2 cups water.

Pour into a spray bottle and apply.

Tracy Shawn is a local freelance writer who writes about sustainability issues for Noozhawk.