Mother Earth Living

Fresh Clips: Keep Your Home Clean and Toxic-Free

By Lauren Holt
April/May 2011
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Try these simple herbal tips as you prepare your home for spring.

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With spring right around the corner, it’s time to make your house a clean and happy home—and preferably a home sans toxic chemicals. Use revitalizing herbs and essential oils, such as basil, juniper, ginger and thyme, to energize your senses and inhibit the growth of microorganisms. 

• Add a drop of your favorite herbal essential oil to a scrap of fabric or a handkerchief and toss it into the dryer with your clothes for a pleasing scent. Rosemary, sage, lemon balm or cardamom will keep insects away from your wardrobe.

• Hide dried herbs in sachets (made from scraps of cloth or paper envelopes) in your furniture to add subtle aromatherapy to any room. Use lavender flowers for relaxation and mint leaves for energy and focus.

• Clean wood furniture and floors with tea: Just boil a few tea bags in a quart of water, wipe the surface with the cooled brew and buff with a clean cloth.

• Mix a few drops of essential oils with vinegar, lemon juice or baking soda for a natural cleaning agent.

For more ways to keep your home naturally clean, check out our archive at

Breathe Easy

This all-purpose disinfectant is simple to make and provides an herbal alternative to using common, potentially toxic cleaning products in your home:

Mix 2 tablespoons borax with 1⁄4 cup lemon juice and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle. Cap and shake until the borax dissolves. Add 20 drops tea tree oil to fight bacteria, fungi and viruses, shake again, and spray on the nearest nonporous dirty surface. Wipe with a clean cloth or scrub, then rinse with clean water. Also try this recipe with lavender or eucalyptus for their disinfectant and aromatherapeutic properties.

Modern Tip from the Medieval Table

Water for washing hands at the table: Boil some sage, then strain off the water and cool it until tepid. Instead, you can use chamomile and marjoram, or rosemary, and cook with orange peel. Bay leaves also work for this.

—One of the items needed for a proper table, according to The Good Wife’s Guide: A Medieval Household Book (Cornell University Press, 2010). The book is a 14th-century how-to for household duties, narrated from the point of view of a 63-year-old wealthy Parisian man addressing his new 15-year-old bride on how to adapt to married life with him—and her next husband.

Lauren Holt is an editorial intern at The Herb Companion. 

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