Grow Your Own Cleaning Supply Garden

Cultivate sustainable living from outside to inside as you grow, make, and clean with these safe DIY household supplies.

| May/June 2019


 Photo by Getty Images/filadendron

When I started to keep house with my husband, I wanted everything to be clean. What I didn’t realize was that my continuous use of so many commercial cleaning products was doing as much harm as good around my home. Since my grandmother’s day — when all you needed to keep the house spotless was soap, water, and time to scrub — many chemicals have been introduced into our cleaning supplies to save time. We spray chemical-laden disinfectants on countertops to quickly and efficiently kill every microscopic thing that might be alive. But there’s a dirty secret about cleaning: Soap and water is, and always has been, enough to prevent illness. The need for “disinfection” hasn’t risen out of an epidemic, but instead is the result of a simple change in marketing.

Studies continue to show that soap, water, and a little elbow grease will remove almost all the dirt, grime, germs, and contamination from surfaces throughout our homes. And for those of us who feel more comfortable with the idea of disinfection, there are natural options. Vinegar, for example, will take down most any nasty microbe, but it does leave an odor and isn’t for everyone. Adding essential oils to homemade solutions has become popular, and some oils are certainly an option for your homemade cleaning arsenal. Many essential oils are aromatic, effective cleansers.

Being ever the “grow-my-own” type, however, I wondered what plants I might cultivate that would also help me clean the house. Unfortunately, I can’t grow a plant that will physically stroll in and clean up, so there goes my million-dollar idea. On the plus side, I came up with a list of effective plants you might like to try growing and harvesting for homemade disinfectant solutions. When using herbs for cleaning, you’ll make use of a less-concentrated form of their chemicals than their essential oil preparations. Fresh and dried herbs are often the easiest to use as a tea in cleaning supplies, but you can also use either form for their abrasive qualities in any job that requires scrubbing.

With a little bit of garden space, time, and care, you can both clean your house and keep everyone who lives there safe from a cleaning cupboard laden with chemicals. Get started with the following five plants and recipes.

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