The Dirt on Getting Clean


Jessico Dickerson
Wellness Lead, Dill Pickle Food Co-op


Even though Chicago is still struggling to enter the Spring season, now is the time when most folks begin to let go and purge what doesn’t serve them anymore in the form of spring cleaning.

Cleaning during the spring season is thought to have originated due to the onset of warmer weather and longer days, both of which functioned as a stimulant for people and caused them to become more active.Nowadays, spring cleaning is associated with opening the windows, letting in fresh air, and scrubbing down the goonk from the sink and toilet bowl. For me, it’s one of the most rewarding chores I do because afterwards I get to show off and display my freshly scrubbed down home to friends and family.


In the US, a deep clean typically requires using harsh cleaning products. However, going back forty years ago, most people in the United States used vinegar to clean their windows and baking soda to wash their saucepans. According to estimates by the Clean Water Fund in Washington D.C., the average person uses about 40 pounds of toxic household cleaning products, like chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, phosphates, phthalates, petroleum products, and sulfuric acid, each year (1).

The ingredients listed above have been deemed carcinogenic by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Founded in 1993, the EWG is an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability (2). Other environmental advocacy groups, such as the University of Bergen Norway concluded in a recent study that people exposed to harsh modern cleaning products are of greater risk for obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and asthma (3). This information should raise the hairs on your arms since the Global Healing Center estimates that people are exposed to up to 2,100,000 toxins daily. For more information on these toxins, please refer to Nerve Doctor source below (4).

Luckily, it's easy to make the switch to natural cleaning products. The co-op is a great resource for simple green cleaning products. If cost is a factor, you can easily make your own cleaning products using ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards.

Here are some of my favorite DIY cleaning recipes:

  1. For a homemade cleanser to scrub the bathtub and sink, use ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup castile soap, one tablespoon water, and 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil.
  2. For an all purpose cleanser, mix the juice of ½ lemon, 1/4 cup white vinegar, two tablespoons baking soda, and four cups hot water to wipe down and disinfect general surfaces.
  3. To wipe down mirrors and windows, mix equal parts vinegar and water.
  4. To unclog drains, place one cup of baking soda in the drain and pour four cups of boiling hot vinegar onto the baking soda.
  5. To create a natural air freshener, boil one quart of water, one sliced lime, and one chopped piece of ginger.

What are your favorite cleaning products, or—if you're a do-it-yourselfer—what are your best recipes for cleaning products? Drop a line below!