Time to Start Doin'it Yourself
Kitchen counters can get gross...random items get tossed on them constantly if you live at my house...keys, purses, mail, coins, you name it. Plus you have the usual kitchen hazards like food splats, spills from toddlers attempting to pour their own juice, and oil sprays from men not knowing how to cook on low. All of this leaves for a pretty nice smorgasbord for bacteria, virus, and fungi to feed on....hence the invention of the kitchen counter spray.
Kitchen counter spray that it store bought contains a varying list of chemicals that are hazardous to our bodies. Usually only the active ingredients are listed and the other 98% are"other ingredients,” which who knows what could be hiding in there...probably nothing that great for our bodies though. The active ingredients can be things like alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides, quaternary ammonium compounds, benzyl-c8-18-alkyldimethyl, ethanolamines, and a few other very long compound names. These chemicals are major skin irritants, asthma inducers, DNA damagers, and severely toxic to aquatic life.
Just look at the statement on the back of the Formula 409 Antibacterial Kitchen All Purpose Spray bottle:
- “Precautionary Statements: Hazards to humans and domestic animals. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling. Avoid contact with foods. First Aid: If in Eyes: Hold eye open and rinse slowly and gently with water for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present, after the first 5 minutes, then continue rinsing eye. If on Skin or Clothing: Take off contaminated clothing. Rinse skin immediately with plenty of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Call a poison control center or doctor for treatment advice. Have the product container or label with you when calling a poison control center or doctor, or going for treatment.”
The first sentence alone is enough to make me put the bottle back on the shelf, but the statement "avoid contact with foods" takes the cake. It's amazing to me things like this can be legally sold, it's essentially a chem lab to spray on your counter (right next to your food no less). What about a safe effective alternative?
Well, I have one for you! The recipe in a few but first the benefits:
- It's more economical
- Easy to make, and takes less than 5 minutes
- Most of the ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard
- It's 100% non-toxic, you could eat it if you really wanted to....although I wouldn't recommend it.
- It's as effective as the toxic ones sold in stores...it even kills the germs just like the others do. Your grease will be banished and dried food lifted away.
What's In It?
So the basic recipe goes like this:
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c filtered water
1 TBS liquid Castile soap like Dr. Bronners or Mountain Rose Herbs (get yours here)
20 drops tea tree essential oil (I get mine here)
10 drops essential oil of your choice from the list below (Mountain Rose Herbs has a great selection of organic essential oils, get yours here)
10 drops of another essential oil of your choice from below
Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle, preferably amber glass (like this one), as the essential oils degrade when exposed to light and plastic. Swirl around gently and spray away. If you shake too vigorously the soap foams too much. Store your cleaner in a cool place because heat also degrades essential oils. I like to keep my batches small to ensure freshness of the oils, so that maximum antimicrobial benefits can be obtained.
Essential oils to choose from that are antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial.
- Clary Sage (article)
- Clove (article)
- Thyme (article)
- Orange (article)
- Peppermint (article)
- Cinnamon (article)
- Lime (article)
For simplicity I placed a link behind each of the oils name to a research article showing it’s effectiveness. Although there are multiple studies demonstrating efficacy I thought the point was well proven with just one for each oil.
Tea Tree essential oil has strong antimicrobial effects. It is emerging in western medicine as a treatment for MRSA and other bacteria resistant to standard treatments. In this case study an individual with an intractable MRSA bone infection was treated with tea tree oil pellets placed in the bone. Within 3 months his bone was healed and infection gone. In another study published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews Journal (link) tea tree was shown to be a superb antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal. Because of these reasons I always add it to my kitchen spray.
As for the other oils I vary which ones I use batch to batch. I only chose to list above those with strong antimicrobial effects that were proven in well designed studies. I was surprised to learn that some of the oils I previously thought were great at killing bacteria were out performed by others I had never thought to try. This study shows very clearly that cinnamon, clove, and lime are some of the strongest against multiple types of bacteria. Lavender, to my surprise, is not the best choice for antibacterial properties, although it does have some (source). I therefore am only adding it to by recipe because I love the smell.
So go ahead and have your try at this wonderfuly powerful kitchen spray. Whether you are an experienced DIYer or new to making your own products you will find this easy to make and even easier to use. This is just another example of how life becomes simpler when you go clean.
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Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2006;19(1):50–62
Sherry E, Boeck H, Warnke P. Percutaneous treatment of chronic MRSA osteomyelitis with a novel plant-derived antiseptic. BMC Surgery. 2001;1(1):1. doi: 10.1186/1471-2482-1-1
Halcón L, Milkus K. Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial. Am J Infect Control. 2004 Nov;32(7):402-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 15525915.
Carson CF, Riley TV. Antimicrobial activity of the major components of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J Appl Bacteriol. 1995 Mar;78(3):264-9. PubMed PMID: 7730203.
Saharkhiz MJ, Motamedi M, Zomorodian K, Pakshir K, Miri R, Hemyari K. Chemical composition, antifungal and antibiofilm activities of the essential oil of Menthe piperita L. ISRN Pharm. 2012 doi: 10.5402/2012/718645.
Prabuseenivasan S, Jayakumar M, Ignacimuthu S. In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6:39.
Roller S, Ernest N, Buckle J. The antimicrobial activity of high-necrodane and other lavender oils on methicillin-sensitive and -resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA and MRSA). J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Mar;15(3):275-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0268. PubMed PMID: 19249919.
Soković MD, Vukojević J, Marin PD, Brkić DD, Vajs V, van Griensven LJ. Chemical composition of essential oils of Thymus and Mentha species and their antifungal activities. Molecules. 2009 Jan 7;14(1):238-49. doi: 10.3390/molecules14010238. PubMed PMID: 19136911.