Nine Nontoxic Cleaning Solution Recipes

In addition to supporting hands-on nature exploration, Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth is a resource for educators and administrators interested in lessening the environmental impact of their facilities and operations. There are many ways to go green, and only you can be the judge of what is best for your program, staff, facility, or community. Using nontoxic cleaning solutions is one way to incorporate green efforts. Nine recipes, all from Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth, follow — try them out next time you tackle cleaning duties.

Many everyday materials and household supplies can be employed to create nontoxic homemade cleaners that are safer for children and better for the environment. The following recipes are easy to make and use materials that may be mixed and handled by children, making them perfect for classroom projects or family night activities. Remember to label every bottle or container with its contents.

Things to note:

  • All of these products are harmful if swallowed.
  • Washing soda is not the same as baking soda and should not be used in place of baking soda. Washing soda is usually sold with cleaners and soaps.
  • Eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oils can be found at natural food stores. Each contributes to cleaning and will cover the vinegar smell in many of these products. These oils should not come into direct contact with skin. Use no more than necessary when mixing solutions. Use extra caution when working with children.
  • When mixing these products together, you may wish to provide safety goggles for the children. While all of the ingredients are natural and nontoxic, some — such as soaps and vinegar — can sting if they get into eyes. Use your best judgment.

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Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth provides more than 100 classroom activities to help children learn about and care for the Earth, and each experience encourages children to develop a sense of wonder, curiosity, and joy for nature. Each chapter focuses on common and important environmental topics — including waste reduction, recycling, air quality, weather, climate change, and energy reduction — and provides information to help you present these topics to children in developmentally appropriate ways. Learn more about author Patty Born Selly and the book here.

Tell us: How do you talk to children about the environment? What green practices do you follow in your program?

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