This post was last updated on August 12, 2021 by Preethi Sukumaran
How can I deep clean my home naturally? Is there a natural floor cleaner that is safe for babies? Can you help me sanitise my floors with just vinegar and baking soda? Is this enough in this current time of the pandemic?
These are some of the messages and emails we are getting at Krya during this time of mass fear and virus pandemic. The current ongoing pandemic has made many people re-visit their cleaning and sanitising options at home. With the amount of housework, we are all doing collectively doing like washing the dishes, sweeping the floors and mopping the floors, many of us are now suddenly exposed to a very high and ongoing chemical load due to the constant contact with chemical cleaners.
We think that this is a collectively good wake up call. For many years we have written and spoken about the unnecessary cocktail of synthetics we are all collectively exposed to in the guise of home cleaners, chemical detergents, dishwash products and home fragrances like air fresheners, aerosols and strong insecticides. An average home that uses these products is unknowingly exposing itself to a dangerous mixture of unregulated chemicals in untested combinations.
The origin of many chemicals used in household products: World War 2
The consumer products industry is not as tightly regulated across the world as we would like to believe. Many of the ingredients that go into each product we use, like fragrances are protected by IP and trademark laws. Worryingly, many of the ingredients that are commonly used in the consumer products industry come to us courtesy World War 2.
After the second World War, chemical product companies like Dow Chemicals, Du Pont and Hercules Power found themselves at a financial and relevancy crossroads. They had to re-invent themselves for non-war time consumption. These companies quickly diversified into mass consumption products like plastics, different kinds of metals for home use, paints, pesticides, varnishes, etc. Dow Chemicals, for example diversified very heavily into light metal alloys for various gadgets that Americans could use comfortably in their home and a huge variety of plastic based products. The ubiquitous role of plastics in our life today can be traced back to this genesis.
Post World War 2: Saran Wrap advertisement
When we use products like synthetic shampoo, nail polish, plastic food packaging, and detergents, we expose ourselves to a variety of synthetics like phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine disrupter chemicals which an alter hormonal balance, potentially cause reproductive and genital defects like lowered sperm count, infertility, etc.
A nearly 120-page report prepared by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners released in 2018 highlighted just how toxic and dangerous the common products we use on ourselves and the home are: the report highlights shampoos marketed to children, deodorants, and common household cleaners to clean tile grout in their list of dangerous products. Most of these are marketed as safe to use. But the report highlights how misleading this claim is. The cleaning products tested found the wide spread use of chemicals with known respiratory issues, probability of triggering endocrine disorders, probable and possible carcinogens, and reproductive and developmental disorders like 1.4-dioxane, 2-butoxyethanol, Benzene, Benzyl chloride, etc.
This report also discusses the dangerously unregulated role of industrial perfumes and fragrances in consumer products. A palate of over 4000 industrial chemicals are used to create 60,000 – 80,000 proprietary industrial fragrances that you can smell in your floor cleaner, dishwash product, detergent or even aerosol room freshener.
This industry is almost completely protected by IP and trademark protection laws and is under / un regulated despite huge growing spike in fragrance related contact allergies in children and the potentially millions of people who may be globally suffering from fragrance related allergies.
We strongly urge everyone to download and read this important report here.
Ayurvedic formulation process for medicines, cleaning and personal care products
A truly Ayurvedic approach is starkly different from this industrial chemical approach. We must remember that the genesis of most of the synthetic products we use today came from underutilized capacity after World Wars 1 and 2. Many of the chemicals used during the war were re purposed and newer applications of these chemicals were developed for home use.
Every single synthetic product we use today comes from a laboratory – there is nothing natural, environmentally sustainable or remotely real / living about any of these products or their formative ingredients.
However, when we formulate products correctly as per Ayurvedic manufacturing and formulation principles we follow a starkly different approach.
The Kshetra / body is first taken into account. The Ayurvedic acharyas tells us that the sanctity of the Kshetra has to be maintained. No Visha / toxin must be introduced to the body. Instead we must choose Oushadies (herbs and materials) with “bahu guna” – multiple curative properties as much as possible. The formulator / Vaidya who makes medicines / formulae using ayurvedic principles is asked to ensure that first, the product causes no harm / side effect.
Strongly acting materials / ingredients or ingredients with potential side effects are to be avoided as much as possible . These can be used only in very dire circumstances when the patient is in a very serious condition, when all other methods have been tried and then only after the consent of the patient and his family to try such therapies.
The Vaidya is asked to use local herbs and locally available materials as much as possible – this is to ensure that actions of the herbs singly and in various combinations is well known and the effect on the local populace is well tested. When choosing herbs, Ayurvedic formulators are asked to choose widely discussed and researched herbs over lesser known / new herbs. This ensures that a large percentage of people can tolerate the herb well and use it reliably.
While formulating the product, we are asked to avoid using unnecessary ingredients that can take away from the efficacy of herbs or introduce new problems in the formulations. Hence use of unnecessary binders, fragrance, preservatives, colours, thickeners, etc are all to be avoided.
Needless to say, the idea of using dangerous chemicals like DDT, Chlorpyrifos, etc easily and in a widespread fashion even in simple household applications like insect repellents would be absolutely horrifying to someone trained in this ayurvedic method.
Unfortunately, many modern companies today are misusing the name of Ayurveda and Indian traditional medicine. Many companies simply market their products as natural / Ayurveda and continue to use conventional synthetic methods of manufacturing and formulation development – such companies that do “ayurvedic green washing” and deceive in the name of “natural” and “organic” should be avoided.
How to clean the home naturally: ayurvedic learnings
Ayurveda places a strong emphasis on both the cleansing of surfaces and spaces and adding to the prana and vitality of the space by the judicious use of specific herbs. We see this repeatedly when we study Sushruta Samhita, and other texts like Charaka Samhita and Ashtanga Hridayam.
Care of the Wounded: learnings from Sushruta Samhita
Vranitopasaniya Adhyaya chapter in Sushruta Samhita describes many minute details in caring for the wounded and patients with specific instructions on sanitation and hygiene of the patient’s room.
In this special emphasis is paid to “Vranitagara” or the chamber in which the patient is housed. The Vaidya has been asked to ensure that this chamber is properly designed and built according to the principles of Vaastu Shastra. It must be clean, free from dirt, with good sunlight and mild ventilation and not heavy breeze, etc.
Additionally, the room in which the patient resides is to be surface cleaned and fumigated once / twice a day with specific herbs – and the acharya adds, “without laziness”! The room is to be further cleansed and sanctified using sacred sounds of Mantra chikitsa, and performing homa and yajna. The patient is additionally asked to wear certain Rakshoghna and protective herbs on his / her person like Vacha, Langali, etc.
Care of the post-partum Mother and baby: learnings from various texts
Ayurvedic first principles: from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta
“The chamber that holds the new born baby and recovering Mother should be architecturally beautiful, equipped with all necessary materials, should not have too much wind, and should have only soft wind blowing from the east. The room should be entered only by a few elderly women and physicians and should be free from bedbugs, mice, mosquitoes and other vermin. The room should not be too dark, or too bright. The cradle, bed, and bed sheets should be clean, well washed, unwrinkled, soft and fumigated with Rakshoghna drugs.
A very important part of the Post-partum ayurvedic regimen is the proper selection, design and maintenance of the nursery where the Mother and baby spend their time. It is important to note again, that Acharya Vagbhatta specifies that the baby’s nursery should have restricted entry with good cleanliness and fumigation using certain drugs.
This helps prevent infections as Ayurveda considers that both a new mother and the baby have low immunity and depleted strength. The mention of controlling wind in the nursery is also a point to be noted – this is because Vayu (air) is already considered high in the mother post-delivery. So additional Vayu is not to be allowed in as a strong breeze. Ayurveda actually classifies wind as having different properties depending upon the direction from which it blows!
Kashyapa Samhita goes further in this design of the recovery room. Depending upon the natural climatic conditions of the place in which the mother and child reside, additional variations are suggested in room selection. For example, in regions which are marshy, there is high vata + kapha in the atmosphere. Hence, we are asked to house the mother and baby in a room where direct air entry is not permitted.
Apart from care and selection of the nursery, we are asked to carefully cleanse all surfaces, wash all linen and fumigate the room with specific herbs. These instructions are similar to what we see in Sushruta Samhita when we look at care for patients and the wounded.
from the Balopacaraniya (care of new born child) chapter of Ashtanga Samgraha of Acharya Vagbhatta
“Fumigation of the nursery and the linen and bedding of the mother and child should be done with guggul and other Rakshoghna resins which are mentioned in the prescribed texts. The child and mother should also be adorned with small bundles of herbs like Vacha, and other Rakshoghna herbs to ward off the evil eye and deter krimi and germs”.
Ayurveda advises washing bed linen and clothing of Mother and baby with a special set of Rakshoghna herbs, bathing in a special decoction containing Rakshoghna herbs, and also liberally strewing these herbs through the room in small herbal pouches.
The floors of the room are also supposed to be mopped using a special mixture of these Rakshoghna herbs. The air in the room is also cleansed by burning these herbs in the room every day. By constantly using clothing that has been purified by these herbs and smelling these herbs through different surfaces, there is a strong multi layered anti septic, anti-fungal and highly cleansing effect that accrues to this room, protecting the Mother and the baby from unwanted infections and disease.
Further, these herbs are prana positive and vata balancing in nature – so they help uplift the mood, bring in cheerfulness and cultivate a good frame of mind.
Cleaning the home naturally: summary of Ayurvedic insights
From the examples above, we can derive the basic principles of Ayurveda when it comes to the care, sanitisation and protection of living spaces. From this we can draw on non-toxic and wholesome suggestions to clean the home naturally. We have focused on examples related to the vulnerable like small infants, post-partum mothers and patients to derive these examples. We can understand that these cases require the maximum amount of care, so adopting these suggestions to clean our homes naturally will help improve the hygiene and sanitation in our living space.
- Choose and design the living space carefully: pay attention to the direction of wind flow, the amount of sunlight available and the amount of wind in the home. High amounts of wind are not necessarily good as this increases vata in the space. Moderation is key when we regulate our living spaces
- Ensure that the living spaces are free from insects (krimi) and not just micro-organisms. We usually choose a 99% anti germ strategy today and forget about other living organisms like insects, etc
- Cleanse the Air with good herbs – this helps improve the immunity and prana shakti of the space and its inhabitants. Do not adopt the modern practice of adding toxins to the air in your living space instead: all synthetic aerosols, insect repellents which are delivered via sprays severely pollute the home and do not energise it.
- Cleanse ALL surfaces with a carefully chosen set of herbs with multiple guna (benefits). We must choose :
- Rakshoghna herbs – herbs that protect us from micro-organisms and diseases
- Krimighna herbs – herbs that repel unwanted insects
- Mangalya herbs – herbs that lend auspiciousness and positivity to the home
- Swacchakara herbs – cleansing herbs that help clean the floor of dirt, grease, etc
Deep cleaning the home naturally: is using plain water enough?
We have received a few questions in the past from people who have chosen to dispense completely with synthetic cleansers and are using just plain water or home made substitutes for cleaning. Here is our point of view on this.
Congratulations on your decision to go more environmentally sustainable. It is a decision to appreciate greatly because synthetic cleansers are highly toxic, and it is worth exploring options that are non-toxic and safe.
However, just using plain water to clean the home naturally may not be sufficient. Even though many synthetic floor cleaners do an overkill and over sanitise the home, using just plain water is not sufficient to mop the home. Due to over population, crowding, very high degree of pollution around us, the home needs something apart from plain water to keep it clean and hygienic.
Even in ancient times, when the Ayurvedic texts were written, when surroundings were cleaner, the acharyas advised using a whole host of herbs to cleanse spaces. This added extra properties to water like keeping down unwanted micro-organisms, repelling insects, deep cleaning surfaces and improving the positive energy and aura of the home.
Please consider adding additional ayurvedic herbs and ingredients to your mop water. We will be giving a list of such additives below.
Alternatively, you may also consider using a truly natural, and wholesome floor cleaning option like Krya’s floor cleaners for your mopping needs.
Cleaning the home naturally: An opinion of Bio enzymes (Citrus enzymes / Garbage Enzymes):
Making garbage enzymes / home made citrus enzymes is again a very worthy endeavor. It effectively utilises some of our fruit and vegetable waste and is a very interesting d.i.y project to do at home using minimal materials and less cost.
The chemical composition of garbage enzymes is extremely close to plain acetic acid / vinegar. As we know Vinegar along with baking soda are two non-toxic favourites among zero waste and sustainability practitioners for a variety of cleaning needs.
Because both Citrus Enzymes (Garbage Enzyme / Bio enzyme) and Vinegar are mildly acidic, they are useful in cleaning lime deposit, scaling, and can be used to give a good shine to stainless steel, Glass, etc.
Citrus enzyme / Garbage enzyme /Bio Enzyme are an excellent cleaning aid – however, they lack the other properties of the herbs recommended in Ayurveda like being Rakshoghna, Bhutagna, Jantuhara, Prana positive, Mangalya, etc.
Hence, it is a good idea to combine the use of Garbage enzyme / Bio enzyme with some of the herbs we have mentioned below for cleaning / mopping your home. You can also use the Krya Sookshma floor cleaner or the Krya Sugandha floor cleaner along with garbage enzyme to mop the floor. Reduce dosage of Garbage Enzyme / Bio enzyme by half and add half the recommended dosage of Krya floor cleaner to your mop water
Cleaning the home naturally: ayurvedic herbs that can help
Ayurveda lists a whole host of easily available herbs and other dravyas that can be safely used for bhumi swacchakara (floor cleaning). Here is a list:
Neem / Nimba is an excellent Rakshoghna herb. It is sheetya (cooling) in its Veerya (potency) and has strong tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) rasa. It has strong anti-microbial properties, is Krimihara (repels insects and worms), is a Vishanut (naturally detoxifies), and is also a strong anti-fungal herb.
Neem oil (2-3 drops) or fresh juice of Neem leaf can be added to mop water. Neem leaf (organic) and Neem oil (organic) are used extensively across Krya’s hair and skin products. Neem oil is used both in the Krya Classic skin oil and the Krya Sensitive skin oil.
Camphor (Edible variety): (Avoid if you have pets)
The edible variety of Camphor is a wonderful Indian herb. It is often added to food preparations, especially rich Indian sweets to help balance Kapha and cholesterol levels in the body. It also has tikta (bitter) and katu (pungent) rasa with sheetya Veerya (cold potency). It is Vishahara (anti toxic), Kriminashana (destroys worms and microbes), and is Mangalya (auspicious) and purifying in its aura.
Please use ONLY edible variety and not the artificial / pooja purpose variety which is made from turpentine – the fumes of this artificial variety are highly irritating and toxic to the body.
Use a small pinch of this edible camphor after crushing well in mop water. We use very high quality edible camphor powder in Krya’s Sookshma floor cleaner.
Vacha / Sweet flag:
Vacha is an excellent ayurvedic herb which is used extensively in Ayurveda in child care and in internal medication. Vacha has katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter) rasa with Ushna Veerya (hot potency). It is Jantu hara (repels insects and microbes), Jeevani (improves prana shakti), and is mangalya in nature.
Add ½ teaspoon of good quality, unadulterated Vacha powder to mop water. We use this herb across many hair and skin care products at Krya.
Soapberry is a favourite ayurvedic herb at Krya. It is used across all our cleansing products and is an excellent natural plant surfactant without any of the attendant issues we get when we use synthetic surfactants like SLS, SLeS, Soaps, Lye, etc. It is a mangalya (auspicious) herb which is also called a “Raksha beeja” (protective herb) which helps ward away negative energy in the home. Hence Ayurveda tells us to use Soapberry extensively in cleansing applications like laundry, dish-washing and floor mopping.
Soapberry has tikta (bitter) and katu (pungent) rasa (taste) with Ushna Veerya and is tridoshahara (balances all 3 doshas). It is especially useful to ward off negative energy in the home as it is advised for a variety of graharoga (psychiatric disorders). It is Visha hara (anti toxic), Rakshoghna (anti-bacterial), and Krimighna (insect repellent).
Add ¼ teaspoon of Soapberry powder (good quality, fine powder) to your mop water. Soapberry goes into Krya’s consumer loved , all natural detergent range.
Triphala (combination of equal quantities of Amla, Haritaki and Vibhitaki) is a hoary medicinal combination in Ayurveda and Siddha, used for a variety of internal and external applications.
It is an excellent Rakshoghna combination, very useful in repelling unwanted microorganisms and encouraging the growth of good micro-organisms. Triphala can be added as is or as a Kashaya to your floor mop water. Use ¼ teaspoon of Triphala in your mop water.
Triphala is again, used extensively across Krya’s hair and skin products. We also use it in the Krya herb hand wash and in both Krya floor cleaner variants.
Gomaya (Cow dung – dried from Desi Cow):
Gomaya is a highly auspicious dravya that is widely used in ayurvedic medicine. It is mangalya, Rakshoghna and Krimighna and prana increasing in the home. It can be used to fumigate living spaces and to cleanse surfaces.
Use only Gomaya (dried) from a desi cow. Finely crumbled powder can be added (1/2 teaspoon) to mop water.
Good Quality Essential oils: (avoid if you have crawling infants / pets)
Certain essential oils are safe for surface cleaning – many can be toxic as they are highly concentrated. High quality steam distilled essential oils, preferably form organic sources like Lemongrass, Eucalyptus Oil and Citronella Oil can be added to mopping water. Less is more when it comes to essential oils – so do not use more than 2-3 drops of essential oils in your mop water.
Avoid if you have pets / crawling infants. Krya uses a very limited set of essential oils, which are steam distilled and organic. We use Palmarosa essential oil in the Krya palmarosa scented detergent, Lemongrass essential oil in the Krya Lemon scented detergent, and Citriodora essential oil in the the Krya Citriodora scented detergent. We use a variety of essential oils including pine oil in the Krya Sugandha Floor cleaner.
Home Fumigation – additional steps to cleanse air and ether in the home
Fumigation (dhumapana) is an excellent additional step to consider adding to your home care routine. This routine focuses entirely on cleansing Vayu (air) and Akash (ether) within the home and charging these 2 elements with the qualities of beneficial herbs and other dravyas (ingredients).
Here are some simple ways to fumigate the home every day.
- Plain dried cow dung smeared with a little ghee and 1-2 dried neem leaves / pinch of dried neem leaf powder
- Plain cow dung smeared with ghee+ crystals of good quality gum benzoin / sambrani
- Good quality Masala Agarbattis (do not use agarbattis dipped in synthetic perfume or essential oils – Masala agarbattis should be used for this purpose). Also avoid coal based agarbattis
- If you have the inclination, you may even consider doing a simple Agnihotra every day at Sandhya time – this is an excellent up lifter of energy and vitality in the home
We have written a longer blog post on herbal fumigation for your home here.
Cleaning the home naturally: using the Krya Floor Cleaners
The Krya floor cleaners were formulated as a part of the growing Krya eco home care range. We are committed to providing non toxic, wholesome and effective home care alternatives that are made completely from ayurvedic herbs and can be safely used around the entire family.
All Krya home care products are made water-less, are highly concentrated and cost effective and are both biodegradable and compostable. Any grey water generated by the use of our home cleansers is easily recyclable.
The Krya floor cleansers are formulated strictly from Ayurvedic principles. We have drawn from the ancient texts and looked at an extensive list of safe Ayurvedic herbs and oils that have been mentioned in the /ayurvedic texts. For our formulations we have chosen from a list of swaccha kara (cleansing), Rakshoghna (anti microbial ), anti fungal, Krimighna (insect repellant), visha hara (anti toxic), mangalya (auspicious) and prana increasing ayurvedic herbs.
Krya Sugandha Floor Cleaner:
The Krya Sugandha Floor Cleaner is a completely natural floor cleaner that is toxin free, wholesome and naturally fragrant as powerful natural essential oils are used in this product. This floor cleaner is made using 20 powerful ayurvedic herbs, resins and essential oils including Citriodora Oil, Karanja Oil, Citronella Oil and Pine Oil .
The formulation is very effective at repelling crawling insects like cockroaches, ants , etc, but it does not kill them. It is a good , safe, broad spectrum, anti bacterial and anti fungal formulation which is adaptogenic. As we use pure plants and plant essential oils, there is no question of microorganisms learning from and developing resistance to the product as plants vary across seasons and weather conditions and are far more adaptogenic compared to bacteria and fungi.
Krya Sookshma Floor Cleaner:
The Krya Sookshma Floor Cleaner is an unscented floor cleaner powder that is made using 28 Ayurvedic herbs including including natural plant surfactants, Rakshoghna (anti microbial and anti fungal herbs), Krimighna (insect repellent) herbs and natural plant resins and gums and natural Saindhava Namak (rock salt).
This product uses 4 very interesting plant resins: pure natural edible Camphor, Damar gum, Batu Gum and Gum benzoin (sambrani). This combination of herbs, plant gums and plant resins gives the product a very subtle fragrance and extremely cleansing and uplifting aura.
This formulation is suggested for homes with very small children , premature infants, patients, sensitive geriatrics and those with respiratory allergies / issues (asthma, wheezing, hayfever, etc). We have completely avoided the use of essential oils in this product to be suitable for use in sensitive users. Instead we have used naturally fragrant and disinfectant plant resins to improve the cleansing ability of the product.
Both Krya floor cleaners are all natural floor cleaners, completely safe and non toxic, are mild and natural and safe to use around babies, toddlers and the elderly.
Both Krya floor cleaners contain prana positive, spiritually uplifing herbs and dravyas as suggested in the Ayurvedic Samhitas to cleanse the spiritual and etheric energy of the home.
How to use the Krya natural floor cleaner:
The Krya natural floor cleaner is an ayurvedic choorna (powder format). We provide a cloth pouch along with every pack of this product. The choorna can be used either in the pouch or directly in your mop bucket.
- Take 1 tablespoon of the Krya Floor Cleaner (either Sookshma or Sugandha variant) in an empty mop bucket – the product can be added either directly to the bucket or in the pouch provided
- Add water to the bucket – between ¼ – 40% of the bucket
- The product will foam slightly at first
- For a roughly 1000 sq ft home which does not attract huge amount of dust / dirt, this mop water can be used for the entire home
- Soak the Mop in the the mop water, squeeze the mop well and use to mop the floors
- After every room, if you rinse the mop separately, the mop water will be clean enough for the next room
- Mop water can be safely handled by children (both variants) – however ensure that the dry powder is stored AWAY from children as a safety measure
- Has not been formulated for homes with pets (both variants)
To sum up: Deep cleaning the home naturally using ayurveda
The world of home care and cleaning is a deep rabbit hole which we can walk for years into and never emerge with a collectively good, non toxic solution. Synthetic cleansers like detergents, dishwash products, flor cleaners, insect repellants are all loaded with a cocktail of potentially harmful ingredients.
Using such products in the home can cause a variety of side effects, and disastrous environmental effects.
How do we choose better home care products? Are natural options really possible today? What herbs can we use to cleanse our homes? How does Ayurveda approach home care and sanitation?
This blog post discussed many of these questions and ayurvedic principles . We saw how ayurvedic products should be formulated, and how these principles differ strongly from synthetic products.
We looked at the principles of space cleansing and sanitization and saw this through the lens of patient care and taking acre of the vulnerable like post partum mothers and infants from Ayurveda. We then explored various herbs we could use to effectively sanitize our homes and their benefits. And we ended with an exploration of Krya’s floor cleaners.
The unregulated , un-thought-through use of synthetic home care products and the serious lack of transparency from manufacturers as to what these products contain is a huge source of concern for us.
With clean unpolluted air being at a premium outdoors, it is tragic to see that our homes are also being filled with pollutants and toxins – we naively use these products in the belief that we doing the best for our families.
Krya’s blog series on toxins in the home aims to give you high quality information that you can use on this subject and also offer you alternatives that are readily available and easy to use in your home. A safe, non toxic home is well within your reach. Please do use the information and tips given in this blog post to slowly detox your home.
Please reach out to us if you want more help on this – we are available on email and on phone/WhatsApp (0-75500-89090).