ML Blog

Non Toxic Cleaning for Beginners
To tell military spouses about some easy non toxic cleaning recipes

When DHA have handed you a property that needs a little cleaning love!

By Emma Usher

Now, I can’t diss DHA too much because they do make our lives so much easier, don’t they? I remember being RA and yes, we got to pick and choose our location but all the other hassles that come with renting are way too much to bother with when you move as often as Defence families.

We have actually been really fortunate in our timing & snagged a couple of really lovely homes, unfortunately and I’m sure this isn’t just us, the quality of the post out clean was pretty below the line! Particularly, when I and my family have a pretty big reaction to heavy cleaning products. So when we got to our latest property and could hardly escape the pounding headache of chemical cleaners, I had to get my cleaning game on ASAP.

Yes, clean the CLEAN property you just moved too, because you have nothing better to do…… said no spouse, with a million things to juggle, EVER!

I’ve compiled a few recipes & tips, learnt along the way, to firstly, make your DHA property feel more like home faster and secondly (more importantly) make it safe and liveable without using a tonne of harsh cleaners (and spending heaps of money on them!).



Grab some baking soda – if you don’t already have some, baking soda is the main ingredient for so many DIY cleans

Grab some white vinegar – again, things you probably have.

A non-toxic, plant based cleaner or soap – I have had success with Dr Bronner’s castile soap from health food stores but my absolute go-to is a product called ‘Thieves household cleaner’, it’s plant made, totally non-toxic to kids & pets & without ANY nasties.

Get your hands on an Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser – this little tool can be used in so many ways. Set it up in every room, hallway, particularly in carpeted areas to remove smells like cigarettes and wet dog smell. Combat insect invasions! Use it to combat mould when you get posted to the tropics, settle your little ones into a strange environment with soothing home smells, make everything smell fresh and clean & not like someone else.

QUALITY essential oils- The basics for cleaning are;

Lemon – renowned for its antimicrobial & purifying action. It contains the compound d-limonene, that can be utilized around the home as a non-toxic cleaner when added to water

Peppermint – antibacterial and antifungal, so it’s great for killing gunk hiding around your home. It’s also a natural rodent and pest repellent. Cleaning with peppermint oil kills bacteria and prevents dirty pests from hanging out in your home.

Tea Tree – Natures disinfectant.

Lavender – the swiss army knife of all essential oils has tremendous antibacterial and deodorizing properties, even against bacteria within the Streptococcus species. This makes it a fantastic essential oil for cleaning naturally.

Clove – It has many healing properties as well as being an effective oil to use around your home. It is also an anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-viral.


Some simple DIY Non-Toxic recipes to get you STARTED


Creepy Crawlies

I find some DHA places are full of little insect colonies because members can be away for such long periods, I think they declare the house free for the taking and move in. Then when you move in, suddenly you have hundreds of little spiders in your child’s bedroom or ants in the kitchen. Now I’m not one for going around and smooshing the poor little things, I would just like them to be on the outside of the house thanks. I use this little gem of a deterrent around the door frames and windows with great effect!

Non-toxic Insect Spray

What you will need
100ml spray bottle
10 drops Peppermint essential oil
10 drops Clove essential oil
7 drops Lemon essential oil
1 tsp rubbing alcohol or vodka
Distilled water



I like to scrub (like is a strong word)….. I NEEDED to scrub the showers when we got to our last DHA place, it smelt rather a lot like algae. Not the most inviting. This cleaning paste took me a few seconds to whip up & I didn’t get a headache from using it. Showers are sparkling!

All-purpose Cleaning Paste

What you will need
3 cups Bicarb Soda
3/4 C Thieves Household Cleaner
2 Tbs vinegar
20 drops Lemon

This makes a nice big batch that you can split and store in a couple of re-used glass jars. Keep one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. A truly fantastic cleaning gumption that cleans the shower, bath, vanity, oven, stainless steel, stove, or anything that needs a good scrubbing.



We have always had to move into a place that allows pets because we have a dog, so I never care that pets were in the house before us. However, when it appears the dog in question got his/her baths and then laid on the carpeted stairs, that’s another story. I’ve used this little recipe basically everywhere in the carpets & it’s very effective.

Pet Smell Carpet Deodoriser

What you will need
A few cups of baking soda
30 drops of an Essential Oil of your choice, I’ve used Lemon, Orange, Tea Tree
Pop it all into a glass jar
Scoop out liberal amounts and sprinkle generously
Leave for as long as possible, at least an hour, then vac up.

To add to that last one, set up your diffuser literally everywhere there is carpet and blast. Oils like Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Lavender & Eucalyptus work well.


Walls and Floors

Our little girl is just about 10 months old now, so naturally, I’m crawling around on the floors with her, which gives you a lovely perspective of all the walls that didn’t get washed. The underneath of staircase handrails too! I wonder what we would never notice if we didn’t get down on hands and knees…shudder.

For this one I use my trusty Thieves Household cleaner, this stuff is amazing, honestly. One capful does 500mls of water in a spray bottle and doesn’t smell like fragrance (very bad) or bleach.

Alternately grab your Lemon & Tea Tree oil again with some plain old white vinegar. Add a few drops to a spray bottle then add about a quarter full of vinegar. Top with water and use, this one might require a little more rubbing than the above product. Use a similar mix for washing the floors – we always do a mop as soon as the movers leave, the more essential oils you use the less you will smell the vinegar and less you need to scrub.


MOVING STICKERS (OMG the moving stickers!)

Does everyone else get super frustrated with the little stickers the movers smack onto every single bit of furniture when you pack up? They are so hard to remove. They plastered our cot with at least three (because that’s necessary) and the sticky adhesive is a real pain. Grab your good old Lemon oil again – a drop or two and it lifts everything off super easily. Makes it smell lovely too!



Mould arrrhhhhh

Now as someone who was posted in Cairns, I know all about the green beast – mould! It devoured our clothes and dark corners. I won’t be so naïve next time.

Mould Be Gone

What you will need
100ml spray bottle
10-15 drops of Clove Essential Oil
¼ cup vinegar

Spray to prevent mould and to remove the spores after its set in. Make sure you are drying the rooms out with the aircon unit at least once a day during the wet season (a little tip I wish I had been told prior…). Grab your diffuser and have Clove Oil going as often as possible to kill the spores that are floating around. Do so in an open area especially if little ones and pets are around, clove can be very strong.


Whenever using essential oils, be mindful, they are little powerhouses. A little goes a long way and always make sure kids and animals aren’t confined to where you are diffusing or cleaning.


Hopefully, some of these little tips have served you in some way, at the very least if it makes you feel more settled into your new posting then that’s a battle in itself! I know I struggle with the changes every few years and having a tool like essential oils to carry the smell of home with me makes all the difference to my emotional wellbeing. Both hubby and I have always tried to be very conscious of what we put into the environment in the way of cleaning and personal care products, however, things ramped up to a whole new level once we had our first child! Knowing the dangers that lurk under names like ‘fragrance’ or ‘green’ – we really had our work cut out for us with baby products. So, having a way to naturally clean everything so our daughter isn’t exposed to harsh chemicals is truly wonderful. Not to mention the therapeutic benefits essential oils can bring!

I have used Young Living Oils in all of my recipes. Young Living Oils (in my opinion) are the best quality you can buy and beyond organic grade. Unfortunately, not all oils are created equally – be very careful with anything from chemists or health food shops as there is no regulation regarding essential oil purity in Australia.


If any of the above seemed doable for you, why not work toward a complete ditch and switch!?


Start swapping out areas of the home that you wish were less toxic, starting with your cleaning and personal care. Do yourself a favour and firstly go read the back of a bottle in your bathroom and google some of those ingredients, then watch the Netflix Doco called ‘Stink’. Every healthy swap you make is a whole lot of chemicals you’re not exposing yourself to or washing into our waterways.


I would love to connect and share this journey together, answer any questions or expand on any topics. As fellow Military spouses, we all get it and have the same issues! Please come say hello over on Instagram at @_everydayearth




* Emma is a Defence Spouse and Mama who is passionate about Low Tox Living, a huge Animal Lover (take a peek at her Insta feed) and all-round decent human just trying to make a difference. I have followed Emma on Instagram for a few years and it has been so awesome to see her step into being a Defence Spouse, all of her work with Animals, become a new Mum and now sharing even more about her passion for making the world a better place. Stay tuned for more practical tips and easy tricks to step toward natural living.