We first discovered grapefruit seed extract (GSE) sometime after we purchased a surge belly milker for our cow. There are a number of parts which need to be washed and sterilized on a daily basis, and we hated using diluted chlorine bleach in something that we used daily, no matter how thoroughly we rinsed. Doing a bit of internet research, I learned that Citricidal (grapefruit seed extract) was being introduced to the dairy industry for the sterilization of milking equipment precisely because it is non-toxic and requires no rinsing; in fact, it actually has many health benefits!
We have used the triple strength Pure Liquid Gold brand (diluted) for sterilizing our equipment for a couple of years now, and have also made use of it in various other ways:
- As a wash for wooden cutting boards and sinks;
- For spraying down the baby's highchair tray;
- In my homemade mouthwash (a little goes a long way here!);
- In my homemade fruit and vegetable wash;
- For spraying sippy cup valves and pacifiers;
- For spraying baby toys;
- As a treatment for stored emergency water (a drop or two in a gallon will prevent bacteria from breeding);
- As a toothbrush soak (although we usually use hydrogen peroxide for this purpose.
I have meant to keep a mini travel-type spray bottle in my diaper bag for spraying down restaurant high chairs, shopping cart handles (when no wipes are available) or even for spraying the kids' hands in a pinch. It can be used as an additive to almost any cleaning product (like liquid hand soap, for instance) without the toxic effects associated with Triclosan and Benzelthonium Chloride, the two most commonly used germicidal agents.
For personal use, it can be used as a spray or wash for cuts and scrapes, as a remedy for sore throats and for ear infections--just be sure to NEVER USE FULL STRENGTH.
It also can be used in the garden as a pesticide for soft-bodied critters like aphids and caterpillars, and as an antimicrobial/anti-fungal agent. And for pets and livestock, it can be used externally for bacterial and fungal problems and for skin parasites, and internally for internal parasites. It is good to add a few drops to the poultry waterers for this purpose.
Here is one of the most helpful sites when it comes to information on GSE. You can find the history of various studies, the many uses and proper dosages. Of particular interest to me was this page, Parent's Guide to GSE. If you are interested in where we get our GSE these days, it is here. It is not the triple strength mentioned above, but since we dilute it for everything anyway, we found that this worked out to be cheaper.
In an age when we are bombarded with chemicals we cannot avoid, it is good to know that there are natural products that do the trick and have no toxic side effects.