Safer Homemade Cleaning Products
Save Money and Make Your Own
In a previous hub I talked about ways to save money at the grocery store, and one of the tips I suggested was to make your own cleaning products. It's a lot easier than it sounds. Most cleaning products out there are made from fairly simple ingredients, with perfumes and dyes added to make them smell and look nice. But do you really need all that perfume and dye? Not really. It doesn't add anything to the cleaning capabilities of the products you use, and for some, it can do more harm than good. Many people are very sensitive to certain perfumes and dyes, and they can even be harmful.
A lot of attention has been brought to the harmful affects of many cleaning products, as well. Many cleaning products contain chemicals that are damaging to the environment and to drinking water, or can be harmful to your family. If you live in an area where you have city water; that water comes from a treatment plant. Everything you flush down the toilet, or dump down the drain ends up there, and traces of that end up in your drinking water. That includes pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents, and so many other things. If you make your own cleaning products, you know exactly what you are using, and whether or not it is safe to use. There is no need to read labels with strange ingredients that you can't even pronounce. Most of these ideas are very simple, and do a great job.
I use only a a few different items to clean my house. Of course, these few things don't tackle every job in the house, but they do cover most of it. I hope these tips will be of use to you and that they do help you save some money.
What I Use
I use ammonia for so many different things around the house. It is very cheap. You can buy a big jug of it for only a few dollars. I do recommend that you buy plain ammonia. There are sudsing varieties of ammonia, and while the sudsing ammonia is great for certain tasks, the plain ammonia is better for most applications.
Ammonia makes a great all-purpose cleaner as well as a great glass cleaner. Most brand name all-purpose cleaners and glass cleaners are ammonia based. That's why they have a warning on the label warning you to not mix the product with bleach. You NEVER want to mix ammonia and bleach. It can create a toxic gas that can make you very sick!
I mix ammonia with different other ingredients depending on the job, and recipes will follow for several different cleaning solutions.
I love vinegar as a cleaner. I know what you are all thinking..."Vinegar? Yuck!! Won't it make my house smell??" Not really. The odor dissipates as it dries. It does tend to stink up the house when I use it to clean my coffee maker, but that's because it's heated, and the vapors are released into the air. I generally clean the coffee maker on a day I can have the windows open. For general use, it doesn't make your house smell. It is actually a great deodorizer. Vinegar is very useful and versatile. It cuts residue left by detergents, so it's great for cutting through soap scum, it gets rid of lime deposites, unclogs shower heads, and as I mentioned, it's great for cleaning your coffee maker. Vinegar is another one of those things you can buy in a large quantity for just a little money, and it does so much, it's well worth the money.
We all know the deodorizing wonders of baking soda, as well as the many uses for the product, from cleaning your teeth to baking. Baking soda is a wonder product! I always keep a few boxes around for all sorts of reasons. I keep a box in the fridge to absorb odors, and when it has been in there a while, it gets replaced with a new box. The old box then becomes a cleaning supply. I try to make as many things as I can pull double duty. It works great at removing stains and odors and is a great alternative to carpet deodorizing powders that can be a little overpriced for what they do. Of course, it also does wonders for stinky shoes!! Just sprinkle a little in the offensive footwear, let it sit for a bit, dump out the excess and vacuum the rest out of the shoes!
Also known as rubbing alcohol. We have all been to the doctor or the hospital and have seen them wipe our arms with rubbing alcohol before giving us a shot or putting in an IV. That is because rubbing alcohol is an amazing disinfectant. It kills germs that normal name brand disinfectants can't kill. Working in a hospital, I know the power of this one little product. I carry a bottle of a disinfectant that is basically just isoprophyl alcohol with me everywhere I go. Rubbing alcohol is great for cleaning stainless steel surfaces, as well. It gets rid of those oily fingerprints and smudges. It dries very quickly, so it's great for cleaning things that shouldn't remain wet, like electronics. It is also great at removing sticky residues from stickers, tape, etc.
Lemon juice seems like a strange thing to use as a cleaning product, but it's really not. Think about all the lemon scented cleaning products out there. Why are they only lemon scented when they could be making use of the cleaning power of lemon juice? Who knows. I guess lemon smells good, and it does. This really is one of the best smelling products to use, though. I love the fresh, clean smell of lemon. and try to incorporate it into other mixtures to add a nice scent. Lemon juice is great at dissolving dirt and killing bacteria. I use it to clean my wooden cutting boards. It does an amazing job, and kills any bacteria from meat, poultry or fish that I had recently had on the cutting board, and kills the odor of whatever I had been cutting on the cutting board previously. This is especially helpful if you have been cutting onions or fish! It also helps dissolve lime scale buildup.
This is another medical type product that makes a great cleaner. Again, peroxide is a great disinfectant. Just think about the last time you used peroxide on a cut. Remember the tingling and the bubbles? Peroxide is another product that does double duty, and sometimes triple duty in my house. I use it on cuts, I use it with my mouthwash, and I use it to clean. I use peroxide to kill mold. It is a much better alternative to bleach, and works just as well without the harsh smell of bleach. Don't get me wrong, I do use bleach every now and then. It has it's uses, but the smell bothers me, and tends to leave me feeling somewhat sick to my stomach. Peroxide is also a great whitener! I can be used to clean grout, whiten clothes and teeth, and also lighten hair.
Cornstarch?? Yep! Cornstarch is great for absorbing oils. If you spill something greasy on your carpet, just sprinkle a little cornstarch and let it sit. It will absorb most of the oils from a fresh spill.
Salt is great as a scouring agent. It can be used to clean coffee makers. It works great at getting rid of those stains in your coffee pot. It can also be used along with baking soda to clean your oven. Salt is also great paired with lime juice to remove rust stains.
Borax sounds like some dangerous chemical, and it is to an extent. It is a natural mineral found in the earth. It is great as a cleaning product! It is a laundry booster, scouring agent, and so much more. A full list of its uses can be found on the back of the box. It is also helpful in killing ants. Just mix a little borax with a half cup of sugar, and a couple cups of warm water. The ants are attracted to the sugar, and are killed by the borax!
I have several recipes, or mixtures, or whatever for various cleaning jobs. Covering everything from general cleaning to cleaning that nasty dirty oven, I have a little something for almost all your cleaning needs. More will be added as I find them. Remember to label all spray bottles and solution bottles with what is in the solution and what it is for, to avoid mixing the wrong ingredients or using the wrong solution. You can either recycle old spray bottles or buy new ones. You can usually find spray bottles at a dollar store that even have a space to write on them.
All-purpose Cleaner 1:
3 Tbs ammonia
2 Cups Water
1 Tbs Clear laundry detergent
Mix ingredients in a spray bottle.
All-Purpose Cleaner 2:
equal parts vinegar and water
mixed in a spray bottle.
Glass Cleaner 1:
1 Cup rubbing alcohol
1 Cup Water
1 Tbs vinegar
Mix in spray bottle.
Glass Cleaner 2:
1 Cup Rubbing Alcohol
1 Cup Water
3 Tbs Ammonia
Mix in spray bottle
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
Mix together and put in small bottle. Apply to rag and wipe wood furniture
Lime Scale Remover:
Apply lemon juice to the lime scale deposits. Let it sit for about five minutes and then just wipe. It works pretty well, but sometimes you need to scrub a little. If scrubbing is needed, add a little more lemon juice and a little salt as a scouring agent.
Be careful with this one. Vinegar will destroy grout if it is left on too long, or if it is not rinsed properly. I only recommend this in extreme circumstances, and I do recommend resealing the grout after you do this.
Spray grout with vinegar. Let sit for a minute or two. Make a paste from baking soda and water. Scrub the grout with the paste. Make sure you rinse the floor very well to get rid of any baking soda and remove all the vinegar.
Soap Scum Remover:
Fill a spray bottle with 2 Cups warm vinegar and 1/2 Cup water. Spray area with the mixture. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the area. Be sure to rinse completely to remove baking soda residue and the vinegar.
Drain Cleaner and Deodorizer:
Sprinkle baking soda down your drain. Let sit for a minute and then pour down a cup of vinegar. It should eat through greasy deposits in your drain and kill any odors in your drain.
Also, lemon peel is great for killing garbage disposal odors. Simply put some lemon peel down the disposal and turn it on. Make sure to follow the guidelines for your disposal by having water running when you run the disposal.
Coffee Maker Cleaner:
To clean the entire coffee maker, pour 2 Cups vinegar into the water reservoir of your coffee maker. Fill to capacity with water. Run the coffee maker as you normally would. When the coffee maker has finished making your yummy hot vinegar, and your house smells like a warm salad, dump the mixture down the drain, and run plain water through the coffee maker to rinse.
To clean your coffee pot; sprinkle sea salt and water in your coffee pot, add ice and swirl around. The salt scours the sides of the coffee pot gently and removes the dark coffee stains from the pot.
Make a paste from:
3/4 Cup Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Salt
1/4 Cup Water
Adjust mixture as necessary. If it is too wet, add a little more baking soda and salt, if it is too dry, add just a little bit of water. Spread the paste over your oven and let it sit there overnight. The next day, scrape the mixture off with a spatula and wipe. Some stubborn spots may still remain. In that case, sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge and use it as you would most scouring products. I had a disaster in my oven involving a frozen pizza, and I used this method to clean up the mess. It worked great, but took two applications to really get the oven clean.
© 2010 Anna Marie Bowman
More by this Author
A funny look at the not so fun task of moving. I really do hate moving so much, yet I keep finding myself moving over and over again. This is a humorous piece on the "joys" of moving.
Spring cleaning is often a daunting task. I have compiled some tips and tricks to make it quicker and easier.
A list of some great, lesser-known horror movies. Some of the best horror movies are from smaller, independent studios that are willing to take risks.