How to Build a Homemade Cleaning Kit
Have you been trying to buy less toxic cleaners but finding them exorbitantly expensive? Do you also feel you are increasing waste by buying cleaning products in throw-away plastic bottles over and over again?
Then, this cleaning kit is for you. It allows you to clean with the least toxic ingredients and save money and create less waste. This kit is designed to be used over and over again. When the bottles are empty, just refill with chemicals that can be easily found in the stores you already shop at - your supermarket, hardware, and health food store.
When you run out of the biodegradable soap, go to your health food store and fill up with your favorite kind. When you run out of the baking soda, vinegar, and oil, buy a large container of these products at your supermarket. Of course, you buy the sponge, scourer, scrub brush, and any other items when they need to be replaced.
Now, all that there is left for you to do is to learn howto clean not-so-toxically. It is a new way of cleaning, but is very simple once you have tried it and have committed yourself to saving the Earth from not only toxic chemicals but also from alot! of chemicals.
The following directions will explain how to make and clean with the kit.
A list of the kit's contents
- Baking soda
- Pumice stone or pumice powder
- Dust cloth
- Scouring pad
- Scrub brush
How to make the kit
To construct the kit, first you must find a receptacle to put the bottles in. I use a straw basket that was designed to be used as a receptacle for utensils and napkins. It has a partition down the middle and on one side there are three separations. I like this basket because the bottles stay upright, you can locate them easily, and it's pretty. Of course, you can use anything you want....a plastic janitorial tray or a bucket.
Next, you need three plastic bottles with pour-out lids for the liquids: the soap, vinegar and oil. Get two 16 ounce bottles for the soap and vinegar and an 8 ounce one for the oil. You could recycle your shampoo bottles or find new ones at discount , hardware, drug, or health food stores.
Next , you will need two tins for the baking soda and borax. You can recycle large spice jars or tea tins and poke holes in the lid; or you can find empty containers with lids at kitchen supply houses and discount stores. (It has been impossible for me to find tins at these stores that were small enough to fit in the utensil and napkin basket I use. I use recycledThe Republic of Tea tins.)
Last, but not least, you need the tools that make nontoxic cleaning possible. Buy a duster, sponge (the kind with green or white on the back), scouring pad such as steel wool or stainless steel, and a scrub brush. If you have alkaline build-up such as rust or lime, buy a pumice stone. Where to buy these tools and more about them will be explained in the next section.
How to buy cleaning supplies
1. SOAP: Use the soap for all basic cleaning....cleaning counters, appliances, stains off of cabinets, floors, toilet, bath, etc. You can use any biodegradable soap of your choice. (If you don't know much about biodegradable soaps, please see my booklet for more information.) Many biodegradable soaps can be purchased in bulk at health food stores. You just bring your kit's empty soap bottle and fill her up. No waste and cheaper.
2. BAKING SODA: Use baking soda as your scouring powder and deodorizer. When you see marks in sink, counters, walls, sprinkle some on and rub with green back sponge. If something needs to be deodorized shake on and scrub in with a sponge. Rinse well. Sometimes you will want to use baking soda in conjunction with soap.....i.e. while scrubbing bath with soap, water, and green back sponge, you see the grime is not coming off so you sprinkle on some baking soda and scrub some more.
When you run out of the baking soda,fill it up from a large, inexpensive box that you can find at your supermarket or large chain store.
3. PUMICE STONE AND/OR PUMICE POWDER: Pumice is a fine abrasive volcanic mineral. It can be found as powder or in a stone. I would recommend the stone over the powder because the baking soda will suffice as a scouring powder and pumice powder can stratch. But if you are a perfectionist and hate alkaline deposits around your faucets, then you might like to get it. Use it as your 2nd abrasive powder when baking soda will not work. Specifically, it works well with stains, marks, alkaline deposits in porcelain sinks, bathtubs and showers. Just sprinkle and scrub with sponge. It works well on hard water deposits around faucets and toilets, but if the deposit has been on too long, you need the pumice stone for toilets. The pumice stone can be found in many supermarkets and most hardware stores. The powder is in hardware stores.
4. VINEGAR: Vinegar has many household uses: window cleaner, furniture polish, floor cleaner, water deposit and soap remover, etc. Specifically how to use it will be addressed in the LET'S GET CLEANING SECTION. Buy the large cheap container of vinegar you find in your supermarket or large outlet store.
5. BORAX: Borax is a mineral salt called sodium borate. It is a water softener, disinfectant, stain remover and general purpose cleaner, I use it mainly to clean mold and as a disinfectant. You can buy a box of it in your supermarket in the laundry section. See LET'S GET CLEANING SECTION for more directions on how to use borax.
6. OIL: The oil in this kit is almond, but you can use any vegetable oil you happen to find in your kitchen. Olive oil is used in alot of old time recipes, although I prefer almond oil - don't ask me why! You can guess what people used to use on their furniture before petroleum distillates? Yes, just the oil. You can put some on a clean, old cloth and wipe down your cabinets and wood. Add some drops of vinegar if the wood is dirty. I usually do not add vinegar because I am truly lazy and clean my woodwork as a part of my regular cleaning. When it has spots on it, I clean it with my vegetable -oil-based soap and dry right away.
You can take your empty bottle to fill it up at some health food stores and herbal stores that carry bulk oil, or you can steal some from the cooking oil you have at home. Keep that oily cloth right on your kit for more use later.
7. SCRUB SPONGE: Your scrub sponge is what makes not-so-toxic cleaning possible. Tools are important in all endeavors, just as they are in cleaning. Be sure to watch to not scratch things....this is learned through practice. Rub lightly first! In most of my cleaning I use those lovely little green back sponges....have not found anything more ecological yet but the fiber side makes cleaning with less chemicals possible. I use them til they are falling apart so there is not much left to go in the trash! These sponges are expensive, but you can buy large quantities for reasonable prices at your large chain stores.
8. STEEL WOOL: Some things just will not come clean without steel wool....burned cooking pans, stove top parts, oven and oven racks. Use steel wool when all other parts of kit fail. I just use soap and steel wool usually, but sometimes I have to add a scouring powder. PLAIN steel wool can be found sometimes in supermarkets and always in hardware stores. Do not use steel wool that has soap in it...not the best of ingredients. Another substitute for steel wool could be a stainless steel or copper coil, although they can stratch easier. They can be found in your supermarket.
9. SCRUB BRUSH: Use the scrub brush when your floor still looks dirty after cleaning with a mop. Use to scrub down tiled showers when they are extra dirty. I use nylon scrub brushes because they last so long ;but they do have natural bristle kinds. Buy in supermarkets and large chain variety stores.
10. DUST CLOTH: Dust with this dust cloth. You can add a bit of water or oil to keep dust from flying. Replace with old cloth rags you keep around the house for cleaning. The best rags are cotton.
11. DUSTER: There are many different types of dusters. I use a non-feather, non-allergenic polyester duster. Its electrostatic action attracts and holds fine dust and dirt. In order for a duster to work you need to dust often otherwise the dust is too thick to sweep away. Usually, I use a duster instead of a cloth because it is so much faster.
Let's get cleaning
Remember first and last, the theory of not-so-toxic cleaning is that anything could be toxic in the wrong proportion and in the wrong place. Remember to use the kit's ingredients as little as possible. Clean with Nature means clean with water and abrasion and a bit of soap when really needed. (Of course don't beat yourself up when you have to use a more toxic commercial cleaner because the bathtub or oven has not been cleaned in five years. Just don't let it get that dirty again!
First, put on some nice hopping music...it helps you go fast and you can clean a medium sized house (we are talking large kitchen, dining room, 2-3 bedrooms, 2 -3 baths) in 3 hours. Reward yourself afterwards. You do this regularly once a month or twice a month and you will really have a clean house.
Cleaning the kitchen
Let's take our kit and start in the kitchen. It's a great place to start because it is usually the dirtiest and when your done with it, everything else looks easy.
Fill up the sink with hot water and squeeze some of the biodegradable soap in. You do not want alot because you do not want to have to rinse surfaces later because you put too much soap in...a half second squirt will do! Wet your sponge and start in one direction from the sink and clean until back to sink. Start with counters and above..... that includes window parts you can reach, all counters, appliances, fronts of oven or other built in applicance. Start wiping counter, see appliance, wipe dirty parts, see window, get low spots, keep sweeping, visually right to left or left to right. from counter to window (or lower wall). Dry with towel as needed. Next, do surfaces lower then counter if they are dirty. Sometimes you will only need to clean front of dishwasher or few spots on cabinets. Just visually go in same circle - do just what looks dirty.
Aha, you are done....oops did you check spots in your oven?....squeeze some sponge droppings on and come back later to wipe up....may have to use steel wool. Hopefully, you have the best invention in the world....a self cleaning oven.....this is one place I will say energy is wasted but with so so much meaning because nothing is harder to clean, and may have to be cleaned with TOXIC chemicals or takes as long with not-so-toxic ones as a terribly dirty oven, If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, then you best check and clean that oven as soon as it's got some leavings---just use soap and water; leave to sit a while, come back and scrub with scrubber or steel wool if needed. Add your scouring powders if needed. If your oven is impossible, don't clean this time. Clean someday all by itself. Follow directions in my booklet or make up your own. What ya need? Soap, scourer , water, time and abrasive!
WOW, do you feel good. Look at that kitchen. But don't look at the floor. All floors are done at once, later. No lost steps, no running back and forth, keep going forth.....the fun part is here....you can even make those forgotten but important short phone calls while you dust or you can dance your way around the room with music. Get out your trusty dust cloth or duster. Of course, a duster works quicker but a dust cloth works better. A duster works great if you clean often enough so that the dust hasn't become grime. If it's grime you need a dust cloth! That's why it's so important to clean at least once a month so cleaning is much quicker. I would recommend you buying a duster.....they can cut your cleaning by at least a half hour, but some people don't like them because they say they just move dust around. Well, if you dust before vacuuming, that's OK...because dust ends up on the floor in time if you dust it there; but if your allergic to dust, then use a damp dust cloth or research other methods used specifically for allergens.
Dust what ever is next to the kitchen.....dining room, then living room, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. Just sweep around the house with whatever is next. Dust from top to bottom, get the pictures, lamps, top of fireplace, tops of cabinets, cabinets, etc. This is a great time to have flitty music because you can really flit dusting from place to place; it can be a dance. Make it one!
Was that quick or what! Now, you have two choices to finish up. Do you want to do those yuccky bathrooms or would you rather vacuum first? It depends on your mood.....if you are down, pick vacuuming.....then you will feel up when it comes to the bathrooms because you'll know you are about done. Sometimes, if your really trudging, you might want to do one bathroom, then vacuum, then the other. If you only have one bathroom aren't you the lucky one?
Cleaning the bathroom
Bring your kit in here and get to work. Look in the mirror and say, "This is really important work.....I am helping the Earth be clean by cleaning often so I don't have to use harmful chemicals" Yeh! Start with the sinks and counters, clean what's dirty, which usually means everything because this place is hairy! Take your soap and put a bit in the sink, turn on the faucet and let the sink get wet, clean it, then clean counter and objects that look dirty or dusty. As you go, check mirror for smudges and get with sponge, wipe with cloth.
Bummer, it's time for the shower or bath or both.....hopefully, you don't have one of those huge ones. Depending on how dirty it is, clean what looks like it has soap or alkaline deposits on it...if the sides look clean, don't clean it; if they do, put a few drops of soap on your sponge, turn on the shower or faucet, wet some of it down, and start scrubbing from one side to the other. If scum is still there sprinkle some baking soda on...it's a good scouring powder. Do the faucets, then do the floor.
Extra dirty showers
If it doesn't seem to be coming off, then get a small bowl, fill it with hot water, add a squirt of soap, and scrub shower with your scrub brush. Add baking soda or pumice powder.
Alkaline deposits on shower door
Get your vinegar out and squirt some on the door, rub with the sponge or steel wool if sponge doesn't get it. Rinse and wipe. In time, hopefully it will come off if it hasn't been on too long.
If there is mold, add some borax (some sprinkles will do) to the bowl. Borax is a disinfectant and will kill it. Scrub with scrub brush. If the next day, you see still alot of mold, pick another time to deal with it. Maybe someday when your showering, make a paste of borax and water....put a bit of water in a bowl, then sprinkle in some borax until it's a paste. The amount of water and borax depends on how much mold you have. Experiment. Then put paste on with hands or toothbrush just where the mold is. Do this right after your done showering, let the paste stay there at least a day or as long as the next time you shower. If will be as hard as a rock, but with hot water it comes off. This really gets the mold, unless it's under the material.
Next, is the horrid toilet. But it is yours, so you should clean it. Lucky for you, I've figured a way not to touch it. Now I don't really think you have to worry about this for your own household, but these days considering the stupid stuff we're doing, anything's possible. I worry about it because I clean other people's houses and have developed this method because of that. Whether you want to do this antiseptic method is up to you. It took me many years to feel OK with wasting toilet paper, but this is the only time I use paper products.
Enough talking, we're going to have to clean the stupid thing. I think it is so gross to us because the water toilet symbolizes grossness....putting our excrement in water! Yee, gads, how gross! So if your one of the lucky ones with a compost toilet, I guess you can still listen to some of these directions, and I commend you on your ecological behavior. You get a star.
Use a bit of toilet paper to lift up the lid . Throw it in the toilet. Get the scrub brush, put a bit of soap on it and scrub the bowl everywhere, don't forget the sides you can't see. Put a bit of soap on toilet paper, paper towels, or your old rags, wipe the areas that are cleaner first, then dirty parts, use as many new towels as you think you need, dry with paper or cloth.
If there is a ring, try to eliminate with your pumice powder. Put some on your brush and in the bowl, and scrub with the brush. If it is a light ring. it should come off. If it doesn't, buy a pumice stone at your hardware or supermarket store and next time you clean, wet the stone and rub on the stain. You will not have to do this lovely step (putting your hand in the toilet) if you clean often and get the stain when it just forms!
This is the time, when I really feel good, I'm about done and the awful bathroom is done! Hopefully, you don't have two, but if you do, repeat. If you really feel tired of bathrooms, vacuum, and then come back and finish the 2nd one.
Get your vacuum. Hopefully, it's a great one because this tool is cool if it's good, and not cool if it isn't. It's hard to find a good vacuum these days. I can't believe how many new vacuums I have used that some part just falls apart....it's depressing. If you need to get a new one, I would recommend finding an intelligent, honest vacuum store that sells refurbished ones....the older models were made better. I like the kind that is a canister model that has two heads, one for wood and linoleum floors, and one for carpets. The uprights just don't do corners.
I usually start back at the beginning with kitchen floor. So I put on the brush attachment and vacuum the kitchen and any other floors other than carpet. Then I go back and do the carpets. Now, this may be backtracking, but I hate changing the head of the vacuum back and forth as I go from flat to carpet. You may want to do that, though if that is not a bother for you.
Sometimes I will just broom the bathrooms since their so small instead of vacuuming them. Depends on my mood. If I decide to do this method, after I have finished vacuuming the kitchen, I put the carpet attachment on, and carpet away and when I come to a bathroom, I stop the vac before the bathroom, broom the bathroom leavings on to the carpet, then vacuum up the dirt and continue on my way.
We are at the end. Get ready to play soon. It's so much funner with a beautiful house. Empty the sink and fill up with fresh very hot water. Add some soap. Get your mop....string mops still work best and their made out of cotton. I get the ones that you can keep on getting a new head. But whatever works for you is OK by me. Mop all the floors that need it. If you keep your floor fairly clean and you like shine, instead of using soap, just use 1/2 cup of vinegar...especially great on linoleum. (Or you can rinse your floor after using soap with a vinegar rinse...most people are too lazy for that.)Many people seem to worry about putting water on wood floors, but if you use a basic soap like what is in the kit ...it is very mild and is OK on wood...it's not a harsh detergent....Just be sure to dry with a towel if you have put too much water on. You know Murphy's Wood soap is just an old style basic soap with a few added ingredients such as preservative and fragrance.
Last but not least is cleaning the sink. Let out the dirty water. Clean sink with soap, if marks add baking soda or pumice powder. If there's alkaline deposits around the faucets use the pumice. You are now finished. Reward yourself. It looks wonderful!