Happy Earth day! I have had it in my mind for a while that I would like to do a post on making your own cleaners, and what better day to do it than on a day when we celebrate all the ways we can take better care of our Earth?
Some of the things I love about making my own cleaners is that my house doesn’t smell like chemicals, I don’t have to deal with bottles of stuff with warnings like “use in a well-ventilated area” or “may cause irritation if it comes in contact with skin,” and they’re cheap and easy to make! It’s a great way to save money, save the earth, and preserve your health, all at the same time! What more could you ask from a household cleaner??
There are really only two main ingredients in my cleaning cupboard and they are vinegar and baking soda. With those two items I can clean almost everything in the house (and I always have the ingredients on hand to create “erupting volcanoes” a fun science trick that never ceases to please the little ones in my life).
Plain vinegar is great for removing water stains from toilets (pour some in and soak overnight) and as a fabric softener in the laundry. It is also the main ingredient in two of my favourite cleaners. And don’t forget to save the empty bottles for making your own laundry soap!
Window and Glass Cleaner Combine 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the surface and wipe with newsprint. The trick to getting a streak-free shine is to continue to use dry pieces of paper (once the newsprint is saturated it will streak). I just keep folding the paper over on itself as I go to keep it from getting too wet.
All-Purpose Cleaner Combine 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Add 20 or 30 drops of eucalyptus oil. You could probably also use tea tree oil. I use this for general cleaning and disinfecting (counter tops, sink handles, light switches, door handles, toilets, the telephone, etc). I also use it with my Mr. Clean wet mop – when the cleaner that came with it ran out I just filled the bottle up with this instead and it works great!
Plain baking soda is great for scrubbing and scouring! I use it to clean sinks, tubs, toilets, the oven top and the fridge (it’s great for getting finger marks off the handles.) Simply sprinkle on, add a few drops of water, and scrub away with a cleaning cloth. Use steel wool instead of a cloth and you’ve got a fantastic oven cleaner (without the noxious fumes).
Salt is also a great cleaner and can really shine up a kitchen sink! I will also sometimes use a half a lemon to freshen things up too!
While we are talking about cleaners I should mention that I do not have paper towels in my house. (Correction, hubby has some which he hides away somewhere for his use only but I think in the whole 5 years we have been married he has only had to purchase them once or twice). Growing up with paper towels I didn’t really know what to do without them at first, but now I can’t remember what it is that I used to use them for! Instead of paper we bought a large pile of dishcloths that are used for cleaning only (they are a completely different kind and colour than the ones we use for dishes) and they are used for all sorts of household messes and tidy-up jobs.
These are my dusting cloths. The red pieces on top were cut from an old sweater and I have to say they are the best dust cloths I have ever owned (Swiffer would be jealous). I’m not sure what the sweater is made of (it’s definitely not wool) but if I ever see another one like it in a thrift store it’s mine! The cloth underneath is flannel (actually a piece of one of my baby blankets if you can believe it – that cloth is 31 years old and still in use!) which also works well for dusting and cleaning.
I will leave you with this photo which I took for hubby as a joke one day:
If you have any “green” cleaning tips or other recipes for simple homemade cleaners, I’d love to hear them!