Friday, November 24, 2017

Better Cleaners

One of the highest profit centers at any supermarket is the cleaning-supplies isle. Unfortunately, many of the products available in the market today are expensive and harmful to the environment (and sometimes also dangerous to humans and pets).

For quite sometime I have been using vinegar and baking soda as my only cleaning supplies, inspired by my friend Janet who is very wise in terms of cleaners and cosmetics.

Here are a few of the cleaning products we use at home:

Dish Washing Detergent

We wash dishes by hand because our dishwasher began to malfunction years ago and I refused to repair it or replace it. For a small family of three, washing a few dishes per day is not a big deal. This is a formula I came up based on things I learned from Janet:

  • 1 part inexpensive dish detergent (I buy the 26 or 32 Oz  $1 product at Dollar Tree)
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 2 parts water

Tip: using a large measuring cup, pour 2 cups of water, then 1 cup of vinegar and then 1 cup of detergent. This minimizes foaming. Stir gently and then pour slowly into a squirt bottle.

We use a little of the above mixture with a little baking soda and dishes come out clean every time.

Laundry Detergent

This one does not use vinegar, but here is my formula for a great laundry detergent:

  • 1 part Wash Soda (Arm & Hammer)
  • 1 part Borax (Twenty Mule brand)
  • 1 part Zote laundry flakes (or you can grate a bar of your favorite soap, but that is a lot of work and the Zote product works great and is very inexpensive; we find it at Walmart in the laundry aisle).

Use a small (1/3-cup) scoop per load. This is so inexpensive, gentle on your clothes and skin, and kind to the environment.

A side note: when you forget to dry a load of laundry and it sits in the wash for a day or more, the smell of mold can develop quickly. Re-wash your load adding 1/2 to 1 small bottle of ammonia. The bad odor will be gone. This is a very simple and inexpensive way to deal with this problem.

Dryer Static & Freshener

In the dryer, we use dryer balls to combat static and to infuse a nice fragrance to our clothes. You can search for "wool dryer balls" for a great pick of suppliers. Currently, Walmart has six of them for less than $10.

We put three balls in the dryer with every load and that takes care of all static build up. We often place a few drops of essential oils on the balls to also give our clothes a nice fragrance. For sheets I use lavender essential oil to assist with good sleep; other clothes I use peppermint oil to have a fresh smell.

Three of the wool balls will last several years before showing any sign of wear.

Wrinkle-release Spray

For many years I have depended on a commercial wrinkle-release spray for the rare times that a garment comes out wrinkled from the drier and I do not feel like iron it. I recently found a great homemade formula:

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 1 part water (distilled is preferred)
  • 14-20 drops of your favorite essential oil

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake mixture gently and use like any commercial product. Spray lightly on the garment and smooth out the wrinkles. No more ironing!

Bathtub / Shower / Sink Spray

One of the most-neglected jobs around our home is cleaning the shower/bathtub. Here is a "miracle" spray that makes cleaning the tub a breeze:

  • 1 part white vinegar (warm slightly in microwave to help with mixing)
  • 1 part dish washing soap 

Pour the above mixture into a spray or squirt bottle. Spray the mixture and allow it to soak on the tub/shower walls for 30-60 minutes, then rinse thoroughly, wiping any stubborn spots as needed. I use this once per week to prevent the tub from getting dirty. It also works great on sinks and any other surface.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

We spray white vinegar inside the toilet and then sprinkle a little baking soda all over the bowl surface. After a few minutes of soaking, a gentle brushing will leave the toilet completely clean.

Bleach Alternative

We all know that bleach is bad for the environment. Here is an alternative using natural products:

  • 12 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide

Mix the ingredients well and pour into a spray bottle to use as a household cleaner, or use two cups of the mixture per load of laundry.

Window/Mirror Cleaner

The following is an inexpensive solution for cleaning windows and mirrors:

  • 1/2 gallon of water
  • 1/2 cup of ammonia
  • 1 teaspoon of dish soap

Mix ingredients well and use in a spray bottle as you would any commercial product.

What do you use?

Do you have any homemade cleaning products you would like to share? Please leave a comment.