And now we’ll continue the cleaning chit-chat with this handy little homemade cleaner breakdown. When we talked about getting even greener and experimenting with homemade cleaners in year three of YHL, an expert in that very area offered up a few of her favorite formulas.
And we jumped at the chance to learn how all natural and totally eco-friendly cleaning materials are easy and effective- and sometimes way cheaper than paying for the more toxic stuff that can hurt pets, kids, people in general and the planet at large. Here’s what Evan the all-knowing homemade cleaner girl passed along:
This has become an obsession for me. If you think of your home as a sanctuary you want it to be not only beautiful but safe for your health! Store bought chemicals and cleansers can not only be toxic, poisonous or cause other averse health effects (no wonder they have all those warnings and skull & crossbone images on them) but they can also be expensive, completely unregulated, bad for the environment and full of excess packaging that ends up in landfills every day. They often come with big bold warnings that say things like “danger”, “caution”, “corrosive”, “irritant”, and even “chronic health hazard” which by definition can mean anything from “chemicals that destroy tissue” (corrosive) to “causes sterility and birth defects” (chronic health hazard). And even those that just say “danger” or “caution” can be attached to warnings that say “may be fatal or cause blindness if swallowed” or “highly toxic, flammable, poisonous and corrosive.”
Well Evan, when you put it that way, the toxic store bought cleaners bearing those labels (which can commonly be found on everything from basic toilet bowl cleaners to oven and drain solutions) sound pretty terrible. Tell us more.
By contrast, some non-toxic and all natural ingredients like baking soda and vinegar are not only not corrosive, poisonous, or hazardous to your health in any way, they’re actually completely safe if ingested (after all they’re found in the kitchen and they’re 100% edible!).
- Baking Soda is a great naturally abrasive ingredient with mild alkaline properties, it’s also a natural deodorizer and stain remover, and it rinses easily, is completely non-toxic (no more dangers for kids and pets licking surfaces that you’ve cleaned) and it’s extremely affordable (you can grab a 12lb bag at Costco for next to nothing).
- Vinegar is an all natural and mild acid, it’s also a known disinfectant that can remove stains, sanitize, and it’s also completely non-toxic and inexpensive (you can also grab a giant jug of it at Costco for an extremely reasonable price). It should be noted that it shouldn’t be used on stone surfaces or acetate fabrics but there are many other natural cleaning methods that work for those surfaces.
- Hydrogen Peroxide is also non-toxic (learn more about it and it’s many uses here) and is known to be a natural bleaching agent with disinfectant and stain removing properties. It’s also extremely inexpensive (just $1 for three bottles at Walgreen’s).
- All Natural Tea Tree Oil And Grapefruit Oil (which have known antibacterial properties) And Lemon Juice (which naturally cuts grease and leaves a totally fresh scent) are also extremely helpful to have in your all-natural cleaning arsenal.
- Liquid Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, sold at Target, Trader Joe’s, etc) is a vegetable based soap as opposed to a petroleum based one, which makes it completely non-toxic so it can be used on your face and body but will also work well when it comes to cleaning your home. It’s not quite as inexpensive as baking soda or vinegar, but a large 32 oz containter is just $8.99 at Trader Joe’s.
But how do you put them all together? Here are some of Evan’s favorite all-natural homemade cleaning formulas:
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 2 tsp. borax
- ¼ tsp. liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
- hot water
All Purpose Liquid Cleaner:
- 1 gal. hot water
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- 2 tbsp. liquid soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
All Purpose Abrasive Cleaner:
- liquid soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
- 2 tbsp. baking soda
Mix to make a foamy paste.
- 2 tbs. baking soda in 1 qt warm water
Wipe down inside and out and rinse with a clean wet cloth.
- Dampen with water
- Sprinkle liberally with baking soda
Leave 20 minutes, then scrub until clean.
- ½ c. vinegar
- 2 c. water
Combine in microwave safe bowl, heat on high for 3-4 minutes, remove bowl and wipe down inside of microwave.
- 2 c. borax
- 2 c. baking soda
- 4 little packages of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid (or generic)
Mix together and store. You can substitute ½ c. of citric acid for the Kool-Aid but it’s harder to find.
Fruit and Vegetable Wash:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
- 20 drops grapefruit seed extract
Spray on produce, rinse after 5 minutes.
Fruit and Vegetable Wash #2:
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. baking soda
Spray on produce, wipe after 5 minutes.
- 1 c. baking soda first
- 1 c. white vinegar second
- 1 gallon boiling water
Allow to foam for 5 minutes before adding water.
Window, Glass and Chrome Cleaner:
- 5 parts water to 1 part white vinegar, OR
- 1 c. water, 1 c. vinegar, ½ tsp. castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
Toilet Bowl Cleaners:
- Liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
- Baking soda or borax
Scrub with a toilet brush.
Tub And Tile Cleaner:
- Apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe
- Scour with baking soda
Soft Scrub for Fixtures:
- ½ c. baking soda
- Castile soap
- 10 drops of antibacterial essential oil (optional)
Add enough castile soap until you have a frosting like consistency. Scrub, then rinse with water.
- 2 c. water
- 25 drops of tea tree oil
- 25 drops of lavender oil
Spray on tile and do not wipe off.
Mildew/Germ Killer 2:
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 1 part hydrogen peroxide
- 2 parts water
Spray, let sit. Rinse after 1 hour.
Wood Floor Cleaner:
- ¼ c. vinegar
- 1 gal. warm water
Mop or rag should be slightly damp for cleaning.
Linoleum Floor Cleaner:
- 1 c. vinegar
- 2 gal. warm water
Mop or rag can be fully wet for cleaning.
Carpet Stain Remover:
- 1 part borax
- 10 parts warm water
Combine in spray bottle. Spray on stain, wait 5 minutes, blot with clean rag.
Carpet Stain Remover:
- baking soda
Mix vinegar and baking soda into a paste. Gently work into stain with a toothbrush. Let dry then vacuum completely.
- Baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
Mix together then sprinkle generously on carpet, wait 15 minutes and vacuum.
All-Purpose Carpet Cleaner:
After vacuuming first,
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 3 c. boiling water
Blot mixture onto nap of rug with a wet rag, Dry and air thoroughly. Vacuum.
- 2 parts water
- 1 part rubbing alcohol
- Essential oil
Mix in spray bottle, don’t spray on silks or delicates. Experiment with how much oil to add, but start with 5 drops.
Air Freshener 2:
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 c. hot water
Mix in spray bottle, don’t spray on silks or delicates.
- Slightly dampened microfiber cloth
- ½ tsp. olive oil
- ¼ c. vinegar or lemon juice
Mix in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces.
- 1 part lemon juice
- 1 part vegetable oil
Rub into the scratches and polish.
- Sprinkle area with salt
- Squeeze lime onto salt
Leave sit for 2-3 hours, then scrub w/ lime rind (or try Almost-Doctor Dan’s method).
Metal Polish (copper and brass):
- 2 tbsp. salt
Add vinegar until you make a paste. Rub on metal with a clean rag. Wipe clean.
Powdered Laundry Detergent:
- 1 c. grated Fels Naptha soap
- ½ c. washing soda
- ½ c. borax
For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.
Liquid Laundry Detergent:
- 3 pints water
- 1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated
- ½ c. washing soda
- ½ c. borax
- 2 gallon bucket
- 1 quart hot water
Mix soap in saucepan with 3 pints of water. Heat on low until dissolved. Stir in soda and borax until thickened. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to bucket, then soap mixture, mix well. Fill rest of bucket with hot water, mix and let sit for 24 hours. Use ½ c. per laundry load.
Laundry Pre-treatment (*do NOT use with bleach, since ammonia + bleach can create dangerous fumes):
- ½ c. ammonia
- ½ c. white vinegar
- ¼ c. baking soda
- 2 tbsp. liquid soap or laundry detergent
- 2 quarts water
Mix in spray bottle. Spray spot.
Laundry Pre-treatment 2:
- 1 tsp. liquid laundry detergent
- 2 tbsp. ammonia
- 1 pt. warm water
Mix in spray bottle. Spray spot, let sit for 20 minutes.
Add ½ – 1 c. vinegar to your softener dispenser
Bleach Alternative (Laundry):
- ¼ c. hydrogen peroxide
But wait, Evan has even more ideas to keep things green and clean around your casa:
- Run your dishwasher late at night without a heat-dry setting and let things air dry overnight instead
- Replace sponges with washable and reusable items like microfiber cloths and dishrags
- Premix large batches of cleaning formulas so they’re always on hand and you’re never tempted to buy store stuff again
- Set your washer to cold/cold for the most eco laundry you can get
- Have people take off their shoes when they enter the house and wipe down the shower after each use (these preventative methods will really keep the house cleaner and cut down on your work)
And just because she’s such a pro, Evan even included her resources so you can learn more or see where she got her facts. Gotta love a girl who’s so thoroughAND considerate:Consumer Reports, Nat’l Geographic, The Green Guide, Do It Green, Frugal Living, The Vinegar Institute, EarthEasy, Coyne and Kutzen “The Urban Homestead”
But what about you guys? Do you see any favorite homemade formulas above? Any others to add to the mix? We always love a good DIY project, so homemade cleaning supplies are right up our alley. And we’re itching to know what you’re whipping up in your neck of the woods. Do tell.
Psst- Wanna know where we got something in our house or what paint color we used? Just click on this button:
Awesome post! Very helpful! Can’t wait to try a few out at home. Thank you!
Heather H says
Great Post!! Love it and I am hoping to try many of these out soon.
Wow! So many recipes it was almost overwhelming. I can’t wait to use up my old things and start using these though. Healthier and cheaper sound like the best way to go to me!
I use baking soda on my stainless steel kitchen sink at least once a week. I just sprinkle it all over and scrub it with a wet sponge and wipe clean….it makes it sparkle like new! So easy and cheap!
We only use ‘chemical-free’, but our arsenal consists of just a spray bottle of vinegar, a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a box of baking soda. I’ve never needed to mix up a specific amount of anything for a certain spot in my home. I either sprinkle on the baking soda or spray with the vinegar, wipe it down (mop it up, whatever!) then disinfect with a spray of hydrogen peroxide. I’ve never had any problem with it, even on granite. I purchased some tea tree oil, but haven’t ever figured out how to use it, or to handle the smell!
I guess I should add that we do purchase 7th Generation dishwasher detergent (borax is listed above in ‘recipe’ for it, but borax is not something I consider safe), liquid dish soap and laundry detergent…there’s no way I’m taking the time to boil my own, no matter how green it is!
There’s certainly no shame in adopting some homemade cleaning ideas and still using things like 7th Generation detergent and dish soap to supplement the entire clean-up process. That approach is definitely the one we plan to take, and you gotta love the convenience of buying some eco stuff along with learning how to whip up a few things of your own!
Dusting baking soda onto carpets is a great idea, and that technique could probably also be used for other things that may need deodorizing from time to time, like couches and other upholstered furniture. I haven’t tried it yet, but I read a while back that cheap vodka is a great multi-purpose cleaner. One thing I read: mix water to vodka 3:1, mist over stinky furniture, clothing, etc., let dry, and all offending odors should be gone (including any vodka smell)!
Thanks for the awesome post! When you mix these formulas above (for example the all purpose liquid and surface cleaners) is it OK to reuse an old Windex bottle, for example (washed out, rinsed) OR it is better to buy a new spray bottle just for the more eco-friendly products? Also, I recently bought some of the Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap (in almond scent – yummy!) and would like to begin using it for all things related to cleaning, washing hands, dishes, etc. I know that you mix this with some water before using it. How much water do you mix with it and where do you store the mixture for later use?
We just put our entire bottle of Dr. Bronner’s (we also love the almond scent) under the faucet from time to time and let some water run in so it’s a bit watered down (although using it without watering it down won’t have any ill effects). There’s definitely no science to it, but it really goes far when you stretch it that way. As for reusing a Windex bottle, I guess you could do that to save money but a new spray bottle is only about 80 cents at Home Depot or Target and you’re sure it’s chemical free so it might be worth the splurge!
I love this post! I’m always looking for ways to get toxic chemicals out of my house. I’ve seen the laundry detergent formula before (the one I read said you could substitute ivory soap for the Fels Naptha), but I was concerned about washing soda and borax. Are they safe??? Can they be used safely on children’s clothes?
Any chemists out there that could comment on Washing Soda and Borax???
All Natural!!Borax and Washing Soda!
Tracey Carsto says
I have eczema and have been using homemade detergent with vinegar for fabric softner for about 3 months with no ill effects. I would have no problem using this on baby clothes.
stephanie G says
Glad to see this post. I only clean with these soluns. I find they work way better than $$ products, and they’re very budget friendly! Baking powder to clean my kitchen sink is my fav! It’s a white ceramic and a little elbow grease the baking powder leaves it squeaky clean! In fact, baking powder works on the faucet head, too – metal! Go figure.
<3 you two!
GREAT POST!! I am so excited to learn of new ways to use my Dr. Bronners. We have made our own cleaning supplies for a few years and I always love hearing new recipes. I have an excellent recipe for a homemade daily shower spray (you know the kind you spray as soon as you get out so you never have to clean your shower) that I have been using that really keeps my shower sparkly. I am at work right now, but I can post that recipe later when I get home. I also have another recipe for laundry detergent I can post that doesn’t have any soap in it. We use cloth diapers an many of the homemade recipes I found don’t work well with those. I also found a homemade febreeze recipe that I love. I’ll get those posted as soon as I can. :)
Deffffffinitely share your shower spray recipe when you get a chance. We’re always excited to learn what works for people and your shower sounds all sparkly and fabulous!
This isn’t a product tip, but a cleaning tip: Before washing your microwave, put a cup of water in and microwave it for a minute or so. The evaporating water softens everything up and drastically reduces the amount of elbow grease needed.
Add lemon for an air freshener while you do it.
Thanks for the great list of “recipes” that you have listed! We did a similar post a little while ago (http://green-lemonade.com/the-green-clean) and I have been trying to incorporate some of these methods into my cleaning rourtine. We love Dr. Bronners and the baking soda + warm water worked wonders on the fridge. I have been saving old t-shirts to cut up for rags to use on the countertops instead of so many paper towels and have tried to cut out all the harsh chemicals like bleach! Thanks again!
Elaine K says
I just purchased microfiber sponges at the new Ross for Less on Midlothian Turnpike.(4 for $5 I think). Way more absorbent than a sponge and you can still santitize it in the dishwasher. With flu season here I’m hesitant to give up my Lysol wipes. Does Dr. Dan think the natural remedies kill as many germs?
Good question. Almost-Doctor Dan refuses to comment unless he’s 100% schooled on the subject of something, and since he hasn’t studied natural remedies or eco-friendly cleaning supplies at all he’s hesitant to weigh in. We have heard from many doctors, chemists and almost-doctors (in the comment section of this old post) that regular old soap and water cleaning methods eliminate germs like salmonella though (along with tea-tree oil and other natural disinfectants) so we hope that helps!
My doctor recently told me about all the wonderful properties of vinegar. It is really a better germ killer than Lysol or Clorox wipes. She recently moved to a new building and when the health inspector came to inspect , they told her to lose the Clorox wipes! She was shocked. But they explained that for Lysol or Clorox wipes to actually kill germs, the solution needs to sit on the surface ( without evaporating) for at least 2 minutes, or longer! People think that they are killing germs etc. I’m a teacher and during flu season, we wipe everything down like crazy. But the health inspector said we’d be better off wiping everything down with vinegar, or peroxide. Hope that helps!
Other cool things she told me about vinegar: it helps clear infections, or rashes, pour about two cups into a warm bath and soak. I was skeptical, but it has changes my life! I have very sensitive skin and I rash out from the weirdest things, and the vinegar soaks do better than and ointment or creams. This may be tmi but they also help kill yeast infections!
Also, vinegar is a natural bug repellant, so using it around the house keeps bugs away.
I am prone to sinus infections, and my doctor told me to put a couple teaspoons of vinegar in my humidifier to help kill germs, allergens in my house.
So many good tips! I love vinegar! Thanks for sharing!
Jenn H. says
I’m slowing working us towards more natural cleaning supplies. One question I have is this: what is a safe and all natural method for cleaning silver? I was gifted two gorgeous silver bowls by my grandmother at my wedding that she received on her wedding day. Sadly, they’ve tarnished. I’m hesitant to use a cleaner with toxic chemicals on the bowls because they’re sold old, but have had a hard time finding an all-natural silver polish recipe.
We googled around a bit and found this all-natural recipe for polishing silver. Seems like you can use Dr. Bronner’s for a totally chemical free shine:
1. Fill sink with warm water and mild dish detergent.
2. Hand wash each individual piece of silver.
3. Using a soft cotton dish towel, dry silver completely.
4. Dull silver can be buffed a little with a dry cotton cloth.
All these cleaning suggestions are almost right, but missing one important element. When using vinegar as a disinfectant on hard surfaces that will be touched or as a healing agent for the skin or for feminine douching use APPLE CIDAR VINEGAR. Apple has the safe, healthy, healing property that kills bacteria and endless other benefits. However, if cleaning clogged drains or other industrial type needs use WHITE vinegar with baking soda.
If removing tarnish from silver, place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of your basin before adding the water and baking soda, then place your silverware on top of the foil and allow it to sit there for a few minutes. The tarnish will roll off in long strings as you wipe the silver pieces with a sponge or cloth. The silver will require polishing once the tarnish is gone in order to regain its mirror-like shine, as it will be dull. Fine jewellery stores or upscale department stores that sell quality silverware often carry special mittens or cloths that are treated to buff and polish silverware, and to reduce tarnish presence. Helpful hint: eggs cause tarnish on fork tines and spoons when used to eat them. Eat your eggs with stainless steel instead. ;)
I put a coffee mug filled with water and some soap (i.e. like Dr. Bronner’s) in the microwave for a few minutes and it starts bubbling up/steaming/even flowing over the sides, and then it’s extremely easy to clean up any caked on, tough messes! Not that I like to let the microwave get that dirty, but you know… sometimes it happens.
Jeannine @ Small & Chic says
Thanks for such a comprehensive list!
This is something I started doing about 6 months ago. I make my own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent; essentially everything now. The savings are astronomical and I feel better about my approach.
Plus I get a little high in feeling like I’ve somehow beat the system.
Wow! Great post! Thanks so much!
I LOVE Fels Naptha soap – it is the best stain remover! Just get the clothes/other fabric wet on the place where there’s a stain, and scrub the bar of soap on the stain. Let it sit for a minute or two, then put it in the wash. We have a 4 month old baby and baby poop stains are the worst – nothing else seems to work on them. But we haven’t had any stains yet (despite lots of accidents…) because of Fels Naptha. It’s so cheap, too!
I’ve never actually tried it on anything but baby stains, but I’ve heard it works really well on grass stains, etc.
Thanks for the tips – I have been looking for greener ways to clean!
Thank you, thank you for the tip! Those pesky baby stains are drivin me nuts!
Fels Naptha (I get at Wal-Mart for 83 cents a bar) has many wonderful uses in addition to laundry stains. We own many rent houses and I use it to clean NASTY bathtubs, just get bar and green scrubby wet – rub scrubby on bar until foamy and scrub dirt, grime, and soap scum away. It is also a wonderful paint brush cleaner and keeps paint brushes soft and in great shape – saves a bunch of money not having to replace so often. For water based just rub brush on soap bar until lathered good then let sit for a few minutes and clean as usual. For oil based paints, clean brush with paint thinner first and then clean with fels naptha as you would a brush used for water based paints.
Farmer Mama says
Fels Naptha will even remove old stains. I wet the bar and rub it on the stain! Worked so well I use it one everything. Grape juice stains ect.
I wonder if I can use something “green” for my stainless steel fridge. I’m a little scared to use borax though, seems a little iffy for toxicity from what I’ve read before. Thanks for all the recipes and I hope to use them soon. We just bought a house and it needs a good deep cleaning!
Just use a moist microfiber cloth without anything on it! We heard from a number of people this morning on our other post that it’s perfect for keeping pesky fingerprints off stainless steel. Hope it helps!
Vinegar works really well on stainless. It gets all the little fingerprints and smudges off and doesn’t leave any streaks.
Dawn-Hydrangea Home says
I have been researching and using non-toxic home cleaners for a while now. I used to use Melaleuca (a membership company) but found it was getting a little expensive. I’ve also bought from Shaklee. Then I started making my own using many of the products you mentioned. But when recently reading up on this I found that our homemade recipes aren’t killing 99.9% of germs (needed to be considered a disinfectant by the EPA) and important to me with my kids, germs and flu season. So I did just find and ordered a natural disinfecting cleaner (with no warning labels-yay!). You can check it out here if you’re interested: http://www.benefect.com. I’ve been using it and I’m happy with it so far.
You must remember that all germs are not bad. There are many good ones that we need to be healthy. We have gotten germ phobia these days. We also need to be exposed to germs to keep our immune system working, or we get everything that comes along.
Just clean things and stop the worry about germs.
I use that drain technique all the time. It’s great for when your garbage disposal gets a little stinky.
Thanks for the great info. I can’t wait to try some of these. My favorite natural cleaning tip is for the microwave (similar to a couple other comments above). I put a mug filled with water and a few lemon slices in the microwave. Heat for a few minutes (until the water is about boiling). Leave it in the microwave (with the door shut) for a few more minutes to let the steam work. Then just wipe out the microwave with a rag. Everything comes off easily, and it smells lemony-clean.
My wife and I have been using vinegar and baking soda for a lot of our cleaning for a while. The only caution I have is to avoid heating vinegar in the microwave for any real length of time. We once put a small bowl (a few ounces) in to warm it up before cleaning something and it exploded (though nothing was broken).
The upside to that was it cleaned out the microwave.
LOVE this post….I’ve recently started using some of the same solutions at home that I found on the internet. Baby steps toward all homemade natural cleaners. Woo hoo!
this is an AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME post you guys! i haven’t come across such a complete list of recipes anywhere else before. and it is laid out so nicely that i feel like i can get to work on creating my new cleaning solutions asap! 3 gold stars for you!
and i also have one tip for people looking for an incredibly effective yet non-toxic and eco-friendly alternative to those clorox/lysol wipes. it’s called sol-u-guard by ecosense and is an all botanical disinfectant spray that kills 99.99% of bacteria (salmonella, staphyloccocus and even HIV!) it is all natural but effective enough to use in hospitals. good stuff!
I’ve used the vinegar and baking soda trick to clean drains for years. It’s much more effective than any store bought junk and it’s way more fun, too. All that bubbling and fizzing. Way more fun than Liquid Plumber. hehehe
I also have used vinegar and water to clean mirrors and windows.
Baking soda and peroxide are good at bleaching stained mugs. My tea and coffee mugs are notorious for getting stained. I sprinkle a little baking soda on the bottom, pour some peroxide over it (maybe add a little water, too), mix and let soak overnight. Wipe and rinse. Easy peasy.
Not sure if this was mentioned above- but for the microwave, we use a cup of water plus a few drops of vanilla extract (or orange extract if we’re feeling good ;) ). It steams the inside enough to make it easy to wipe down and leaves it smelling pretty too.
We started using Charlie’s Soap All Purpose Cleaner for nearly everything. I bought a gallon and then filled 3 spray bottles with different dilutions.
This list is fantastic! I will definitely be printing it out for future reference! I make a lot of my own cleaning supplies, but this is the most extensive list I’ve ever seen in one place.
I make my own liquid laundry detergent and LOVE it. It’s the same recipe as stated above, but I use 1 cup each of the borax and washing soda and 1 bar Fels Naptha and mix it in a 5 gallon bucket. It is SO, SO easy. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not.
I’m not a chemist, but from what I’ve read washing soda and borax are very safe. I could be wrong, but I think that washing soda is basically just baking soda heated to turn it into washing soda. As far as borax, I had to call poison control when my son was smaller because he had gotten into an ant trap thing which was liquid borax. The nurse assured me that it would not hurt him even if he ingested it and there was no action whatsoever that I needed to take. Of course, I’m not saying that you should ingest it! But merely relating my story. I have no qualms about using this laundry detergent to wash my children’s clothes.
This was wonderful! Aside from the green lesson, nobody ever taught me how to clean anything, so I’ve always sort of felt that I was doing it wrong and probably doing it the hardest way possibly or just ruining all the surfaces in my home. I’m going to put this post to immediate use. Thank you!
This is going to sound really crazy, but it totally works…
You can clean any metal by submerging it in vinegar (in a plastic bowl) and microwaving it! I know metal in the microwave sounds crazy… but it really works! My husband’s boss has been doing this since microwaves first came out. He swears that it doesn’t damage the microwave in anyway. I think it has something to do with the metal being submerged. It does smell like hot vinegar but it saves hours of work.
I have a (probably dumb) question. When the “recipe” calls for hot water, can you still make it ahead of time? Does the water just need to be hot for all the ingredients to mix together but you can clean with it when it is cold? Or for in order for it to clean to you need to clean it hot?
Good question! So good that we don’t know the answer. I guess you could try making it ahead of time just to see if it dies the job once it cools. Hope it helps!
This ‘recipe’ list is AMAZING. I essentially only use these things for cleaning (baking soda, vinegar, borax, Dr. Bronner’s), but sometimes knowing how to combine them most effectively is difficult.
[email protected] says
wow, this is an impressive list! very helpful. i’m sure i will reference it in the future.
on a side note, please let evan know that he is welcome at our home anytime. if he feels the urge to run around putting his natural homemade cleaners to use, that would be okay, too.
Jenny @ Making the Most of Money says
Holy cow – what a great post! We use vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, and lemon juice for cleaning already (though I still do use diluted bleach to clean up after eggs or chicken handling). But my favorite part was all those recipes – I can’t wait to try them out! Thanks :)
I’ve been wanting to try homemade laundry detergent for the longest, but CANNOT find “washing soda” in the Orlando area. If anyone has a source, please let me know. Thanks. : >
Nancy Arnold says
Our Walmart has Washing Soda…(WV)..it is usually on the very bottom shelf…also a lot of people cannot find Fels-Naptha soap…if you have an old-fashioned country store around…check it out..I found mine at an old (but updated) hardware store…probaly could order soap on line..I have not checked that out…good luck
As Nancy mentioned, Walmart does sell it. It looks a lot like the “regular” baking soda (Arm & Hammer) box, except it’s a yellow box instead of the orange one. And it’s always on the bottom shelf! Walmart also sells the Fels-Naptha soap. The problem in finding both items (and Borax) may be that the store is out of it. I usually buy 2 boxes of Borax & both A&H products and a couple bars of the soap at a time – when I can find it!! If you are confident that your WM doesn’t sell these products, talk to the department manager & ask them to. Chances are, you aren’t the only one looking for it!!
Washing soda is the chemical sodium carbonate, which is also known as soda ash. Soda ash is most commonly used to raise the pH in swimming pools because it is alkaline. Soda ash can be found at any store that sells pool supplies. Sometimes it will be marketed with a commercial name, so be sure to read the label to make sure the ingredient is soda ash. The soda ash used for swimming pools can be used as a substitute for washing soda with the same results.
Read more: Washing Soda Substitute | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/way_5393341_washing-soda-substitute.html#ixzz2H9Na2OBH
Wal-mart carries it in the laundry aisle..
My Grandmother always told me and still does, to dry out the tub/shower when I’m done – works wonders at keeping it clean. So glad to see this printed, people always think I’m OCD when I tell them that. And in the same line as take off your shoes, my other favorite!
My remodeling nightmare…I mean new home… I hope to keep obnoxiously clean – this article is great:)
This is my favorite post you’ve ever done! : ) I started cleaning with plain vinegar and baking soda recently, and I am going to print off this reference list to keep handy and mix up a few others as well!!
PS Thanks to everyone who is responding with other ideas and recipes in the comments too…I have only been doing natural cleaning for a month or so, and I really appreciate hearing from everyone that has been using it for awhile and can offer experienced tips and suggestions! Thanks!!
This is SO helpful, thank you so much! I’m going to take a day sometime soon to whip everything up.
What is washing soda, though? And Fels Naptha soap? Where can I buy them?
You can probably find them in any grocery store like Whole Foods or even Trader Joes. Does anyone want to chime in with where they have found theirs?
WalMart sells Arm and Hammer washing soda in the laundry products aisle. Might also find the Fels Naptha there,too.
I found mine at the grocery store with the laundry detergent.
Fabulous post! I’m going to print out this page and hang it in my laundry room.
This is a GREAT post!!! I’ve just started trying to use baking soda and vinegar in my normal cleaning regimine, but wasn’t aware of all of the applications and solutions and am anxious to try some of these out at home very soon. We already use microfiber cloths and cut up shirts/socks/sheets, etc for rags. I just have a specific question. We have some soft leather couches that have some various stains on them (don’t ask me what, they’ve been used by a bunch of guys for a few years before I came along). We just bought a new sectional to replace the set and have been hunting for a green and economical way to clean up the couches to get them ready for sale on Craigslist. Anybody have any ideas or suggestions or experience with this???
Beth from Ct says
Great recipes. I do have one question. Can you use the homemade laundry detergent in a front load washer? Since purchasing mine I have been buying the specialty detergent.
Thanks for the great information.
The homemade detergent is HE friendly. If you use the dry detergent, just put it directly in the tub. I would imagine the liquid is ok in the dispenser, but I haven’t made the liquid kind yet. I really like the dry.
Would it be possible to get this list in a 1 page “printer-friendly” format? (With maybe some cute graphics thrown in by the graphic artists?!?!?!) Just a thought!
This is a great list!
Carol from Indian Springs says
Wow, this info is great to have, thanks! I’ll be sure to get some empty bottles and containers to make up this ahead of time and label it (since DH does his share of the cleaning). Although the reason DH does some of the dirty work is because the chemicals mess with my asthma. Doesn’t look like I will have that excuse anymore!
Thanks so much for this list! I like using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide already but these recipes will make cleaning a lot more fun.
Not really a cleaning tip per se, but I just bought a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s pepppermint soap (smells so good) and put it in a new soap dispenser. Since it’s so concentrated, I filled the bottle about 1/4 with the soap then added water to completely fill the bottle. Perfect handsoap – and no added chemicals to dry out our hands as it gets colder (and we’re washing much longer and more often to keep yucky germs at bay).
The other thing – I just purchased a steam mop and am excited to use it on my shower, floors, toilets, counter tops (yes, I’m designating different mop head covers for the various tasks). :)
Great post!!! Does anyone know if it’s ok to use straight borax or baking soda to clean the toilet bowl or fiberglass tub? Will they scratch? I’ve used straight baking soda on my coffee/tea mugs and it works like a champ. Just mix a bit of baking soda and water in your mug and the brown stains come right off!
Robin Lebo says
I am a plumber and I will tell you those soft items will not harm your fixtures. If I could get half of the cleaning companies at major stores to do the same I would not have to replace so many sinks, toilets, mop sinks, etc.When those are scratched and dark it is because someone has been cleaning with harsh cleansers like comet. The baking soda and lemon juice will cut through the soap scum as well. Another hint: Wax your showers after cleaning with a beeswax or other natural wax and rub til shiny. It will bead up the water better and last between cleaning keeping the soap scum from sticking. Thanks, your local plumber.
When we moved into our house, there was some grease stuck on the stove (the area where the clock, knobs are). Not a lot, but it grossed me out. I tried EVERYTHING to get it off before I discovered this: Sprinkle borax on the cut side of a lemon and scrub away. It worked like a charm, so much so that my mother-in-law thought we’d bought a new stove.