I don’t love cleaning. OK, I kind of despise it. But what I always hated more was the idea that I was using chemicals in my home that were possibly damaging to my family and/or the environment. And the fumes just give me a headache.
So, years ago, I swapped out some of the cleaners I regularly bought for natural ones I mixed up at home. I used ingredients that could often be bought for a dollar or less… and were already in my cabinets anyway. Since then, there has been an explosion of natural cleaning brands on the market. Some are great, but they tend to be pricey. I find that my homemade cleaners work as well, if not better, than many of them.
I will admit that when I go too long between cleanings, sometimes there’s nothing like some strong chemicals to do the job. But if I keep on schedule, my homemade cleaners are fantastic! And I don’t feel guilty cleaning with my toddler around.
Here are a few recipes you can whip up for, literally, pennies.
A couple of caveats: Test a small area first to make sure your surfaces won’t be discolored or damaged. Also, if you start experimenting with cleaners at home, NEVER mix ammonia and bleach — the fumes that result can be lethal.
I use this for counters and other non-porous surfaces. I also use it as a spot remover on my linoleum kitchen floor.
3 parts water
1 part vinegar
a squirt of hand dishwashing liquid
(optional) a few drops of lemon juice, tea tree oil, or other essential oil
Shake ingredients together well in a spray bottle Spray surfaces and wipe off. On tough spots, let sit for a couple of minutes before wiping.
Linoleum or Tile Floor Cleaner
2 gallons hot water
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup vinegar
a squirt or two of hand dishwashing liquid
(optional) a few drops of pine oil or lemon juice
Mix well and mop. No need to rinse.
These methods were especially helpful when I left veggies to cook in a steamer pot, not realizing that all the water had boiled off. When I saw what I had done to the bottom of the pot, I was sure it was going to have to be thrown away. It was really bad. But after much scrubbing and these methods, I saved my pot and it looks just like new!
1) Make a thick paste of baking soda, salt, and water. Coat the burnt surface. Let sit overnight and scrub, scrub, again!
2) Boil a solution of 2 tbsp baking soda per quart of water in the pot or pan for several minutes.
Let stand until particles start to loosen and scrub.
3/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp corn starch
Mix and sprinkle into your carpet. Let it sit overnight and vacuum up the next day.
Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl. Add vinegar. Scour with a toilet
I also find castille soap (try Dr. Brommer’s) works really well — makes it nice and sparkly clean — and some varieties smell great, too!
Tip: Pour boiling water down your drains as often as you can to keep them clear of residue.
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
Pour baking soda down the drain. Add white vinegar. After five minutes, pour boiling water down the drain. Don’t use this method if you’ve already used other chemicals to clear the drain.
1/2 cup vinegar
Add to last rinse cycle of your wash in a top-loading machine. In a front loader, start with a few tablespoons and work your way up.
Clothing Stain Remover
(for stubborn stains on whites)
Wet stain with water or lemon juice and hang in direct sunlight.
Yes, this actually works! This was the only way I was able to get tough diaper blowout stains out of my son’s clothes when he was a baby.
Are you sensing a pattern here? Vinegar –disinfects and cleans. Baking Soda– deoderizes, cleans, and works as an abrasive. Together, they react and work wonders. Salt, lemon, essential oils, castille soap, hot water, sunlight…they’re all traditional cleaning methods. Experiment with these super cheap (or free) ingredients for all your cleaning needs!