This week our green audit is cleaning supplies. We’ve already discussed the dangers of traditional, commercial cleaning supplies, so now we’re moving on to solutions. I will be going over some options available for purchase this week, but first we’re going to look at homemade cleaners.
Benefits of homemade cleaners:
- Less packaging waste. You’re not buying new bottles over and over.
- Less expensive. I actually started making homemade products before I was really all the way green – why? To save money.
- Less harmful (often not harmful at all) to humans, animals, and the earth.
- Less noxious home smell. Homemade natural cleaners always smell better than store bought. Well, except vinegar – but I have major vinegar issues. There are ways to mask the smell of vinegar though – not completely, but somewhat. Lavender essential oil and lemon juice both work some to hide the icky vinegar smell.
Here we go. Homemade cleaners, from basic recipes to a few that are more advanced…
1. Clogged sink and bathtub drains: prevent clogs altogether with the amazing drain trap. I’m shocked at how many people don’t use a drain trap. I got one at Home Depot for under two dollars – five years ago. If you have a sluggish drain, pour a cup of white vinegar plus one cup baking soda into the drain. Let that sit for a few minutes (it will bubble). Flush with a teapot full of boiling water. If you really have issues, use a snake or plunger. Drain cleaner is honestly something you should never have in your home – it’s hands down one of the more dangerous cleaning items.
2. Air freshening options: Light a natural candle, burn organic incense, boil orange peels and spices on your stove top, diffuse essential oils, open your windows, buy some air cleaning plants, use cedar blocks sprinkled with lavender in your closets, or make potpourri. Learn more:
3. Soap scum removal: Apply baking soda (it is non abrasive). Scrub with a damp cloth or sponge. I have an older bristle brush I use for icky scum – like when I go to long without cleaning (bad me). You can use Borax or vinegar too; but Borax can scratch. Vinegar can be applied directly, left to sit, and scrubbed down.
4. Small carpet stain: Two words – club soda!
5. Bigger tougher carpet stains: Sprinkle Fuller’s earth or cornstarch onto the spot. Allow it to sit for about 20-30 minutes. Scrub with one cup vinegar mixed with three cups water. If it really won’t come out try a natural soap based carpet cleaner.
6. Carpet deodorizer: Sprinkle baking soda around the room – my son thinks this is the most fun ever. Add some dried crushed lavender or basil. Wait about 1/2 hour. Vacuum.
7. Oven cleaning prevention: Don’t let spills sit. That’s the best cleaning procedure hand’s down. Clean the oven sooner rather than later. Line your oven bottom with foil to catch spills.
8. “Oh no, I didn’t follow the oven cleaning prevention tip above!”: Ok, if you have a hot spill, sprinkle it with salt. Mix some baking soda – I just toss maybe two tablespoons with into a cup, with some water to make a thin paste. Use an old toothbrush or bristle brush to scrub it down.
9. Everyday toilet cleaning: Sprinkle some baking soda and lemon juice into your toilet and walk away. Eventually you’ll want to return and scrub it with a toilet brush.
10. Bachelor pad toilet cleaning: No offense guys – I’ve seen my fair share of bachelor pads though. Spray vinegar around the bowl, sprinkle with baking soda, scrub.
11. Metal rust: Mix 2 tablespoons salt with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Apply and rub well.
12. Musty stuff: Say you have an old suitcase or truck that’s all musty, but you’d like to use it. Fill it with recycled crumpled newspaper let it sit for a week. The paper will absorb the smell (mostly) then, fill a mister bottle with water, add a few drops of tea tree oil, lightly spray the case and leave it open to dry.
13. Burnt food or fishy kitchen smells: Set aside a thrift store pie plate for times like these. Sprinkle the pan with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of orange essential oil – place in the warm oven, and let it sit as the oven cools.
14. Disinfectant all purpose cleaner: Mix a few drops of natural soap, 2 cups water, and 15 drops each of tea tree and lavender essential oil (you can use just the one oil- but 30 drops, I just like the mix). You can spray this on all surfaces, like cutting boards, counters, toilets, walls, (except it will streak glass). This stuff disinfects but is so safe you can actually spray it on your baby – you can’t say that about most commercial household cleaners.
15. Mold removal: Try not to let mold invade your home. You can prevent it – believe me I lived on the cold, foggy, always wet beach in Humboldt, you CAN prevent mold. Clean often with the disinfectant above and scrub down places that might develop mold with Borax once in a while. Borax will prevent mold and disinfect.
16. Basic furniture polish: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 3/4 cup olive oil OR mix 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/2 cup olive oil. Wipe down furniture with a soft cloth and the solution.
17. Herbal disinfectant: Choose one fresh herb – lavender, eucalyptus, juniper, sage, thyme, or rosemary. Simmer the leaves and stems for 30 minutes. You can use any amount of water, but the less you use the stronger the solution and disinfectant properties. Strain, pour liquid into bottle, and use on any surface but glass. If you add a dash of natural soap or biodegradable dish detergent it will cut grease.
18. Homemade herbal scouring pad: Horsetail stems are just like a scouring pad for pots and pans and won’t scratch. Simply rub a handful of dried (leafless) stems on the pots and pans. It will leave a bit of a green color – but that washes right off in water. Since you’re washing dishes anyhow it won’t be an issue.
19. Wood floor wax: Mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar. Apply a very thin coat and rub -you can simply stand on an old towel and sort of surf around the floor.
20. Window / glass cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with one gallon water – spray and wipe.
21. Glass cleaner that does not smell like gross old vinegar: Use straight up lemon juice or club soda. If you use club soda than newspaper is the best scrubber to use. If you use lemon juice than use an old less linty cloth.
22. Sink cleaner: Scrub with baking soda and water.
23: Microwave cleaning: Place a bowl of straight vinegar or a bowl of water with 15 drops tea tree oil in the microwave. heat for about 2 minutes. Microwave will steam itself and be easy to wipe out with a wet cloth. I don’t have a microwave, but I did this at my friend’s house and it worked.
25. All over home cleaning: Never underestimate good old hot water and some scrubbing. If you really want to get fancy add a few drops of natural soap, but honestly hot water will clean just about anything. Alone it won’t completely disinfect, but it does kill many germs and removes dust. Hot water is especially useful for basic floor mopping.
Whew, that should at least get you going.
What natural cleaning products do you make at home?