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How to Make Homemade Cleaning Products

Posted By Jim On 04/30/2012 @ 7:10 am In Personal Finance | 28 Comments

Have you ever looked underneath your kitchen sink, or whoever you put your cleaning products, and marvel at all the bottles and containers you have there? I recently took a peek and went on a cleaning kick, trying to use as much of the stuff up as possible, and was amazed at how chemically some things smelled. My lovely wife is allergic to some artificial lemon scents so much of our stuff is absent any scent, which leaves our noses unprotected against the chemical smells.

And almost just as annoying was how many products we had. How is a glass cleaner different than a counter top spray? Do I really need all these products? I started to look online to see if there was a better way to do this and found a variety of recipes for all purpose cleaning products you can use in multiple scenarios. It was amazing how many products you can replace with the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Homemade Spray Cleaner Recipe

Vinegar appears to be the natural power cleaner superagent because it makes an appearance in many homemade cleaning product recipes regardless of the purpose. When you ferment ethanol using acetic acid bacteria, you create a liquid that is part acetic acid and water – that’s white vinegar. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, vinegar consumes odor, rather than just covering it up.

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

A mix of 50% water and 50% white vinegar is a popular homemade recipe for a spray cleaner and it can be used to clean any surface. By cutting the acetic acid in the vinegar by half, it’s mild enough to clean most household surfaces. It will also dry without odor. You can use this on countertops, your range, backsplash, bathroom surfaces, tile and grout. If you have particular persistent soap scum or other accumulations, you can use straight white vinegar, without cutting it with water, and/or you can heat up the mixture until it’s warm and use it that way. If you use undiluted white vinegar, be sure to use it only on non-porous surfaces such as the ceramic toilet bowl or bathtub. It’s acidic so it can damage porous surfaces if left there.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

Why is the glass cleaner different than the earlier homemaade cleaner recipe? It’s because glass is clear and you need a fast drying agent that won’t leave spots or other marks on the glass. For that purpose, you will replace white vinegar with rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl, and then add just a tablespoon of white vinegar for cleaning purposes.

  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T white vinegar

Homemade Scrubbing Cleanser Recipe

Baking soda is popular for removing persistent stains because of its a mild abrasive and has natural deodorizing properties, one of the reasons people put it in their refrigerators. There isn’t much of a recipe in this case, just that most places advise that you sprinkle it on a sponge when you’re trying to scrub away stains. Many recipes for the homemade spray cleaner also include baking soda.

Homemade Air Fresheners

I never had air fresheners growing up and Febreze scares me – I have no idea what’s in that stuff. Unfortunately, there isn’t you can make that you can spray but you can take steps to reduce odors in your home. You can put dishes of baking soda or vinegar around the house, before company comes over, to help eliminate odors. You can simmer a pot of vinegar in water (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water) to kill cooking smells, like fish. You can use vinegar and water on cutting boards and knives to help take down the smell, as well as using fresh ground coffee. Lastly, plants can consume smells, as can herbs and spices.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

One of the most frequently used products in our home is toilet bowl cleaner and we typically rely on Comet. You can easily replace Comet by using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (see a trend?) – quarter cup of baking soda with 1 cup vinegar into the bowl. let it sit, then scrub and rinse.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is a common topic on the interwebs, how to make your own laundry detergent [3], so I won’t rehash it much here. It’s basically 1 bar of Fels-Naptha, half cup of Borax powder, and 1 cup of Washing soda.

Homemade Drain Unclogger

Finally, and this happens a lot, the one product I really wanted was a drain unclogger – like a “Drain O” minus the gross chemicals in a product like that. The best solution we found was to remove the stopper and clean out whatever you could, then follow up by pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain followed by half cup of vinegar. The bubbling reaction can break down the clog and push it through. If that doesn’t work, do the same but block off the hole so the escaping gas has to push the gunk farther down. (then stop using bar soap at the sink, it has coagulants that creates the blockage problem in the first place)

The best part about all these recipes is that you’ve now made natural cleaning products without all the harsh, fancy named, chemicals that many of the commercial products use. All you really need now are a few spray bottles, containers, and ingredients for your very own homemade cleaning supplies.

(Photo: quirky [4])


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[3] how to make your own laundry detergent: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/homemade-laundry-soap-detergent.html

[4] quirky: http://www.flickr.com/photos/quirky/129678768/sizes/l/in/photostream/

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