Ah, cleaning. An unavoidable consequence of life is the messes that come with it. You can spend any amount of money on fancy chemical-laden products that choke your lungs and pollute the waterways while making cleaning “easier” and “more effective”, but you don’t have to do it that way. There are lots of natural, cheap, and most importantly, EFFECTIVE ways for you to clean your home without chemicals. That being said, if someone has a nasty cold, I’m all about swabbing everything with a Clorox wipe, or if there’s a particularly gross mess, you may need some heavier duty cleaners. But for regular, everyday smell-good-iness and clean feelings, natural solutions are my preference. One of my favorite books about being self sufficient is Little House in the Suburbs, which has a whole chapter devoted to home made cleaners, including a brief lesson on the chemistry of cleaning, and how natural cleaners CAN clean as well as chemical ones, but conditionally. Check it out, it’s really informative!
Some products that factor in almost any green cleaner are borax, castille soap, baking soda, and plain white vinegar. Borax and baking soda can be used as scouring scrubs as is; I particularly like baking soda for pots and pans because it works like a charm and doesn’t scratch. I also like to use baking soda to scrub the counters, but note that you’ll have to wipe it REALLY good with some vinegar or just hot water, or there’ll be a film left over. Vinegar is great straight as a kitchen floor cleaner (water it down for wood or laminate!) or cut 1/2 and 1/2 with water for glass cleaner and a great all-purpose cleaner. It’s great at removing stains from counters, and so is lemon juice!
When making more complicated cleaning “recipes”, they are best made fresh, with hot water. Here are a few good ones:
Tough multi-purpose cleaner: Combine 2 TBSP vinegar, 1 tsp borax, 2 cups hot water, 2 TBSP to 1/4 cup Castille soap, and 10-15 drops essential oil of choice in a spray bottle.( Add everything but the oil and shake until the borax dissolves, then add essential oil.) Great for tougher messes than the vinegar alone can handle.
Dusting spray: Combine 1 C water with 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tsp olive oil (to shine wood), and 10-15 drops lemon essential oil in a spray bottle.
Toilet cleaner: Not really a recipe, either straight vinegar or straight borax, or combine the vinegar with baking soda.
There are a myriad of other cleaning recipes you can experiment with, but these are a few that work good and are easy and cheap to make. Try ’em out! Your wallet and the planet thank you!
Next week I’ll talk about laundry, I’ve been making my own laundry soap for years, but now that I’ve been researching cloth diapering, I may have to make some adjustments to my recipes. So I’ll talk about different laundry choices and some other cloth diapering ideas!