Keep Cleaning Clean

Do you really want a home full of chemicals? There’s a cheaper—and cleaner—way.

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Making your own home cleaning products is the latest trend to hit the green kings and queens of the world, but there is nothing new about it. Just ask Grandma: homemade cleaning products have been around a long time. Like all trends, sometimes all you need is to shift your thinking. Once you do, you may be left wondering why you ever purchased chemically laden products in often one-time use containers… for a premium cost. Here’s what you need to know to get started!

Getting Started

Just because you’re making cleaning products at home doesn’t mean they’re safe to eat. Many home cleaning products include borax or sodium borate and washing soda (sodium carbonate). These may both be naturally occurring alkaline mineral salts, but they’re not totally benign. In other words, be sure to label your homemade products correctly and keep out of reach of children and pets just like you would a commercial product.

You will find everything you need in most grocery and health food stores. You can also create washing soda by heating baking soda and getting a bit science-y. The key ingredients will be your vinegar, liquid castile soap, salt, borax, and washing soda.

Start Making!

There is no shortage of DIY home cleaning product recipes on the Internet. Here are some basics to get you started:

Liquid laundry soap:

Use ½ cup per full load 

  • 4 ¼ cups water
  • 1 cup soap granules
  • ½ cup borax
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • 20 drops essential oil (optional)

Add 4 ¼ cups water and soap granules to pot. Heat until diluted. Pour into pail with 25 cups water, borax, and washing soda. Stir until dissolved. Add essential oil. Soap will gel as it cools.

For hard water, add more washing soda. To whiten whites, add ½ cup baking soda to load.

All-Purpose Spray:

For tubs, tiles, counters, microwaves, floors, etc. 

  • 1 gallon hot water
  • ½ cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 tbsp borax
  • 20 drops essential oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Pour into spray bottle.

All-Purpose Scour:

A non-abrasive for tubs, tiles, sinks, etc. 

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • ½ cup liquid castile soap
  • ½ cup water

Tip: Before switching to this green cleaner, clean up the waxy residue traditional brands leave behind with a 5% rubbing alcohol to water solution.

Glass and Mirror Cleaner:

Wipe with newspaper to avoid streaks

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white vinegar

Combine all ingredients. Pour into spray bottle.

Benefits and Savings

How much money you save will depend on how much you clean. North Americans spend more than $1 billion on household cleaning products annually. These products are purchased to fight germs, streaks, stains, and odors to keep our homes sparkling clean. Making your own cleaning products can produce savings of up to $100 a year. To boot, “sparkling” doesn’t always mean healthy.

The bigger winner when it comes to savings is Mother Nature and your health. Manufacturers are not legally required to warn consumers about safety and environmental hazards associated with chronic, or long-term, exposure to chemical ingredients in household cleaning products. That means nasty stuff often slips through.

Researchers in the U.S. identified 133 unique volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from a small sample of consumer products, including six cleaning products. Each product tested emitted between one and eight chemicals classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws.

Chemicals in cleaning products can also enter our bodies by absorption through the skin or through ingestion of household dust and chemical residues left on dishes and cutlery. And when cleaning products are flushed down the drain, they can have a serious impact on aquatic ecosystems.

In short, homemade cleaning products are cheaper, safer, and cleaner. It may take more elbow grease to get started, but in the end, your home will sparkle with a different kind of shine.

This post was featured on Wanderlust.

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