Over the past few decades, we Americans have grown used to running to the store whenever they need cleaning supplies. And often those cleaning supplies contain all sorts of chemicals that aren’t great for the environment. Or great for those people with chemical sensitivities.
How do cleaners you use in your house get into the environment and cause havoc? First there’s the plastic containers that these supplies come in. Even though companies are working to reduce the amount of plastic used – making thinner and thinner containers, that’s still a lot of plastic that finds its way into landfills.
One person eschewing plastic bottles to make their own, natural cleansers may seem like a tiny drop in a vast ocean of pollutants, but there is a movement afoot and more and more people are creating their own cleansers from items found around the house – or items that can have a multitude of uses instead of just one.
In addition to being environmentally friendly – making your own cleansers can be easier on your pocketbook!Baking Soda for Odors, Unclogging Drains and Cleaning
Baking soda has a lot of uses around the home, but there are a couple of myths that have to be debunked first.
Keeping a box of opened baking soda in your fridge has long been a popular piece of advice, because baking powder absorbs odors. However, if you only have a small section of the box open, that exposes only a little bit of the baking soda to the aromas, and there’s a limit to how much it can absorb. If you’ve got enough room in your fridge, turn the box on its side and cut off the top to give the baking soda more area in which to work. It will still need to be replaced every three months.
Another myth is that to unclog a drain, simply pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow it up with vinegar. There will be a lot of bubbling away, but nothing actually happens to the clog. When extremely hot water is poured down the drain (to flush out the baking soda and vinegar) – that’s what typically unclogs the drain!
Most clogs in your kitchen sinks are caused by a residue of fat, oil and grease. (In your bathroom sink, it’s human hair from shaving mixed in with soap residue.) Preventative measures to prevent build-ups are always best – don’t pour fats, oil or grease down a drain to begin with. Put it in the trash. Food residue should also go into the trash, although potato peels, banana peels, egg shells and so on can be composted. Use a hair filter in your bathroom drains.
Baking soda as cleanser
Having said all that, baking soda does make an excellent cleanser when mixed with water, to use to wipe down the interior of your refrigerator, your kitchen counters, and any appliances on a regular basis. Simply mix four tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water in a bucket, mix well, and then use a sponge to wipe down surfaces.Vinegar Window Cleaner
Distilled vinegar is another all natural ingredient in all-purpose cleansers.
What do you want most of all from a window cleaner? No streaks on your windows! Distilled vinegar can deliver.
Pick up a couple of spray bottles from your local big-box store, and label one “All vinegar” and the other “Half vinegar” (because you’ll be mixing half vinegar and half water in this one.)
To clean your windows – whether of your home or car, simply spray them with a solution of half-vinegar and half-water and rub the glass clean with a damp cloth. Then, dry the windows thoroughly with a dry cloth – this removes any chance of streaks.Counter top cleaner – so easy!
A 50-50 solution of distilled vinegar and water is good for cleaning counter tops – unless those counter tops are of marble or other natural stone. Vinegar is acidic and can etch natural surfaces.
Believe it or not, just using hot water to clean your marble counter tops is all you need! The key is to wipe up any spills immediately. Marble looks beautiful, but is easy to stain with coffee or any red-based liquid such as wine or tomato sauce.
For granite counter tops, the best solution consists of ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Pour this into a spray bottle with 3 drops of liquid dish soap (any kind), and fill it up with water. If you don’t like the smell of the rubbing alcohol, add a couple of drops of essential oil in a scent that you like.Laundry Soap
Making your own laundry soap can be a long process, but in the end you’ll have enough soap to last for several months (depending on how often you do laundry, of course) and you’ll never need fabric softener dryer sheets again!
You can make laundry soap powder or liquid laundry soap – the liquid version is easier to work with.
Purchase a 5-gallon bucket with a lid that fits on it securely. Label this bucket quite clearly as: For Laundry Detergent Only. You won’t ever want to use it for anything else.
Purchase another 5-gallon bucket, which you’ll be using for hot water
Purchase a fine cheese grater and put a label on this to not use for anything other than making your laundry soap!
Purchase a large wooden spoon and label this to be used only with your laundry soap.
Assemble your ingredients:
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1 cup grated bar soap (choose an all-natural bar soap, not one that has added fragrances or moisturizers)
Fill your water bucket with 4 gallons of hot water.
Mix the ingredients:
Grate the bar of soap using the cheese grater.
Place the grated soap into a pot, and pour in enough water to cover the soap. Simmer this mixture over medium heat and stir until the soap is melted.
Pour this liquid soap into the 5-gallon bucket
Put on your dust mask and gloves, and then add the washing soda, baking soda and borax slowly to the soap mixture, stirring with the long wooden spoon
Slowly and carefully, pour in the hot water from your other bucket
Continue to mix well until all the ingredients are dissolved.
Cover this bucket securely with an airtight lid and let sit overnight. The final consistency will be gel-like, but still pourable.
Place this bucket well out of the reach of children. Leave the lid on when not in use.
Before use, stir the mixture well, then ladle about ½ cup into your washing machine. Always remember to replace the lid securely on the bucket!