Save Money and the Planet With Homemade Cleaning Products

by Gina Roberts-Grey

There’s no denying the name brand suds, soaps and scrubbing household cleaners perfectly poised on your grocer’s shelves help keep your home sparkling clean. And being able to pick them up while you shop for dinner makes cleaning your house seem a little more convenient. But packaged cleaners are often pricey (not to mention if they’re not certified organic, they may be harsh on the environment, too). What’s the alternative to spending a boatload on cleaners?

No, not forgoing cleaning, sorry!

Chances are the ingredients to plenty of powerful – and green – cleaning potions are in your cabinets and pantry. You can whip up cleaners that smell great and get rid of gunk all for a small fraction of the cost of store-bought name brands versions.

Through trial and error, I’ve found most homemade cleaning products can be mixed from a few simple ingredients. Those are:

  • Baking Soda – cleans, deodorizes, scours
  • White Vinegar – cuts grease and soap scum, dissolves mineral deposits, inhibits mold, freshens. It’s also been reported to kill 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of viruses.
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Borax– cleans, deodorizes, disinfects
  • Essential oils, like tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, or lemongrass oil – these freshen while also disinfecting and being antimicrobial.
  • Castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) or vegetable oil-based liquid soap – cleans
  • Kosher salt – scours, disinfects
  • Olive oil
  • Water

Now that you’ve got all the fixin’s, here’s how to keep house looking squeaky clean.

Clean the tub and tile. Mix 1 2/3 cup baking soda, ½ cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1–2 drops of your favorite essential oil in a bottle or jar. Shake well before using, then apply with a cloth or sponge. Rinse well and pat dry to eliminate water spots.

Scouring powder. Combine 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup kosher saltin a resealable jar or container. Sprinkle on area to be cleaned and using a little elbow grease, wipe with a sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

Toilet bowl cleaner. Pour ¼ cup borax or baking soda and 1 cup vinegar in the toilet. You can add a drop or two of essential oil to enhance the room’s aroma, too. Swish it around to mix the cleansers and let it sit for 15 minutes. You can leave it in the bowl longer if needed. Scrub the bowl and flush.

Glass cleaner. Clean windows and other glass or mirrors by combining ¼ cup vinegar and 4 cups warm water in a spray bottle. Spray on and wipe away with a dry cloth or piece of newspaper.

Floor sanitizer. In a bucket, mix 1/2 cup borax with 2 gallons hot water. Apply with a mop or sponge and let air dry for a streak-free clean that doesn’t need to be rinsed.

Soap scum remover. Sprinkle on baking soda, scrub with a cloth or sponge, and rinse. Vinegar or kosher salt also work.

De-greaser. Pour undiluted vinegar into spray bottle and spray onto surface. Let sit for several minutes. Wipe clean with dishcloth or non-abrasive scrubber. Ironically, grease also gets rid of grease. So you can also dab vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe away difficult greasy stain on an appliance. Follow with the vinegar spray for a like-new sparkle.

Calcium or lime remover. Get rid of set-in calcium or lime deposits on a chrome faucet by soaking a towel in vinegar. Wrap it around the faucet and let it sit for a couple of hours or overnight. Remove the towel and wipe clean with a dry towel.

Mold or mildew remover. Combine ½ cup borax and ½ cup vinegar in a small glass or plastic container to form a paste. Scrub with a brush or sponge and rinse with water. Get rid of tough mold by letting the mixture sit for an hour before rinsing with water.

Clean cast-iron pans. A paste made with olive oil and a teaspoon of coarse salt scrubbed in with a stiff brush does wonders for tired cast iron pans. Rinse well with hot water and pat dry.

Get paint off your hands. Rub a few drops into your skin and let it sink in for 5 minutes. Then wash thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Repair scratches on leather furniture. Dab a drop or two onto a cotton cloth and rub it into the scratch area in a light circular motion.

Protect rattan and wicker furniture. Keep rattan and wicker furniture from cracking by gently rubbing them with a cloth dampened with a few drops of warm olive oil.

Shine stainless steel. Pour olive oil onto a cloth and buff to your heart’s content for extra sparkle and shine.

Polish wood furniture. Combine 2 cups olive oil with 1 cup lemon juice or vinegar in a resealable container. Work the mixture into the furniture with a soft cloth. To smooth out scratches in light-colored wood, rub them with a solution of equal parts olive or vegetable oil and lemon juice.

What are some of your favorite homemade cleaning remedies?

Photo credit: Getty Thinkstock

About the Author

Gina Roberts-Grey, owner of GRG Productions, Inc., is a writer specializing in celebrity profiles and Q&As, as well as health, personal finance and consumer issues articles. Her health and lifestyle articles have appeared in many print markets including AARP The Magazine, Essence, Family Circle, Glamour, Heart Healthy Living, Natural Health, Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Woman's Day and more.