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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cleaning Supply Revamp

As part of my 2012 goals, we aren't going to buy a single commercial/pre-made cleaner this year, but instead use homemade and natural cleaners in our home.

Why? A few reasons. Firstly, I'm frugal. Cleaners are expensive and don't seem to go on sale too often. Secondly, there seems to be a gazillion different types of cleaners - one for every individual thing in the house meaning we end up with a collection like this...

That's 14 different cleaners from under the sink or the cleaning closet. After I took the picture, I realized I'd missed like 5 or 6 others, so that brings the total to at least 19 bottles. WHY!?

Lastly, the overwhelming majority of these cleaners are toxic chemicals - hence the gloves. Call me a crunchy granola Mom, but why use chemicals that aren't good for my home, my family, and the environment? Granted, we'll probably keep the Clorox spray around for the seriously scary stuff (i.e. like dropping raw chicken on the counter, down the cabinet, and on the floor), but otherwise, its all going. We're going to use up whatever we have a tiny bit left of and donate/give away the rest.

Instead, we're going to switch to these four ingredients - white vinegar, baking soda, Borax, and washing soda. Seriously - these four things will not only clean and deodorize your entire house, but whiten clothes, wash dishes, and keep away common household pests. As a bonus, the word on the street is that they do it better than the toxic stuff.

After lots of Pinterest-ing and searching for recipes, I found a ton of easy recipes for various cleaners using only these four ingredients with the occasional random ingredient thrown in - essential oil, citrus, hydrogen peroxide, etc.

Here's the basic breakdown of what the different ingredients do:

  • Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Soap - unscented soap in liquid form, flakes, powders or bars is biodegradable and will clean just about anything. Avoid using soaps which contain petroleum distillates.
  • Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Washing Soda - or SAL Soda is sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, softens water, cleans wall, tiles, sinks and tubs. Use care, as washing soda can irritate mucous membranes. Do not use on aluminum.
  • Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.
With that guide, you can clean just about anything. Need to clean grout? Borax and water into a paste. Need to clean baby toys that were all over the floor? Vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Need dishwashing detergent? Borax, washing soda, salt, and citrus.

Its all right there - and for cheap too. All four of these ingredients combined cost less than $10 and will make an absolute ton of cleaning solution. My first project is going to be to clean the nasty grout in the kitchen. More on that later this week!

Do you have any cleaning solution tips or recipes? What are your favorites?


  1. I have been trying to use more natural cleaners too. I use vingegar and water in a spray bottle for cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen floor and toys. I also dust with a combination of olive oil, lemon juice and water. Do you have any natural products to clean granite counters? So far everything I have tried still leaves streaks.

  2. Granite counters are a pain! We had them in my old apartment and the best thing we could use was warm (mild) soapy water with a bit of rubbing alcohol in it and microfiber cloths. The microfiber draws the water away better, so it doesn't streak. Be careful not to use vinegar on the granite - it can cause it to etch and break down over time because its acidic. Not pretty. Good luck!

  3. Tell me how this goes. George hates the smell of vinegar and most of the good recopies have it in there..

  4. Thanks for sharing! You're simply amazing <3

  5. My wife kicked me out from my own computer when she saw your post (I don't mind :)) She loved your post and made me read it as well. I love helping her and it's always fun when we're cleaning together. We love putting on Elvis Presley and clean the whole house every Saturday. Thank you for your helpful tips, Jen! :)