Sunday, April 7

Cleaning Recipes Dos and Don'ts

Spring Cleaning time is here! If you do or will make you're own cleaners you may want to take a look at this post. I have made a lot of my own cleaners. I also have a basic understanding of chemistry. Lots of the liquid recipes I run into online make me smh.

Liquid recipes that contain an acid and base are NOT going to be your best bet... might work... but only as well as salt works. Which might work well even if you have hard water.  That's what you've made, though, expensive salt. ** Acid + Base NEUTRALIZES which means = SALT(and h2o) **  Any recipe mixing vinegar (acetic acid- acid) and baking/washing soda (sodium bicarbonate/carbonate- base) is going to create salt water and won't be more effective then just using salt water would be... just more expensive to make. Exception being when you are using the chemical reaction itself to clean, like some dishwasher recipes. Just wanted to put that info out there.

Below are some recipes that don't ask you to make this faux pas:

Vinegar, Essential Oils, Baking Soda, Citrus Acid, Washing Soda, Castile Soap, Lemon Juice, Oils, Hydrogen Peroxide and Water. These your most basic cleaning ingredients.

On castile soap. You can buy or make from scratch castile soap specifically. OR you can substitute really whatever bar soap you like- with various results depending on what you are using it for. I perfer castile soap (it can be bought at many dollar stores). But I've used many many other store bought bar soaps with good results.

Some jobs just require one ingredient (like just vinegar or just baking soda) and some a mix of a few of them. It's cheap and easy to do. Many people say they don't have time to make their own cleaners- often they've seen complicated recipes, though. Good homemade cleaners can be amazingly simple and quick to make. And they work just as well as store bought or better- and oh so much cheaper! I'm not saying they don't take a little extra time (and I do have store bought products we use too), but time should not be your only deterrent from making your own cleaners if it's something you are interested in doing.

Disinfectant/General Cleaning Spray
The easiest one by far is just a spray bottle of white vinegar.

For a little more germ fighting and deodorizing power you can add 7/8 drops of tea tree oil and/or an ounce or two of lemon juice to 10oz of vinegar. Or 7/8 drops of any citrus essential oil instead of the juice.

Just put this in an empty spray bottle and you have a very cheap and effective disinfectant and general cleaner.

Another good disinfectant is Hydrogen Peroxide. 

I've ran into several people who were felt hydrogen peroxide was dangerous to use, so I wanted to put out there that this is very safe stuff to use. It's an oxygen bleach (one of the two active ingredients in oxyclean, the other is washing soda) and is a great general wipe down type disinfectant.

Dishwasher Detergent (powder)
Most people use a mix of borax and baking soda, but get a film. Here is an easy remedy for that.

1 cup borax

1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid
(essential oil if desired for scent)

Mix and then grind to fine powder. Use vinegar as rinse agent.

***if you aren't so hot on borax (like me) here's a good substitute rescipe***

1/2 cup grated bar soap (I use castile, but any bar soap works)
1/2 cup washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid

Mix and then grind to fine powder (or as close as you can get the soap to go) and use vinegar as a rinse agent.

Tips: Some people have tried to replace the citric acid with lemon juice, this won't work because it's the reaction caused by the acid and base mixing during the washing cycle that make this effective against the film, adding the juice causes the reaction prior to washing and neutralizes both the base and acid. Also, play around with the amounts you use. Some people need more of one ingredient like citric acid, or can get good results with less. See what works for you!

Glass Cleaner (can be spray)
Mix in a spray bottle or bucket:

1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Tip: If you are having trouble getting some sort of oil off glass sprinkle use a powdered starch (like corn starch) to absorb the oil off it (or put it in a towel and wipe with it if a window) use the above cleaner again.

Bathroom Cleaning
Your new best bathroom buddy is baking soda, with vinegar a close second.

Most everything in the bathroom can be cleaned with one of the other. And when something just won't scrub off, mix them ;-)

But remember those science volcanos as a kid? So here's how you mix them to get the job done. Make a paste out of baking soda and water and put this on top of the tough to scrub clean area. then pour or spray a little bit of vinegar over top. That chemical reaction will help loosen the soap scum or lime buildup or whatever it is. Then just your own scrubbing elbow grease will do the rest of the job. Be careful what material you use the chemical reaction on and don't hover over it, you don't want to breathe in those fumes.

You can add whatever essential oils you want for smell, and using ones like citrus (lemon, orange, lime ect...) or tea tree oil or clove that have their own anti-microbial properties that are never amiss. 

Let me know whatever questions you have about anything or if you are looking for something specific.


  1. I'm guilty of mixing baking soda and vinegar


    1. Me too, it didn't even occur to me when I started making stuff like this. Then one day I had that ah-ha moment.... immediately followed by- Doh! ;-)


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