Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Homemade Cleaners

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Mary Hunt's Cheapskate Newsletter or that I', we'll say. Toby & Liv love to tease me when I say, "Oh wait!  I have a coupon for that."  Truth be told, though, I'm not ashamed of being considered cheap.  My "cheapness" has allowed me to be a SAHM for many years, attend college & still allow us to do a few things we want to do along the way. So it's served me (& us) well. 

When I first was introduced to homemade cleaners, I was drawn in by the lure of cleaning without harsh chemicals & ingredients I couldn't pronounce. Mine & Liv's asthma required we clean with something besides store bought cleaners & I recently read an article a friend posted about new studies linking breast cancer to household cleaners.  Health reasons were the 1st reasons I got into homemade cleaners. Since then I have realized the cost benefit as well.  

A quick internet search will net you thousands of homemade cleaner recipes.  The ones I'm going to include on this blog are the ones I personally use & can attest to their ability to do just as good a job as the brand name cleaners sold at the store.

Let me preface this blog by saying that I am a HUGE fan of vinegar so you're going to see the word "vinegar" a lot. Vinegar is one of those things that has about a million & one uses &, although it stinks while you're using it, will not leave an odor in your house.  It also does not seem to bother mine or Liv's respiratory systems. 

I mop with a strong vinegar & water mixture & I recently used vinegar to clean our carpets (put it in the carpet cleaner instead of carpet cleaning solution) & it worked fantastic! 

Side note:  Vinegar is vinegar.  I buy the cheapest (which is generally Kroger brand at my local Rulers).

My other household favorite is:  Original Blue Dawn.

My all-purpose, go-to cleaner is a mixture of Dawn & vinegar.  Now some people cut this mixture with water or use different measurements of each.  What I use works so I'm not going to tweek what works.  Feel free to tweek away if you want (& let me know how it goes if you do :) 

Take a spray bottle.  Fill it 1/4 of the way with Dawn, fill the other 3/4 with vinegar.  Put the nozzle back on & shake.  

I originally made this mixture for cleaning the showers & tubs.  (A job I absolutely loathe doing & one which I'd never found a cleaner that would really do a good job without a lot of elbow grease).  

This mixture not only does a fantastic job, it requires little scrubbing. I also use it on the sinks & toilets.  It works great for cleaning counter tops in the kitchen as well.  

I spray it on the shower/tub, toilet, & sink & let it sit for a few minutes.  Then come back & wash everything down, rinse, & I'm done.  One of the greatest things about this mixture (besides it's lack of requiring massive amounts of scrubbing) is that it retards mold & mildew growth. I've been amazed at how well it fights off nasty mold & mildew in the bathroom & even on the shower curtains/doors.

Glass/Mirror cleaner:

1 c. alcohol
1 c. water
1 Tablespoon vinegar

Mix these together in a spray bottle & you have a great window, mirror & glass cleaner that doesn't streak. 

Homemade Laundry Soap

There are nearly as many homemade laundry soap recipes out there as homemade cleaner websites.  The following was given to me by my friend, Allison & is used by many people I know. (According to a friend who uses it in her HE washer & several other sources I've read, it is safe for use in HE washing machines too.  It doesn't create suds.)

It is super easy to make, is a GREAT stain remover (it actually took out stains that had been in a couple of items for many washings & dryings!) & is VERY cheap to make.

I've also heard that it has been recommended by an asthma doctor for his patients because it is great for people with allergies & asthma.  So that's another plus!

12 cups Borax
8 cups baking soda
8 cups washing soda
8 cups Fels Naptha (finely grated)
(*Note:  1 bar of Fels Naptha = approx. 2 cups grated)

It's important to get the Fels Naptha grated very finely so it can dissolve quickly in the wash water.  I recently used my food processor to grate mine.  (I grated it with the grater attachment & then ran it through the chopping process).  Since it's just soap, it didn't hurt anything & the food processor & attachments washed up just fine. 

To use:  add approx. 2 Tbsp to washer

One other thing I've noticed with this soap: I don't really have much need for fabric softener or dryer sheets.  The clothes are soft, smell good (without smelling "flowery"), and have little to no static after being dried.  

I didn't make the full batch above, but I bought enough to make about 3/4 of the above batch. I didn't figure it up exactly, but the ingredients cost me less than $10 & I will end up getting probably about 1-1/2 - 2 months worth of washing out of 3/4 batch. Considering I use to buy at least 1 of the big bottles of Tide per month, plus a bottle of Downey & at least 1-2 boxes of Bounce....I'd say the savings is pretty obvious :) 

Grease Stain Remover:

The best thing I have found to remove grease stains from clothes:  Plain ol' Original Dawn.  

Yep, I've even had it take out old grease stains that had been washed, dried & were set-in.  (Obviously, it's much easier if you catch it before you wash it, but I'm notorious for forgetting & washing stained clothes...)

Simply put full strength Dawn on the grease stains, allow to sit & soak into the fabric (I usually let mine sit at least overnight) & wash.  This almost always works.  I've only had a couple of REALLY bad grease stains that wouldn't come completely out with this method. 

This is my most commonly used cleaners.  I have some recipes for homemade drain cleaners that I am going to put to the test next week on a slow draining bathroom sink.  I'll try & remember to post if I find a good recipe :) 

In the meantime, Happy Homemade Cleaning!!! 

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