Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Big Dirty (Clean, That Is)

As a result of reading the 'Addicted to Clean: The Dirt on Green Cleaners' article, I have been doing so much research in the past few days regarding the making of your own cleaning products that I'm going buggy in a lemon juice-baking soda-white vinegar frenzy! To channel Kermie - "It's not easy (getting started) being green!"

There is a wealth of information available online regarding making your own cleaning products. Just try Googling 'make your own cleaners' or 'homemade cleaners' or anything else in that vein, and you'll receive hundreds of results leading you to recipes for furniture polish involving olive oil and lemon juice, silver polish made of baking soda, and many, many more.

I've tried to narrow down the results in order to provide you with the best, most effective homemade cleaners possible:

White Vinegar - extremely versatile. The strong odor dissipates when dry. Because it's acidic, vinegar can break down grime, and will kill bacteria and mold. Never use on marble or other porous surfaces but it's safe everywhere else. Completely non toxic.

1. In the laundry- add 1/2 to 1 cup to the rinse cycle in place of liquid fabric softener to cut down on lint and break down detergent, thus softening fabrics. If you have one of those fabric softener balls, use vinegar in that rather than fabric softener.

2. In the kitchen- mix up a batch of equal parts water and vinegar to use on surfaces.- substitute 1/2 cup vinegar in the dishwasher instead of using harsh dishwasher detergent.

3. In the bathroom- pour 2-3 cups of vinegar into toilet bowl to get rid of rings.- use same amount in the tank of the toilet approximately once per week to keep it fresh.

4. Miscellaneous- rather than using commercial air fresheners, set out a bowl of vinegar to absorb and remove odors or simmer 1 tablespoon vinegar in 1 cup water on the stove.- fill a (recycled!) spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water to clean glass with. Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch for really tough grime.-fill a (recycled!!) mini spray bottle with straight up vinegar and spritz directly onto skin as an insect repellent.- adding white vinegar to a wash load of clothing that has urine on it will take out the smell.

Lemon - just like vinegar, lemons are acidic and will cut right through grease and dirt and grime. And who doesn't like the smell of lemons?? Again, completely non toxic and 100% natural.

1. In the living room- use a mix of 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil and a soft cleaning cloth to polish wood furniture.- lemon peels scattered in your potted plants will keep Frisky the cat at bay.

2. In the kitchen- rub down your wooden chopping block with a slice of lemon to disinfect.- toss your used lemon slices or peels down the garborator to get rid of any funky odors.

Baking Soda - it's a great scourer when mixed with a bit of liquid, and it absorbs odor.

1. In the kitchen- keep an open box in the refrigerator to get rid of odors.- make a bit of a thick paste with water to scrub away stains on your counters.- mix a few tablespoons into a mug of water and microwave until water is boiling. This loosens all the crud in the microwave and makes for easy cleaning.- if you've burned food to a pot, sprinkle it with baking soda and just moisten with water. Let sit a few hours and the food will be easily removed.- make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water to polish silverware.- sprinkle a bit of baking soda on a sponge and use to clean your fruits and veggies before eating.

2. In the bathroom- rub baking soda onto grout with a damp sponge to get rid of dinginess and mildew.- use instead of your usual scouring powder to scrub out the tub and shower.

3. In the laundry- make a paste of baking soda and water to scrub out tough stains on fabrics prior to washing.- substitute half of the bleach you'd normally use in the whites load with baking soda. - add 1/2 a cup of baking soda to every washload to freshen, deodorize and brighten garments.

4. Miscellaneous- pour 1/2 cup baking soda then 1/2 cup white vinegar down your drain. Let sit for a few minutes and then flush with hot water. Need a more heavy duty drain cleaner? Pour 1 cup baking soda, then 1 cup salt, then 3/4 cup vinegar down the drain. Let sit at least half an hour and flush with hot water.

Rubbing Alcohol - who doesn't have a bottle of this somewhere in the house? Isopropyl very well may be the only thing you need to clean your glass and mirrored surfaces. It's also a great disinfectant. Readily available, and cheap! Do spot tests though, and keep away from flame (duh, alcohol??).

1. Anywhere with glass or mirrors- mix up a batch of the aforementioned vinegar-water solution and add 1 part rubbing alcohol for added sparkle.

2. Anywhere you need disinfecting- use rubbing alcohol to disinfect shopping cart handles, light switches, door handles, the steering wheel, the telephone...anywhere you'd find germy hands.

So there you go! I could really have gone on and on and on a lot longer, with many more different formulas for homemade household cleaners, but when I looked over all the information I had gleaned, I realized that the above listed were probably the best, and simplest methods.

It's going to be tough for me to make the switch from my trusty bottles of PineSol and Windex to using a homemade solution in a dollar store spray bottle but I honestly believe that once I get used to it, it won't seem so tough. Not to mention the money I'll be saving!! A $.50 box of store brand baking soda that will clean my shower and tub numerous times compared to a $4 container of Comet? If I'm truly going the frugalite way, it's more than obvious what the choice should be.

Some of these items I will be able to find for ridiculously cheap at the dollar store, and some will be purchased for ridiculously cheap at the grocery store. I usually clean my house on Saturdays, so this Saturday I am going to box up my usual army of cleaners including the laundry detergent, and I will be cleaning au naturel. Not naked you silly monkey, but with the natural products I will be using. Then I will give you an honest opinion on how it went so you too can start cleaning without being dirty.