Thursday, January 6, 2011

Homemade Cleaners

Over a year ago I wrote about using baking soda and vinegar, these are still my go to cleaners.  I buy baking soda in the larger size, using it for scrubbing and white vinegar by the gallon mixing 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water in a spray bottle and use it to clean mirrors, windows, and surfaces.  I have since found several other recipes for cleaners that are useful and I will share them today.  In the photo above the red tub holds rags I use for cleaning, old t-shirts, dish cloths, dish towels and even an odd sock are in that tub.  We always have plenty of rags, I have never had to buy cleaning rags.  However, I did buy a cloth that is made just for cleaning windows and mirrors so that I wouldn't have to use paper towels.  There is also a scrub brush in that rag tub for scrubbing the bathtub and old toothbrushes that work good for getting into small areas.  The bottles in the white tub are filled with homemade cleaners and there is baking soda and Dr. Bronner's soap (which I also use to make foam hand soap).  I often dust using a dusting mitt or wand (the ones hanging below) that are designed for picking up and holding dust that can be shook out later.  Occasionally I use a homemade furniture polish to condition and clean the wood.  If you have a reusable furnace filter, be sure to vacuum it off once in a while, monthly is my goal.  They get full of hair, fur, and fuzz, especially when there is a pet in the house.  To keep the air clean and the furnace running properly they need to be cleaned.  Below are a few homemade cleaner recipes, most of which are taken from the book "Better Basics For The Home", a very useful book.  We love never having strong smelling commercial cleaners burning our sinus' or giving us a headache.  If you find these recipes helpful you may want to buy the book, there are many, many more formulas to try.

Basic Soft Scrubber Formula
~taken from "Better Basics For The Home"~

1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a frosting-like consistency (I use Dr. Bronner's)
5 to 10 drops fragrant essential oil, such as 5 drops each rose and lavender (I use orange) (optional)

Place the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting.  Add a frew drops essential oil (if using).  Scoop the creamy misture onto a sponge or rag, wash the surface and rinse.

Makes 1/2 cup

Shelf Life: Make only as much as you need at a time; natural soft scrubbers dry out.

ANTIBACTERIAL SOFT SCRUBBER: Substitute borax for half of the baking soda, and add about 15 drops antibacterial essential oil, such as thyme, sweet orange, lavender, clove, rosemary, tea tree, or cinnamon.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup white vinegar

Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl and pour vinegar over the top.  Let sizzle, then scrub. Flush.  That's all, vinegar is a disinfectant and baking soda has scrubbing power.

Tub Stain Remover
~from "Better Basics For The Home"~

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleach; cream of tartar, an acid, has been used for years to remove rust stains from porcelain.

1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Enough 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution to make a paste

Combine the ingredients in a bowl.  Scoop the mixture onto a sponge or rag, cover the stained area, and let rest for a few hours.  Scrub clean, then rinse.

Storage: Discard leftovers

Basic Wood Cleaning Formula
~from "Better Basics For The Home"~

This formula is for well-used furniture such as the outside of the kitchen cupboards and the dining room table that is likely used for more than just eating.

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent (such as Dr. Bronner's)
A few Drops jojoba or olive oil
3 to 5 drops fragrant essential oil (optional)

Combine ingredients in a bowl, saturate a sponge, or rag, with the mixture, squeeze out the excess, and wash surfaces.  The smell of vinegar will dissipate in a few hours.

Makes 1/2 cup

Shelf Life: Indefinite
Storage: Glass jar with a screw top

Basic Polishing Cream Waxing Formula
~ from "Better Basics For The Home~

You can bring furniture to a high polish with this natural wax, and it smells wonderful whether or not you add the lemon oil.

4 ounces oil (2 1/2 ounces olive oil or jojoba, 1 1/2 ounces coconut oil)
1 ounce beeswax (can be found in craft stores, I bought mine from Amazon)
1 ounce carnauba wax
4 ounces distilled water
1/3 teaspoon grapefruit seed extract (found in health food stores), for a natural preservative
5 to 10 drops essential oil of lemon (optional)

Melt the oils and waxes in a double boiler over medium heat.  Remove from the heat, pour in the water, and mix with a hand mixer until thick and creamy.  (If you are using a blender, first add the water, then drizzle in the melted oils and waxes while the blender is on so they emulsify.)  Add the preservative and essential oil as desired, then blend.  Dab some cream onto a soft cotton rag, and rub into the furniture.  Buff and polish until the oils have been well worked into the wood.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Shelf Life: 6 months or more
Storage: Glass jar with a screw top

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