How to Make Your Own Green Cleaners
Save money and the environment by making your own cleaning agents from natural, nontoxic ingredients. Making your own cleaning agents will save you a fortune in cleaning supplies, simplify your cleaning routine, and go a long way toward protecting the planet. Here's a list of some of the basic ingredients you will need:
Baking soda: Acts as a water softener, odor remover, and scrubbing agent.
Castile soap: Use as an all-purpose cleaner to cut grease and disinfect throughout the whole house.
Lemon juice: Can be used as an all natural bleach, deodorant, stain-remover and grease-cutter.
White vinegar: Kills bacteria and eliminates odors. It also works to remove mildew, wax buildup, lime buildup, and grease.
To put these natural ingredients to work, try out some of these simple yet effective recipes. As always, be careful when trying a new product or ingredient in your home. Test the cleaner in a small area first, especially on rugs and carpets, which could stain permanently.
General cleaners. For most household cleaning, use a simple mix of vinegar and water to remove dirt and germs. You can use this mixture to clean windows, floors, and countertops. Add a sprinkle of baking soda for scouring power to clean toilets, sinks, and bathtubs.
All-purpose disinfectant. Mix two teaspoons borax, four tablespoons vinegar, and three cups hot water in a spray bottle for an all-natural, all-purpose disinfectant. Need to cut through kitchen counter grime? Add one-quarter teaspoon liquid soap to the mixture.
Furniture polish. Mix a one-to-one ratio of olive oil and vinegar to clean and polish wood furniture.
Oven cleaner. Avoid oven cleaning altogether by placing a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch spills. When spills do occur, use baking soda to get your oven clean. Simply make a paste using one cup of baking soda and water. Apply to grimy spots and let stand. Lift off large deposits with a spatula and scrub surface with a scouring pad.
Windows. Mix three tablespoons of vinegar with one quart of water in a clean spray bottle. If the windows are really dirty, mix of one-half tea-spoon of liquid soap, with three tablespoons of vinegar, and two cups of water. And to get those windows streak-free, use recycled newspaper rather than paper towels to wipe them clean.
Metal cleaners. Use sliced lemons to clean the tarnish from brass, copper, bronze, and aluminum. For extra dirty jobs, sprinkle the item with baking soda and then rub with lemon. To clean sterling silver, line a plastic or glass bowl with aluminum foil. Sprinkle the foil with a little salt and baking soda and then fill the bowl with warm water. Soak silver items in this mixture and the tarnish will migrate from your silver to the aluminum foil. Rinse and dry the silver, then buff it with a soft, clean cloth.
Floors. To get floors clean without harmful chemicals, add one cup of vinegar per pail of hot water. For linoleum floors, combine one-quarter cup washing soda, one tablespoon of liquid soap, one-quarter cup vinegar, and two gallons hot water. This will work on everything from muddy footprints to greasy spills. But do not use this formula on waxed floors.
Tubs and sinks. Baking soda and liquid soap can work wonders in your bathroom. Simply sprinkle baking soda on porcelain tubs and sinks. Add a little of the liquid soap to a wet cloth and use it to rub in the baking soda. Rinse well to avoid leaving a hazy film.
Toilets. Make your toilet sparkle by adding one-half cup vinegar to the toilet bowl. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then scrub with a toilet brush. Alternatively, sprinkle a little baking soda inside the bowl and scrub. To clean the outer surfaces, sprinkle a wet cloth with baking soda and wipe down toilet.
Drain cleaner. Clean sink and tub drains by pouring one-half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes and then rinse with hot water. For tough clogs, use the same mixture but allow it to sit overnight before rinsing.
Carpeting and rugs. Few areas of the home get dirty faster than the floor. Fabric flooring tends to soak up the odors of the home, whether they are related to a pet or child. To absorb odors and clean your carpet naturally, sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet and let it stand for 15 to 30 minutes before vacuuming. For more intense cleaning, check out these recipes from Sierra Club Canada for handling heavy-duty dirt and stains.
Chocolate: Make a paste from borax and water. Rub into the stain.
Coffee: Rub club soda into the coffee spot and wipe up with a towel or sponge.
Grease: Cover with cornstarch or cornmeal, let sit a while, rub in, and vacuum.
Heavy-duty carpet cleaner: Make a paste from one-quarter cup each of salt, vinegar, and borax. Rub into the spot and let dry before vacuuming.
Mud: Rub salt into the mud. Let dry for one hour and vacuum.
Red wine: Cover the stain with salt while wet. Let dry completely, and then vacuum.
Your little one will likely to spend the better part of her first year crawling around on the floor, so it is important to make sure your carpets are as clean and nontoxic as possible.
Mold cleaner. Prevent mold and mildew, by repairing leaks and using an exhaust fan in bathrooms or a dehumidifier in areas where there is a lot of humidity in the air. To clean mold and mildew, mix one-half cup of borax in one gallon of hot water. Spray on and wipe off. Scrub mildew spots with a mixture of borax and water and a scouring pad. Machine wash fabric shower curtains adding one cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Porcelain cleaner. Clean porcelain with a paste made from baking soda and water. Rub the paste into the item, let set, wipe clean, and rinse. Use a fine grain wet/dry sandpaper (400 grit) to remove stains from porcelain sinks.