Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Home Ec: 7 Homemade Cleaning Products

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A few years ago I became overwhelmed by all the information about toxins in household cleaners. Determined to make healthy choices for my family and the environment, I switched to natural cleaners.
Like many organic products, I found the premium price almost prohibitive. Since then, I've moved almost exclusively to homemade products. First, I used mostly vinegar and baking soda solutions. They did something, but could hardly manage an intense clean. Now, I've found a handful of tested recipes that really get the job done.

Here are some great homemade cleaning products.


Commercial deodorizers can be harmful to your health. The American Lung Association cites them as a contributing factor to the spike in asthma cases. The Canadian Lung Association labels air fresheners as a hazardous product. It's no wonder that people are learning how to freshen their homes the natural way.

If you have an odor issue, first get rid of it. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, and leave it out overnight in dishes around the problem areas. Baking soda has an amazing ability to suck up odor. Once you're odor neutral, it's time to add some pleasant scents to the home. Many people still choose to make potpourri, while gelatin room deodorizers and reed diffusers are more modern solutions. For myself, I like this simple spray solution:

essential oilGetty Images
Baking Soda
Essential oil
Combine 4 cups of hot water with 1/4 cup baking soda and mix well. Add real lemon juice or your favorite essential oil. I like to alternate between lavender and grapefruit. When choosing oils, make sure you
select pure essential oils, and not synthetic ones.

The options are endless. Natural cleaning solutions that can be made easily and inexpensively are becoming more popular. People are eagerly abandoning commercial cleaners and sharing their homemade secrets. Here are a few more tips I've gathered from friends. Share yours in the comments.



1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons
4-5 drop orange or lemon essential oil (citrus cuts grease)
2 cups hot water

Combine all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well. If you need a little extra cleaning action, replace the baking soda with
washing soda. Washing soda is twice as strong as baking soda. It's recommended that you wear gloves and a mask when cleaning with washing soda, but don't worry, it still passes the natural ingredient test, and will cut through your toughest dirt and grime.

sink cleaner is so simple you can whip up a paste for each use.

3 tsp Lemon juice
3 tbs Cream of Tartar (you'll find it in the spice isle)

Combine the lemon juice and cream or tartar to make a paste. The proportions don't need to be exact, but the paste should be smooth and thick. Simply scrub it in gently and thoroughly then rinse it off to uncover your clean sink.

Chemical oven cleaner is one if the harshest household solutions, one many of us would happily avoid. This organic solution is a great alternative, but it still requires that you practice some precaution; see the
oven cleaner instructions for some other important tips.

1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of vinegar
cleaning ovenCorbis
Mix the ingredients together forming a thick paste. Cover any holes or openings with tin foil. Apply the mixture to the bottom and side walls of the oven. Leave overnigh. Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. Use this solution to wash off the paste.

Chemical based bathroom cleaners are the hardest to part with. Somehow we feel like cleaning the bathroom needs to induce a toxic headache or it's not really working. Trying out recipes like this one for natural toilet bowl cleaner is a great way to see just how well homemade solutions really clean.

2 tbs baking soda
1 tbs olive oil
3-4 drops essential oil (optional)

Pour the baking soda and olive oil into your toilet bowl and scrub it with a toilet brush. Add in a few drops of scented oil as a deodorizer.


With six homemade window cleaners, Tip Nut has you covered. Their cleaners range from your standard vinegar solution to some more creative black tea concoctions, and I've had the most luck with this simple recipe:

1 gallon water
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
Approx. 1 tbs dish detergent (liquid)
window cleaningGetty Images
Mix all ingredients together and store in a container, ready to refill your spray bottle. The lemon juice and dish detergent will cut through those greasy hand-prints. Spray the cleaner on your window and wipe it with a microfiber cloth, newspaper, or squeegee.


A pump in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, one in the playroom, three or four floating around the car and one in my purse; while it's true that nothing beats a good scrub with soap and hot water, for a family on the go hand sanitizers are essential. Here's how to make your own alcohol-free hand sanitizer:

1 cup pure aloe vera gel
1-2 tsp of witch hazel
8 drops of essential oils of your choice

Combine all ingredients, adjusting until you have your desired consistency and stir well. Tea tree oil is the best disinfectant, but isn't safe for pregnant women, children or pets. Other recommended oils include orange, lemon and basil. This recipe, along with some alcohol-based solutions and additional tips are all available from
No Ordinary Homestead.

Polish silverware: Fill your sink with hot water, sprinkle in some baking soda and add a sheet of tin foil. Let the silver soak for an hour, rinse and wipe clean.
Clean a vase or bottom of a container by adding rice to your cleaning solution. The rice scrubs all those hard to reach places!
Get rid of the smell in your sink by crushing orange or grapefruit peel in the garborator.
Sprinkle borax anywhere you've had rodent problems. They won't come near it.
Mop your floor with vinegar and hot water. Add a touch of olive oil for polish.

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