October 30, 2012

Homemade Cleaning Essentials

The way I clean my home has changed drastically over the past year. It has become easier, safer, and much cheaper. Here are my current criteria for cleaning methods
  1. It must actually work.
  2. It has to be cheap.
  3. It should be easy to use.
  4. Ideally, it's also non-toxic.
I'd love to share the recipes I've found for household cleaning products that generally meet those standards. I use five inexpensive essentials to make just about every cleaner, and several of those ingredients are items most people keep on hand anyway.

White vinegar
Liquid dish detergent
Fels-naptha laundry soap
Washing soda

Since I didn't create any of the below recipes on my own, I'll try to give credit where it's due and link to the first place I remember seeing each recipe.

Laundry Soap
Recipe here.

This recipe was originally a gift to me at a bridal shower. I think this is our biggest money-saver, as we spend only about $10 per year on laundry supplies. We wash all loads of laundry with this, and it works marvelously.

All-Purpose Kitchen and Glass Cleaner
to wipe down countertops and appliances, clean out the fridge, wipe the table, and clean glass

In a spray bottle, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar in one quart of water.

That's it. It's done.
Because of its acidity, vinegar has long been known to kill germs, mold, and bacteria. For extra antibacterial power, I like to add a few drops of tea tree oil to the solution as well. 
The basic idea for this cleaner came from Tsh Oxenreider's book Organized Simplicity, which contains my philosophy on homemaking. Every bride should receive a copy of that book when she's setting up house.

Bathroom Cleaner 

to clean the bathtub, the sink, the toilet bowl, even the bathroom floor

‎1 part dishwashing liquid
1 part heated white vinegar. 
Mix together in a spray bottle. Spray on surface and let sit for an hour or more, then wipe. 

I used to believe that nothing could top Scrubbing Bubbles to cut through the hard water deposits and soap scum in our bathroom. I was so wrong! Notice that I use this to also clean my bathroom floor. I spray it on the floor, let it sit, and then wipe it with a rag or scrub with a scrub brush. Scrubbing on hands and knees is easier for me since our bathroom is so tiny, but I bet in a bigger room you could spray it onto the floor, let it sit, and then just mop it up.
I found this recipe on Pinterest. However, I disagree with the claim that you must use blue Dawn dish detergent in order for the cleaner to work. I have not found that to be true. I originally made my first several batches with blue Dawn, but since then I've used cheap, store brand dishwashing liquid. It works just as well for me. 

Dishwashing Method

1/4 cup washing soda
1/4 cup white vinegar

Fill both sides of the sink half-full of hot water. Into one side, add washing soda and stir a bit to dissolve. Into the other side, add vinegar. Pile dirty dishes into the side with washing soda. Wash them with a rag or sponge, using just the washing soda water. Then drop them into the vinegar water to rinse.

I used to hate washing dishes. I would let them pile up because I dreaded standing at the sink washing each dish and then maneuvering it around to rinse it under running water. I came across this method online, but I honestly cannot find the page where I originally read it. The author claimed that pioneer women in wagon trains heading west used this method to wash dishes on the trail. So now I legitimately feel like I'm living Little House on the PrairieBut seriously, washing dishes now doesn't seem to take half as long as it did before. It's also cheaper to use washing soda and vinegar than to go through bottle after bottle of dishwashing liquid. I love how the vinegar water helps my dishes dry quickly and spot-free.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash
for removing pesticides and other residues from fresh produce

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

Mix in a spray bottle. Spray onto produce before peeling or eating. Rinse with water.

I'm not sure where I first read about this, but washing produce with vinegar is pretty common. This is essentially just a stronger version of my all-purpose cleaner, with lemon juice added. I store this in the fridge.

Jewelry Cleaner

1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda (or washing soda)
1 Tbsp. dish detergent
1 cup water
1 piece foil

"Heat water for 1-2 minutes in the microwave. Place foil in the bottom of any kind of bowl. Place salt, baking soda and detergent on top of foil and pour water over everything. Place jewelry in the cleaner and let it soak 10-20 minutes. Rinse, then dry."

See the original recipe at Living on a Dime. I use this to clean all my jewelry, including my wedding rings. Use common sense, though; pearls and certain gems I don't own might be allergic to this recipe. 

This is how I've been cleaning for a while now, and I have fun with it! Do you have a frugal, safe cleaning recipe to share?


  1. Just yesterday I used a combo of lemon juice and super washing soda to clean my bathroom floor. I made it into a paste and scrubbed with a hard brush around the toilet and then the rest of the floor. We have a small bathroom so it wasn't too bad. I had read that this mixture was really supposed to help with the "little boy smell" that had permeated our bathroom. It did!

    1. Thanks for sharing that idea! I'm definitely going to try it out on Friday!