I began making my own cleaning products because I found I was sensitive to some of the commercial cleaners out there (sniffles, headache…), I wanted to save some money while finishing school (after 9 years of post-secondary education I was soooo broke), and I didn’t like all the plastic and other waste I was generating. Seven years in and I would never go back. The time spent making them is minimal, the cleaning results are amazing, and the cost and waste production are significantly reduced.
Whatever your reason, I hope you consider making some of the products below. (These recipes have been adapted over the years through trial and error with some early sourcing of some great blogs out there – I’ve forgotten where I found my initial inspiration so I apologise for not given credit where credit is due).
All the ingredient measurements below are rough estimates because, well, I’m lazy and tossing things together works a lot better than taking the time to measure 🙂
**Make sure to consider your surfaces before using any of the cleaning products below. You should not use abrasives (baking soda) or acidic solutions (vinegar and lemon juice) on some surfaces.
Homemade Citrus Vinegar
Add orange peels to a whole bottle of vinegar (I find two medium oranges do well in the large vinegar bottles you can find at the grocery store) and leave for two weeks. Strain out the orange peels saving the vinegar. Toss the orange peels in the compost and pour the vinegar into whatever bottle you like. I use an old Mr. Clean Orange Floor Cleaner, the last containers I used to clean 7 years ago, and refill it with this “greener” agent.
I then use this citrus vinegar for my floor cleaner and to make most of my other cleaning products as you will see below.
3 cups water
1 cup citrus vinegar
10-20 drops tea tree oil or lavender essential oil
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a spray bottle. You can make your solution a little stronger or weaker depending on what you use it for by adding more vinegar or more water, respectively. I have found that I can add a lot more water and still have great cleaning powers. You can use other essential oils but I would recommend sticking with tea tree, lavender, or citrus for the antibacterial/antimicrobial properties. Use a microfibre cloth to limit streaks and throw in the wash between uses.
I use this to clean almost any surface (not wood or granite), and even windows and mirrors when I’m too lazy to get my window cleaner (very similar solution, below). When cleaning my sinks I’ll use it along with the All-Purpose Scrubbing Agent (below). I even clean my toilet with this (everything but inside the bowl). I’d also like to note that since switching to these natural cleaning products I haven’t had my usual seasonal illnesses/colds, and that myself, my husband, and our baby haven’t been sick more than once or twice.
Window and Mirror Cleaner
1 cup citrus vinegar
4 cups water
10-20 drops of essential oil of choice (I like lavender)
I use an old Windex bottle but you can use any spray bottle. There are many recipes out there that recommend adding a little castile soap, or corn starch, or otherwise, but I find I get streak-free windows and mirrors by using a microfibre cloth. The essential oils are optional but I find the lavender adds a nice scent and takes a little away from the initial vinegar smell. Don’t worry – the vinegar smell is gone very quickly!
All-Purpose Scrubbing Agent
Jar with lid with holes (e.g. old parmesan container or old glass jar with nail holes hammered into the metal lid)
For anything that needs a little extra scrub I will sprinkle some baking soda onto the surface and very little effort later I have a spotless surface 🙂 I will sprinkle this into my kitchen and bathroom sink paired with my all-purpose cleaner for some extra cleaning power. I also use this when cleaning pots and pans with stubborn stuck on food – it gets my corningwear white again! I even use this to sprinkle baking sode into my toilet bowl for my toilet bowl cleaner (below).Caution use with scratchable surfaces (e.g. stainless steel).
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Sprinkle a little of each into the bowl depending on how dirty the bowl is, and scrub away with your toilet brush. If your toilet bowl is really gross, you can add in a little borax for some additional cleaning power.
Shower and Super-Cleaning Cream Scrub
2 tbsp baking soda
1 squirt dish soap
Mix the above ingredients together with enough lemon juice to make a thick paste. You can use a little more baking sode and dish soap if making a larger batch depending on the amount of surface you are cleaning. I usually will wet the surface and then, using a wet sponge, scrub away. This gets your shower or tub squeeky clean as the baking soda adds some scrubbing power to the grease-fighting powers of the dish soap, and the lemon adds some antibacterial properties to the mix. You can also use this on your sink for extra cleaning power.
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup washing soda
1/4 cup citric acid (or 1/2 cup powdered lemonade)
1/4 cup sea salt
Mix ingredients and store in a tightly sealed container. Use 2-3 tsp per load. Use with homemade citrus vinegar as rinse agent for sparkling dishes every time!
Homemade Laundry Detergent
3 cups washing soda
3 cups borax
1 cup oxygen cleaner
1 bar of laundry soap, grated
Mix above ingredients thoroughly and store in a tightly-sealed container. Use 1-2 tbsp per load (or more if particularly soiled)
I hope you enjoy some of the recipes above, and stay tuned for my post on body care products!