By Leslie Vandever
There’s an old saying: “there are only two things you can count on in this life: death and taxes.” I’d like to add one more: housework. No matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, one of the things that heads the domestic to-do list is housework. Sure, there are people out there who never clean up their living spaces. My opinion? Eww. Just, eww.
So, I presume you’re reading this because you realize that like it or not, you have to clean the house now and then because of, well, sanitation. It’s a big, beautiful old world we live in, but it’s dirty. And germy. Maybe you’re worried about the chemical household cleaners available at your local store and possible allergic reactions. What are they doing to you and your family? And the environment? Finally, you’d just like to save a little money. Who wouldn’t? It turns out that you can make your own household cleaners out of just a few, mostly inexpensive, natural substances—and it’s so easy it’s almost embarrassing.
The Basics for a Clean, Green House
For a household environment that’s not only green, but clean, get these ecologically-friendly substances at your local grocery or hardware store:
- baking soda (bicarbonate of soda): mild abrasive, natural deodorizer
- sodium borate (borax): a non-toxic mineral, boosts detergents and household cleaners, disinfects surfaces and removes stains in clothing
- isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol: disinfects, cleans, evaporates quickly
- white vinegar: mildly acidic, dissolves dirt, soap scum and hard water deposits from smooth surfaces, natural deodorizer (vinegar smell vanishes when dry)
- lemon juice: mildly acidic, it cuts grease, kills mold and mildew, deodorizes and smells wonderful
- ammonia: general-purpose cleaner for glass, porcelain, stainless steel and other surfaces. Great for glass; it dries streak-free. (Never mix ammonia with bleach (or vinegar); the combination produces a toxic, deadly vapor).
- hydrogen peroxide: bubbling action cleans surfaces and lifts stains
- castile soap: pure, mild, natural soap
- washing soda: (carbonate of soda): softens laundry water
Homemade Household Cleaner Recipes
With the above ingredients, you can whisk together several cleaning mixtures that work just as well as the far more expensive, far less green cleaning products found at the grocery store.
For scrubbing hard surfaces: ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup borax, a little castile soap. Combine the first two ingredients, then add the liquid soap to make a fine paste. Add a few drops of lemon juice for the scent, if you like.
Toilet cleaner: 1 cup of borax, ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice. Combine to make a paste, then apply to the inside of the toilet bowl. Scrub and leave for a couple of hours, then flush away.
All-purpose sanitizer: 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 to 4 cups hot water. Place ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix. For extra power, add ¼ teaspoon of liquid castile soap.
Glass and windows: 3 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Windows are really dirty? Try ½ teaspoon of liquid castile soap, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 cups of water. For streak-free windows every time, use sheets of newspaper instead of paper towels.
Deodorize the garbage disposer: drop a slice of lemon, with the rind, into the disposer and grind it up.
See how easy those are to make? A quick Internet search is all you need to find many, many more. Just search for “homemade household cleaners.” To learn more about a variety of health topics for you and your family click here.
Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. Although her half-Finnish, ultra-neat-nik mother strove to teach her proper housekeeping skills as she grew up, they didn’t take until Leslie’s own daughter was born. That was when she developed the “‘eeew test:'” if it’s dirty enough to make you go “eeew” involuntarily, it absolutely must be cleaned. Perhaps sterilized. Leslie lives in the foothills of Northern California.
Check out more great health related articles at Healthline.com
Non-toxic Home Cleaning. (n.d.) Eartheasy. Solutions for Sustainable Living. Retrieved on April
14, 2014 from http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm
Make Your Own Cleaners. (n.d.) Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved on April 14, 2014 from