Homemade, Green Cleaning Supplies

May 8th, 2013 / Comments 14

May means sunlit, yellow-green buds on willow trees, familiar bird songs, spring peepers in the pond, and an overwhelming desire to make everything clean. I took a slow walk down the cleaning products aisle at the grocery store and found products with labels that promise maximum force, triple power, instant stain removal and ultimate cleaning. Did I want a heavy-duty, commercial, professional or industrial strength cleaners? Was the wisest choice a gel, a cream, a spray, scrubbing bubbles, a cleaning wand, a cleaning pen or a complete cleaning system? What is a complete cleaning system anyhow? And then there were the “magic” sponges and “miracle” cleaners. Is it ethical to buy Mr. Clean or the Janitor in a drum? Would they each need a room of their own? It was confusing! I was tempted to believe that there might be a product that would make everything sparkle with little effort, but after reading labels with long lists of chemicals with unfamiliar names and warnings of danger, I left empty handed.

Vinegar Lable Homemade, Green Cleaning Supplies

I had made a cleaning solution when I was eight. I was a fan of the Mr. Wizard television show and when he cleaned a copper penny with a lemon wedge that had been sprinkled with salt, I couldn’t wait to experiment on our copper kettle. I sprinkled a spoonful of salt onto a lemon half and rubbed the tarnished kettle. In no time, the kettle was transformed from a dull brown to an embarrassing pink. I was hooked. After the kettle, I cleaned the copper bottoms of the saucepans and then all the pennies I could find.I’ve discovered that I can make cleaning products, with non-toxic chemicals from my pantry.

baking soda label Homemade, Green Cleaning Supplies

May means sunlit, yellow-green buds on willow trees, familiar bird songs, spring peepers in the pond, and an overwhelming desire to make everything clean. I took a slow walk down the cleaning products aisle at the grocery store and found products with labels that promise maximum force, triple power, instant stain removal and ultimate cleaning. Did I want a heavy-duty, commercial, professional or industrial strength cleaners? Was the wisest choice a gel, a cream, a spray, scrubbing bubbles, a cleaning wand, a cleaning pen or a complete cleaning system? What is a complete cleaning system anyhow? And then there were the “magic” sponges and “miracle” cleaners. Is it ethical to buy Mr. Clean or the Janitor in a drum? Would they each need a room of their own? It was confusing! I was tempted to believe that there might be a product that would make everything sparkle with little effort, but after reading labels with long lists of chemicals with unfamiliar names and warnings of danger, I left empty handed.

I had made a cleaning solution when I was eight. I was a fan of the Mr. Wizard television show and when he cleaned a copper penny with a lemon wedge that had been sprinkled with salt, I couldn’t wait to experiment on our copper kettle. I sprinkled a spoonful of salt onto a lemon half and rubbed the tarnished kettle. In no time, the kettle was transformed from a dull brown to an embarrassing pink. I was hooked. After the kettle, I cleaned the copper bottoms of the saucepans and then all the pennies I could find.

 

Here’s how I made them:

Spray Cleaner

The simplest cleaning solution is equal parts of white vinegar and water poured into a recycled spray bottle. I use it to clean plastic laminate and granite counters, to remove soap scum from ceramic tile, and to clean mirrors and windows. It is gentle enough to use on hardwood floors.

Powder Cleanser

I filled a recycled sugar shaker with baking soda to use as an all-purpose cleanser. Used with a damp sponge, baking soda is abrasive enough to remove a bathtub ring, scour a sink, a stainless steel cook top or saucepans. Baking soda, from a sugar shaker, is not a tasty addition to a bowl of cereal or a cup of tea, so it and all of my homemade cleaning supplies are clearly labeled.

Soft Scrub Paste

I added liquid soap to baking soda to make a paste with the consistency of applesauce and added a half a teaspoon of glycerin to prevent the paste from drying out. Used with a sponge and old-fashioned ‘elbow grease’, this paste scrubs and bubbles as it removes cooked-on food from ceramic baking dishes and coffee and tea stains from mugs without scratching delicate glazes. The glycerin, available at most drug stores, has no affect on the cleaning strength of the paste and can be left out.

Furniture Polish

Although it sounds like a recipe for salad dressing, I’ve found that a cloth misted with a light spritz of a mixture of a teaspoon of olive oil and half a cup of white vinegar is a non-toxic and effective solution to use when dusting and polishing wood furniture.

I haven’t limited homemade products to cleaning supplies, I have also created some health and beauty product with pantry staples. I used a mixture of granulated sugar and olive oil to scrub the grime from my hands after I had harvested the last potatoes from the garden. I put a teaspoon of sugar in the palm of my hand, added a few drops of olive oil and rubbed it into my hands and finished with warm water and soap. Sugar and oil work for getting rid of dry sky on heels and elbows and don’t dry my skin like scrubs made with salt and oil.

Stick Deodorant

I love the homemade, unscented deodorant I learned about from my daughter-in-law, Rachel. It’s a simple mixture of five tablespoons of coconut oil blended with a quarter of a cup of baking soda and a quarter of a cup of cornstarch. I filled an empty, recycled deodorant container with it and it works like a charm. The deodorant is gentle on my skin and doesn’t leave any residue on my clothes. It melts at about 80º so I keep it in a cool spot and store it in the fridge in very hot weather. Coconut oil can be found near the nut and vegetable oils in many grocery stores.

Homemade kitchen and bathroom supplies don’t come in fancy packages with fantastic promises, but they are economical, safe and effective. It is important to label what you make.

Click here to download labels you can print for your homemade cleaning supplies.

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