Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frugal Homemade Cleaners for the Home

In the September 15, 2009, issue of Woman's Day, there were some ideas for cleaning for less money.  Some of the ideas included:

Air Freshener:  Put some drops of essential oil in a saucepan of water.  Just boil a little and then let simmer for a bit.  The aroma will go through the house.

Pan of water and three essential oils.

I combined ten drops each of three essential oils:  mandarin, ravensara, and bergamot.  After bringing the water to almost a boil, I simmered for about a half an hour.  The house smelled wonderful.  What I liked about this is that there were no chemicals or artifical smells...only water and essential oils.

Water with essential oils simmering on the stove.

Window and Glass Cleaner:  Put 1 part ammonia, 3 parts water, and a dot of dishwashing soap in a spray bottle.

Although this may be a frugal household cleaner, the ammonia (even in its 1:3 ratio) is not something I want to use in my home. 

According to New York's Department of Health, "Ammonia is irritating and corrosive....Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.  Children exposed to the same concentrations of ammonia vapor as adults may receive a larger dose because they have greater lung surface area-to-body weight ratios and increased minute volumes-to-weight ratios.

"In addition, they may be exposed to higher concentrations than adults in the same location because of their shorter height and the higher concentrations of ammonia vapor initially found near the ground.

"Exposure to low concentrations of ammonia in air or solution may produce rapid skin or eye irritation."

So, I looked for an alternative natural window and mirror cleaner, and found several that use vinegar as a base instead. 
Ingredients for Homemade Window Cleaner:
Vinegar, Essential Oils, Water, and Empty Spray Bottle.

Combining these recipes, I came up with my own for cleaning windows and mirrors:

1/2 cup of vinegar
12 drops rosemary essential oil
12 drops peppermint essential oil

Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into a spray bottle and fill it within a couple of inches from the top with water. Add the essential oils.  Place the top on the bottle and gently shake it. 

To use, spray it on the surface (window or mirror). Rub it with a lint-free rag.  (Note: Test a small area of your mirror or window before cleaning the entire surface.)

Initially, I didn't shake the essential oils to distribute them throughout the bottle, so the only thing that was spraying onto the windows was vinegar.  Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant smell. 

I shook the bottle a bit, and then sprayed it on a window.  What a difference!  The smell of peppermint and rosemary filled the area I was working in.  It was such a refreshing change from the lavender-scented window cleaner I've been using. Even though it's an all-natural cleaner, it is nice to have a different scent that I like when I clean the home.

Clean windows...without any chemicals!

The last product I made wasn't in Woman's Day, it was one that I saw on the internet that I wanted to try.  It's for homemade laundry detergent. 

Ingredients for homemade laundry soap.

1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup Washing Soda (this is not baking soda...washing soda is found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup Borax

Finely grate the bar of Fels Naptha Soap so that you have two cups total. 

Grating Fels Naptha Sopa.

Mix the ingredients well and store in an airtight plastic container.  Use two tablespoons per full load.

Homemade laundry soap.

There's another homemade laundry detergent that I'm going to make that doesn't use Fels Naptha Soap, that is more eco-friendly.  This recipe comes from HERE; and makes approximately five cups: 

2 cups (finely) grated castile soap (e.g., Dr. Bronner's lavender)
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
10 drops lavender essential oil (or blend of essential oils of your choice)

Mix all the ingredients together. Store in airtight container like a mason jar or glass canister. Start with about 1/8 a cup per load and go from there. You may need to give the jar a shake or a stir once in a while to prevent the soap flakes from settling to the bottom. Recipe doubles well.


Anonymous said...

Love you blog. reading it I thought you might like my post about homemade body lotion :)

I really like your use of the essential oils. I'd naver thought about that. I'm gonna make my own loundry detergent - that's for sure!
happy I have found your blog.

San Francisco Carpet Cleaners said...

I their any other option rather than adding vinegar in the solution, as I don't like the smell of vinegar.

Andrea said...

I use methylated spirits and water for window cleaner. I haven't tried adding essential oils - but that would make it smell better.

Stephanie said...

Found you through Pinterest....I have yet to try homemade laundry soap. Do you think it works? I live in red dirt and am trying to decide. And does it save money? I think I might just have to try it to try it. And love that you have adopted from China. I have friends that have done the same. We have adopted from Ethiopia.