Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Do-It-Yourself: Household Cleaners

So I know this isn't a post you would normally find on a food blog, but the recipes were recently requested by some of my couponing MOPS friends, so I thought I'd share these frugal cleaning recipes that my dear friend Jana compiled a few years ago and that I've added to/tweaked over the years. Most of the recipes come from the book "Better Basics for the Home," which is filled with great ideas for household items that are made from non-toxic materials. The following items will clean most anything in your house and really only take a few minutes (once you have the supplies) put together. They are also much healthier for you and your family. Many illnesses are actually caused by cleaning products (which you will notice often say "hazardous material" on the bottle).

5 Basic Ingredients For Less Toxic Cleaning
1. Baking soda
2. Washing soda
3. Liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronners, I have used Ecover dish soap in some of the recipes too)
4. Vinegar
5. Essential oils

Antiseptic: Capable of preventing infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.
Antibacterial: Anything that destroys bacteria or suppresses their growth or their ability to reproduce.

Lightly Lavender
1-teaspoon essential oil of lavender
2 cups water
*I like to add vinegar in a 1-4 ratio with the water – it is more effective than most industrial cleaners, the lavender helps reduce the sour smell of the vinegar and water alone.
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle, shake to blend, then spray. There is no need to wipe off. Lavender is highly antiseptic. Uses: air freshener (w/o the vinegar), to spray down toys, light switches and countertops

Basic Formula for Antiseptic All-purpose Cleaner
Up to 1-teaspoon antiseptic essential oil (thyme, sweet orange, lemongrass, rose, clove, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, birch, lavender, or tea tree)
1-teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons borax
1/2-teaspoon liquid soap
2 cups hot water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to dissolve and blend the minerals. I like to spray this cleaner onto a surface, and then leave it for 15 min. or so before I wipe it up with a wet rag, this gives the essential oil's antiseptic qualities time to work. Uses: Great for cleaning the kitchen or bathroom.

Basic Soft Scrubber Formula
1/2-cup baking soda (or borax)
Enough liquid soap to make a frosting like consistency
15 drops essential oil antibacterial essential oil (thyme, sweet orange, lavender, clove, rosemary, tea tree or cinnamon)
Place the baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of frosting. Add a few drops essential oil and stir that in. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge or rag and wash the surface. Rinse well. Uses: bathtubs, sinks, countertops

Toilet Bowl Sizzler
1/2 cup each baking soda and white distilled vinegar
Pour the ingredients into the toilet. Let sizzle, then scrub. Flush.

All Purpose Window Cleaner
1/4-cup white distilled vinegar
1/2-teaspoon liquid soap (optional)
2 cups water
A few drops of essential oil, for scent (optional)
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, and shake to blend. Spray on, then remove with a paper towel (or newspaper – trick to avoid streaks). I prefer to use just vinegar and hot water for windows, mirrors, etc. Uses: windows, glass and mirrors

Basic Wood Cleaning Formula
1/4-cup white distilled vinegar
1/4-cup water
1/2-teaspoon liquid soap
A few drops olive oil
3-5 drops fragrant essential oil (optional)
Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a screw top. Shake well before each use. Dip rag in formula and squeeze out excess.

Deodorizing Spray
8 drops lavender oil
4 drops each bergamot and clove oil
2 drops oil of peppermint
1/2-cup vodka
1/2-cup water
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spritz into air four or five times in areas you feel need freshening.

Laundry Soap (aka Bucket of Boogers)
1 bar Fels Naptha (or Ivory soap)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1-teaspoon essential oil (whatever fragrance you like. I like to use the antibacterial or antiseptic)
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2-gallon size~

Grate the soap and put it in a saucepan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap dissolves. Add the washing soda, the borax and the essential oil. Stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use 1/2 cup per load. If you don't have a big enough bucket you may need to cut the formula in half. You can get big buckets with lids from Target or any hardware store.

Floor Cleaner
1 gallon hot water
1/2 cup vinegar
1 squirt eco-friendly dish soap or Dr. Bronners
essential oils of your choice (optional)

I almost forgot to include this last recipe and I use it all the time. It is also great for cleaning the walls of your shower/tub. I prefer the soft scrub formula for the actual tub.

**If you are using essential oils with little ones in the house, lavender and eucalyptus are very safe! As they get older they can handle other scents as well.

There are so many non-toxic and natural cleaning recipes out there that there is no need to purchase the hazardous materials found in retail stores. Anytime I need to get rid of a stain or clean an item that I don't have a recipe on hand for - I go to the internet to see what I can find. So, get yourself some spray bottles and hop to it! The washing soda might be the most difficult item to find - check the grocery store aisles. I buy baking soda in mass quantity at Sam's Club and the essential oils at a health food store (or I order online - I like the NOW brand, very reasonably priced). Oh and did I mention that this will likely save you money? Not only will you not have to buy expensive cleaners, but your family should be healthier (less money on medications - another blog post and doctor visits). One more benefit - your home will smell wonderful (not like chemicals) when you are done cleaning and you get to pick the scents:)!

If you liked this post, be sure to check back on Thursdays when I add new Recipes for the Home.


  1. I love this kind of thing! I am in the process of converting my whole family. =) Also new recipies of any kind are always welcome. Thanks!

  2. this is a silly question but when a recipe says liquid soap what liquid soap are you using? dish soap, hand soap or something else. thank you


  3. It kind of depends. I like to use Dr. Bronner's liquid soap for most recipes, but I have also used Ecover dish soap for my floors. I think either would do. My preference is to use an environmentally friendly soap that's chemical free.

  4. Do you have a recommendation on the best cleaner to use for washing walls? How about a furniture polish for wood floors? I have hear of people using Olive oil but haven't tried it myself.

    1. I like the floor cleaner recipe for washing walls. I might have a furniture polish recipe too - keep checking back to see new Recipes for the Home.

    2. I found and posted a floor wax for wood floors that may also work on furniture. Here it is: http://delicious-nutritious.blogspot.com/2012/01/floor-wax-thats-good-for-your-hands.html

  5. Those are wonderful...have you ever tried dishwasher detergent? I have been looking for a recipe. Thanks, Karen
    Sippy Cup Central

    1. I really like Crunchy Betty's homemade dishwasher detergent. It's a washing soda, borax & sea salt mixture.

    2. I'll have to check that out. The recipe that I have used in the past did not work well. Thanks for posting.

  6. I have tried dishwasher detergent and it wasn't the best. It was a combo of baking soda, washing soda, citric acid (in the form of lemonade) and Borax - with vinegar in the rinse aid. I still use vinegar as my rinse aid and sometimes add baking soda, washing soda and Borax to my Seventh Generation dish detergent (typically bought with coupons on double coupon day).

  7. I have been trying to find a good stainless steel cleaner. My mom told me vinegar and water, but the water drips on it aren't going away. Any ideas?

    1. I can't think of anything different off hand, but I'll look for something. Is it the mineral stains from water? Is it a sink, faucet, appliance, or other that you are trying to clean?

    2. I found some recipes for stainless steel and posted it this week. Here is the link if you missed it. http://delicious-nutritious.blogspot.com/2012/02/dirty-sink-clean-sink.html