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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Non Toxic House Cleaners

Spring cleaning is either underway or about to being in homes across the globe. All the cleaning solutions being used can add up to a hefty sum. Here's a few useful homemade cleaning solutions, with the added benefit that they're all made with non toxic materials, so you don't have to worry about keeping them out of reach of small children or being careful not to breathe them in. (Some of them have been previously shared; I compiled them now into a more thorough list.)
Most of these homemade cleaners can be made from the following products that can be found either around the house or at the local grocery store, but usually will be significantly cheaper if bought in bulk. The only less common ingredient, borax, can be found either in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soaps or at the hardware store.

Useful ingredients:
White vinegar kills mold, bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc... and acts as a water softener, deodorizer, and general cleaner.
Borax is a naturally found mineral that disinfects and makes other cleaners work more effectively.
Baking soda is an ingredient familiar to most bakers, but it can also be used in many cleaning applications, including grease fighting, as a whitener and deodorizer and as a disinfectant.
Washing soda is less well known, but is called for in a large variety of cleaning recipes. You can find washing soda sold next to borax, or you can make it yourself by heating baking soda to 400 degrees in the oven for half an hour. (The texture will change significantly letting you know when the transformation is complete.)
Salt works as an abrasive, grease and stain remover, and disinfectant and is frequently used to clean dishes and laundry among other things.
Citric acid is a powdered form of the acid found in citrus fruit and works as a water softener, bleach, and even removes lime deposits. (Try boiling your tea kettle with citric acid and water and watch it work its magic.)
Ivory bar soap is one of the more pure types of soap out there and is used in homemade laundry soap.
Lemon juice acts as a disinfectant, degreaser, and whitener.

Useful tools:
Scrapers, both with razor edges and without.
Steel wool
Scrub brushes, both with plastic and metal bristles
Sponges and scouring pads.
Rags, both made from old absorbent cotton and microfiber cloths
Old toothbrushes
Spray bottles, either from the dollar store or recycled empty bottles from bought cleaners.
Small broom and dustpan

Oven and stove cleaning with homemade cleaner
Oven cleaner is one of the most expensive and toxic chemicals out there, and as someone who worked as a cleaning lady, I found something that was much less harsh on my lungs and worked just as well as the store bought alternative.
1. Remove stove grates. Soak them in water with vinegar while you move on to the next steps.
2. Clean up any liquids on the stove with a rag. You'll want to start with a stove that is only slightly damp. Use a small broom to brush off any large dry particles like beans, rice, and dried pasta.
3. Pour liberal amounts of baking soda allover the stove top. I probably use a quarter of a cup or more for a very dirty stove. If the stove is completely dry, add a few drops of water as well. Using a scouring pad, steel wool, or scrub brush, scrub the dirty spots with the baking soda. Use a scraper for the more difficult sections. The dirt should come off very easily. Sweep off the dirty baking soda with your small broom and check for any dirty spots. If there's any dirt remaining, repeat as needed.
4. For more stubborn stains, pour small amounts of boiling water on them (being careful as water in the internal parts of the stove can ruin the stove). After let them soak for a few minutes, use a scraper or steel wool to remove the dirt, using baking soda as necessary.
5. Wipe down the stove with a damp cloth to get it to shine.
6. Rinse off the oven grates and wash them either with dish soap and scouring pads, or with a baking soda mixture.

To clean an oven works much the same way. Baking soda made into a paste will work better for this purpose, and depending on how dirty the oven is, you'll probably need to use the scraper very frequently.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner
Ingredients:
Citrus peels leftover from eaten oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruit, etc.
White vinegar
Water

Instructions:
1.1. In a large container, put your discarded citrus peels. Cover them with vinegar. As you eat more citrus fruit, add them to the container and add more vinegar to cover.
2.Let the mixture sit for approximately 2 weeks until the vinegar becomes a golden color and smells strongly of citrus.
3.Strain out the liquid into another container, mixing it with equal parts water.

The oil found in citrus peels works as a strong degreaser and cleaning agent. (Citrus oil even is used as a non toxic solvent in dentistry.) Paired with vinegar, its an unbeatable match.
Use this all purpose cleaner for nearly everything. Mixed with larger quantities of water, it makes a terrific floor cleaner. It also cleans surfaces such as counters, sinks, mirrors, windows, bathtubs, toilets, etc...

Homemade “Windex”
1.Mix half a cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water, and put in a spray bottle.
2.Spray your surface with this mixture and use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:
Ingredients:
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
½ cup citric acid
½ cup kosher salt
White vinegar

Instructions:
1.Mix the first four ingredients together. Put 1 rounded tablespoon in the soap compartment for each load.
2.Fill the rinse agent compartment with white vinegar.

Homemade Drain Cleaner
Use this in place of Drano to unclog your sink drains if the water starts going down too slowly.
1. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain..
2. Pour half a cup of citric acid or 1 cup of vinegar into the drain.
3. Pour boiling water down the drain and watch the chemical reaction happen. By the time the bubbles clear up, your sink will be ready to go.

Homemade Wood Furniture Polish
1. Add a dash of lemon juice to a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mix very well.
2. Dip a rag into the mixture and wipe down the surface of the wood. All the dirt and grime should come right off.
3. Use another rag to wipe down the wood and remove any excess oil. At this point, your wood should shine.

Homemade Refrigerator Cleaner
1. Make a paste from baking soda and water, and use it with a scrub brush or rag to clean all the surfaces.
2. Wipe down with a clean rag, and use boiling water as needed on tougher spots.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1. Pour ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into the toilet bowl.
2. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then clean what remains with a scrub brush.

Homemade Air Freshener
Boil water with cinnamon and vanilla to give your home a pleasant smell after a mishap.
Alternatively, cups of vinegar left around will absorb the bad smell (you only are able to smell the vinegar from really close up after a few minutes).

Homemade Laundry Soap (see link for instructions with homemade soap bars)
Ingredients:
1 bar of Ivory soap
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
4 cups of water AND
9 gallons of water
Essential oils (optional)

Instructions:
1. Grate soap into small pieces. Mix with 4 cups of water, and heat it on the stove. Stir until it all dissolves
2. Add the washing soda and borax to the soap and water mixture. Mix until it all dissolves.
3. Add 5 more gallons- and mix well.
4. Let your mixture sit overnight to thicken and gel.
In the morning add another 5 gallons of water and mix well. You may need to split this into two containers to do so.
6. Add essential oils if you want. Essential oils like tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, and lavender oil have antibacterial properties in addition to contributing a nice smell to the soap. Note that unless you use a lot of soap, the smell will be very faint once you take it out of the machine. Essential oils are unnecessary but make a nice addition to the laundry detergent.
7. Shake your soap before use.

Use between 1/4 cup and 1 cup of laundry detergent in each load, depending on whether you have a top loader or front loader, the hardness of your water, and the dirtiness of the load. Officially you're not supposed to use homemade laundry detergent on diapers, but I've used it and had no problem with it.

Which homemade cleaners do you use in your home? What are your most loved cleaning tools?
I "can't live" without my scraper!

2 comments:

  1. Non toxic is definitely the best way to clean a house. It might be harder but it's worth all the work at the end of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really like you homemade recipes! I myself have quite a few homemade solutions at home, however I have never tried the laundry soap one. I think I will now! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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