Thursday, April 2, 2015

Natural, Homemade House Cleaners- Or What Penny Actually Uses in Her Household For Cleaning

Citrus vinegar cleaner
Last week I wrote a post that was very popular, about what actually is used in my household for health and hygiene products, not just what I blog about using ideally, and this post is part two. What we really use to get our house cleaned.
Mostly eco-friendly cleaning products.
But not only.
Because things... (and husbands, lol), sometimes get in the way.

Ok, so, here's what actually, truly goes on in my house. Here's how we actually clean the house, and what we use to clean it...
Starting in the kitchen.

The Dishes.
The bane of my existence!
Seriously- dishes are one of the most annoying chores to do, in my opinion. Tied with laundry. Urgh.
You have no idea how many times I've contemplated getting a dishwasher, but unfortunately there are space constraints (though we have strongly considered getting a cutlery washer- if we can find one being sold here). So for most of our marriage, Mike has been the main dish washer, with me filling in where needed. And when I did the shopping I'd pick up cheap no name brand dish soap on sale, and try to get him to use that. And I'd try to get him to wash the dishes with homemade liquid soap made from my homemade bar soap.
But Mike kept on saying that none of that stuff worked well, and that he ended up needing to use a ton to actually get things clean, and then he would go pop in to the local Mom and Pop's store and come home with all sorts of cleaners, including name brand dish soap. Fairy brand dish soap specifically. And raved about how awesome that stuff was, how it wasn't even more expensive if you actually compare its effectiveness, because you end up needing less dish soap per wash than with the cheaper stuff, so the more expensive soap actually lasts longer and may even work out being cheaper.
Well, now Mike's work hours increased tremendously, and therefore dishwashing has become my job. And though I tried at first using the natural, homemade, and/or cheap soaps, I saw that Mike was right. I am a Fairy convert. Although for most things I believe that name brand is no better than the generic variety, when it comes to dish soap, Fairy wins hands down.
I would love to be able to find a cheap, homemade dish soap that doesn't have any unpleasant chemicals that actually works well for dish washing, but I'm not very convinced that such a thing exists. I am hoping that one day when I figure out how to get my hands on the necessary ingredients to make homemade liquid soap (and not liquified bar soap) I'll see that it works well for dish washing, but until that day comes, I'm a name brand dish soap type of girl.
I try to stock up on it when I see it on sale. But even if not on sale, I still buy it. Because it just works well.

And one day, if I get a dish washer, I'll try out some of the many homemade dish washing detergent recipes that I see all over the internet.

The Kitchen Sink
No Comet or Ajax or anything of the sort to clean my sink. Just a sponge, dish soap, and water. That's it. It works well.

The Floor
Even though Mike is much more busy than he used to be, Mike still does the majority of the floor washing in our house. It's actually a competition between the two of us, which one of us will actually get around to doing it.
You see, because I really cannot stand the smell of regular floor cleaners. The artificial chemically scented stuff really bothers me- it feels cloying and I hate being around it. I don't want the floor washed with that.
Mike, on the other hand, doesn't trust my natural stuff, doesn't think it does "as good of a job" and actually likes the artificial scent that the store bought cleaners leave.
So we each try to be the one to do the floor washing, and depending on the day, one or the other of us gets their way.

So when I do it, I use my homemade citrus infused vinegar mixed with water, and it does a great job, and leaves a fresh citrus cent in the house.
And when Mike does it, he uses the store bought artificially scented floor cleaners. And occasionally uses bleach.
And speaking of bleach...

The Bathroom
Mike is officially responsible for the bathroom. Which means that its up to him how he decides to clean it... and if the fumes bother me... Well, I just try to stay away from the bathroom after it was cleaned.
To be honest, I didn't even know what Mike used to clean the bathroom, so I asked him before writing this post.
His answer? Whatever he needs to. Usually cleaning wipes. (Not Clorox wipes, but some local brand of non bleach cleaning wipes.) Or dish soap and a sponge. And rarely bleach when things aren't white anymore.
If I want things done differently in the bathroom... well, then I'd have to do it myself. But I'm content letting Mike do it for now.
If I'd do it myself, I'd probably use more of the citrus peel vinegar for most of it, and dish soap for the rest. And possibly a baking soda scrub for the bathtub.

Speaking of baking soda...

The Stove and Oven
Oven cleaner is officially banned in my house.
No, seriously.
When I was pregnant with Lee (he's 7.5 now), Mike cleaned the oven with some oven cleaner.
With my uber sensitive pregnant nose, I could not handle the smell. And I couldn't handle Mike's smell afterwards. For weeks he carried a lingering nasty chemical smell and I couldn't bear to even breathe near Mike.
Not fun at all.
Since then, oven cleaner has been banned in our house. Even when I'm not pregnant.
And there's really no need for oven cleaner.

To clean my stove top, I generally use a metal scraper to scrape off any large bits. Occasionally some boiling water to soften anything stuck on really hard. Here and there a drop of dish soap. And a rag to wipe it down. If needed, I'll make a paste of baking soda and water and use a metal scrubby to scrub it off, but that rarely is needed, since the aforementioned does more than enough on its own.
Same thing with the stove.
These things really work.
And don't cause issues with our marriage when someone can't bear to be around someone else because of lingering toxic smelling fumes.

Kitchen Counters
Metal scrapers really are my friends! We love them in our house- they're super, super useful. To clean my kitchen counters I use a metal scraper and water, and occasionally either my citrus peel vinegar or soap, then a sponge and a rag to wipe it down.

Refrigerator and Freezer
No special cleaners for this either. Just a sponge, dish soap, possibly some boiling water to soften anything hard and caked on, and a rag to wipe it down after. That's it.

Windows and Mirrors
I'll be honest- I rarely do these. When I do them, its a cloth with my citrus vinegar. Occasionally Mike does them, and when he does, its with cleaning wipes meant for this purpose.

And last but not least---

The Laundry
Yea, the laundry... I've written quite a few times about laundry, and about my trouble with laundry and actually getting it done. (Says she with a mountain of laundry currently needing to be washed and some laundry sitting in the machine needing to be dried.)
And I've written two different methods of homemade laundry soap- both liquid and powdered.
And yet my laundry is currently being washed with store bought laundry detergent.
Because I still haven't gotten around to making more homemade bar soap. And I use my homemade bar soap in my homemade laundry detergent.
So for now it is store bought laundry detergent. I try to buy it when it is on sale, but don't always manage to- if I run out, I just buy the cheapest stuff I can find...
And as for fabric softener... What's that? Just kidding.
I don't find I need it.
I occasionally will use vinegar in my wash; it softens fabric somewhat. But I generally don't use that.
If I end up leaving my laundry in the machine too long and need to rewash the laundry, I find that even after the second load (with more laundry detergent, of course) it still smells off, unless I do something to counteract that. So when I rewash laundry that sat too long in my machine, I add some of the Downy Unstoppables that I brought back with me from my trip to the US.
And occasionally if I'm not rewashing the laundry, but it doesn't smell as fresh as I'd like it to, I spray it with a bit of an all natural Febreeze alternative (a local company) made from flowers, that smells fresh, but doesn't have an uncomfortable chemical smell.

So, what do you actually use to clean the various things in your house and why those things? Are there any cleaners you'd like to start using but haven't yet?


  1. Well, I've posted my own homemade laundry soap recipe here. I LOVE it! It gets my laundry very clean. I don't use any homemade dish soap or anything else.

    Vinegar is good for cleaning too. I make a citrus vinegar cleaner--by taking orange rind/citrus rinds and soaking them in white vinegar for 3 gives the vinegar a nice citrusy smell and not so vinegary..

  2. I use homemade laundry soap and I love it. I haven't found a homemade dish soap that works yet. I did finally find a homemade dishwasher detergent that works! I also make an all-purpose cleaner spray with vinegar, baking soda, water and a few drops of dish soap. Same with floor cleaner. Vinegar, baking soda, water and a tiny bit of dish soap. I love homemade cleaning products! I think I could probably substitute liquid Castile soap for the dish soap. I'll have to try that.

  3. Great advice on cleaning items :)
    Thank you for sharing :)

  4. I use a solution of cleaner and bleach to do the bathroom. Bleach is the only thing I trust to kill mildew before it starts. As for the cleaner--I could probably do without it, but it just makes me feel a little better to have it in there. If I should come upon castille soap I'll give it a shot.

    Dreft the brand-name dish detergent in our area, and it's the only one I'll buy, too, because it really is one of those products where the name does make a difference. When I clean the floors, I find a drop of dish detergent (and I mean literally a drop) loosens the surface tension of the water and it covers the floors much more easily.

    I am addicted to microfiber cleaning cloths and whenever they go on sale I'll buy a ton of them :-) (this doesn't happen very often)

    And yes, store-bought laundry detergent here, too--but I only use about a quarter of what's recommended. Ten euros for six months' worth of laundry detergent is cheaper than what it costs to make laundry detergent, given how expensive and hard-to-find Borax is.

  5. For the kitchen I use natural lemon oil with hot water. It leaves a fresh smell and a nice shine to the surfaces. I also mix Life Soap brand a liquid soap, but I would think dish soap would work just as well with baking soda. Scrub as usual, let soak if need be, and it looks like new! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Spread on the inside of the oven and leave for a few hours. Use a scourer to remove residue.

  7. Love these real-life posts and comments.

  8. Citrus vinegar- check!
    Home made detergent- check!
    Hating-doing-the-dishes- check!

    I can't use metal scrapers though because my counters are laminate and I would lose my deposit.

    Great post, Penny! I love these real-life posts!

  9. I'm very fond of DIY cleaners. I'm often on the budget and they're the best choice I have (not only cheap but also eco-friendly). My most favourite products for DIY cleaners are lemons and baking soda (by far!).
    Thank you for sharing this amazing article! Keep up the good work!


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