There comes a time in everyone’s life, I think, where they stop and think, “What am I doing?” That point for me came when I was 7 months pregnant and cleaning all the smoke grime off everything in our new apartment. I was limited in the things I could use because of the pregnancy and I had to stop and ask why I would use harmful chemicals in my home when there would soon be a helpless baby in it. It made no sense to me to go back to using those things that could make her sick.
And so began my research into all things natural – at least where cleaning products were concerned. I tried to find anything I could to clean floors, counters, bathrooms, that would surface clean but also be antibacterial and get rid of the things I couldn’t see. For a while I was just using soap and water, which is great for daily clean-ups, but I also wanted to make sure I had something I could use for a really good deep clean. After scouring the internet and Pinterest I think I’ve found something that will get a really good clean, with ingredients I already have at home, and will be safe to use around my little girl (who is getting into everything!).
In a quart-size jar (any glass jar would work great – we use old spaghetti or apple butter jars) put citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc.) and fill jar with vinegar. Feel free to add spices (use whole cloves or leaves, not ground spices, for a richer scent) to change up the scent. That’s it. Two ingredients. Let sit for a week or two in a cool, dark place like a cabinet to let the vinegar pull out the oils from your citrus and spices. Put into a spray bottle or keep in the jar and dunk and ring out a rag to use it that way.
*Use on any surface – counters, tables, sinks, tile floors, windows, mirrors. I also use it on our old leather couches and it cleans really well, but if you have newer leather furniture do some more research before using it to be sure it won’t ruin anything.
UPDATE (09/05/16): The last two times I’ve made this I couldn’t stand the smell of the fruity vinegar. So from now on, I will just be using straight vinegar for those things. Man, am I sad. I like the smell of citrus cleaners.
Basic Drain Cleaner
After much research into what I could use to make a homemade drain cleaner I think I finally found one that would be natural and safe thanks to Bren at Bren Did. She did some research into homemade drain cleaners and has come up with some great ways to address common problems so you can avoid calling a plumber and using harmful chemical-laden products. Check out her blog post for her research and the ideas she’s come up with but I will share the one that I most use.
Half cup salt
2 liters of boiling water.
Simple and uses ingredients you already have easy access to. Pour the salt down the drain followed by slowly pouring in the boiling water. Then run some warm tap water down the drain. Doing this on a regular basis will help keep your drains running smoothly.
Heavy Duty Drain Cleaner
If your drain is running extra slow and you need a little more “kick” to your cleaner, you can make a drain volcano using
Pour baking soda down the drain, followed by the vinegar. Let all of that work together for awhile, probably 10 minutes or so, then slowly pour boiling water down the drain to get everything moving again.
Powdered Laundry Soap
Frugality was the main reason I looked for this homemade recipe. Our budget is super tight, especially now that there’s a little one and I’m no longer working. The things I was looking for in my search for this recipe was safe ingredients that would be gentle enough for baby skin, tough enough to really clean the clothes (particularly spit up, poop-splosions, etc.), and with ingredients that wouldn’t break the bank. Enter my Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap.
2 cups baking soda*
2 cups borax
1 laundry soap bar (I use Fels Naptha)
In a large container mix together baking soda and borax. Grate, blend, or use a food processor to break down the laundry soap bar, depending on how fine you want it to be. I grate it and it works just fine. (If you decide to blend or use a food processor, cut the bar into smaller pieces so your machine doesn’t have to work so hard to break it down.) Mix everything together and you’re ready to go. Use one tablespoon per load, or two tablespoons for an extra large load. I use 1T for all of our clothes, 2T for towels and sheets, and 2T for cloth diapers with an extra rinse to make sure to get out all the soap particles. Super easy and lasts for a long time. *I’ve read in a lot of different places that washing soda is better for this sort of thing. I have not tried it because I have never been able to find it in any of my local stores, but I will say baking soda works great. So use what you have, it’ll get the job done.
I hate cleaning the shower. I’ve always used the store bought cleaners that say “No Scrub” because who really wants to spend a lot of time scrubbing the shower. But no matter what brand I buy – no scrub or not – I have to get on my hands and knees and scrub and still nothing happens. There always seems to be some kind of stain leftover. And no matter what I do I can’t get rid of it. Well, no more! I have found the solution, using things I already have at home. No chemicals, super cheap. Quick, easy, and minimal scrubbing.
Vinegar, in a spray bottle
Get the tub wet (so the baking soda will stay where you want it). Sprinkle baking soda all over the tub. The sides are harder to get at, but I’m sure you can probably figure out how to make it work. Then spray all over with vinegar. For the most part you won’t get the volcano reaction, but I promise it is working. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, letting everything percolate and do it’s stuff. Get a rag wet, scrub where the spots are (maybe 30 seconds and it’s gone!), do a quick wipe down/scrub all over, then rinse with water. I wish I had done before and after photos of our shower when I cleaned it this morning. I was so amazed at how well it worked that I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
For some reason I always feel like my carpet stinks. Maybe it’s because we are rolling around and playing on it so much (and dropping food from the high chair) but there always seems to be a musky, old smell. Before I would have just grabbed an air freshener or deodorizing spray and used that. But those never had the ability to truly get the smell out of the carpet so I would end up using them often. I am so glad I figured out a solution to this problem because not only does it cost a WHOLE LOT less money but I’m using things I have around the house already. Ready?
That’s all you need. You can also add some things for extra deodorizing and a little cleaning power – I add some lemon essential oil and tea tree essential oil – or you can sprinkle some cinnamon on your carpet and vacuum it up for a nice clean scent, as well. Cinnamon is also an odor neutralizer. Sprinkle baking soda (mix in essential oils or cinnamon if you like) all over your carpet and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. I usually go through and sprinkle baking soda on all the carpets in our apartment then go back to the first part I did and start vacuuming. Leaves the whole apartment smelling clean. And I love using cinnamon in the fall, because it leaves such a nice, warming fall scent.
Carpet Stain Remover
I was hoping to avoid needing this for a little longer, but with a toddler there is just no waiting. Beet juice got the best of my carpet today. But thanks to some quick thinking and ingredients I already had at home I was able to get the stain out quickly before it set in. Here’s what it looked like before, during, and after cleaning.
Here’s what you need:
Pour a small amount of vinegar onto the stain, sprinkle some baking soda on top and let it bubble up. (I don’t know if this works on set in stains.) Let this combo work for a couple minutes, do a little (and I do mean a little) scrubbing. And then you are done. Gotta love when these things are quick, simple, and easy.
So far these are the cleaners that get used around our house. I’ve been making some progress on this post as issues come up or things need to be cleaned, especially since we are finally running out of our commercial cleaners. I’m still on the hunt for good toilet, and wood cleaners so once I find them I’ll make sure to throw them up here as well.