It can be a little daunting to look at your receipt after you've gone shopping to stock up on your favorite household cleaners! Common necessities like laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaning sprays can add up fast. In addition, nearly all commercial cleansers contain strong chemicals that can be hard on family members with allergies, as well as being tough on the environment.
For those who want to save money, protect their health, or safeguard the planet take heart! There are plenty of inexpensive home recipes you can use to keep your house sparkling and germ-free - and most of them call for ingredients you probably have sitting around already!
1. White vinegar
Usually inexpensive and easy to find in any supermarket or department store, white vinegar is a cleaning staple! Vinegar naturally disinfects and deodorizes, making it great for all-purpose cleaning around the house. It's also excellent at cutting through tough grease and other hard-to-remove spills. For a simple all-purpose cleaning spray (great for everything from glass to toilet exteriors!), pour a cup or two of white vinegar into an empty spray bottle and add a few drops of your favorite liquid dish soap. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water, give it a few gentle shakes to combine, and enjoy watching your surfaces shine! Using straight vinegar in a spray bottle also makes a great, gentle fabric softener and static remover - just spritz your wet clothes before turning on the dryer.
2. Baking soda
For times when you need a little extra scrubbing power, baking soda is just what you're looking for. Sprinkle liberally over a skillet or saucepan with a burnt bottom and allow to soak in water for an hour or two. You'll be amazed how easily burnt-on food is removed! To clean tough stains from a stovetop burner, pans, or other surfaces, sprinkle baking soda over the area and add just enough vinegar to make a paste. Allow baking soda and vinegar sit (they will bubble!) for a few minutes before using a brush or scrub sponge to scour. This method makes a great oven cleaner if you want to steer clear of harmful chemicals, or aren't able to use conventional oven cleaners.
3. Citrus fruits
Lemons, limes, and oranges contain natural disinfectants in their rinds. Running cut-up citrus peelings through your disposal can help clean the drain and pipes! Try placing a few orange peels in one gallon of white vinegar and store for a few weeks to create orange-infused vinegar, which smells pleasant and benefits from the natural cleansers in the orange rinds!
A natural compound, borax is another traditional favorite that can be used in many ways throughout the house. Allow one cup of borax to sit in your toilet bowl for an hour or so before scrubbing to help remove the grime, or make an all-purpose cleaner with borax and water in a spray bottle (one teaspoon borax per cup of water). Be aware, however, that not everyone agrees on whether borax is a true non-toxic cleaner, so you might want to do a little more research before permitting children or chemically-sensitive adults to use it for regular cleaning.
5. Homemade laundry detergent
Why make your own laundry detergent? Because it's fast, easy, and effective - and, for many people with sensitive skin, works more gently than commercial laundry detergents. For a simple powdered detergent recipe, grate one bar of laundry soap (such as Lava or Fels Naptha brand) and combine with one cup each of borax and washing soda (a close relative to baking soda, washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle of most grocery and department stores). If you prefer, you can substitute the laundry soap with a bar of plain glycerin soap such as Ivory or pure castile soap. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Use one tablespoon per load of laundry.