Why bother with homemade cleaners?
There are many reasons to make your own natural cleaning solutions and everyone has their own motivations. Some of the often cited benefits of using these household cleaners include:
- You'll save money.
- You'll protect yourself and your family from potentially harmful chemicals. It is a fact that both cancer and allergy problems are continually on the rise in our modern society. Why take unnecessary risks with commercial products that are often laden with questionable compounds?
- You'll help the environment. Not only are many of the ingredients in common commercial cleaners directly harmful to the environment, many are tested on animals as well, an added damage to the earth.
- You might even get a kick out of it. I do. It's fun to see what works and what doesn't and these days there's the added pleasure of essential oils that allow you to scent these cleaning solutions as you wish.
General Guidelines for Homemade Cleaners
Dangerous Combinations. The number one big warning that you'll see mentioned again and again is not to mix bleach with ammonia. It releases deadly (yes deadly) gas. Personally, I wouldn't mix anything with bleach. Since bleach breaks down rapidly when exposed to air and other liquids, it really doesn't make a very good ingredient in any solution. I limit it's use to an occasional disinfectant and laundry additive. Learn more about cleaning with bleach.
Follow the Recipes. At least at the start. Although not dangerous, mixing things together like vinegar and baking soda can result in some pretty impressive reactions. By following recipes, you'll limit mess making. Once you gain some experience, you'll be ready to branch out on your own.
Spray Bottles. Many of these solutions can be poured into spray bottles, a handy way to get liquids evenly spread on a surface. Best to equip yourself with some quality spray bottles, because nothing will make you more likely to give up on your homemade product then having to pump some weak little spray bottle until your hand falls off. Sometimes you can recycle spray bottles from commercial cleaning solutions (lots of times they "solder" the lid on so this isn't possible). Be sure to thoroughly rinse any bottles and flush their spray apparatus with clean water before adding a new cleaner.
Ingredients for Natural Household Cleaners
Keep these on hand, and you'll always have just the right cleaner for any occasion:
- Vinegar. This is usually distilled white vinegar, that typically comes in a 5 percent solution. Cleaning with vinegar does so much - disinfects, deodorizes, cuts grease, removes tarnish.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. Most recipes call for a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, which is readily available at most pharmacies and grocery stores. Used as a whitener, sanitizer, and for its oxydizing properties.
- Sodium Bicarbonate. Also known as baking soda. This is a mild abrasive, whitener, deodorizer, and water softener.
- Washing Soda. This is sodium carbonate and is sometimes called soda ash. It is similar to baking soda, but more alkaline and therefore more powerful. Should be used with appropriate caution.
- Castile Soap. This is soap made exclusively from vegetable oil (many times olive oil). Effective and mild natural cleaner.
- Lemon Juice. Using lemon juice in recipes can get expensive, and most times you can substitute vinegar. The advantage of the lemons is that they smell good too.
- Salt. This is used as an abrasive.
- Olive Oil. For polishing.
- Essential Oils. For making things smell good. Some essential oils, such as tree tea oil, also have specific properties that can be harnessed in making homemade cleaners.
Homemade Cleaner Recipes
Here are some natural cleaning recipes to get you started. Hope you enjoy making and using them as much as I do!