DIY Files: Get your clean on

Lemon tackles mould and mildew, cuts grease, and shines hard surfaces. It smells good, too.

 

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you probably know I like to make a lot of the things I use regularly: makeup, body scrubs, face masks, deodorant, produce bags. There’s something intensely appealing about being able to create the things you need yourself.

Keeping things clean is also important to me. But don’t get it twisted. Clean is not the same as uncluttered — I could certainly use some help in that department (but that’s for another post). So, naturally I wanted to try my hand at making homemade household cleaners.

Think about it. Why spend all this time and energy scrubbing with expensive products filled with toxins, when there are natural, healthy, and more affordable choices available — many made with ingredients likely already in your pantry.

In my case, I grew tired of paying for chemical-laden products that often had a strong smell but didn’t clean particularly well. And, after some research, I found ingredients I had at home (or could easily pick up at a grocery store or pharmacy) could replace many of the regular cleaners I use.

I started simply, with an all-purpose cleaner, before branching out to glass and oven cleaners, disinfectants, floor, tub, and tile cleaners, cream cleansers, drain cleaners, bleach, furniture polish, and tarnish remover — and a bunch more. Making my own cleaners was a lot easier than expected, and for the most part, they work great. And most importantly, the base ingredients are natural:

Baking Soda

A kitchen staple that cleans, deodorizes, brightens, and cuts through grease.

Vinegar

Vinegar eliminates grease, soap scum, and other grime.

Lemon Juice

Natural lemon juice tackles mould and mildew, cuts grease, and shines hard surfaces. It smells good, too.

Olive Oil

Olive oil cleans and polishes.

Castile Soap

Made from 100 percent plant oils (like Dr Bronner’s), castile soap cuts grease.

Some makers advise against mixing castile soap with vinegar or lemon juice — their opposing pH levels can cancel each other out. That said, washing first with soap then rinsing with lemon gets the grit out!

Essential Oils

Natural plant oils — like lemon, tea tree, peppermint, or citrus — give DIY cleaners a fresher, more appealing scent. Generally considered safe, these extracts can trigger allergies in some people, so exercise caution.

And here — without further adieu — are recipes for my top five handmade cleaners. If you decide to make some of your own, I’d love to know how it goes! And if you have any recipes or cleaning hacks to share, please leave a comment below, or join the conversation on Facebook!

Why scrub with expensive, toxin filled cleaners when you can make natural, healthy, and affordable options with ingredients from your pantry?

All Purpose Cleaner

Ingredients
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
20–30 drops of essential oil (optional)

Put in a spray bottle. Use on hard surfaces like countertops, kitchen floors, windows, and mirrors.

Disinfectant

Ingredients
1 cup water

1 ½ tablespoons castile soap

10–15 drops tea tree oil.

Put in a spray bottle. Use wherever a little extra sanitation is needed.

Glass Cleaner

Ingredients
1 cup water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol

2–3 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)

Put in a spray bottle. Spray on glass surfaces. Wipe away with newsprint or a clean cloth.

Hardwood Floor Cleaner

Ingredients
16 cups warm water

½ cup distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol

2–4 drops lemon essential oil (optional)

Mix in a bucket. Ring mop well. Apply to floors.

Oven Cleaner

Ingredients
½ cup baking soda

2–4 tablespoons water

1 cup distilled white vinegar, in a spray bottle

Tools

Damp Cloth

Plastic spatula (optional)

Rubber gloves (optional)

Instructions

  • Remove oven racks and anything else inside. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix baking soda and water. Adjust ratio as needed until you have a spreadable paste.
  • Spread the paste inside the oven, avoiding heating elements. Gloves may come in handy.
  • Allow the mixture to rest for 12 hours.
  • In the meantime clean your oven racks.
  • After 12 hours, use a damp dishcloth to wipe up the leftover dried paste. A spatula may be helpful in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Spritz vinegar anywhere baking soda remains.
  • Use the damp cloth to wipe anything that remains. Add water or vinegar as needed. Repeat until all residue is gone.
  • Replace your oven racks and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based freelance writer, bartender, and editor of the Whole Family Happiness Project. She lives in Halifax, with her son and a penchant for really strong tea, yoga, hammocks, and hoppy beer.

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The Whole Family Happiness Project is a group of moms exploring our connection to our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us. Come join us on Facebook.

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