Packaged cleaning products can be overly specific, way too expensive, and exceedingly harmful to our health.
The average American spends $42 a month on cleaning supplies. In 12 months, that money could buy you airfare to the Caribbean. Over the course of a decade, it would be enough to renovate a room (or two!) in your home. And while those cleaners may make your tub sparkle, they’re also putting all kinds of harmful chemicals down the drain, into the air, and onto your skin.
Luckily, there isn’t a commercial cleaning product on Earth you can’t make yourself with very basic, eco-friendly household products for a shadow of the cost that are perfectly healthy for your home and all its inhabitants. Here are some of the most common cleaning products we all use—and how to make them for next-to-nothing with just 10 ingredients and without any of the harmful chemical byproducts.
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
- Hot water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 T. eco-friendly liquid dish soap
- 1 T. Borax (optional)
- 2-3 drops of an essential oil (optional)
Use a funnel to pour white vinegar into a spray bottle, and add the Borax and liquid soap. Fill the bottle to the top with hot water, screw on the lid, and shake everything up for a few seconds to combine your ingredients. This spray will do the work of just about any bathroom, counter, floor or wall cleaner—and studies show soap and water to be just as effective at getting rid of germs as those fancy, antibacterial products so many of us get suckered into buying.
- 2 gallons of warm water
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 2 T. liquid soap
- 5 drops of essential oils (optional)
Add all your ingredients to the bucket, mix everything together with a mop, and have at it. This solution doesn’t need any rinsing after it’s applied—just let it dry up and sparkle away.
- ½ c. white vinegar
- 3 c. water
- ¼ c. rubbing alcohol (optional)
- A few drops of orange essential oil (optional, but will make for a lovely scent!)
Add ingredients to spray bottle and shake. Use this solution as you would any commercial glass cleaner (we recommend using crumpled-up newspaper instead of paper towels to further reduce waste).
You read that right! Metal polish requires just one very simple ingredient. Beer’s acidity makes it a great polish that will work on aluminum and copper-bottomed pans, as well as baking sheets and muffin tins.
- 3 gallons of water
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 bar of soap
- ½ cup washing soda
Boil 4 cups of the water, then grate soap bar into boiling water, stirring until the soap dissolves. Pour the rest of the water into a five-gallon pail with lid, then mix in the soap mixture, Borax, and washing soda. Let the mixture thicken, and use ¼ cup per wash cycle.
Liquid Dish Soap
- 1 ¼ c. boiling water
- ¼ c. grated castile bar soap
- ¼ c. liquid castile soap
- 1 T. washing soda
- 20 drops essential oils (optional)
Pour the grated castile soap into your boiling water, stirring until it is dissolved. Then, slowly stir in the washing soda and liquid soap. Turn off the burner and let the concoction cool for a few minutes. Add your essential oils and pour everything into an empty liquid dish soap container. If after a few days the soap seems to have hardened up, just give it a good shake and add a little warm water.
- Baking soda
Baking soda is all you need to make a brilliant cleaner for your sinks, tiles, grout and toilets. Sprinkle some directly onto the dirty surface, bowl or muffin tin stuck with food, let sit for a few minutes, and scrub off. If you prefer a paste, just mix one part water (or eco-friendly liquid soap) to three parts baking soda.
Short on baking soda? Just mix a little sea salt with lemon juice and scrub with that.
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