Cleaning chemicals, generally speaking, are bad. They give off nasty fumes, they're expensive, the packaging is wasteful. Manufacturing them can be pretty harmful to the environment. Some companies are getting the message that a lot of us are trying to get rid of the chemicals in our lives, and so they're making eco-friendly cleaners with minimal packaging. This is great! But those cleaners are still really expensive -- sometimes as much as $4 or $5 per bottle!
So what can you do? Why, make your own, of course! All of these cleaners cost just pennies to make and work every bit as well as commercial cleaners -- plus, I can clean my entire house with just these three cleaners. To get started, you'll need a spray bottle or two and a shaker-top jar, and you're set!
Glass cleaner: equal parts white vinegar and water. It's best to use newspaper or newsprint to wipe the glass -- I don't know why, but it scrubs really well and leaves the glass streak- and lint-free. Smells a bit like a pickle, but the smell dissipates once it's dry.
All-purpose cleaner: 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup white vinegar, a pump of dish soap (hand washing soap, NOT dishwasher detergent), 20 or so drops of tea tree oil if you like. Put this all in a spray bottle and fill it up with water. It's a fantastic bathroom cleaner -- I used it to clean my old dirty tile in my shower and the tiles are, I'm telling you, gleaming. Spray on surfaces until they're very wet, let sit for a few minutes, and scrub gently with a wet scrubbie sponge. No need to rinse unless you're using it on food-prep surfaces. Can be boosted with the soft scrub cleaner below for extra-tough stains.
Soft scrub cleaner: 1/2 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda, a few drops essential oil if you like. Mix in a shaker-top jar and sprinkle onto surfaces as needed. You can mix it with glycerin, dish soap, or Dr. Bronners to make a liquid soft scrub, but I'd recommend mixing it as you clean instead of all at once.
Note: Borax is available in grocery and hardware stores. I buy white vinegar in gallon jugs and baking soda in a five-pound bag for next to nothing at Sam's Club (a warehouse store).
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