One of the things I love, love, love about simple living is that everything from the ingredients to the process of putting things together are simple and easy to understand. They make sense. Too often in life we buy things we know nothing about. We don’t know how it’s made, what’s in it, how it got to the store or if it’s actually good for us or not. I don’t like being “played.” Whether it’s the mechanic who charges you three times as much to fix your car because he thinks you don’t know any better, or those crazy wordsmith advertisers who fool you into believing you need their product. When it comes to cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, shampoos and scrubs…we’ve all been played like a fiddle. Since July is DIY all-natural everything month, let’s start with basic cleaning products.
All of these recipes, from multi-purpose cleaner to laundry detergent share these basic ingredients. Here’s what they are and what they do.
Vinegar: Primarily made up of acetic acid which breaks down grease and bacteria. It kills germs and deodorizes, but is truly an all-purpose cleaner in itself.
Baking Soda: A natural deodorizer with a texture great for scrubbing surfaces of all kinds (including your teeth, face and kitchen sink). It is a multi-purpose cleaner in itself, like vinegar, but mixed with other basic ingredients can clean every corner of your house.
Lemons & Oranges: cuts grease, removes stains and tarnish from certain metals. Bonus: they make your house smell like a citrus forest.
Castile Soap: A mild soap made from vegetable oils that is used for all-purpose cleaning. It lasts forever and goes a long ways, plus it comes in varying scents. We like lavender.
Borax: A powder or crystalline salt that is great for deodorizing, making laundry extra white and disinfecting. It can be found at most grocery stores for pretty cheap.
Washing Soda: This alkaline chemical compound breaks down tough stains. It is primarily used as a base for all-natural laundry detergent.
Essential Oils: Those tiny little bottles that look like some kind of witch potion are purely for added smells! Tea tree, lemon, thyme and lavender oils have added antibacterial properties, but choose a scent you like to add to a number of recipes.
SPRAY BOTTLES AND CONTAINERS
If making your own all-natural house cleaners is a new thing for you, then you probably have a dozen spray bottles and bins of brand name cleaning products in your hall closet. Look for the empty to almost empty ones and reuse them to test out your all-natural cleaners. Empty shampoo, conditioner and big lotion bottles work well for these cleaners. If you need a spray nozzle, I recommend going to Goodwill or a second hand store first to look for one, otherwise they can be purchased at any home store. If you want to get really crafty here’s a great tutorial for a DIY spray bottle made from a mason jar.
Overall, think reuse before you buy a new bottle!
Switching to all-natural DIY cleaners can save you a lot of money and keep you from bringing toxins and unknown chemicals into your home. You already know what all of the ingredients are, so there’s no concern of what’s in the spray you’re smearing all over the counter you prepare food on. The ingredients are natural and most are bi-products of vegetables and natural elements. They are safe for our environment, your kids, your cat, your favorite v-neck and your grandpa Fred. The recipes I’ll be sharing throughout the rest of the month are easy to make, smell good and work just as well, if not better than the brand name alternatives. The ingredients might seem daunting at first because you’ve never bought borax before, but think of it as buying ingredients for a cookie recipe. Eggs, sugar, butter, baking soda, chocolate chips, borax, vanilla extract…piece of cake. Once you have all of your ingredients and you’ve prepared all of your reused spray bottles, it’s time to move on to the mad scientist phase and start mixing up some crazy concoctions.
Coming soon (I am still testing and experimenting!) are the top 10 cleaners I use on a regular basis around my apartment.
- All-purpose citrus cleaner
- Window cleaner
- Kitchen sink, bathroom sink and toilet bowl scrub
- Dish soap
- Liquid dishwasher detergent
- Air freshener spray
- Produce wash
- Hand soap
- Laundry detergent
- Reusable dryer sheets
There are hundreds of all natural cleaners you can make at home for things like carpet stains, wood polish, grout cleaner, etc., but personally I don’t use those on a regular basis, if ever so I have no need to try them out. My top ten are common, practical cleaners that we all use regularly so I hope you join me and reap the benefits! First up: All-purpose citrus cleaner.