A question was posed the other day asking if it is possible to be both environmentally friendly and frugal. I am going show you guys that it is not only possible to go green and be frugal, but it's easy, and *gasp* fun! There are many good organic cleaning products on the market, but they are not the most cost conscious options. So let's get down to the nitty gritty.
You Already Own Eco-friendly Cleaning Supplies!
That's right. You have the safest and best cleaning supply already hidden in your pantry. It only costs a few dollars for a copious amount, has literally hundreds of uses, is completely safe for use by adults and children, and it is the biggest weapon in my green cleaning supplies arsenal. It's a true multi-tasker that, bar none, gives you the best bang for your buck. Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to.... VINEGAR! Plain ole distilled vinegar is the #1 supply that I couldn't live without. I use it for all purpose-cleaning, window cleaning, as a dishwasher rinse aid, fabric softener, and as a base for tons of other cleaning recipes. But probably the best part of it is that you don't have to go on a wild goose chase to find it... you already own it!
My second favorite household product is baking soda. I bought a gigantic bag (see picture) last summer, and I am still using that same bag, in spite of the many times I have employed it's uses. From a deodorizing carpet sprinkle, to backing up vinegar in my window cleaner, to a 100 % safe drain cleaner, baking soda reaches from the cooking world, into the cleaning realm, and straight through to health and beauty products. Every time I Google baking soda I am shocked to find more and more uses that I was unaware of. Another really great buy to stock your cleaning supplies closet.
The Rest of the Cast
The remainder of the ingredients I use in making my green cleaning supplies might be lesser known, but all are cost effective, easy to find, and non-toxic. If there is anything you are having trouble locating comment and I will be sure to respond!
- Borax (NOT boric acid) - Found on the laundry aisle in every Wal-Mart, Target, and even grocery stores
- Washing Soda - Also found in the laundry aisle, usually right alongside Borax.
- Castille Soap - At my local Wal-Mart the castille soap is Dr. Bronner's brand. Don't baulk at the price, the liquid is very concentrated and for most jobs you only need a few drops. The bar soaps are more affordable, but I prefer the liquid because it is so versatile.
- Fels Naptha Soap - Another laundry aisle product, this is used in my laundry detergent.
- Citrus - Sometimes I use the juice, sometimes I need the oils, and for dishwasher detergent you need citric acid (found in the canning aisle of your store).
- Essential Oils - These are completely optional, but add the yummy smells and give your cleaning solutions lots of added benefits. I have a small collection, but if you were only going to buy ONE eo I would recommend Tea Tree Oil. It has a crisp clean scent (in my opinion, the natural alternative to a pine-sol smell) and can be employed in health, beauty, and cleaning implements. It is antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti fungal, and antibacterial making it the perfect addition to any cleaner or detergent. You can find EO at most big box stores and pharmacies now (Wal-mart, Target, K-Mart, Walgreen, etc) but if you are having trouble you can order it online through Mountain Rose Herbs, Amazon, or any other number of retailers.
- Rubbing Alcohol - I only use this for one thing, window cleaner. But thankfully it's something 99% of people have in their cabinet already, you know where to buy it, you know it's cheap, but it makes for some darn shiny glass!
- Cornstarch - Again, this is only for glass cleaner, but chances are you already have it. It eliminates the streaking that a normal vinegar and water cleaner would leave behind.
And.... and that's it! If you compare the number of products in my list of cleaning ingredients to the number of substances included in ONE bottle of a traditional cleaner, you'll see just how much toxic, unrecognizable stuff you've been using around your home.
It was the birth of my first child that spurred my interest in going green. As parents we are always looking to protect our kiddos, keep them healthy, and surround them with good things. Every. Single. Bottle of traditional cleaner has a warning about using around children and a list of horrible things that can happen to your child should they get hold of it. You won't ever have to call Poison Control if you child swallows one of my homemade cleaners. The one exception is the glass cleaner, as rubbing alcohol is dangerous when ingested, and painful if gotten in the eyes. BUT, when you're making your supplies yourself takes seconds to put together a fresh batch of window cleaner right before you need it, and then you never have a dangerous substance lying around. Even if you make a fresh batch every time you're still saving time over driving to the store to buy a bottle.
Recipes To Make
Are you interested yet? Do you feel like this is something you can and would like to try? I hope so! Here are my favorite tried and true recipes.
- Citrus Peels
The base for my All Purpose Cleaner and Carpet Cleaner are one in the same. Fill a glass jar with citrus peels (lemon, orange, tangerine, lime, I've even heard you can use pineapple, although I haven't tried that myself) and fill the container to cover the peels with vinegar. Let it sit for 2 weeks so that the vinegar can extract the cleaning power of the oils in the citrus rind. Until this is ready plain ole vinegar and water, mixed at a 50-50 ratio, and scented with some essential oils works fabulous!
All Purpose Cleaner
- 1/2 cup citrus vinegar
Pour 1/2 cup of citrus vinegar into a clean spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with water.
- 1 cup citrus vinegar
- 1 Tbs liquid castille soap
- 1 gallon hot water
Mix all 3 ingredients in a bucket and this make a magical carpet cleaner! It will power off stuck on materials, erase yucky smells, and get out your toughest stains. There is a vinegar smell while the carpet is wet, but it will dissipate once the carpet dries. Bronner's makes a peppermint liquid castille soap that improves the scent!
Alvincorn - Window Cleaner
- 1/4 cup alcohol
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 2 cups water
Combine in spray bottle, shake it up, spray, wipe, and look at your beautiful sparkly glass! There is a great article over at Crunchy Betty, that compares the results of several homemade glass cleaners.
Liquid Laundry Detergent
- 1 bar felths naphtha soap, grated
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1/2 cup borax
- 5 gallon bucket with lid
Carpet Fresh Sprinkle
- 1 cup baking soda
- 10-15 drops essential oil of your choice
Pour the baking soda in an empty spaghetti sauce jar, drop in the essential oil to get a scent you love, put the lid on and shake it up. Once it's thoroughly mixed poke holes in the lid of the jar and sprinkle on your carpet. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and vacuum!
No-Scratch Scrubby Powder
- Baking soda
That's it! Just pour baking soda in your sink, on your grimy pan, where ever you need it and go to town with a damp washcloth. Baking soda will grab onto the grease, won't scratch your pans, and does an amazing job.
No-Touch Toilet Bowl Cleaner (aka Safe Drain Cleaner)
- Baking soda
For the toilet, pour about a cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl, follow up with several generous glugs of vinegar and watch the magic happen. The vinegar and baking soda will start reacting to each other and foaming up, scrubbing the yuckies out of your toilet bowl at the same time. The same principal can clear a slow drain. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda down the drain, follow up with vinegar, and watch them go to work on your sludgy pipes!
I would love to hear your feedback on these recipes, so leave a comment and let me know how they're working for you. If you have any questions I'll definitely be hanging around to answer. Have a blessed day, and don't forget it's not only possible to be green and frugal, it's fun too!
Heather is a blogging wife to 1, mama to 4, and doula to the masses. She shares tips and reviews on how to make going green fun and easy. You can find out more about Heather and how to sneak some green into your life by visiting Sneaky Green. Also find her in Facebook, Twitter, or for questions send an email.