Around the House: Homemade Cleaners

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hello! Grab your craft supplies and plug in your sewing machines... it's DIY week here at Pure and Noble! I thought we'd kick off our week by rolling up our sleeves and making our own household cleaners. They won't harm you, your family, the environment or your pocketbook. That right there my friends is a win, win, win, win.

Before getting started I feel it should be said that I don't really care for cleaning. But I love, love, love the end result. It may sound silly, but after I've given my home a good scrub there's nothing I like better than to light a candle and watch a movie. A clean home gives me a warm cozy feeling that I just hate to leave - hence the movie.  The movie also allows me to kick up my heels and enjoy the fruits of my labor. (I should also give props where they are due... I don't do toilets. My husband does those and I am eternally grateful.)

My Mother-in-law clips out coupons for me and occasionally I get a couple of interesting articles as well. Most recently I received one on "Green Cleaning" from the Fort Worth Star Telegram. They shared several recipes and did a little Q&A on the basics of "green cleaning." I won't bore you with that here... I'm just going to skip to the good stuff and give you the recipes.

All-purpose cleaner
2 cups white distilled vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 drops essential oil (optional)
Pour in a spray bottle. Shake before using. For really tough jobs, put in a glass container and warm until barely hot.

Creamy soft scrub
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
4 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
5 drops anti-bacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree or rosemary.
Mix and store in a sealed glass jar. Shelf life: two years.

Furniture polish
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
20-30 drops lemon essential oil
Shake well. Dip a clean, dry cloth into polish and rub wood in direction of the grain.
Drain opener
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
Pour baking soda down drain and follow with vinegar. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Flush with boiling water.

Laundry detergent
1 cup soap flakes
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Grate pure vegetable soap to make soap flakes. Mix ingredients and store in a glass container. Use 1 tablespoon per load in warm or cold water.

Who knew it could be so easy? I used Jasmine oil for the all-purpose cleaner and LOVE the way it smells. In fact, I think I may have just found my new perfume with a stellar price tag - $7.99 at Whole Foods. Is it weird to smell like your household cleaner?

Anyway, while we're talking cleaning, did you know that Borax is cheap and super versatile? The box lists all kinds of cool things you can do with it. But the best part of Borax is Gak. Yup, I said, "Gak!" It's a kid thing that started from the Dr. Seuss story Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Some people call it "oobleck" but my kiddos know it as "Gak" and love it. It provides hours of fun and you can make it whatever color they want! It's gooey and cold too, which is nice during the Summer. Here's the recipe.

TIP: tape your recipe onto your box so you don't lose it.

(Part A)
2cups Elmer's glue
1 1/2 cups water
Food Coloring
(Part B)
1 cup hot water
3 tsp. Borax

Mix part A ingredients in bowl or tall plastic storage container with lid. Mix part B ingredients in a bowl until Borax has fully dissolved (or Gak will not solidify properly). Pour part B into  part A and knead until mixture starts to congeal and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Cover and let sit overnight. Use just like Playdough.
TIP: have toddlers knead Gak in a plastic zip-loc bag so they don't try to eat it. (Mine has never tried this, but he doesn't usually put things into his mouth either.)

Do use homemade cleaners already and have a favorite recipe? If so, I'd love to hear from you. I hope you've enjoyed today's little DIY for your home. Come back tomorrow - I have the cutest handbag DIY ever! Promise. xo


  1. Oo this is great. I have been meaning to make the switch to these cleaners for forever. I'll be bookmarking this & making a shopping list!

  2. thanks! I need that creamy soft scrub- but what is vegetable glycerin and where do you get it?


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