Almost three years ago, I started making my own cleaners and I LOVE it. They work, our home is clean without all the chemical smells (which I hate), are easy on my hands and nose/throat/lungs, are easy to make, are cheaper than commercial cleaners and more environmentally friendly, and it’s one less thing I have to clip coupons for 🙂
Most cleaners use a few basic ingredients. I’m going to share my basic, weekly bathroom cleaning tools, shown in the post photo , which involve the following ingredients: vinegar, water, tea tree oil, Borax (found in the laundry aisle), hydrogen peroxide and Dawn. Most of these are probably already in your home, but would probably cost less than $10 to buy it all in large enough quantities to last months. I just keep the cleaners in labeled spray bottles, which you can find at the dollar store, in a plastic caddy, also found at a dollar store. I keep the caddy up on a shelf in my laundry room out of toddler reach, because even though these cleaners are much less caustic/deadly, than commercial ammonia based cleaners, I do not want my baby chugging anything with Borax, Dawn or tea tree oil on it (would not kill her, but might make her sick!). Any heavy-duty commercial cleaners I keep on hand, like drain opener, are actually kept on a high shelf out in my garage! I’m also including a simple recipe for a 10% bleach solution to be used to disinfectant spray for surfaces than contact raw meat/blood or other infectious liquids, such as after a stomach flu. Use care around fabrics; 10% bleach solution usually is not strong enough to ruin a fabric, couch or carpeting, but you never know till it’s too late! Also, we are not purists here. Every once in a while, I grab the Lysol 4-in-1 and a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner from the garage and use that instead. Borax works great for cleaning the bowl, but is lousy at getting under the rim. And Lysol kills germs that my homemade cleaners may miss, but is not nearly as effective at the hard water stuff. My faucets absolutely sparkle with the vinegar based cleaners! I working towards frugal efficiency here, not perfection. Find a balance that works for you!
All-Purpose Surface Cleaner (use this in kitchen too, but without Borax)
Fill a large spray bottle 1/2 full of hot water and 1/2 full hot vinegar
1-2 squirts of Dawn dish soap
10-15 drops Tea Tree Oil
1-2 tsp of Borax (should not be used for surfaces than contact food)
Shake well and spray all over surfaces to be cleaned (sink, counter, toilet, shower, tub, etc.). Let sit a few minutes. Wipe with a damp cloth. The vinegar is great for preventing hard water build-up in shower, as well as preventing mold and mildew. The Borax and tea tree oil are also great for killing microbes and fungi. Works great as a sanitizer when used in combination with peroxide spray described below.
Fill a small spray bottle with straight hydrogen peroxide. Light catalyzes the reaction that breaks down peroxide, so it is best kept in a dark or opaque bottle (why it is sold in dark brown bottles). Spray a layer of peroxide over surfaces to be sanitized, either right before or right after being sprayed with vinegar based surface cleaner above. These cannot be mixed ahead of time.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/4 cup Borax
Just dump in, brush around bowl, under rim, etc. and let sit for 30 minutes-overnight before flushing. I keep the Borx in an old parmesean cheese container with a cheap plastic 1/4 measuring cup in it.
Amazing Heavy Duty Hard Water Build-up Cleaner
Fill spray bottle 1/2 with Dawn and 1/2 with vinegar. Shake or swirl gently. Spray anywhere you have hard water build-up, even in your drinking glasses, let sit a few minutes and wipe/rinse off! This works great on shower walls and faucets, without the caustic fumes of using harsh commercial cleaners for limescale build-up. This works better than Lime Away in my opinion!
1-2 tsp of vinegar
1 cup water
Just spray on and wipe off with crumpled newspaper for shiny windows and mirrors. This is a great use for Sunday papers that I clip coupons out of, and can be tossed into the recycle bin once the glass is shiny and clean.
Disinfectant Spray (I do not use weekly, just when we have been sick, raw meat spills on counter, etc)
1 Tbsp bleach
2 1/2 cups of water
Mix bleach into water and pour into new spray bottle. Spray onto surface and let sit 5-10 minutes, wet. Then wipe with a rag. Rinse any surface that will contact food. This 10% bleach solution will kill microbes and viruses, but because bleach is more reactive and caustic than other cleaners I regularly use, I am very careful to only use it when necessary.