I've been green cleaning for a good while now and I've collected some great cleaning recipes from books, friends and around the net. So I wanted to share a bit of my trial and error acquired knowledge since I know this is an area lots of people are working on.
With a very few exceptions, I find that this kind of cleaning works just as well, is tons cheaper and smells much better. And we all know it's healthier for us and the planet.
I thought about giving my cleaners cutesy names but decided simplicity was more in keeping with the philosophy and the recipes themselves. When I labeled the bottles, I put the recipe right there on the label so I don't have to look it up each time I need to make more.
Besides the recipes and ingredients listed below, you'll also need some rags, microfiber cloths or old-fashioned diapers (JUST SAY NO to papertowels for cleaning!) and some spray bottles and squirt bottles. I bought a couple and reused a couple of old empty cleaning bottles. Some balk at doing this because of the chemical residues, but I say wash them out with very hot water and go for it. Especially if you're upgrading from store bought green cleaners. It's part and parcel of the whole green thing in my view.
This is my new favorite all purpose, hard surface cleaner. I like it even better than the one in my original Green Cleaning 101 post, (this has more soap) but there was nothing wrong with that formula either so try both and decide for yourself. I like lemon, lavender and peppermint oils (or even a mix of them) for this cleaner.
2 Tbsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Borax
2 cups Hot Distilled Water
1/4 cup Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap or Hand dishwashing detergent
30ish drops of Essential Oil of your choice.
I mix this in an empty hand dishwashing detergent bottle because I like to squirt directly onto the floor and then mop rather than bucket mop. I have hardwood floors and bucket mopping just puts too much water on the floor than is good for it. Adjust the essential oil according to the size bottle you use. I like lemon and peppermint for this cleaner, but if you're used to a PineSol type cleaner, try evergreen essential oil and you'll feel like the floor is "cleaner."
1/2 White Vinegar
30 drops Essential Oil
An Old Fashioned Ostrich Feather Duster
Here's the deal. When you use a spray that makes your surface wetish & shiny--Endust, Pledge, even the mixture below--you're creating a surface that attracts dust. Dust wants to stick to it. An ostrich feather duster picks up dust with static electricity instead of moisture, and leaves a dry surface that doesn't attract more dust. Your surface stays dust-free longer. They're also cheap--I got mine at the grocery store for $5.99. Reusable, easy to clean, and FAST. And by fast I mean dust your whole freaking house in 5 minutes fast.
But if you simply MUST have that just dusted lemony smell and that shiny looking surface in order to past your mother's white glove test, here's a homemade, non-toxic alternative to dust sprays from Clean House, Clean Planet.
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1 1/2 cup Distilled or Purified Water
I've had problems in this area. I've tried a vinegar & water blend and straight club soda and while both work OK, neither works great. Better on windows than on mirrors. You do have to sort of strip your mirrors of build up from commercial cleaners before either will work at all without massive streaking--do that by spraying the whole thing down with straight vinegar a few times first. But even after that, I find that I get much better results from an non-toxic commercial window & glass cleaner like 7th Generation or BioKleen.
If anyone has any suggestions for this, I'm open to experimentation...just like I was in college.
I use this to clean my sinks. Sprinkle, add a little water to make it paste up, scrub, rinse. You can use a shaker dispenser of some sort, but I usually just scent a box of baking soda straight from the store and keep it under the cabinet. Added bonus is that it deodorizes your cabinet when not in use!
Lemon Essential Oil
That's it for the basics I use after almost a year on homemade cleaners. Next week I'll post on some of my EXTRA green cleaners: Launder, Soften, Rinse, Polish & Condition.
**Remember to always shake homemade cleaners before each use. Unlike the store bought stuff that's been through lots of chemical processes, the ingredients in homemade cleaners can separate a little as they sit.
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