Since I will be away from the computer on Earth Day, I thought I would take a moment now to dedicate a post to my families green living in honor of Earth Day. I first started making homemade cleaners after being directed to a book by another mother. The book is called Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. This is a great go to guide for making your own homemade cleaners. Karen does a great job of listing the effectiveness of the recipe and breaks down the cost and savings. She also does a thorough walk through of what is in store bought cleaners. The only downside to this book is that when it comes to certain cleaners (laundry and dishwasher to name a few), there are no recipes, just recommendations on how to decrease what you currently use. So, for those of you who just want to cut back, the book is a great way to get started. For me, I was looking to replace what I was using, so I had to go to the internet.
Now, I will be the first to admit that when I made the full switch to making my own cleaning products, it wasn't necessarily due to trying to help the planet. That was an added bonus, but the real reason was that we had just moved to a new state and I no longer had my part time work at home job. Childcare would be too expensive, so I wanted to cut costs where ever I could. I had already started doing some things (natural air fresheners, scented baking soda) before we moved, but the full switch was after the move.
In my previous post, Homemade Laundry Detergent, I went through my recipe for making laundry detergent. In that post, I mention the ingredients of Borax, washing soda and essential oils. Those three ingredients, along with baking soda and vinegar, are all you need to make almost any homemade cleaner. And really, if you are a newbie to making homemade cleaners, you just need the baking soda and vinegar to get you started. The following are a few cleaners that I love.
Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
1 C Borax
1 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Kosher Salt
1/2 C Citric Acid or 4 packets unsweetened lemonade
Mix all the ingredients together, label and store. Use 1 rounded TBS per load.
I store my detergent in a yogurt container. The citric acid can normally be found near canning supplies, otherwise the unsweetened lemonade works well. You want to use one of these in order to prevent the cloudy look on your dishes.
Rinse Agent for Dishwasher
Just pour the vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser. Works wonders.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Pour 1/2 C (or less) Borax into toilet bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil. I alternate between tea tree oil (due to its many disinfecting properties) and peppermint (for the aroma). Use scrub brush and brush the borax and oil all over the toilet bowl like you would normally clean. Let sit. The longer you let it sit, the cleaner it gets. If you can let it sit overnight, great. Otherwise, I have flushed within 5 minutes of scrubbing and my toilet bowl is still sparkling and smells great!
All Purpose Cleaner
Add equal parts vinegar and water to spray bottle. Then 15-20 drops of essential oil. This can be used as you would any all purpose cleaner. This is also great for mopping the floors. Just spray the floor and use rags or your mop to clean.
Shaker Bottle (I use an old Parmesan cheese bottle)
Fill container with Baking Soda. Make a well in the middle of the baking soda and add 15-20 drops essential oil. Since essential oils can eat through plastic, that is why you make the well. Shake to mix. Then shake over carpets. Works best if you can let sit overnight, then vacuum the next day.
Cotton Ball or Baking Soda
Place cotton ball or baking soda in a container and add 10 drops essential oil.
Vinegar Essential Oil
I use one of the Downey Balls and add 1/4 C vinegar and a few drops tea tree oil. I then close up the ball and add to the laundry.
There are tons of other recipes, but these are a few of the ones I use the most. I find for mirrors, I tend to just use either a microfiber cloth or shammie. If there is stuff stuck on the mirror, I will add a squirt of the all purpose cleaner. To make things easier overall, it is great to have a gallon jug of scented vinegar pre-made. Just label it scented and add your essential oil directly to the vinegar. This works best if you are using the same essential oil for many things. Or, you could have a gallon of scented vinegar just for laundry.
Some other steps my family has taken to be more green:
- Only wash in cold water (except for cloth diapers)
- Use cloth diapers
- Signed up for a special program through our electric company where we pay wholesale per hour for electricity usage instead of the standardized rate. Then, we run the dishwasher at night and only do laundry on the weekends when rates are lowest. This cut our electricity bill in half.
- Compost, we even have a mini composter in the kitchen
- Veggie garden
- Give away or re-purpose items instead of throwing them away
So, those are some of the most used recipes in my home and ways we stay green. What are some recipes you use? How does your family live green? I love trying out new recipes, so if there is one that you have heard about but are unsure about trying, let me know. If I can find the ingredients, I will definitely give it a shot.