Why bother? Why go to the trouble of making your own cleaning products when buying commercial products is so much easier? Making your own natural cleaning products at home has so many advantages, and they include time, money and perhaps even health. Take these four reasons:
—It takes as little as 30 seconds to mix up any number of homemade natural cleaning products.
—Homemade cleaners give you complete control over the ingredients. Conventional cleaning products often contain toxic chemicals, harsh smells, unpleasant residues or allergy-inducing irritants.
—Making your own cleaning products is super cheap because they use simple everyday ingredients — things you may have already in your pantry.
—Homemade cleaners using natural ingredients perform as well as, if not better than, expensive name-brand cleaners.
Come to think of it, I can't really think of any valid reasons not to make our own household cleaning products.
KITCHEN SURFACE DEGREASER
2 cups warm water*
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pure Castile soap
20 drops lemon essential oil
Pour all ingredients into a clean, empty 16-ounce spray bottle, and mix well. Spray onto any greasy surface, and then wipe away with a damp microfiber cloth. Polish to shiny clean with a second dry microfiber cloth.
ALL-PURPOSE HEAVY DUTY CLEANER
1 teaspoon Borax
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
1 teaspoon liquid Castile soap
20 drops essential oil (lemon, lavender and/or orange as desired)
2 cups warm water*
Pour all ingredients into a 16-ounce or larger clean spray bottle. Mix well. Use it to clean just about anything around the house.
NATURAL GROUT CLEANER
1/2 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons washing soda
2 tablespoons Borax
3 tablespoons liquid Castile soap
Mix ingredients in a small bowl until incorporated. This will create a very loose paste-like produce. Clean the tile and grout area first with a strong 50-50 mixture of water and white vinegar. Sprinkle or apply this grout cleaner to the grout. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Scrub with a heavy-duty brush and rinse well. Work on small areas at a time, rather than trying to do then entire area at once.
NATURAL GRANITE CLEANER
1/2 cup vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
1 1/2 cups water*
1/2 teaspoon Castile soap
20 to 30 drops essential oil of your choice
Pour ingredients into a 16-ounce spray bottle. Mix well. Spray on a granite surface, and wipe away with a damp microfiber cloth. It will not harm sealant or leave behind any residue or watermarks.
ALL-PURPOSE NATURAL BATHROOM CLEANER
2 teaspoons Borax
1 teaspoon washing soda
8 ounces very hot water
1 tablespoon Sal Suds
1 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoons lemon essential oil
1/2 teaspoon orange essential oil
10 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil
1/4 teaspoon close essential oil
Pour washing soda, Borax and hot water into a 16-ounce spray bottle. Shake well to dissolve. Remove the top, and add Sal Suds and essential oil. Add just enough warm water to fill within about 1 inch of the top. Apply the spray top, and gently shake to mix. Spray on all bathroom surfaces including sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, walls and fixtures. Wait for a few minutes before wiping off for disinfection.
A WORD ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS
I've been learning a lot about essential oils and their benefits around the house. Essential oils provide antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties to homemade cleaners. Essential oils, especially cinnamon, clove and lime, have germ-busting qualities when used properly and in the right concentration. This explains why cleaners meant to kill germs, like the All-Purpose Natural Bathroom Cleaner above, require a greater concentration of oils. Concentrations around 1 percent are effective on stronger pathogens commonly found in bathrooms, like E. coli, staphylococcus and salmonella. Essential oils also add a nice scent.
*Distilled water is advisable, especially if your tap water is hard. This assures no minerals or hard-water marks will be left behind.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.