Greening your cleaning habits is an awesome step, but what if you could make your own cleaning products for pennies, rather than purchasing over-the-top priced cleaning items? As if saving money isn’t enough to make you stand up and take notice, how about this:
Making your own cleaning products from natural products you may already have around your home is uber environmentally friendly!
That’s right, making your own cleaning products can save you money and be part of your plan to live a greener lifestyle. What’s more, they actually work!
Here are some natural product solutions to common household cleaning problems.
A moldy shower curtain:
Most of us just go and buy a new one when our shower curtain gets moldy. After all they’re cheap, right?
Well, yeah they are, but they’re also plastic and if you are someone who is trying to live a lifestyle that is more environmentally friendly then throwing away a large piece of plastic that will never break down in the landfill it winds up in once every few months isn’t going to accomplish that goal.
Instead, pour some white vinegar (not the apple cider kind) into a new spray bottle and spray your shower curtain down after you use the shower. White vinegar kills 99% of all bacteria and stops mold in its tracks!
TIP: If you already have visible mold, you can let the vinegar sit for a while and then wipe the curtain down with a damp sponge.
If you spray your shower curtain daily with this, you will never again have a moldy shower curtain. You will save money on purchasing a new one, and you will be helping the environment by not using a chemical based cleaner and not throwing your shower curtain away every couple of months.
A dirt and soap scum encrusted bathtub:
If you’re like me, you hate cleaning the bathtub. In fact I’ve been known to wait until the last possible minute when it comes to this chore. Invariably in the past I’ve found myself bent over the tub with a scrubber and a bottle of Soft Scrub with bleach scrubbing until the bleach makes my eyes water and my hands dry out.
This is not a pretty picture, let me tell you! In fact I got so tired of it, that I began looking into natural alternatives that wouldn’t irritate my eyes and skin so much. What I discovered was baking soda.
Baking soda is a great abrasive cleanser in addition to being fantastic for getting rid of odors… including those in the bathroom.
If you mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with just enough liquid detergent to make a goopy paste, then you’ve got the right idea. You can coat your tub with the mixture and scrub it with your scrubber or a sponge, then rinse with water.
TIP: If your tub is especially dirty, you can use baking soda right out of the box first and a scrubber to get the worst of the crud off before using the baking soda mixture.
Because I live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains about 9 months out of the year (and sometimes more), the damp climate causes my toilet to get a ring of black mold inside it.
This mold can appear both in the bowl and under the lip, and it makes for a very nasty cleaning job. Like with my bathtub, I used to use a bleach based cleanser to clean my toilet. Now I use white vinegar straight out of the bottle.
I pour about a cup of white vinegar into the toilet bowl let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. Then wipe it off with a sponge.
Next, reusing the same spray bottle of white vinegar that I used on my shower curtain, I spray under the lip of the toilet and around the outside of the toilet to kill any mold and bacteria there.
A dirty cutting board or chopping block:
Many people use wood cutting boards and chopping blocks to protect their kitchen counters from knife cuts.
While it is better to use a glass cutting board since knives have a way of eventually putting grooves in a wood one, there is something you can do to protect yourself and your family from bacteria that might be trapped in the wood’s surfaces.
While not everyone keeps lemons on hand, they are still very easy to obtain.
One way to kill the bacteria on your cutting board is to cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the cutting surface. The acid in the lemon juice will kill any bacteria on the board on the spot!
TIP: For a really stinky cutting board, squeeze lemon juice onto the board, and let it sit awhile before wiping it off with a damp sponge.
I have very light colored carpeting in my apartment, and let me tell you it picks up everything! If you so much as walk in a bit of dust and then come into the apartment it is immediately noticeable on my rugs.
Purchasing commercial carpet cleaner to always have on hand to clean my carpets every time my niece spills her milk, or my husband tracks a bit of mud in gets to be pretty irritating.
If you’ve ever read the labels on some of the commercial carpet cleaners, most of them suggest that you don’t get them on your skin, and if you have prolonged exposure to call the Poison Control Center.
This is pretty scary stuff when you think about it because if carpet cleaner is so toxic that you shouldn’t have it on your skin then maybe you don’t want it around your home. Just reading one of those labels was enough to make me want to find a better way.
Well guess what, it’s white vinegar to the rescue again!
In this case, you need to put equal parts white vinegar and water into a spray bottle, shake it to mix the 2 ingredients, spray it on the stain, and wait for 10 or 15 minutes. The next step is to take warm soapy water and a brush or sponge and clean the stained area. In most cases this will remove the stain.
Nasty household odors can be a real problem. They can range from cooking odors to mold odors, the sort of musty trapped air odors that happen in the winter when you can’t open windows.
In fact, indoor air pollution is thought to be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors!
Many people choose to use air freshners to take care of this problem, but unfortunately all air freshners do is mask odors. They don’t eliminate them. And most air fresheners contain endocrine system disruptors that mimic estrogen and other hormones. Yikes!
They also coat the inside of your nasal passages causing your sense of smell to be deadened. Not a good thing all around.
There are several natural air freshners that you can use that cost pennies and work much more effectively than commercial air freshners. You can put small dishes of baking soda unobtrusively around your home to eliminate bad odors.
The bathroom and the kitchen are 2 of the most common places that tend to collect odors. You can eliminate cooking odors by boiling one tablespoon of white vinegar in one cup of water on the stove at the same time you are cooking. Another solution is simmering water and cinnamon on your stove to help cut odors.
One final way to keep the odors in your home down is to have houseplants. Plants give off fresh oxygen and breathe carbon dioxide. So in this way they can help to eliminate odors in your home.
Summing it up…
These are just a few things you can do with common items that you have around your home to clean your home, help the environment and save money on cleaning products as well.
A word of caution though: “Careless mixing can also be hazardous. For example, bleach mixed with ammonia produces dangerous chloramine gas. Bleach mixed with acids (including mere vinegar, which contains acetic acid) can produce chlorine gas, used in the trenches in World War I.”
So, be very careful and know what it is that you are mixing when putting together natural ingredients to make cleaning products, or if you are just starting out and have been using commercial products that may have left a reside behind.
What are some of your favorite eco-friendly cleaning hacks?
If you’d like even more ideas, check out these tips:
- How to make your own green cleaning kit
- Reasons to make your own cleaning products
- 7th Generation cleaning products
- 8 ways to green your cleaning
- Clorox GreenWorks (green cleaning products without the greenwashing)