Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.
Store-bought natural cleaners are so expensive! I’d like to make my own cleaners. Where do I start?
Two of the most common ingredients in homemade cleaners are items you already have in the cupboard — vinegar and baking soda. Here’s what you can do with each one.
Vinegar, which is acidic, will cut grease and dissolve mineral deposits, and it kills some germs. Dilute the vinegar with warm water depending on the strength needed for the job. For example, a cup of vinegar in a pail of water makes a good floor cleaner.
Baking soda is your scouring powder; you can use it dry, or mix it with a little water to make a paste. Use a baking soda paste to clean your oven. To clean drains, toilets and bathtubs, pour in half a cup of baking soda, and chase it with half a cup of vinegar. When the mixture fizzes up like a science experiment, you know it’s working.
Other common ingredients in homemade cleaners include vegetable-oil based liquid soap, lemon juice (cleans mineral buildup, tarnish and grease), salt or washing soda (for scouring power), vegetable oils (wood polish) and cornstarch (absorbs oil).
Here’s one simple recipe for a homemade cleaner. Find more recipes in The Joy of Green Cleaning by Leslie Reichert and Clean & Green by Annie Berthold-Bond.
Lemon-Mint Window Wash Recipe
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cups club soda
1/2 tsp peppermint essential oil
1 tsp cornstarch
Mix all ingredients. Pour into plastic spray bottle, and enjoy sparkling clean windows with a heavenly fresh scent!
— Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House
Photo by Fotolia/Brook Becker