Easy, Earth-Friendly Homemade Cleaners

How many times do we swill toxic chemicals down our drainage systems, every day, the world over? Commercial soaps, detergents, oven cleaners, drain openers and toilet cleaners spew toxins directly into our environment. It doesn't have to be like that.

Homemade cleaners will not only leave your house just as clean, but you will also be doing your bit for the environment, and these days, it needs every little help it can get!

So what Exactly is Wrong with Commercial Cleaning Products?

Well, the problem is that they are full of harmful chemicals, either harmful to the user, or harmful to our environment, and many of which are not biodegradable.

Bleach is a common household cleaner that is an excellent killer of germs, but deadly to the environment, so should be used sparingly. Bleach can be found in mildew removing products or used straight when we want to sanitize our homes. There are far better natural solutions. Think too of all the dyes and phosphates that are in toilet cleaners.

Phosphates are also found in commercial washing powders along with nitrosamines like NTA that are known carcinogens even at low doses that find their way into your washing powder. So what else is in your washing powder? Lots of things that you wouldn't want, but are blissfully unaware of because they aren't listed on the boxes.

Recipes for Homemade Cleaners

I have been making my own laundry powder for years now, and can't tell you how happy I am with it. First of all it is cheap, environmentally friendly, softens my clothes which then saves me having to worry about a fabric softener and results in almost crease-free clothes which save on ironing.

Would I go back to buying laundry powder again? Never! Because I believe I have a better product for 1/3 of the price. See how easy it is to make your own laundry powder.

I also make my own soap. I make one or two batches a year and that lasts us, and more some. Homemade soap is full of lanolin so softens your skin, and also seems to last longer than commercial soap.

 I was always in awe of people making their own soap as it seemed a bit of a mystery process fraught with danger and hocus pocus. After making my first batch of homemade soap I was hooked, and couldn't believe how easy it was! Yes, you can make your own soap!

Homemade All-Purpose Soap Gel

I also take my soap bars which are usually made with lard and olive oil and then I make an all-purpose soap gel which I can then use for washing smalls or even hand washing dishes.

You take a bar of homemade soap and grate it. This is a pain in the neck - not my first choice of anatomy! - and it is the least enjoyable part of the process. After you have your soap gratings measure them out. For each cup of gratings add 1 cup of boiling water. Try not to stir your mixture. Rather let it stand for about 5 minutes until hopefully your soap has melted. If not, after the 5 minutes give it a stir or two and then place in dispensers.

Homemade Cleaners for Bathrooms and Kitchens

There are several things that spring to mind here; ovens, cooker tops, fridges, sinks, cupboard surfaces, floors, tiles and counter tops.

One of the best natural household cleaners around is white vinegar. It has so many uses, that I have written a whole page on cleaning with vinegar.

Homemade Dishwashing Powder

Yes, the dishwasher didn't escape my clutches either. I am Scottish by descent, which may help explain my loathing to pay through the nose for something as simple as dishwashing powder. I have lived in places where the water was either soft or hard, as it currently is.

If you are lucky to live in an area with soft water you can just add plain borax to your dishwasher and your dishes will come out clean and sparkling. However, if your water is hard you will have to add washing soda to the mix. How much washing soda to add will be something you will have to experiment with until you get the mix right. I use a 2:1 ratio of borax to washing soda. However, this may or may not work for you.

Homemade Drain Cleaner

Caustic soda is great to make soap and is rendered harmless once it is processed, but deadly to the environment when used as a drain cleaner.

Again vinegar comes to the rescue. Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of boiling water. Add 1/2 cup baking soda directly down the sink and then follow with the hot vinegar solution. Never mix the baking soda to the vinegar solution as you will end up with lots of froth and mess. Leave the solution to sit in the sink for 5 minutes and follow with another jug of boiling water.

I could go on and on, but I think you are getting the picture without laboring the point. The best thing about these homemade household cleaners, even if you are not bothered about the tree-hugging aspect of it, is that they are so much cheaper than the commercial products, and all the ingredients is readily available.

Homemade Oven Cleaner:

Salt is your friend in the kitchen. It has mild antiseptic properties, but is also brilliant for spills on top of your stove or in the oven itself. Whenever you have food spills throw generous amounts of salt on top and the food will burn up leaving an ash-like powder that will be easy then to remove.

And then there is the inside of the oven. I always line my oven trays with tin foil. Any spills there can be easily removed by just removing the foil. But there is also the walls of the oven that will, over time, get a build up of grease.

Here you will need to turn on the oven to 200 degrees F. and heat until the light goes out. Turn off the oven and place 2 cups of undiluted ammonia in a shallow glass (not metal) container on the middle rack of your oven. Close the door and leave overnight.

The following morning, remove the ammonia and the walls can now be easily cleaned.

Homemade Sink and Bath Cleaner

Use a paste of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and water to clean the scum around baths and sinks. I love shiny taps and this can be achieved by using vinegar and baking soda as a paste. Rub gently, and then rinse off with clean water and dry.

As a basic scouring cleaner to clean tiles, counter tops and pots you can use baking soda straight.

Homemade Toilet Cleaner

I don't know anyone who likes cleaning toilets, but it has to be done, and we need to make sure that whatever we use no only cleans but kills the germs at the same time. Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda around the toilet bowl and drizzle in some white vinegar just to make the powder damp. Brush all over and flush clean.

Homemade carpet Cleaner

If you have oriental carpets they should be cleaned by a professional as the colors often bleed into one another. However, if you don't you can make your own carpet cleaner.

Take a little of your homemade all-purpose soap gel and place into a gallon of warm water. To that add a half ounce of borax. With a rag wet it with the solution, squeeze most of the water out and start cleaning your carpet.

If you want to bring the colors out, use vinegar water at the end using the same method. The vinegar brightens the colors, making your carpets look new again.

Homemade Stain Removers

There are of course many solutions to removing stains from clothes, carpets and curtains just depending on the stain. The longer the stain remains in the cloth the more difficult it is to remove. So early removal has the best chance of success. See our page on stain removal for details.

So next time you rush off to the shops to buy those cleaning products, stop! Save your money and make your own homemade cleaners for half the price and help save the environment at the same time!

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