ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY IS ALSO CHEAPER
Homemade cleaning products have myriad advantages over store-bought counterparts, the two most important being their lower toxicity and cost, as many can be made for pennies on the dollar. Most of these recipes utilize common ingredients already lingering in cabinets, such as baking soda, lemon juice, salt, alcohol, and olive oil. Essential oils aren't necessary, but a few drops of lavender or mint, say, can add a nice fragrance to the mix.
FIZZY TOILET BOWL CLEANER
This homemade way to deep-clean a toilet is reminiscent of elementary school science class: Add one-half cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar into the bowl. For extra deodorizing power, add about 10 drops of an essential oil with a heavy-duty fragrance. Let it sit for a few minutes, fizzing away, before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
Harness all the cleaning and germ-killing powers of bleach with a DIY alternative. A recipe from the website Hippy Homemaker: Into an empty gallon jug, pour 1-and-one-half cups hydrogen peroxide (3 percent solution) and one-half cup lemon juice; top off with distilled water. An optional add-in is 1 tablespoon citric acid, which helps whiten fabrics and soften hard water (mix with the lemon juice to dissolve before the water is added). This bleach alternative can be used with laundry or anywhere around the home, just the same as bleach.
POWERFUL STAIN FIGHTER
To combat stubborn stains, sometimes a little extra oomph is needed in the form of a pre-treating solution. An easy DIY stain treatment from One Good Thing by Jillee is up to the task. Mix two-thirds cup dish soap, two-thirds cup ammonia, and 6 tablespoons baking soda with 2 cups warm water in a spray bottle. Shake before each use (the baking soda tends to settle) and spray generously on stains before laundering. Due to the ammonia, don't use this on anything you plan to wash with chlorine bleach.
STREAK-FREE GLASS CLEANER
The necessary ingredients for shiny windows and mirrors are already in your cabinets. For an easy and cheap DIY glass cleaner, combine 2 cups water, one-half cup white vinegar, and one-quarter cup rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. The vinegar dissolves dirt and grime while the alcohol prevents streaks. Spray onto the glass surfaces in your home and car with a microfiber cloth.
A clogged drain is no cause for panic with this trick from Real Simple. Pour one-half cup baking soda and one-half cup white vinegar down the drain. Cover with a wet cloth, wait five minutes, remove the cloth, and flush it all down with boiling water.
GRANITE COUNTER-TOP CLEANER
While visually appealing, granite countertops can be tricky to clean and maintain. Instead of splurging on a specialty granite cleaner, make your own with a base of rubbing alcohol, which dissolves grease, disinfects, and leaves no streaks. One Good Thing by Jillee says to add the following in a 32-ounce spray bottle: one-quarter cup rubbing alcohol, three drops liquid dish soap, and a few drops of essential oil to mask the alcohol smell. To finish, fill the bottle with distilled water and shake. To use, spray granite surfaces and wipe clean with a paper towel.
GROUT AND TILE POWER CLEANER
Even a relatively clean bathroom looks dingy if the grout between the tiles is dirty. To clean it, the website Mrs. Clean endorses mixing three-fourths cup baking soda, one-fourth cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap into a squeeze-top container. Use a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush to apply the paste to grout and leave for at least 15 minutes. Wipe away and rinse clean with warm water. To brighten tiles and tubs, squeeze the mixture onto a sponge, scrub, and rinse with water.
Real Simple recommends combining one-half cup white vinegar, one-half cup vodka, and 1-and-one-half cups water with 10 drops lemon essential oil and 10 drops lavender essential oil in a spray bottle for an all-purpose surface disinfectant. Shake well to combine. To use, spray surfaces and let sit for 10 minutes before wiping clean with a microfiber cloth.
MAKEUP BRUSH SPRAY AND SOAK
Every health and beauty guru emphasizes the importance of clean makeup brushes for maintaining beautiful skin and reducing breakouts. To make your own brush cleaning solution, according to the natural living blog Live Simply, add the following to a bottle: 1 cup distilled water, one-half cup witch hazel, 2 teaspoons liquid Castile soap, and 1 teaspoon olive or coconut oil. Shake to combine. Use this to mist makeup brushes daily or, for heavy-duty cleaning, submerge brushes in the solution for 10 minutes.
The blog Mrs. Kendall provides these instructions to vanquish tarnish: Into a bowl, add a crumpled ball of foil, warm water, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 1 tablespoon salt. Immerse the silver in the bowl and watch tarnish disappear without any scrubbing. (The lifestyle and interior design website Apartment Therapy put this well-known old wives' tale to the test and declared that, indeed, it works.) Remove the silver from the water and rub gently with a towel to complete the tarnish removal.
ALL-NATURAL FABRIC SOFTENER
Making a DIY fabric softener isn't just cheaper; it also eliminates the residue that builds up on clothes from store-bought fabric softeners, according to the website DIY Natural. Just add one-third cup white vinegar to each laundry load, either through the fabric softener dispenser or a Downy ball. Miss that delightful smell that comes with fabric softener? Add a favorite essential oil, about 20 to 30 drops per gallon of vinegar. If using essential oils, shake the mixture well before each use.
LEMON DUSTING SPRAY
Dusting spray from One Good Thing by Jillee eliminates dust while olive oil polishes wood surfaces. To make, add 1 cup water, one-quarter cup white vinegar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 10 to 15 drops lemon essential oil, or a citrus oil such as grapefruit, tangerine, or orange, to a spray bottle. Before each use, shake the bottle well to combine the oil and water. Spray directly on furniture and buff with a soft cloth. While this is intended for wood surfaces, it can also be used on other home surfaces that need dusting.
HOMEMADE GOO GONE
Get rid of sticky residue from price tags and labels as well as any mystery gunk on kitchen cabinets, refrigerator handles, and such. A paste of equal parts coconut oil and baking soda, the invention of lifestyle blog Rosy Blu, is a DIY gunk remover. Apply the paste to stickiness and let sit for a few minutes. Then rub gently until the gunk is gone, using a scouring pad to help out if needed.
NO-SCRUB MICROWAVE CLEANER
Over time the microwave becomes stained with old food splatters but is often forgotten during cleaning binges. To clean without too much elbow grease, halve a lemon and squeeze the juice into one-half cup of water in a heat-safe measuring cup. The Kitchn says to heat this in the microwave for three minutes and then let sit for five minutes. Voila -- now use a sponge to easily wipe down the microwave.
REUSABLE DRYER SHEETS
Homemade dryer sheets are just as effective as store-bought, plus they're cheaper and more eco-friendly because they can be used again and again. Start by cutting square sections from cotton fabric, such as old linens, T-shirts, or dishrags. Place these cloths in an airtight container. Using a PopSugar recipe, mix one-half cup white vinegar with five to 10 drops tea tree oil, lavender oil, or another pleasant-smelling essential oil. Pour the fluid into the container to dampen the cloths. To use, squeeze out any excess liquid -- aim for a damp cloth -- and toss into the dryer with wet clothes just like a store-bought dryer sheet. When the dryer sheet has done its job, return it to the container for another use.
CITRUS ENZYME WONDER CLEANER
Enzyme cleaner is lauded for its ability to power-clean everything from floors to clothing to fresh produce. It's surprisingly easy -- and cheap -- to whip up enzyme cleaner with a recipe from the DIY website One Good Thing by Jillee. Add 2 cups chopped citrus peels into an empty 2-liter bottle with 7 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 liter water. Shake the bottle vigorously until the sugar dissolves. Write the date on the bottle and then let it ferment for two to three months, shaking every few days. When finished fermenting, dilute one-half cup enzyme concentrate with 1 liter of water. Can't wait for the mixture to ferment? Add 1 teaspoon yeast to the bottle when mixing together to speed up the process to two weeks, although some claim the cleaner isn't as effective with this method.
GARBAGE DISPOSAL REFRESHER
Unseen build-up in the garbage disposal doesn't just cause odors; it can also contribute to clogged pipes over time. The DIY website Hello Natural recommends adding citrus peels into an ice cube tray or mini-muffin tin. Top with distilled vinegar and freeze overnight. Pop the cubes out of the tray or tin, sealing in a plastic bag for later use. When in need, toss a cube down the garbage disposal while it's running. The ice and vinegar will clean the disposal's blades while the peels will give the kitchen a citrus aroma.
'FAUX BREEZE' FRESHENING SPRAY
Use this homemade freshener by natural living blog BrownThumbMama instead of Febreze. Thoroughly combine 1 tablespoon baking soda with two to three drops of an essential oil in a dish. Add to a spray bottle with 1 cup distilled water and shake vigorously until the baking soda dissolves. Spray in the air or on fabric surfaces that need freshening, such as linens, upholstery, shoes, and carpets.
CARPET CLEANING AND FRESHENING POWDER
Look no further than the kitchen pantry to freshen carpets with little effort. To make this carpet cleaning powder, courtesy of PopSugar, add the following into a blender: 2 cups baking soda, one-half cup cornstarch, one-half cup cornmeal, four bay leaves, 1 tablespoon whole cloves, and 1 tablespoon Borax (optional). Pulse until the mixture is an even consistency and transfer to a sprinkle-top container, easily found at a dollar store. Sprinkle the powder generously over carpet and let sit for at least two hours or overnight, then vacuum.
Does the thought of all these various cleaners boggle your mind? Opt for one multipurpose product to clean glass, stainless steel, porcelain, wood, and so on. To make, simply combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Countless websites and magazines swear by this easy recipe, which is also ultra-cheap to concoct.