Today is the first day of absolutely gorgeous spring weather. It’s going to be a high of 9 C/48 F, and the sun is just beaming through every window proudly. I also spotted the first tulips and daffodils breaking through the dirt in the front flower bed, and so of course, we did The Tulip Dance (an original choreographed routine involving copious amounts of bum wiggling and cheering).
Weather like this gives me the itch to do some serious Spring Cleaning – to throw open the windows after a loooooong winter (seriously, Winter – that was Ridonculous) let in the fresh air, and scrub everything in sight (in order to give the kids a fresh canvas on which to wreak havoc again, duh.)
—> This is one of those things that’s so incredibly easy to do that I often take it for granted.
If you’re going to have a chance of converting your non-crunchy peeps to a crunchy habit… this is The One.
I guess there are a few instances in life where it doesn’t make sense to take thirty seconds to make another batch of homemade cleaner. A zombie apocalypse, for example. (You have bigger things to worry about.) Or while birthing a baby (you have enough on your agenda for today.) Or maybe… uhh… okay, nope – that’s all I’ve got.
If those two things aren’t happening, then I totally think it’s worth your time. The time that it takes to make up a new batch, assuming you’ve already gotten your ingredients to keep on hand, is approximately 98% less than the time it takes to drive to the store to pick up a bottle of neon chemical cleaning soup. (That’s a scientific calculation based on irrefutable concrete facts, obviously.)
In case you’re not yet convinced (or want to present your case to your non-hippie friends), here are three excellent reasons!
Case for the Homemade Cleaner
1. Ridiculously frugal
Let’s say you use up one spray bottle of store-bought all-purpose cleaner every three months that cost you around 5 bucks. That’s $20/year for that one cleaner alone… although most people buy like a dozen different bottles for different purposes. This recipe costs you maybe $25 for all of the ingredients up front, which will then last you for probably 5-10 years if you used them for just this purpose (which, of course, you won’t – because they are so stinkin’ versatile and amazing. I mean, I’m not a math genius (HA!), but I know a good deal when I see one.
2. Super easy and quick
You literally dump the ingredients in a spray bottle and then fill it with water. Give it a little swirly jiggle action to combine. Done. I mean – it’s almost a let-down because the fun ends before it even starts.
3. Effective & non-toxic
I would argue that this homemade cleaner is actually more effective because it cleans dirt and grime as much as the store-bought stuff, but minus the negative aspects of smearing questionable chemicals all over my house (which, personally, I’d then feel the need to remove with some vinegar spray, because: yuck.)
Image by Don O’Brien via Flickr CC
Now, I always used to use plain ol’ vinegar and baking soda to clean pretty well everything from top to bottom in my house. I have come to discover, however, that these two ingredients – while awesome on their own – are not actually all that effective when used together. In my favourite green living ebook, Green Your Life, Emily explains why:
One way baking soda is often suggested to be used is in combination with vinegar. When you combine vinegar and baking soda you know it creates a nice fizzing reaction. It may seem like this is an effective way to clean surfaces, but actually, this fizzing reaction is only breaking down the properties of the vinegar and baking soda into little more than lightly salted water. So use baking soda as an abrasive cleaner on it’s own, or combined with a soap like castile soap or dish soap, but not in combination with vinegar for cleaning (unless you are trying to unclog a drain, where the reaction does help to remove deposits in the drain).
Another note: it’s also important to not mix castile soap and vinegar.
Here’s what I do use: pure castile soap (I always use this brand, and I love it. It looks pricey, but it’s actually highly concentrated), borax, and 5-6 drops of essential oils (excellent choices include sweet orange, lemon, tea tree/melaleuca, or lavender).
By the way, in case you’ve heard other rumblings of controversy over the safety of borax, you can read this excellent article to learn more. Personally, I conclude the same thing as the author of that article: I’m perfectly comfortable with using borax for cleaning and laundry, but I might avoid it in a dishwasher detergent recipe).
(If you’re interested in a recipe for all-purpose cleaner that doesn’t use borax… you’re in luck – I’m sharing a non-borax variation on this recipe over at Keeper of the Home next week!)
I use a plain spray bottle that I bought at the dollar store, although you could reuse an old spray bottle from a store-bought cleaner, if you want to be super frugal.
DIY All-Purpose Cleaner
- 1 tsp castile soap (Like Dr. Bronner’s)
- 1 tsp borax
- 5-6 drops essential oil Recommended: sweet orange, lemon, tea tree*
- Combine first three ingredients in a spray bottle, then fill the bottle with water. Shake gently to combine, and use!
More awesome links for natural DIY cleaners…
Are you still clinging to your store-bought cleaner for any area of your house? Perhaps it’s finally time to let it go, let it gooooo…
(gosh, that song really applies to a lot of things, doesn’t it? ha!)