Save $300 a Year on Cleaning Supplies and Cut Out Toxins at the Same Time

Some homemade cleaners perform better than commercial products and are made from ingredients that are whole lot cheaper. Here's how to make them and how they stack up to store-bought versions in tests.

9 other powerful ingredients

Here are nine more ingredients used in safe, effective green cleaning, along with a few of their many uses. Some can be used alone. Often, they’re combined. You’ll find links to recipes and more uses at the end of this article.

  • Lemons: Lemon juice cuts grease, removes stains, brightens laundry, cleans surfaces (including tile grout) and neutralizes odors. Grind half a lemon in your kitchen sink disposal to deodorize it.
  • Salt: Some prefer coarse sea salt, but table salt also is used for scrubbing. It is abrasive but doesn’t scratch surfaces. Salt can remove red wine stains, as this Real Simple video demonstrates.
  • Castile soap: Castile is an olive oil-based soap. Dr. Bronner’s is one popular brand. Castile soap is gentle but effective in a solution with warm or hot water at removing grease. Use it for cleaning floors and cars.
  • Pure essential oils: Extracted from plants, these oils are powerful, so research first and use carefully. Extracts of thyme, origanum, mint, cinnamon, salvia and clove “were found to possess the strongest antimicrobial properties among many tested,” according to research.
  • Borax: Household borax (not the same as boric acid) is sodium tetraborate, “a naturally occurring substance produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes,” says the website of 20 Mule Team Borax. Among other things, it’s used to boost laundry detergents (1/2 cup per load), control odors, clean toilet bowls and brighten grout. It also deodorizes carpets, pet beds and dishwashers; removes soap scum and hard water deposits; and functions as an all-purpose cleaner. The 20 Mule Team label cautions to avoid contact with eyes and not to take it internally. It contains no phosphates and is safe for washers, septic tanks and plumbing.
  • Baking soda: An effective odor neutralizer, sodium bicarbonate and its stronger relative washing soda (sodium carbonate) also cut grease. Wear gloves when using washing soda. Unlike baking soda, washing soda is not edible.
  • Rubbing alcohol: Reader’s Digest recommends rubbing alcohol for cleaning blinds, windows, ink stains and bathroom fixtures; removing ticks, and melting windshield frost. In a 1-to-1 mixture with water, it prevents ice bags from freezing completely, so you can mold them around the surface you want to chill.
  • Cooking oil: Vegetable and other plant-based oils can bring moisture back to dried-out wood, rattan and wicker. These oils moisturize skin and leather, and they polish wood, stainless steel, pots and pans.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: After cleaning a sink, disinfect it by misting separately with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, says (Remember, mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide reduces the effectiveness of both.)

Now, get started

If you’re ready to give homemade cleaners a try, here are tips and resources for getting started:

Do you have homemade cleaning solutions? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Marilyn Lewis
Marilyn Lewis
After a career in daily newspapers I moved to the world of online news in 2001. I specialize in writing about personal finance, real estate and retirement. I love how the Internet ... More


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