For many years I had a mild obsession with bleach, actually, the smell of bleach would be more accurate. I’ve never been all that great of a housekeeper, but when I caught a whiff of bleach, my brain just knew that things were truly clean. I used Clorox or Lysol sprays on everything. And not just a little, I would soak my countertops and let the spray sit and “do it’s work” for a few minutes and then wipe up the sopping mess. I’ve ruined many, many articles of clothing rubbing up against my counters while cleaning.
I never, ever thought twice about my bleach obsession. I “knew” that bleach would kill all the yuck around my house and we’d be healthier, happier, and cleaner. Since I’ve never been a great housekeeper when I do break down and clean, there is usually a lot of yuck, so the more bleach power the better, right?
Well, then I got pregnant with my daughter and started paying attention to all the “all natural people” who spouted things like toxic, poison, killing the environment, deadly and I started getting a little nervous. So I switched over to many of the “green cleaners” on the market today. I found that I missed my bleach smell, I was spending a fortune, and for all the money I was spending, things weren’t getting very clean!
However, I now use all natural, homemade “green” cleaning products almost exclusively throughout my home and I have been for a little over a year now.
The biggest reason that I switched to homemade, all natural cleaning products though is for financial reasons. I love the idea of “green cleaning products” but they are ridiculously overpriced. I’m all for keeping my family safe, but my funds are extremely limited. If I’m going to splurge on things like a cleaning lady and organic foods then I have to balance that out with some major budget cuts somewhere. Simple homemade cleaning products are definitely easy on the budget.
There are all kinds of “DIY cleaning product recipes” all over the internet. About once a week I see a new e-book or other product that you can buy to find 101 recipes for all your cleaning needs. This feels overwhelming and crazy to me. I don’t want 101 cleaning products or recipes. I don’t have time to search for the right recipe for this particular mess, then buy the ingredients, follow the instructions, and finally clean up the mess. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Now, I realize that in general, you might need a few different cleaning products, but I’m big on simplicity. The more uses I can find, for one thing, the better. So, I have two bottles of cleaning solutions that I readily keep mixed up to tackle the daily messes in our house. These won’t clean everything (wood furniture, some carpet stains, etc.), but they can take care of a whole lot of mess in your house. And, big bonus, they are cheap, simple, effective, easy, quick, and completely safe for people, pets, and the environment.
Vinegar and Water
Get a spray bottle, fill it halfway with white distilled vinegar and the rest of the way with water. Swirl and get to cleaning. It’s that simple.
Due to the acid in vinegar, this mix is quite effective at killing mold, bacteria, and other germs. It is also great at dissolving mineral deposits.
I use my vinegar and water mixture for several things. It can be used as a glass cleaner. My cleaning lady sprays it on the floor while using my steam mop for a little extra cleaning power (think under the baby’s high chair). We use this as a surface cleaner for mildly dirty surfaces. This is my go to fruit and veggie wash. I spray my fruits and veggies with this mixture and let them sit for a few minutes to let the vinegar dissipate and voila, clean produce, on the cheap. I also spray this on my faucets/shower head/kitchen sink to remove mineral deposits and bring back the shine.
Heavy Duty Surface Spray
1 tsp Borax
1 tsp Washing Soda
1 cup Vinegar
Drizzle of castile soap or Dishwashing liquid (optional)
20 drops Tea Tree Oil (You could also use Oregano Oil, Germ Fighter/Thieves, or similar oil)
All of these measurements are very approximate. I don’t measure, I just eyeball it, it’s not that big of a deal. Pour all ingredients into a spray bottle (add water till nearly full) and swirl together.
The borax, washing soda, and soap add a little extra scrubbing power to this mix for tough messes (think my counters after I’ve neglected to wipe them off for a few days). The tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties so basically, it’s nature’s bleach! While none of these items should be ingested, I feel completely safe using this spray around my kids and I even let my four-year-old spray it on all of the various surfaces that need to be cleaned.
This is my surface cleaner for my countertops, stove, microwave, kitchen table, high chair, bathroom surfaces, shower/tub cleaner, and spills on my tile floors. Basically, if it’s not wood, fabric, clear glass, or carpet, this is what I use. Generally, I wipe up any loose crumbs and then spray the surface with this cleaner. I usually let it sit for a minute or two to loosen any stuck on messes and allow the mix to kill the germs and then wipe it clean. It works amazingly well.
You might not have all of these ingredients on hand today, but you should. These items can be purchased easily and the prices are extremely economical. I also make my own laundry detergent (find the recipe here) and the borax and washing soda are needed for the detergent, so I always have them on hand. I probably mix this cleaner up maybe once every two weeks or so. It takes all of two minutes to mix up. The hardest part is going downstairs to grab the borax and washing soda from my laundry room.
It will literally cost you pennies and minutes to make these simple, effective sprays and you’ll be protecting your health, the environment, and your pocketbook. I love that I have now replaced my love of the smell of bleach with a love of the smell of vinegar and tea tree oil. My husband isn’t a huge fan of the smell of tea tree oil, but one of the nice things about natural cleaners is that the smells dissipate really quickly. You aren’t left with a chemical fog for hours after cleaning, if you don’t like the smell it will be gone in a few minutes.
Also, my bonus tip. Don’t spend another dime on expensive dishwasher rinsing agents and cleaners. They don’t work. I can’t tell you how annoyed I am that we spent a small fortune over the years trying to find the right rinse agent that would actually work to make my glasses shine but they always came out of the dishwasher disgustingly cloudy and dingy. Pour a splash of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher when you put in the soap and voila, dishes are sparkly and shiny, and that splash might cost a half a penny with the cheap price of vinegar.