Thursday, May 22, 2014

Frugal Homemade Cleaners

Hello Fellow Mess Makers!

If you are anything like me, gardening season means a messier house. It's a double whammy: you are spending more time outside and less time cleaning, plus you are tracking in more dirt! Well, I am not the best housekeeper anyway, add garden dirt, and this place gets nasty quickly! Want to come over now?! So, in an effort to be a better maid, I am going to share some of my favorite frugal cleaning recipes.

First, the all-purpose cleaner that I use for almost all of my daily cleaning needs. I mix half a gallon of water with half a gallon of white vinegar and a couple squirts of liquid dish soap. That's it. It's food surface safe and kid safe. I have some in a spray bottle in the kitchen. Before I work on the counter, especially making bread, I spray the counter down and leave it for 5 minutes to give it a chance to disinfect. Then just wipe up and let dry! Easy as can be!

For frugal reusable disinfecting wipes, I put old, cut up T-shirts in bottles and pour the all-purpose cleaner over them. I keep one in the kitchen and each bathroom. You can use a baby wipe container, a kitchen wipes container, mayo jar, or whatever works for you. I believe this is an Ovaltine container. I did try rolling the rags in such a way where they will pop up out of the container, but it was too time consuming to set up. I found this method easier... When I am doing laundry, I put an empty container near me to throw the rags in as I find them. When it's full, I pour in enough cleaner to saturate the rags and it's ready to go! You can also make disposable wipes with paper towels, but I found out the hard way you have to buy the really nice heavy duty kind (AKA the expensive brand) or you may as well use toilet paper! My cheapy paper towels disintegrated like soggy cereal! I don't know the price break down on that, but it may be cheaper to just buy the ready made disposables on sale or with coupons. You have to be prudent and decide what's best for you and your family.

Another cleaner that I'm sure you have all seen on Pinterest, is the orange vinegar cleaner. Collect your orange peels in a jar, fill it with white vinegar and let sit for a couple weeks. This one is more than ready since it has been a couple months, I just keep forgetting to use it whenever I need to make more cleaner! I had tried this once before, but instead of using only the peels, I also used discarded pieces of orange. The cleaner must have gotten too much OJ in it because it ended up being sticky, so I threw it out. I'm hoping this will be better.

For the bathroom, I keep a spray bottle of watered down vinegar and a shaker bottle of baking soda. I sprinkle the baking soda in the toilet bowl to scrub with the toilet brush. Then for the sink and bathtub, I use it as you would Ajax or Comet. The vinegar I use for cleaning the mirrors and shower doors. Vinegar helps break down lime and calcium deposits too. Since I have started using my reusable wipes on a regular basis, my need for scrubbing the bathroom has greatly diminished. Also, I keep all these supplies in each bathroom. I find I am more likely to take a spare minute or two to clean when the supplies are right there. If I have to go looking for them, I usually end up getting distracted before anything gets accomplished! I try to wipe the bathroom down while I am giving the kids a bath since I'm in there anyway. Also, I put a diluted version of my all-purpose cleaner in my automatic shower cleaner. A word of caution here, I have heard that vinegar may break down caulk or grout overtime, so use discretion.

I am sure you  have heard of homemade laundry detergent by now. I have experimented with many different recipes. The basics of most all of them are Borax, Washing Soda, and Oxi Clean. I honestly can't remember which ones I've tried and which I like best.

I can tell you that if you keep your homemade liquid soap in the unfinished garage during the winter, it will gel up something fierce! I started using the powdered version when it's cold out and I think I like it better overall. It's not as messy to use or make, takes up less space, and is much less labor intensive to make. I will certainly be using up the liquid I have already made, though! I have heard that some machines won't dissolve the powder very well, so this may not be an option for you if you have that type of machine.

As far as cleaners go, that's about it. I do keep a spray bottle of bleach cleaner in case I think I need it. Plus a bottle of bleach in the laundry room. But I rarely use either. I don't have a dishwasher, so I just use cheapy liquid dish soap to do dishes. I realized the nice expensive stuff doesn't really matter since I have to change the water out due to food particles anyway. Perhaps I use a little more soap now, but not enough to match or exceed what I spent on dish soap before. I have tried the homemade dish soap and didn't like it as well.

For my floors, other than using a broom and vacuum, I have a steam mop. I love this thing! I really think I should be a Shark salesperson because I have sold several friends on this. Just add some water and mop away! No cleaners or pads to buy! If the pad on your steam mop wears out (I've had mine 6 years and it has yet to show wear) there are free patterns online to sew your own! (Of course you can buy them, but I go the frugal route whenever I can.) 

I do keep a dust mop with a removable, washable head around to make a quick job of garden dirt cleanup before dinner. Then for dusting, I usually just use a slightly damp rag. There are recipes for homemade furniture polish out there, but I don't really have anything that needs it. I have thought about making my own washable swiffer-type duster. Really, I just don't dust very often! How gross is that?! But it's the truth!

One thing I have been experimenting with is homemade carpet cleaner. I think I may end up investing in a steam cleaner. Small kids = lots of sickness = lots of messy carpets. That is also gross, but true! Plus, I have to say that my carpet scrubbing abilities are pretty sad at 3 A.M. It would be nice to just fire up a machine and call it good!

Well, I hope this helps simplify your frugal cleaning endeavors!

Happy Cleaning!

Jen Hen

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