The household cleaning aisle at your local big box retailer can be a dizzying place – and not just because of the overwhelming number of options. The cost of housecleaning products is equally as staggering. However, rather than spend a huge portion of your paycheck on cleaning products, you can simply use a few common items that you may already have around your house to create your own solutions.
There are a number of recurring items in household cleaning solutions.
Here are a few easy and inexpensive natural cleaning recipes to get started around the house:
Baking Soda. Baking soda is a hardworking cleaning item that is both versatile and very inexpensive. Baking soda on Amazon.com costs slightly more than $1 per pound ($17 for a 13.5-pound bag).
Distilled White Vinegar. Like baking soda, distilled white vinegar is both versatile and inexpensive, and it can be used as a nontoxic disinfecting agent. Anytime “vinegar” is referred to throughout these tips, it’s safe to assume that I’m referring to distilled white vinegar unless otherwise specified. You can buy a one-and-one-third-gallon jug of distilled white vinegar at Costco for $3.29.
Hydrogen Peroxide. You might already have this in antiseptic solution in your medicine cabinet. If not, swing by the local drug store. Walgreens sells 16-ounce bottles of hydrogen peroxide for just $1.09.
Cotton Balls. Supermarkets, drugstores, and dollar stores all carry large packs of cotton balls. If you’re paying more than three or four pennies per cotton ball, you’re probably paying too much.
Liquid Dish Soap. You probably already have liquid dish soap, but you might want to stock up on a bit more if you’re using it for multipurpose cleaning solutions. There’s no need to buy a fancy brand. You can get a 24-ounce bottle of Target’s private label liquid dish soap for $2.
Salt. Chances are, you don’t keep salt with your cleaning supplies. However, you might want to start doing so. Any table salt will do, though a coarser salt (like sea salt) is a good option. Amazon.com sells a three-pound box of coarse kosher salt for $7.
Lemon. Pick up a lemon the next time you’re at a grocery store, typically for less than a dollar. You can always use part of it as a garnish in your cocktail.
Cheap Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol. If you’re over the age of 21, consider purchasing a bottle of inexpensive vodka to keep with your cleaning supplies (and out of reach of children, just like with the rest of your cleaning supplies). You can purchase a one-liter bottle of vodka for $7. If you’re under 21 or aren’t comfortable having vodka in your home, rubbing alcohol is a great substitute. Both CVS and Walgreens sell a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol for around $2.27.
Corn Starch. A tablespoon of corn starch can be used in a glass cleaning solution. Expect to pay around $3 for a 16-ounce container.
Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil has microbial properties that make it an effective cleaner. You can buy four ounces for approximately $10, which sounds expensive until you realize that you only need a few drops at a time. If that still sounds like too much money, skip it – you can create great cleaning solutions without it.
You also need some basic cleaning supplies:
Nylon Scrub Brush. A brush costs between $4 and $7 but can be disinfected (with vinegar or alcohol) and reused over and over.
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. Paper towels are a smaller financial investment up front, but the cost adds up quickly. Consider investing in one or two microfiber cleaning cloths, which can be washed and reused. You can expect to pay less than $2 per cloth.
Spray Mop. An inexpensive spray mop can be found at a big box retailer or online for around $25. For an even less expensive alternative, skip the mop and use a bucket and cloth instead.
Spray Bottles. Cheap spray bottles and containers can be bought at big box retailers or via Amazon.com for less than $2 per bottle. You can reuse these bottles indefinitely – just remember to keep refilling it with the same solution. You don’t want to accidentally mix a new solution with residue that was previously in the bottle and risk creating a toxic blend.
Pumice Stone. Pumice stones are used to help break down and remove tough mineral deposits and stains. You may also recognize them from the nail salon if you get pedicures. While not a “must-have” item, a pumice stone can help with stubborn stains, particularly in your bathroom. Expect to pay between $2 and $3 for one stone.
Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner – Four ingredients and thirty seconds to mix it up is all it takes! Customize the scent with essential oils.
Glass Cleaner – No need for that bright blue, highly scented stuff … vinegar + water cuts through dirt and leaves glass streak-free.
Tile Grout Cleaner – Mix 1 part water and 3 parts baking soda mixed into a paste. Apply to grout and let sit, scrub with toothbrush, remove with sponge.
Cookware – Use sea salt or coarse salt mixed with a little lemon juice and scrub. Also, try baking soda and water made into a paste. This also works well on stained tea cups or coffee mugs, and even the cutting board.
Fabric Softener – Mix 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water together. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup to the final rinse cycle.
Toilet Cleaner – Use undiluted white vinegar, pour around the top of the toilet bowl, scrub until clean.
Wood Dusting Spray – Banish dust and nourish wood at the same time.
Natural Air Freshener
In a medium saucepan, simmer a quart of water with natural ingredients to freshen and clean the air. Just make sure not to let the water evaporate off completely! My favorite combinations are:
1 sliced lemon, 2 tablespoons rosemary and a dash of vanilla
1 sliced lime and 1 piece chopped ginger root
1 sliced orange, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg and cloves (smells like pumpkin pie!)
2 tablespoons thyme and 1 sliced lime
Cleaning a house naturally is not any more difficult than cleaning it with harsh chemicals. It improves indoor air quality and is much safer, especially for children.
The other great thing about natural cleaning recipes is that they are safe for kids to use. The earlier, the better I say!