Thursday, February 10, 2011

DIY Goodness - Natural Cleaning Products!

So, I really should be working on my freelance stuff right now. But I'm not. I wanted to post today, and seeing as I have 34 minutes to accomplish that...

I've been on numerous message boards recently that have had natural cleaning products questions. I use a lot of "natural" stuff around the house. I am not, in any way shape or form, "green". In fact, I don't believe in climate change but that is a WHOLE nother post. I do these DIY cleaners because I have severe chemical allergies. I literally cannot walk down the cleaning aisle at Wal-mart without getting short of breath, my eyes watering, and I start coughing uncontrollably. It also is usually followed by me starting to itch, which, if you know me in real life you know the rash isn't pretty!

Anyway. I make a lot of my home cleaning products because of this. This post is a list of sorts, of my favorite cleaners and my favorite tips and tricks!

DIY Laundry Detergent.

There is both a liquid and a powder version of this. The powder is simpler, so we'll do it first

Washing Soda - You want SODIUM CARBONATE not sodium BICARBONATE. Look at me! Being all chemistry and stuff... (Note: I currently use baking soda. It does a great job. I plan on TRYING the washing soda, but I've heard it can cause scalding in sensitive skin. I have numerous friends who use it without problems!)
20 Mule Team Borax - Easily found at your grocery store or Wal-mart, look in the laundry
Oxiclean FREE powder

I just take equal parts of all three (depending on the size of my container) and shake them all together. I then use 1-2 big serving spoons (probably a 1/4 of a cup) in my laundry. It is not a high suds-ing soap, so don't freak out. It cleans my dear husbands stinky socks and sweaty shirts, and ladies and gentlemen, my husband WORKS all day. He usually comes home with sweat stains on the back of his shirts from his labors of the day. If it cleans his stuff, it'll clean anyones.

Ivory Soap or Castille Soap - Ivory shaves easier. Castille is even "more natural" to me. I bought my Castille at Cracker Barrel of all places.
Washing Soda

For this recipe, you're going to need a funnel, a grater of some kind, a kettle, and 2 clean gallon jugs.

Grate 1 bar of soap into the kettle. Put enough water to ALMOST cover the soap into the kettle, and then melt the soap on low. This can take 20 minutes sometimes. While that's melting, using your funnel, add 1/2 cup of washing soda and borax to each (clean) gallon jug. Once the soap mixture is melted, half it between the two jugs. Fill to the top with HOT tap water. Viola! You're done! It will separate some, but all you have to do is shake it before using. I use about a 1/4-1/2 cup per load (I don't really measure...)

My friend Tammy also has an awesome recipe on her blog. I haven't tried it yet, but once I run out of stuff, I plan on it! Check it out!

Other cleaning methods:

Here is my main advice. Buy lots of lemons, and lots of pure distilled vinegar. These two things are your BEST FRIENDS when it comes to cleaning.

The smell of vinegar doesn't bother me, and it disappears once it dries. If it does bother you, invest in some all natural essential oil drops and add them to the mix. Or add some lemon juice/zest.

All Purpose Cleaner:
1/2 cup pure distilled vinegar
3 cups tap or distilled water

It's that easy folks. Feel free to add lemon juice or essential oils. Just keep it in a sprayer and use on EVERYTHING. I clean my counters with it, my bathrooms, my windows, my sinks... pretty much everything. Vinegar kills mold. Trust me. I cleaned my back door with it (which was DISGUSTING) and it did a FABULOUS job.

Straight lemon juice works GREAT on a glass top stove. Just squeeze it on and let it sit for up to 30 minutes, then spray it down with water or the vinegar mixture, and it wipes right up!

Use newspapers when cleaning your windows (with the vinegar solution) for a really streak free shine!

Use banana peels to clean your leather with. Don't laugh, it works!

Microwave 1/3 cup of vinegar and 2/3 cup of water until a full roiling boil takes place. Let sit in the microwave for 5 minutes. Open the door, remove the hot liquid, then wipe down the microwave walls. It gets all that stuck on food OFF!

Mix up cornstarch and water to make a paste. Using a sponge (like the ones with the rough side?) scrub it onto your glass shower doors. Just scrub like crazy, and it gets ALMOST all the soap residue off! (This would probably work much better if you did it more often than me....)

There's a great looking home-made deodorant recipe here that I'm dying to try. As soon as I use up one of my deodorant thingies.

I also have, on various occasions, went "poo-less" or have not used shampoo. The longest I went was about 4 months. Don't freak out! My hair was the healthiest it has EVER been. I simply took about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the shower with me, dampened it, and then massaged it into the roots of my hair. Once I had massaged my whole scalp, I took a comb and combed it through my hair. Then, I rinsed. Once it was all rinsed out, I took a tall glass, filled it with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and then filled it the rest of the way with water. I stuck my ponytail (or the main length of my hair) down in that, and let it soak a minute or two. Then I would pour it over my head (careful not to get it in my eyes) and wash my body, then right before I would get out, I would rinse my hair. When you could no longer smell the vinegar smell, you knew you were good. My hair has never, ever been so soft. The only reason I stopped doing it was that it WAS time consuming. And I was lucky to get a shower some days (still am). It became easier to just use shampoo (and at that time my hair was LONG for me). I also found the Tresemme Naturals line, which I loved.

These are just the ones I use the most. Salt and Baking Soda work great when you need to scrub something (baking soda works great for tile!).

With a 15 month old, I really want my house to be as clean and sanitary as possible, but I don't want to freak out about chemicals, and I'm honestly trying to limit her chemical exposure.

All of these tips and tricks have saved me some serious cash. The only real cleaning product I purchase is Dawn dish soap (and I do use Purex laundry soap some too!). If anyone has a rock star recipe for making their own dish soap, lemme know... because I haven't been real happy with the ones I've tried!

If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave me a comment!


  1. Oh my goodness! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been wanting to try some more natural cleaning techniques around the house, but didn't even know where to start...if you ever hear of a way to clean and make hardwood floors shiny (real hardwood, not vinyl), I'd love to hear that too! With floors that are coming up to 100 years old, we have a battle with them constantly! (Much love for 'da blog!)

  2. I wondered if baking soda would work in the laundry soap or not. I went to buy stuff to make it last week and can't find the washing soda anywhere!


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