Go Greener: Clean Your House With Just Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemons.

Going green can be a very expensive transition, or it can be cheaper than you’ve ever thought possible.  Green doesn’t have to mean buying all the “eco-friendly” products that are available for twice the price as the nasty stuff.  In fact, a lot of those “eco-friendly” products, when you read the labels and figure out what is actually in those products, are not very natural at all.  They may not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach etc., but they contain a lot of other ingredients that are not so great.  Especially when you can get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, when your little helper wants to help you clean, you can comfortably and safely hand her a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag.

So lets go greener than green-cleaning products.  Lets make our own out of simple, economical ingredients.

I clean my entire house with a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar water, with plain vinegar and with baking soda.

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for 2 weeks in white distilled vinegar. You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar.  Vinegar diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle is perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Baking soda.  Baking soda is perfect for lifting grease, soap scum and grime.  Baking soda is also a great deodorizer.

Lemons.  Lemons can be used to clean a lot of surfaces. The acidity naturally kills germs and the fresh smell of lemons is pleasant.

Baking soda and vinegar.  When you add baking soda, a base, to vinegar, an acid, you neutralize the two of them and basically render both useless.  I have read a lot of articles talking about combining the two to clean toilets etc.  While the volcano-like explosion is pretty cool, in most cases it doesn’t actually achieve much since you have effectively created a neutral product.

How to Clean Your Kitchen:

Counter tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cuts grease and kills germs.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a clean rag.
Kitchen sinks: Lemon-infused vinegar spray works well, or if it is extra dirtly, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub clean with a scrub brush.  Alternatively, you can use a lemon that has been juiced, to scrub your sink with.  Rinse clean.
Stove tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray will cut the grease.  To help with burnt bits, make a baking soda paste with a bit of water, smear on, let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
Floor: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will make laminate, tile and linoleum sparkle, leaving no build-up.
Fridge: Spray down with lemon-infused citrus spray, then wipe clean.  Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb food odors.  Replace the box every few months.
Microwave: Heat up a small bowl of 1 cup vinegar for about 4 minutes.  The vinegar and steam loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe clean with a rag.  You can also use lemon juice the same way, with the same results.
Stove fan filters: Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Add 1/4 c. baking soda and mix well.  Soak fan filters in it for 1 minute, then turn over, soak for 1 more minute, then remove and rinse.
Dishwasher: Add white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent buildup on your dishes.
Cutting boards:  Clean stains and germs off of your cutting board by squeezing a lemon on the board and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.  Scrub clean.

How To Clean Your Bathroom:

Bath tub and shower stall: Scrub bathtub with a baking soda paste and a scrub brush.  The baking soda cuts soap scum and grease off the tub and walls beautifully.  Rinse clean.
Toilet: Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and scrub clean with toilet brush.  Clean toilet seat, lid, and around base of toilet with lemon-infused vinegar spray.  Wipe dry.
Sink: Scrub sink clean with a baking soda paste and and a scrub brush.  Clean chrome or stainless steel with lemon-infused vinegar spray.
Mirrors: Plain white vinegar in a spray bottle, diluted 1:1 with water does the best job of cleaning mirrors.
Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will keep bathroom floors clean and sparkly.

Cleaning Other Areas:

Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will clean all floor surfaces beautifully.
Walls: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cleans walls beautifully.
Windows: Plain vinegar in a spray bottle diluted 1:1 with water.
Dusting: Spray your duster very lightly with lemon-infused vinegar to replace products like Pledge.
Carpets: to deodorize a carpet, sprinkle generously with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum up.
Mattresses: To deodorize urine or vomit stains sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum.  For fresh, wet stains, scrub with white vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Test fabric first.
Laundry: lemon juice, placed directly on grease stains on fabric, and left to sit for 30 minutes, can lift the stain.  Vinegar, poured directly on tomato-based fabric stains, can remove the stain.  Test your fabric first.
Tile grout: Lemon juice and an old tooth brush will bleach tile grout clean.
Drains: One case in which baking soda and vinegar combined can work is with a clogged drain.  Since the physical “explosion” can actually move things around, you can unclog a drain with it.  Pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.  Add a cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug with a rag and leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse down the concoction with boiling water and you may have success if the conditions are right.

So forget the bottles of fancy green cleaners.  Ignore the eco-friendly advertising.  Save  your money, save your family’s health, and go greener!  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar and lemons.  So easy, so cheap and so effective!  Please share any other cleaning methods you might know using baking soda, vinegar and lemons!

You might also enjoy reading about my homemade dish-washing detergent, my homemade laundry detergent, my DIY deodorant recipe and how my entire family’s hair is safely and perfectly cleaned with baking soda (wash) and vinegar (rinse).  All of these recipes use some of the above ingredients as well as a few others.

 

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #64Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #16 , Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Get Real Frugal Friday Blog Hop #5 and Homestead Abundance #8.

 

 

 

 

Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

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I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.