There’s nothing worse than a convert and I’m one. I told you I bought environmentally friendly cleaners at the specialty grocery store. I use them for things like cleaning the kitchen counters because I bought them but I’ll never buy them again. Vinegar mixed with water, half and half or more diluted depending on your tolerance for the smell, is a disinfectant. And, once mixed, it doesn’t smell much. You can mix in a few drops of citrus essential oil if you still don’t like the scent (and the essential oil can be used later for soaps and candles and other cleaners. I know, but it’s seriously easy or I wouldn’t do it).
I have two kids and the same carpet I’ve had since the first one was born. We have housebroken a dog and had a cat that rebelled against a change in litter brands. Our carpet has seen better days. Some of the stains have been there for years. But, I stumbled upon a recipe for carpet cleaner that took even 4 year old stains out and didn’t change the color of the rug.
Fill a spray or squeeze bottle (I used a bottle meant for mixing hair dye) with hydrogen peroxide. Add a half a handful of baking soda. Saturate spot and leave to dry. There will be baking soda residue left on top of the carpet. Vacuum the area and the stain has magically disappeared.
As for cleaning a tub or any truly grimy surface:
Mix as much baking soda as you think you’ll need with enough dish liquid (like Dawn or Palmolive , not dishwasher detergent) to make a paste. Spread on the area to be scrubbed. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes, longer if you can (go eat dinner or watch a movie or clean the rest of the bathroom), then scrub with a scrub brush or scrubbing sponge. If it’s not entirely clean, leave it on longer and come back and scrub it again. This cleaned a seriously grimy tub and made it sparkle again. You can use more baking soda and add vinegar to the mix, too. Once the bubbling has stopped – remember the baking soda volcanoes? – you can use the paste that’s left to scrub. I did it first the first way and it got it mostly clean. I did it again with the vinegar and now it’s bright white. Just the baking soda and soap should work if your surface is only medium grimy.
And finally, laundry soap. Just the idea of this scares people, but really, the most time consuming thing is grating a bar of soap. I refuse to go to all the trouble of making a liquid laundry soap. There’s serious mixing, and heating things up, and it just all seems like too much trouble. So, powdered detergent it is! This is the one you’ll need to do a little shopping for, but the ingredients will last a really long time:
1 4 oz. bar of castille soap (Dr. Bonner’s makes the most readily available brand)
1 c. washing soda (can be found at Wally World – it’s with the laundry detergents, it’s not regular baking soda)
1 c. Borax
Grate the castille soap and mix with the washing soda and borax. Use 1 – 2 tablesppons per load. (told you the ingredients would last you a long time!)
Finally, quite possibly the easies of them all, glycerine soap:
Buy glycerine soap base at your local craft store. It should come in 2 pound bricks or more. One 2 lb. Brick makes 9 standard size bars. At my local stores that size costs $9.99. Wait until you get a coupon (my stores regularly put out 40% off coupons). Bring it home. My 2 lb. bricks are divided into squares. 4 squares makes one bar. Melt it in a glass bowl, add some of that citrus essential oil you bought (or any essential oil you like) and maybe a little color if you want, and pour it into a mold. I bought a plastic soap mold for $2.99 that makes 4 bars at a time. You can buy a loaf mold into which you could pour all of the melted soap and cut it yourself once it has dried for that more homemade, boutique look, but those are somewhat expensive. I just want to use it, I don’t really care too much what it looks like. Now, it may seem counterintuitive to buy a block of soap only to melt it, add 20 or so drops of scent and let it harden again, but it’s actually cheaper than buying Dial, if you wait for that coupon. And it’s certainly cheaper than buying individual bars of glycerine soap – those retail for $2 a bar in my neck of the woods. And glycerine soap is pretty pure so it’s suitable for people with acne.
Some day I might experiment with making soap from scratch so that I can totally control what’s in it, but I don’t want lye in the house with little kids so, for now, I’ll cheat and still save money.
Those are my current favorite money saving cleaning recipes. I tried a dishwasher detergent but it didn’t get my dishes as sparkly as I’d like so I’m searching for another recipe. Bonus, all of those (excepting maybe the glycerine soap which, since it’s still a commercially made base still has additives in it) are environmentally friendly. The tub cleaner works better than anything I’ve ever tried including Soft Scrub. The carpet cleaner is nothing short of miraculous. You’ll have to pre-treat tough stains with the laundry soap, but it works great for normal and slightly grimy loads.
I told you, there’s nothing worse than a convert, and I’ve been converted to natural, inexpensive cleaners. Green and thrifty indeed!