Ah, the smell of a clean house. Smells like…nothing? In my house, that’s pretty much the case except maybe a hint of lemon or vinegar. I make most of my own cleaners and the few I don’t make don’t really have much of an odor. With an overly sensitive sense of smell (me) and allergies to just about everything (the kids and hubs), I like to keep the stink down, even if its a “good” stink.
So what do I use to clean up around here? My homemade cleaning arsenal consists of microfiber cloths, vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing soda, lemons, soap, and hydrogen peroxide (and I’m not going to lie – I still use some things that aren’t the best eco option, but I’m getting there).
Here’s what I use around my house:
Microfiber cloths: I use these for all kinds of things – wiping down the counters, dry dusting, soaking up spills, and as reusable floor sweeper pads. You can save some money by finding them in the automotive care aisle in bulk.
Vinegar: This is a very versatile cleaning tool. It’s a natural deodorizer and don’t worry, the smell disappears when it dries!
Undiluted, I use it to clear out hard water that clogs my shower heads and faucets. I just take a baggie, pour in some vinegar, put it over the faucet or shower head and hold it on with a rubber band. I let it sit overnight and then in the morning take off the baggie and run some hot water through. It works well in my dishwasher as a rinse aid and I also use it in my laundry as a natural fabric softener. I pour it into the little softener dispenser in my machine, but you can also just use a cup in the rinse cycle as well.
Mixed with water, its a great all-purpose spray for just about everything in the kitchen and bathroom. I use a 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water mix in a spray bottle to clean my counters, stove, cabinets, sink, fridge, and floors. In the bathroom I use it as a daily spray to keep the hard water and soap scum to a minimum. I also use it on the mirrors and windows.
Baking soda: This is another multi-tasker in the cleaning arsenal. I’m sure most people know its a great deodorizer for the fridge and freezer, but its also great for gentle scouring, clearing drains, and cleaning the toilet. Clean your oven by making a paste of baking soda and water to use instead of the harsh, smelly oven cleaners. If the oven’s really dirty, leave the paste on overnight and wipe it off in the morning with a sponge.
Remember science class? Ever make an erupting volcano? If not, here’s your chance – pour some baking soda into the toilet, scrub around the bowl with your toilet brush and then pour in some vinegar and watch the fizz! Let it sit for about 5 minutes, do a final swish with the brush, and flush. You can use the same process to clear your drains as well – pour in baking soda, let it sit, follow with a few cups of hot water, then vinegar, and a few more cups of hot water. I will admit it’s not as quick and easy as the chemical-laden stuff – sometimes it takes repeating the process a few times.
Borax and washing soda: I make my own laundry detergent. It’s a whole lot easier than you’d think – really. I use Borax and washing soda (not baking soda), which can both be found in the laundry section of your store, in equal amounts combined with a bar of Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap. I haven’t really seen a difference in the cleaning power between the different soap brands, it was just what I had available at the time. I’ve also haven’t noticed any big differences in the cleanliness of my laundry after switching from the conventional brands. If the laundry needs an extra boost of deodorizing, I also sprinkle in some baking soda.
I’ve also tried using borax and washing soda in to make dishwasher detergent, but I wasn’t thrilled with the results. I may have my ratios off – I did 50/50, but my dishes felt gritty and looked hazy. I still haven’t found an alternative detergent for the dishwasher that cleans my dishes well enough, so I’m using a conventional product at the moment.
Lemons: These little citrus fruits not only make tasty beverages, they also make great cleaning tools! I use a salted lemon to clean the copper items I have in my home. I also use it in my shower to clean the spots that build up on the faucet and knobs. Although I’ve never tried it personally, I know people who have had luck getting stains out of their whites by soaking the stain in lemon juice and putting it out in the sun to dry.
This last one might be a “duh” one, but its something that people often overlook just because there are so many cleaning options out there – how about soap? Just make sure to check the kind that you use to make sure it doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals.
So, now that you know what I use – what do you use? Have any tips or tricks to share? Please leave a comment below!