Economical, less-toxic homemade cleaning products

The term “spring cleaning” is cliche, but dammit when the birds start singing and the weather gets nice enough for the door-to-door solicitors to start making their obnoxious yearly rounds I just get this URGE make my house light and airy, and it is completely out of my control.  Now that I have a kid I feel complelled to use green cleaning products as well, because nothing makes me shudder like thinking about his pink little butt cheeks sitting in a bathtub that has been scoured with some kind of noxious chemical, or washing his baby bottles with soap that just smells like death by cancer. So, I set out to make some of my own household cleaners.

First, I assembled some key ingredients:

The building blocks for any homemade household cleaner you could ever want
The building blocks for any homemade household cleaner you could ever want


Castile soap

Baking soda

Rubbing alcohol

Hydrogen Peroxide

White vinegar

Lemon juice

Essential oils: lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and orange

Different combinations of the above will make almost any kind of cleaner you could possibly need, from daily shower spray to soft scrub.  When buying essential oils I recommend skipping Whole Foods and finding your local crystal-cleansing hippie store.  Not only will they have a better selection (and probably better prices) but there are knowledgeable hippies working there who can help you find what you need and tell you how to cleanse your aura.  It’s also better to support small businesses, Matrons!

Stinky Drain Magic

I live in a really old house with really strange plumbing.  Plumbers look at our house and their eyes glaze over with dollar bill signs and dreams of early retirement. Not only are these drains extremely expensive to fix as we have discovered, but they also stink like 70 years of old food.  Here is what I do about it.  This is an extremely easy way to freshen the drains in under 5 minutes, using items that many people already have readily around the house.

You will need:

1 gallon of boiling hot water
1/2 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of lemon juice


First, start boiling the hot water.  Pour the 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain (it may clump on top of the drain.  Don’t try to wash it down with water).  Next, pour the vinegar slowly on the baking soda, and squeal with delight as it foams like a science fair volcano.  Listen carefully and you can hear it fizzing somewhere in the bowels of your p-trap.  After it has had about 5 minutes to fluster and foam, toss in the lemon juice and then immediately pour the boiling water slowly over the whole concoction and wash everything down.

Lavender Surface Spray

You will need:

2 teaspoons Borax powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid castile soap
1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil
Hot water


Measure the borax, castile soap, and essential oil into a clean spray bottle (note: recycling plastic spray bottles is fine and wonderful, but if there was something toxic previously in your bottle I recommend getting a fresh one).  Pour in a little hot water and swish in the bottle to dissolve the borax.  Add the rest of the water and use for daily surface cleaning.  This is also very nice with orange essential oil – it wipes away grime just as well as a chemical-based surface cleaner and has a nice, fresh scent.

Crunchy Betty’s Daily Shower Spray

What really kicked off this whole household cleaner replacement craze was my daily shower spray from Tilex.  First, it really didn’t seem to work very well.  Second, I put Søren in the bath tub every evening and I couldn’t stand the thought of those chemicals in his bath water.  I searched the internet far and wide for a shower spray recipe that didn’t involve ammonia or vinegar (don’t want my bathroom smelling like a pickle factory).  Eventually I came upon this recipe by blogger Crunchy Betty:

You will need:

1/2 c. rubbing alcohol
1/2 c. hydrogen peroxide
25 drops (1/4 tsp.) peppermint essential oil
2 tsp liquid castille soap (optional)
spray bottle

Mix all ingredients together in your spray bottle and shake well.

These are a few cleaners to get you started.  For a HUGE list of other homemade cleaners check out this post on Young House Love.


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