Sunday, October 25, 2009

Simple, Frugal, and Green Homemade Cleaners

Since we’ve added more children to our home and I’ve been working less over the past few years, I’ve tried to simplify our routines as much as possible. I’ve also tried to save money as much as possible. And I’ve also tried to change some of our habits to keep us as healthy as possible. One way that I’ve done all three of these things is by mixing my own cleaners at home.


Yep, what you see in this picture is the extent of it. Distilled white vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils are what I use to clean my whole house. Vinegar kills bacteria, viruses, and molds. Yeah, I know…the smell. But if you add essential oils to it, it smells better. And once it dries, you can’t smell it anymore. Plus, many essential oils have antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Tea tree, lavender, peppermint, lemon, orange, rosemary, thyme, and cinnamon are all known for having antimicrobial properties.

For an all-purpose cleaner, I mix one part vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle, then I add a squirt or two of castile soap and about 20 drops of different combinations of essential oils. If you have an old spray bottle that you can clean out with hot soapy water and re-use, even better!

For a disinfectant spray, I use straight vinegar, with about 20 drops of different combinations of essential oils.

For quick wipe jobs, I make my own disinfectant wipes. Cut a paper towel roll in half—the thick kind, not the cheap thin kind. Pull the cardboard roll out of the middle. Place one half in a bowl with an airtight lid. Mix a solution of 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water, and about 20 drops of whatever essential oils you will use. Pour over paper towel roll. Find the end piece in the center of the roll and pull up, like you would a roll of commercial baby or disinfectant wipes.  Compare this to the price of store-bought! Normally, I would spray my cleaner and wipe with cloth wipes that I could wash and re-use, but these are good to have on hand sometimes. Especially if someone in the house is ill with a potent bug, I don’t want to possibly contaminate whoever is doing the laundry. I’d rather wipe and toss. Then wash my hands, of course.

For heavy cleaning, I use a scrub brush and a paste of baking soda, followed with vinegar. You might wonder how that works on tough jobs. I use it on my stove as well as for the soap scum on my sink.


Did I really just post a picture of my filthy sink? I can’t believe I did. But I wanted to show y’all because I know that there are some folks out there who believe that you need strong chemicals to clean, that natural stuff you keep in your kitchen just won’t cut it. The lighting is funny in this picture, but as you can see it hasn’t been cleaned in a couple weeks. (Cut me some slack, K? The past couple weekends, I’ve either been working or out of the house. I have a house full of kids. Surely I’m not the only one.)  OK, so here’s the same sink a few moments later after my baking soda and vinegar (and using the flash this time)…



I also use my homemade all-purpose cleaner on my wood floors. I have been doing this for a couple years now, and it’s good at cutting the grime. But if you have natural stone surfaces in your house, you’ll want to look into something different, as the acidic vinegar can damage these surfaces.

Under the sinks of my kitchen and each bathroom, I keep a handled basket filled with my all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant spray, baking soda, and cloth wipes. Nice and handy. As I briefly mentioned earlier, old plastic containers can be recycled for storing these cleaners. You know the plastic containers that parmesan cheese comes in? Save a couple to store your baking soda; then just flip up the lid and shake it out. Do you use cloth diapers? When they wear out, they make good cleaning rags. Or you can recycle other old cloth.

Essential oils can seem pricey, but when you figure in how long they last and all the different uses they have, they are really cost-efficient. We use different essential oils for home remedies, for skin care, for aromatherapy, for gifts/crafts, and in place of air fresheners. Buy one at a time. Lavender is a good one to start with. Have fun!


  1. add 34*thru 120* < of elbow grease :)

  2. I already use vinegar and water as a general cleaner, but never thought of adding essential oils to it to help with the smell, I'll have to remember that. And the wipes idea, fabulous, thanks Paula!

  3. Y'all are welcome! Thanks for reading!
    And are such a goof. :-P

  4. I just got a list going to pick up a few things and make this this week! Thanks friend!