Have you seen the explosion on Pinterest and blogs about cleaning with common house hold ingredients? If not check it out. It is very impressive what can be done with ingredients that you may already have.
I thought that I would give it a try. I started out small, using vinegar in a Downey ball in place of fabric softener. This was brought on by an interest in using cloth diapers and researching how to care for them. The cloth diapering community has a great deal of information on laundry detergents and what is best to use for cloth diapers.
While we have not made the switch to cloth diapers, it has opened my eyes to what the chemicals in my cleaning supplies are doing to my clothes. I use the
old fashioned classic birds eye cotton towels in my kitchen to dry hands / dishes. One night I was laying out rinsed dishes and noticed that the towel didn’t absorb the water immediately. There were water drops that sat on top of the cloth for a few seconds before it was absorbed. Bizarre. Also noticed this when I used a towel to wipe down a dish it seemed to just push and spread the water rather than drying. It took a few dishes to get the towel to absorb any water.
From what I understand this is due to a build up of laundry detergent and or dryer sheet chemicals leading to water repelling cloth. Super for shirts and pants not so great for drying dishes. I found that the vinegar rinse helped remove some of this build up improving the performance of my towels, but I am still drying them in the dryer that has years of dryer sheet build up. The better option would be line drying, but I don’t have the room in my house to do that at the moment.
But back to house cleaning. I started collecting some “recipes” for these home made cleaning supplies. Lured in with the promise of only needing a few ingredients to replace all the small army of “special” cleaners that I have under the sink (more like under the sink and the master bath and powder room and guest bath):
- Vinegar (acetic acid 5%)
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- Borax (sodium tetraborate)
- Soap (either dish soap -like Dawn or castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s)
Once I had felt that I could clean every nook and cranny with a “recipe” using the ingredients above, I was off to mix up some green cleaning products. That is until I came across this blog post from Lisa Bronner (by the way is the grand daughter to the Dr. Bronner soap maker and has great information on her blog) about castile soap and vinegar. Then I got to thinking about all the “recipes” that I have jotted down. Most of which you pre mix some pretty large quantities that I don’t think that I could use in one cleaning session. Not to mention that I also wanted to reduce the amount of cleaning bottles in my house and making all of these “recipes” ahead of time would defeat that purpose.
I like Lisa Bronners method to cleaning. Keep one spray bottle with soap/water mix and another with vinegar/water mix, that’s it. For the time being I am going to use these two spray bottles and if need some extra scrubbing power a sprinkle of baking soda should do the trick.
Going back to science class, remember making a baking soda/vinegar volcano. Chemical reactions create new chemicals. It does no good to mix acids and bases together unless you are doing it on the mess you are trying to clean. I think that the key to remember is that the ingredients listed above are best left un mixed / separate until right before they are used. For some of the uses this is critical, like disinfecting items. I came across a great article on how to use vinegar and hydrogen peroxide together and why you should not mix them together (less effective).
I will post an update after I have used this cleaner for a while and let you all know how it worked.