DIY Cleaning Products: Inexpensive & Effective

April 9, 2014

The cleaning products aisle can be alluring, with all of its implied promises and enticing scents and specialties. But that pretty presentation can be costly and creates under counter clutter quickly, as products for every task compete with each other for attention and space. Multi-tasking is only one of the many benefits of do-it-yourself household cleaners; go green and save green all at once with these simple, non-toxic recipes:

Multi-purpose spray
If you could only have one cleaning product (don't worry, no one is going to make you choose just one) this would be the recipe to pick! Gentle but effective, this multi-purpose cleaner can tackle floors, counters, and glass without leaving streaks or residue.

  • Use a spray bottle to combine equal parts of vinegar, alcohol and water.
  • Add 3 drops of liquid dishwashing soap and 5 drops of essential oil for scent.

With this easy recipe, you can clean a multitude of surfaces with just one bottle -- spray and mop floors, clean windows and mirrors, or wipe surfaces.

Bath and shower scrub
A little daily maintenance can go a long way in your cleaning routine, so incorporate this shower cleaning tool into your day and eliminate the majority of your bathroom scrubbing.

  • Fill a dish wand (the type with a sponge on the end of a soap-dispensing handle) with a mixture of vinegar and liquid dish soap (Dawn Ultra dish soap is rumored to work best) and take a few seconds to wipe down shower walls or the sides of the tub as part of your getting ready routine.

Cleaning will become less of a chore if you make it an everyday habit and your new super shower scrubbing wand will make it easy.

Stain remover
For stubborn kitchen and bathroom stains, try mixing up a paste of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar. Apply paste to mystery gunk with an old tooth brush, allow the mixture to sit for a minute and wipe away residue with a dampened rag. It's perfect for hard water stains, grungy plumbing fixtures and the grimy seal around sinks and showers. This easy recipe also works surprisingly well for stained kitchen utensils and cook ware.

Toilet cleaner
The lazy way to clean a toilet is also surprisingly effective! Throw 2 or 3 denture tablets (available for around $5 for 90 tablets, on average) in the toilet bowl, let them work their fizzy magic and then give the bowl a quick swish with the brush before flushing. Denture tablets employ the same reaction many pricier "self-scrubbing" bathroom cleaners utilize, but you generally get more uses per box -- and therefore a discount -- by going with this off-brand life hack.

Furniture polish
Keeping wood furniture looking refreshed is easy with a simple solution of one part white vinegar, three parts olive oil, and a few drops of lemon oil (if you crave a citrus-y smell while you polish).

Store in a sealed jar, shake vigorously and apply to furniture with a soft cloth to clean and protect. This gentle, non-toxic concoction is the perfect recipe to revive everything from dull wood cutting boards to antique furniture that lacks luster.

Laundry detergent
Okay, it seems like this project would take a little more effort than the other suggestions, negating the savings once you factored in the value of time spent, but after perusing many homemade laundry detergent recipes, there was one that didn't involve cooking or grating soap and still got good reviews.

  • Mix 3/4 cup of Borax, 3/4 cup of washing soda, and 1/2 cup of liquid dishwashing liquid into a gallon jug and add hot water

Borax and washing soda can be found in the detergent aisle of most brick and mortar stores and a box of each will provide you plenty of material to make new batches of laundry soap. Due to the lack of suds, this recipe is effective for high efficiency machines as well. Add 1/4 of a cup of this concentrated detergent to each load of laundry for softer, cleaner clothes and a lower grocery bill.

According to census data, the average American household spent $42 a month on cleaning supplies in 2011. By keeping a few basic staples around, namely white vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing soap, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and essential oils, you can have an entire cleaning aisle worth of options in just a few inexpensive bottles. Making your own household cleaners can help clean up your house and your budget, so avoid the cleaning products aisle and opt to do it yourself.

Ashley McCann writes about being a mom - and being frugal - at Named to Ignite Social Media's "100 Women Bloggers You Should Read," her candid humor and frank advice puts a fresh spin on motherhood in the new millennium.

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