Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making Your Own Household Cleaners

I have been on a quest this spring to find ways to live more simply, more naturally, and to save money in the process! For years I have advocated for making things yourself instead of buying it from the store – I don’t like pre-packaged foods as a whole; yet it never even crossed my mind to make my own cleaning supplies.

I never did have a ton of different cleaning supplies, just the basics – glass cleaner, disinfectant (liquid and powder), bleach, laundry detergent, fabric softener dishwashing liquid, and dishwasher detergent. I never really did believe that you needed many different products for all the different cleaning jobs, but mainly I did not buy them because I am way to cheap, or should I say frugal, to put out the money.

So why did I never make my own cleaning supplies before??? Honestly – it never even occurred to me that I could! I was just merrily going about doing what I always did, what I saw my mother do.

The more I researched natural methods of cleaning, the more impressed I was! Not only could making my own cleaning products save me money, but also it was better for the environment, it was better for the health of my family and they really worked! Honestly, it had me at “save me money”!

I don’t mind putting in a bit of effort if it will save me money, if it works better or tastes better (food that is!). What is a few minutes of fun concoction mixing worth anyways??? So here is the rundown on what you will need:

Vinegar – Everywhere I looked I was finding benefits and uses for vinegar. I will not talk about them all here today I will save that for another post, but vinegar is a deodorizer, disinfectant, antiseptic, natural fabric softener…and so on.

Borax - Borax is usually found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soaps. Borax is a natural mineral and has no toxic fumes and is safe for the environment. Borax is used as a natural laundry booster and a multipurpose cleaner – it cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens waters and even repels and kills bugs like ants.

Washing Soda – Washing soda, like Borax, is found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soap. It is a pure power that comes from natural deposits and is safe for the environment. It has been said that it has been used as a household cleaner for centuries – it cuts greases, neutralizes odours, and softens water.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, ¼ cup vinegar, 3 cups water, and 2 – 3 drops of essential oil (such as Lemon, Peppermint, or Tea Tree oil).

All Purpose Cleaner: ½ cup vinegar, 2 tbsp borax, 2 L hot water, 3 – 4 drops of essential oil.

Window Cleaner: Mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Rinse Agent (in your dishwasher): Vinegar (my dishes never looked better!)

Dishwasher Detergent: Mix equal parts borax and washing soda. Use 2 tbsp per load.

Slow Drains: ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar and 2 L boiling water. Mix and pour down the drain. To help maintain fresh, clog free drains, repeat this once per week.

Fabric Softener: Mix 1 L of both vinegar and water, add 3 – 4 drops of essential oil (such as Tea Tree oil, Vanilla, Lavender). Shake before use - add 1 cup of mixture in your rinse cycle as you would any liquid fabric softener.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap: 1 soap bar ( I used Sunlight, as that is what I could find, but saw lots of recipes for Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars), 1 cup Washing Soda, ½ cup Borax.
1. Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with 4 cups hot water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
2. Fill a 19 L (or 5 gallon) bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
3. Stir. If using a top load machine, fill the dispenser with soap. Shake before each use. (Note: If using a front load machine, fill the dispenser half full with soap and the other half with water)
Top Load Machine- ½ cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
Front Load Machines- ¼ cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)


  1. I just recently started making my own laundry detergent. I love it! It works great and SO much cheaper :)

  2. I am such the vinegar fan. Easy, cheap, and GREEN.

  3. Thanks for all the great info. I copied it out and will post it in my utility room.

  4. I like making my own laundry detergent, too, and using vinegar in the wash. When you use vinegar as a rinse aid in the dishwasher, when do you add it?

  5. You would use it like an other rinse agent (we have Jet Dry here in Canada).

    When you make the swith to vinegar from your commerical rinse agent:
    1. Finish using up any commerical rinse agent that remains in your dishwasher.
    2. Then, unscrew the cap from your dishwasher's rinse agent dispenser, and fill the well with white vinegar.
    3. Replace the cap, and run your dishwasher as usual.
    4. Refill the dispenser as needed.

    There are benfits to using vinegar:
    - No water spots on cups and glasses
    - Dryer dishes
    - Cleaner dishes
    - No harsh chemicals
    - A cleaner dishwasher

    If your dishwasher looking a bit dirty you can fill the detergent dispenser with vinegar (no detergent at all), and run it through a cycle. This will clean the entire dishwasher - the wash tub, racks and even the heating elements.

  6. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing these!!

  7. Wow. I look forward to hearing more about making handmade cleaners. Thanks for sharing.