A great question arrived recently via ‘Ask Suzanne’. Here is a snippet:
“My kids love helping me clean the house, but I usually tell them that I am happy for their help but I don’t want them handling all those yucky cleaning products. Do you know any good recipes for home made, eco and kid friendly cleaning solutions?”
I could not agree more. I would love to hand my kids a rag when they follow me around wanting to help clean, but I don’t want them inhaling toxic products. We all probably know the most common home made cleaning product – vinegar, but I’ve also included recipes that include baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil, and rubbing alcohol. If anyone has other home made cleaning recipes that are favorites, please post them using the ‘comment’ feature.
I’m giddy after researching this question, because I had no idea vinegar has so many different uses. I had no idea you can use it to kill weeds! The front of my house is in need of a dandelion bombing, but I didn’t want to use toxic weed poison so this information is timely! I’ll just fill up some squirt bottles with vinegar and let my boys have target practice….another eco friendly kid’s project. Here are some other uses for vinegar:
Glass/window cleaner. Mix 2 teaspoons white vinegar with 1 litre warm water to clean glass. Use a soft cloth or crumbled newspaper to clean.
Ant Repellent. If you’re looking for an ant deterrent, white distilled vinegar is a natural product for this purpose when used to wipe counter tops, cabinets and floors.
Stainless steel appliance cleaner. Apply vinegar to shammy or soft cloth and apply.
Fabric Softener. Vinegar works great as a fabric softener substitute because it cuts detergent residue. Add 1 cup of undiluted white vinegar in the rinse cycle – this is a good tip if you have a person with sensitive skin in your family.
Vinegar works as a deodorizer. 1 cup of apple vinegar set in a glass in the fridge will remove smells in 2 days. Boil 1/4 cup white vinegar and mix with 1 cup water in the microwave and use to loosen food and it will deodorize at the same time.
White vinegar can be used to clean soap residue, bathtub film, and toilet bowl stains. 3 cups of white distilled vinegar will deodorize your toilet if left for 1/2 hour. Here is a recipe for toilet bowl cleaner:
Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar.
Pour into bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub.
This has nothing to do with cleaning, but I thought this was brilliant! Apparently vinegar can fix a worn DVD that has begun to skip or suffers from freeze-frame (seriously!). You apply vinegar to a soft cloth and wipe the DVD, ensure it’s dry, then insert into DVD player. Good god, could it be this easy? This one I’ll be trying tomorrow…stay tuned.
Baking soda is another commonly used home made cleaning product. Get your child to sit on your kitchen floor, give him/her cups of vinegar and a box of baking soda. They will believe they are mixing a ‘magic potion’ because of the fizzle/mild explosion effect. The bigger the mess, the better, because you can clean your floors with the spills after play time is over. Angelo washed his pennies doing little potions for over an hour last week. It was a great way for him to pass the time and it forced mommy to wash the floors.
Baking soda is a great replacement for cleaners like comet, where you need the scouring action. Sprinkle baking soda to tackle hard to clean bath rings, tile grout or food deposits in the kitchen sink.
All purpose cleaner recipe:
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax)
2 litres of water
Store, label and keep for everyday use.
Rubbing alcohol provides a great base for an evaporating cleaner. Great use for cleaning glass, mirrors, fixtures that you want shiny. Here is a recipe for home made glass cleaner:
1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Mix and put into a sprayer bottle.
Many of us like the look of furniture polish, but don’t want the toxic polishes and sprays. Here is a home made recipe to replace polishing products for unvarnished wood that uses lemon juice (removes dirt) and olive oil (shines and coats the wood to protect it).
1 cup Olive Oil
1/2 lemon juice
Mix in a sprayer bottle. Shake well and apply to flannel cleaning rag or cloth, spread evenly, then use dry side of the cloth to polish dry.
For varnished wood add a few drops of lemon oil into 1/2 cup warm water. Use a small amount on a cleaning cloth, wipe furniture to clean and to complete the polish, wipe with a soft, dry cotton cloth.
Another use I have for olive oil is it removes all markings from our stainless steel kitchen appliances. We apply a healthy amount to a cleaning cloth and wipe along the grain of the stainless steel. This method works better than any of the toxic store bought wipes, designed to clean stainless steel. I would make my Italian mother-in-law very proud with this discovery!
If you miss having a ‘scent’ after cleaning your floors try this recipe:
Mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of pure peppermint oil. Shake to mix.
I like this recipe because I love having a ‘clean smell’ to the floors after I’ve cleaned them, but with the peppermint oil I won’t have to finish my day having a cleaning product induced headache.