You can’t give up cleaning — no matter how much you wish you could! — but the cost of store-bought cleansers, laundry detergent and other cleaning products can feel like highway robbery. Instead of shelling out money for store bought, follow these recipes to make some common cleaners yourself; they’re easy to put together and will cost dollars less than your store bought version.
Super Frugal Laundry Detergent
I stumbled across Glenda’s recipe (adapted from Michelle Duggar’s recipe) for inexpensive laundry detergent (which works in high-efficiency machines) and in December, I made a batch for myself. Glenda figured out the math and found that it cost her 20 cents for a 75-load batch. Not 20 cents per load, but 20 cents for 75 loads! Three months later, I have only used half of the batch I made (and a stomach virus this month meant more laundry than usual).
- 1/4 bar of Fels Naptha soap
- 2 Tablespoons Borax powder
- 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda)
- 2 empty laundry detergent bottles or 1 – 2.5 gallon water jug
Grate the 1/4 Fels Naptha Bar using a cheese grater. Put the Fels Naptha shreds and 1 cup of water into a pot and melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until all the soap has dissolved. Pour 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water into a large container or bucket and add the cooked soap mixture. Add 2 tbsp. of Borax and 1/4 c. of the washing soda and stir. Add 2 1/2 quarts more water and stir. Cover the mixture and let it set overnight. The next morning, your soap will have thickened and gelled considerably. Stir it up. Add the mixture to your empty container(s) filling only half way full. Fill the rest of the container with water. Shake the bottles to mix before use. Use 1/4 cup per load.
Miracle Stain Remover
I saw this recipe (and a few variations) mentioned on a chat board when my son was a baby. I have since used thismiracle stain fighter on more stains than I can count (berries, wing sauce, ketchup, grass, and blood to name a few.) I have yet to find a stain that can thwart this concoction.
Make It: Fill your basin with warm water then add one scoop each of Oxi-Clean, Clorox 2 and powdered dishwashing detergent. Give it a swirl and mix until the powders dissolve and bubbles form. Place the stained garment into the mixture, being sure the stain is submerged. Let soak for about 2 hours.
For tougher stains, let it soak overnight. Remove the clothing to behold the miracle! Normally I will throw the garment into the wash, but you could simply rinse and dry it. This formula is also safe for colors as well.
Inexpensive Fabric Softener Sheet
This recipe for fabric softener sheets is also thanks to Michelle Duggar; my theory is, if it works for Michelle (who does more laundry than anyone I know) then it’s gotta be good!
Do you know how many chemicals are in those little dryer sheets? This inexpensive version uses re-useable sponges and diluted fabric softener. They are easier on the wallet and on the environment.
Make It: Pour one large bottle of liquid fabric softener into a bucket. Fill the empty softener container with water and add it to the bucket. Repeat to give you a 2:1 mixture of water to fabric softener. Drop sponges into the mixture. Grab a sponge, wring out the excess liquid, and add it to the dryer with your wet clothes.
Seal your container between uses.
Commercial brand drain cleaners are very toxic and dangerous to have around if you have little children. Try theseecofriendly clog clearers from Earth Easy instead.
Light duty cleaning: Mix together 1/2 cup salt and 1 gallon water. Heat the mixture (but not to boiling point) and pour it down your clogged drain.
For tougher clogs: Dump 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow it with 1/2 cup vinegar. The chemical reaction will cause the fatty acids and soap to break down. After 15 minutes, pour 4 cups of boiling hot water down the drain. (Caution: Do not use boiling water for plastic drain pipes. Use hot tap water instead. Also, do not add a commercial drain opener while the vinegar is in your pipes. The results can be noxious fumes.)
If you still haven’t cleared the clog, I’ve found using a Zip It super helpful for pulling up clogged hair. But, be forewarned, you may gag a little.
A few years ago a friend shared with me how she removes hard water stains from her stainless steel sink. I’ve been using this method ever since and it is a cleaning life saver!
Make It: Make a paste with baking soda and water. Dip an old tooth brush into the paste and scrub your sink with the paste. Pour small amounts of white vinegar onto the paste in your sink. The fizzing chemical reaction of the backing soda and vinegar will aid in removing hard water stains. Repeat if necessary.
This also works especially well on tile and shower doors.
Stainless Steel Sink Shine
I learned this trick when we were selling our home: To make a stainless steel sink shine like a super star, squirt a small amount of baby oil in a clean sink. Spread it around with a dry paper towel and wipe clean. Then step back and enjoy your model home-quality kitchen.
Magic Soap Scum Dissolver
I hate soap scum. The few times I’ve had my home professionally cleaned, the woman that cleaned my shower was able to get down to the bare ceramic tile in our shower. It was an amazing feeling having that cold tile on my bare feet. I wanted to hire her back and hold her hostage until she told me her secret.
Make It: Heat up 1 cup vinegar in the microwave. Mix vinegar with 1 cup blue Dawn dish detergent in a spray bottle and spray it on your scummy shower. Wait a minute and then wipe it off and say sayonara to that soap scum!
Window Washing Cleaner
Springtime is a full on assault on our windows. After the pollen, tree debris and rain have finished, I spend one weekend day cleaning all our storm windows and the outsides of the windows. This recipe works well for a clean and streak-free shine. (You will have the best luck avoiding streaks if you clean on a cloudy day.)
Make It: Mix 2 gallons of warm water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 2 tsp. liquid dish detergent in a big bucket. Dip a sponge or squegee into the mixture and scrub the windows. Use the squegee to remove all liquid from the windows. Finish by wiping clean with a dry rag.
Carpet Stain Lifter
I have to admit, I was skeptical of this simple recipe. Sometimes it is hard to believe that two simple ingredients will be powerful enough to cut through dog vomit stains. But, this mix from Earth Easy did just that and now we have a clean spot-free carpet again.
Make It: Mix one cup each of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the stain until wet. Use a brush to scrub the mixture into the stain. Wait 5-10 minutes. Gently wipe and blot up the stain with a water and soap-moistened cloth. Repeat if necessary.
Here are a few more carpet stain treatment ideas:
- For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto spot and wait 15 – 30 minutes before vacuuming.
- For a heavy duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.
Nothing removes mold or mildew like bleach. But, if you are sensitive to bleach or don’t want anyone breathing the fumes, you can get decent results using one of the recipes below (from EarthEasy.com and Natural Healthy Home Cleaning Tips) and a little old-fashioned elbow grease.
Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture
- 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- 1 cup water
Tea Tree Oil Mixture
- 1 tsp. Tea Tree Oil
- 1 cup water
Chose one of the recipes above. Mix the two ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray the mold and mildew and let it sit for an hour. Rinse and wipe clean. You may need to scrub tough mold or mildew with a sponge or scrub brush.