Apr 2, 2010

Going "Au Naturale"

I promise, it's not what you think - heck even I don't want to see that! :)

I've been making a real effort over the last year to make a lot more from scratch, both for the sake of my budget and for the health of my family. When it comes to food, I balk at how many ingredients are listed on pre-made meals and sides - I like knowing what is going into my family's bodies and if I can't pronounce it or identify it on the periodic table, I get worried. And so many things are cheaper when you take the time to make it yourself! I talked a little about this in this Bricklaying series post along with some helpful links.

Over the last couple of months I've been branching out to homemade household cleaners too - and kicking myself for not trying this sooner! Here are my new household must-haves:

Vinegar is my new best friend...my husband will make jokes about the house smelling like an easter egg, but actually once vinegar dries there is no scent left behind...just clean! Vinegar is also a natural antiseptic. I use it for:

  • General household surface cleaner - mix 2 cups water, 2 cups vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle - voila! All-purpose cleaner for LITERALLY a few pennies per 32 oz
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner - I sprinkle baking soda on the dry surfaces and in the water, then pour about a cup of vinegar into the water. My bowl stays much cleaner and mold-free than when I used the Clorox with Teflon stuff...AND there's no chemical residue for the kids to get into...not that my kids EVER touch toilet water...really.
  • Window Cleaner - an alternative to rubbing alcohol - use 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water.
  • Drain deodorizer - pour baking soda down the drain and chase it with vinegar till it bubbles. I swear it gets the drain moving faster too!
  • Fabric Softener - Yes, you read that right...I haven't bought dryer sheets in FOREVER, I put 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle and my clothes are fine. A bonus - fabric softener can reduce the fire-retardant in infant clothes, something you don't need to worry about with vinegar!

Baking Soda

I NEVER KNEW you could clean with it - until one day I saw my mother-in-law sprinkle it on her stovetop. Now I buy the jumbo bag from BJ's! See above for the many ways vinegar and baking soda make great cleaning partners, PLUS:

  • Mild abrasive cleaner - just sprinkle baking soda on the surface, let it sit for a little while, and then gently scrub with a dampened sponge. It's great for countertops with buildup, stovetops (even glass ranges!), sink surfaces, bathtubs, etc. (a bonus - if you clean your sink with baking soda then rinse with vinegar, it'll disinfect and deodorize the drain too!)
  • Grease spot remover - if you've spilled something greasy on a surface, even a fabric surface, sprinkle baking soda on it - the granules are grease sponges!
  • Carpet deodorizer - skip the stuff with perfumes in it - just sprinkle plain baking soda on your carpet, let it sit for a little bit, and then vacuum it up.

Here are a few other natural options I've used to replace commercial cleaners:

Wood furniture polish - combine 2 cups olive oil with about 1/4 cup lemon juice in a squirt bottle. Pour a small amount on a soft cloth and buff your furniture gently - wipe clean with a dry soft cloth. Works great and smells fresh!

Silver tarnish remover - line a bowl with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add 3 Tbsp baking soda and 1 Tbsp salt. Pour boiling water in the bowl and toss in your silver - make sure it's touching the tin foil! Let it sit for about a half hour (or go clean something else!), rinse with water. No rubbing, no tarnish! For bigger jobs, use a baking pan and use 3 parts baking soda to 1 part salt depending on how many/what size items you're cleaning. Use enough water to cover the items you're cleaning.

What's you're favorite frugal cleaning solution?

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1 comment:

Rachel said...

I *LOVE* using vinegar -- it's my primary cleaner. I started using it while I was pregnant to avoid harsh fumes.

Thanks for the furniture polish tip . . . I would have NEVER thought about that.

(I've moved! Following in My Shoes is now on Wordpress.)