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Cleaning home the homemade way

The knowledge needed to start creating cheaper, less toxic and more environmentally friendly cleaning supplies

baking soda, lemon and distilled water
Photo by Yui Leung

Homemade cleaners are easy to make, environmentally friendly and are less likely to cause harm or irritation, according to The University of Arkansas’s Division of Agriculture webpage. The website has put together recipes and an explanation behind the ingredients which are adapted below.

Different types of cleaners

• Removing dirt and grease
• Examples: All-purpose cleaner
• Alternative: Baking soda or borax

• Cleaning rust, mineral deposits and hard water stains
• Examples: Toilet bowl cleaner
• Alternatives: Vinegar or lemon juice

• Removing dirt and grease
• Examples: Laundry detergent and dishwashing soap
• Alternatives: Borax, soap nuts and coconut oil

• Whiten and reduce bacteria as well as help things smell better
• Examples: Chlorine bleach
• Alternatives: Sunlight, citrus, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree and lavender oils


All-purpose cleaner
• ½ cup vinegar
• ¼ cup baking soda
• 8 cups distilled water
■ Mix ingredients in a spray bottle

Window and mirror cleaner
• ¼ cup vinegar
• 4 cups distilled water
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
■ Mix ingredients in a spray bottle

Toilet bowl cleaners
• ¼ baking soda
• 1 cup vinegar
■ Mix ingredients and pour into the basin. Let it sit for three to 30 minutes, scrub with a brush and rinse.

Refrigerator and stainless-steel cleaner
• 2 tablespoons baking soda
• 4 cups water
■ Dissolve the baking soda in water, wipe on the desired surface and rinse.

Knowing what’s inside
• Distilled water is water that has been stripped of minerals that leave behind hard water stains.
• Baking soda absorbs odors and can remove stains. It can be bought in the baking section of a grocery store.
• Vinegar kills germs, removes stains and can eliminate odors.
• Lemon juice can be added to many cleaners to deodorize, kill bacteria and cut grease. It can also add a fresh, lemony scent. If added, the cleaning solution should be kept in the fridge.
• Tea tree, lavender, cedarwood, lemon and spearmint essential oils are natural disinfectants that can also be added to cleaning solutions for scent.
• Soap nuts are the dried husks of the soapberry nut, which come from the sapindus mukorossi tree. This tree is native to the tropical weather of India and Nepal. Soap nuts have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern countries because they act like a detergent and can be reused.

Homemade is better for you, your wallet and the planet

Federal laws and regulations do not require cleaning products to display their ingredients, unlike food and personal care products, says the One Green Planet website. Studies have found that repeated exposure to the ingredients found in many cleaning products have health risks, One Green Planet says. Using natural ingredients can greatly reduce the number of toxins people are exposed to in their homes, the website says.

Homemade cleaners will also cut down on the chemicals and plastics in store-bought cleaners that are harmful to the environment, the One Green Planet website says. To top it off, says homemade cleaners cost less than $1 per bottle compared with $5 to $15 manufactured cleaners can cost. Furthermore, most of the ingredients that go into homemade cleaners are already found in most kitchens, the website says.