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Homemade Substitutions for Chemical Cleaning Solutions

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Sort~N~Save’s mission is two-fold: to help people get organized and save money.  Homemade solutions are better than many chemical compounds.  Additionally, they are safer, less expensive, and environmentally safe.  That is my idea of a win/win solution!  Everyone wins.  Well, everyone except the manufacturers of chemical cleaning solutions.

  1. You save money using products that you most likely have around home.
    • Even if you buy the items listed below, the cost will be much less than most chemical cleaners.
  2. Your home becomes safer for everyone who lives there, including fur babies.
    • If someone in your household has asthma, it does not take much for them to have an asthma attack.  Toxic fumes are one of those things.
    • If you have children in your home, you will know that those “child-proof” containers do not work.  In fact, I used to give those containers to my son for him to open them for me!
  3. The fewer toxic cleaning chemicals that manufacturing companies make, the less toxic waste they will dump into our water systems.  There is only so much drinking water that we have available.  The world’s population continues to increase.  Until someone figures out how to make ocean water drinkable, we need to take care of this precious resource.

To that end, I picked my Mother’s brain because she was raised during the Great Depression.  Many people who are grouped in the Traditionalist generation, were extremely creative and resourceful out of necessity.  Unemployment insurance had not been established yet.  When people lost their jobs due to the Great Depression, they were forced to find creative solutions to maintain basic life needs.  Many of the recipes they created are still better than any commercially sold solutions on the market today.

Working solutions include using a maid

I interviewed my Mother and Grandfather to find out what they used for cleaning solutions when they were younger.  As a result of those interviews, my arsenal of cleaning resources is made up of the following items.  I use baking soda and white vinegar so much that I now buy it in bulk.  You can get a 4-pound box of baking soda and gallon of white vinegar each for about $2.50 at many stores.

  • Baking Soda
  • Cream of Tartar
  • DAWN Dish Detergent
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Ketchup
  • Lemons, Limes
  • Olive Oil
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Salt
  • Skin So Soft by Avon
  • Toothbrush, old and no longer used
  • White Vinegar

Consumer Dangers is a website that is dedicated to keeping people informed about dangers associated with available products to the general public.  There is a great Guide to Household Chemicals on their site.

Note: I always like to err on the side of caution.  All of the alternatives that I offer below are being provided to reduce toxic solutions around home.  However, due to some allergies people may have, use caution if you have never used any of these ingredients.  I strongly encourage you to test a small, hidden area before applying it.  Additionally, for solutions, be sure to clearly label spray bottles before putting them in your closet.

Recipes

Maid using solutions

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

Yield: a little more than 1 Quart

4 cups water

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol

1/4 tsp. DAWN dish detergent

  • Mix together water, white vinegar, and rubbing alcohol
  • Slowly add DAWN dish detergent. Pouring slowly prevents it from foaming
  • Pour into a one-quart spray bottle
  • Label the spray bottle and also list the ingredients on a label.  The 2nd label is in case someone ingests it and you need to call a doctor.  Alcohol and DAWN are not toxic; however, they are not meant to be drunk by anyone.

NOTES:

  • Mixture dries quickly because of the rubbing alcohol
  • Mixture disinfects many foodborne pathogens because of the vinegar
  • DAWN dish detergent cuts through greasy items

Furniture Polish

I make this in small batches because the lemon juice only prevents the olive oil from going rancid for a couple of months.  I always have olive oil around home now because of the lifestyle change I made to reduce my cholesterol.  See How I Reduced My Cholesterol by 16 Points in One Year, Part 1 and Part 2.

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • Combine both ingredients in a small glass bottle
  • Apply a small amount of solution onto a soft cloth
  • Wipe wood furniture in the direction of the grain so the furniture retains its distinctive patterns
  • Follow by buffing with a different soft cloth
  • Not only does this protect the wood but it smells great!

NOTES:

You can make soft cloths by re-purposing old garments beyond being good enough quality to donate to charities.  Clothing such as flannel nightgowns, sweatshirts, sheets & towels make great soft cloths.

For grimy wooden furniture, another great furniture polish recipe can be made.  Use 4 tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of white vinegar.  Put this solution into a small spray bottle and spray it onto the furniture.

Drain Cleaner

  • Pour one-half cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Follow by pouring one-half cup of vinegar down the drain
  • It will foam, which is the chemical reaction of the solution breaking down soap scum, mineral buildup, hair, slimy bacteria, etc.
  • Wait about 30 minutes.  Then turn the faucet on.  Use a plunger to force pressure down the pipe to push the debris down into your septic tank
    • Be sure to cover the overflow hole in the sink or the debris will come out that hole

NOTES:

  • I created a recurring task reminder to do this once/month
  • Word of Caution: Many articles that say to pour boiling water down your drains.  A lesson that I learned the hard way was to be sure that your drain pipes are not plastic.  Boiling water melts plastic.
  • Keep your septic tank healthy by adding one-quarter cup of instant yeast every 4 months.

Antibacterial Soap

I learned in the 30+ years that I worked in the healthcare field NOT use antibacterial soap.  The reasons were verified by the Food & Drug Administration.  Consumer Reports published an article more than two years ago to provide additional information.  Antibacterial soap is no better than washing with plain soap and water as long as you wash for 20 seconds.  Need an easy timer?  Sing the song Happy Birthday twice.

NOTE:

You can get bar soap to last much, much longer if you dry it out.  See my article titled: Save Money: Make Bar Soap Last Longer.  The method is ridiculously easy and makes bars of soap last for MONTHS.  It still lathers up just as much and still cleans as well as before you do this trick.  Therefore, this is one of the tasks that I refer to as a Mighty Minnie.

To avoid this article from becoming extremely long, I will provide actual details next week.  Stay tuned. . .

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Updated: July 5, 2017 — 5:36 pm

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