Posted by: A Part of the Solution | May 26, 2010

Homemade Cleaning Products

I’ve done a fair amount of research on the topic of homemade cleaning products. I’ve spoken with friends who are greener than I about what they use and how they make it. I’ve spent time across the internet searching and cross referencing various recipes and recommendations. I’ve had mixed results so far–but nothing shocking either way.

For the laundry, I use two teaspoons of detergent boosted by 3/4 cup of borax and the same again of washing soda. For staining, I use the natural enzymatic goop diluted into a bucket of water for soaking purposes. This does pretty well. Obviously, with  our well-water that stains whites pink over time, my definition of OK may not be for everyone.

I’m still getting through the dishwashing liquid the farm manager buys by the concentrated gallon from a big box store when he goes to see his sweetie. When that’s finally gone (in a year or two at our current rate), I’ll work something out. The homemade dishwashing powder (2 parts non-iodized salt, 3 parts borax, 3 parts washing soda) would also leave the glassware and utensils sparkling if I cut powdered citric acid into the mix. I’ve promised myself I’m ordering some this week.

I use Murphy’s oil soap on the newly acquired wood furniture. But when that’s gone, I’ll probably revert to lemon-olive oil to keep the wood fresh and glowing. The floors are polyurethaned to protect the soft pine heartwood. They only need hot water, due diligence and lots of elbow grease.

For actual grease, a spray bottle loaded with water and a few spoonsfull of cornstarch works well. I spray it on, wait a few minutes and then do some scrubbing before I rinse it off. Vinegar in a spray bottle (diluted 1 to 10 with water) is a handy cleaner too. It does windows, mirrors and counters really nicely.

When I got tired of the house smelling like a pickle jar after I’d cleaned, I decided it was time to add scents to my vinegar spray bottle. What I like best right now is a few sprigs of lavendar and a fat handful of geranium leaves (rose geranium would be best, but those I don’t have). I pour boiling water over them and let them steep for an hour. That’s the water base I use for my vinegar bottle. It has a fresh, light floral scent without being cloying or medicinal in character.

I’ve got some chamomile seeds in a packet downstairs. And I can’t help wondering if chamomile might not add a nice, relaxing odor to the cleaning bottle–to help make the guest rooms even more serene. I’ll have to track down one of the aromatherapists I know and get that question answered.

Microfiber cloths work great as my house-cleaning rags/paper towels. They’re reusable, washable and highly effective. I don’t get streaking on my windows or mirrors with these, and they can handle my scrubbing into corners like no paper towel ever could.

I hear club soda is good for kitchen chrome. That will be the next addition to my arsenal of natural cleaning products.



  1. If you run across, or have experience with something to periodically put down the drain that will do battle with soaps and hair, let me know.

    • Kettles of boiling water applied before it’s a problem (as in once a week or so). And the baking soda + vinegar treatment as well–again with regularity. In the natural maintenance model, you have to get those things going before there’s a real problem. I’ll do some more research and see what else I can find.

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