Country Cleanin’

Well to preface this post, let me begin my revealing my December ‘Mystery Craft’.  It was how to make Christmas Trees out of magazines a la Martha.  You can see them here: Folded Magazine Trees.  Admittedly, mine did not turn out as glorious as Martha’s staff’s did, but who’s checking?  Also, you really need to get Martha’s Bone Folder, which can be found @ your local Wal-Mart for less than five dollars, to make things go along smoothly. 

Ok, now with December out of the way…onto…February? 

My topic today is going to be natural cleaning (read: non-toxic, mostly cheap) products you can make at home.  I starting doing this back in December, when I picked up a neat little book: Make Your Place off of Amazon.  (I also would like her other book, How to Make soap without Burning your Face Off.  Seriously.)  So, freshly inspired, I ran to the local health food store, well, actually I drove because I hate running, but I snagged a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap with Almond Oil.  It smells just like a million cherries are crammed in the bottle!  And, over the course of a couple of weeks, I also bought several essential oils: Tea Tree, Lime, Tangerine, Eucalyptus, and Lavender.  Note that these are NOT aromatherapy blends, these are the real, pure pressed oils from the plants themselves.  You can expect to pay about $5 to $12 dollars (or more) for a small  bottle of these products.  And, no, they do NOT carry them in Wal Mart!  ;0)  Anyway, I have fallen in love with essential oils!  Now, how to make your own products and using oils.

For a great, All-purpose general cleaner, I use this recipe:

1 tsp. liquid castile soap

2 Tbsp. White vinegar

1 tsp. borax (you can find 20 Mule Team Borax @ WalMart in the laundry area)

2 cups hot water

1/4 tsp each:  eucalyptus and lavender oil

3 drops tea tree oil

Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle.  Do not use on glass. 

It also recommends to spray it on, scrub, and rinse off with a clean, damp cloth (which honestly….I don’t rinse it off  *shrugs*)  I also add a couple more drops of lavender oil because I am so addicted to the fragrance!  I use this on my tile floors, countertops, etc. *Shake well in between uses*

Glass Cleaner:

So very simple:

1 part water

1 part white vinegar

This works GREAT.  I mean, a million times better than “the blue stuff”.  Well, to me anyway!  Make Your Place also has this recipe for a Glass Cleaner:

1.5 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup water

4-8 drops of orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well.

Let me now add in here that you must, must, MUST use microfiber cloths.  I love my microfiber cloths and can’t imagine ever, in a zillion years, going back to stupid paper towels.  I only use paper towels for grody clean ups like…dog pee.  You know?

So anyway, back to the castile soap.  I have used it straight up as a body wash, as shampoo, and in the kid’s baths.  Also, the label says you can brush your teeth with it.  Did I do it?  Well…let’s just say…do you remember the scene in PeeWee’s Big Adventure where he brushed HIS teeth? (“Mad dog!Mad dog!”) Moving on:

Now for another biggie:

Dishwasher Detergent  (for use in the dishwasher, not the sink!)

1/2 cup liquid castile soap

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. lemon juice

3 drops tea tree oil

1/2 cup white vinegar

Add to squirt bottle container, preferably a recycled dish soap container, right?!?  I personally use about 2 Tbsp with each load, or, 3 good squirts directly in the bottom of the dishwasher. You will need to shake this concoction up vigorously before usage.  If not, it will form this gel-like substance from the reaction of the vinegar/lemon juice to the soap, which, incidentally still works great, but is potent.  I found this out when I added too much of the gel stuff and I had bubbles frothing from my dishwasher!  Lol.  BUT, if you use your dishwasher on a regular basis, like every 2-3 days and keep this shook up, you should not have a problem with the gel formation.  I love this recipe!!!

My only concern would be the breakdown of the fats which are in your dishwasher filter/lines.  I am not sure if this mixture is potent enough to fully dissolve buildup, so you could use your regular dishwashing detergent ever so often if you feel this could be a problem.  Also, I have noticed that it still leaves a thin film on some plastics (like disposable containers) but frankly with the whole Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalate scare, I’m trying not to use too many plastics for food storage anymore anyway.

Now, a word on essential oils.  Essential oils come in varying qualities.  I just use my local natural foods store because it is convenient and I like the oil quality just fine.  Also, essential oils should be considered as possible skin irritants so DO NOT get them on your skin undiluted. If you want to tinker with making your own aromatherapy/massage oils, the essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil (an oil which is safe for the skin).  Some essential oils are extremely irritating to the skin!!!  I do not know anything about making massage oils and the like, so you’ll have to do the legwork there!

I hope this will help you all save some money and help you to break the cycle of thinking that we MUST buy specific cleaning products for every purpose, which is just silly!  Many more natural cleaning recipes can be found online.  OH, one last tip.  If you ever have stains/burned on food/etc. on your countertops, bathtub, other solid surface, try using baking soda and a damp sponge.  Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and scrub gently with your sponge OR microfiber cloth.  Most stains/food spills/etc, will just vanish.  It is very similar to using a Mr. Clean Magic sponge….but a looooot cheaper!