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Homemade general purpose cleaning alternatives

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Aug. 17th, 2013 | 05:05 pm

This weekend we did two more loads of laundry with our DIY detergent and experimented with frugal, green ways to clean the kitchen. These also work for the bathroom.


Scouring Powder Sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp microfiber cloth. Scour kitchen and bathroom surfaces to get up stains.

All-Purpose Spray Fill a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. Add a 1-2 drops of essential oil to neutralize the vinegar scent, add a nicer scent, and boost the antibacterial power. This also works on surfaces and mirrors (it's streak-free as long as you use a microfiber cloth, streak-free rag, or newspaper!)

For this experiment, I used tea tree oil. It's supposedly the most antibacterial/antifungal of the bunch, great in bathrooms. It has a fresh, vaguely medicinal scent. At the dilution we used, the scent was not strong, but it was very effective in reducing the fish-and-chips scent of the vinegar.

Tile/linoleum floor cleaner Pour half a gallon of warm water into a bucket. Add half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of baby oil, for polish.

For this experiment, I did not have baby oil on hand, so I used coconut oil. This was a bad idea, as now the kitchen smells like old coconut oil. I would not recommend adding essential oils to this since the vinegar hardly smells at all when it's that diluted and it's sort of a waste of expensive oils - you're going to dump the mixture down the drain once you've used it for mopping.


Overall, I'm satisfied. Baking soda as scouring powder is pure magic. I got up all the food stains on the oven with just a few firm swipes of my powdered cloth. Microfiber clothes are worth buying - definitely easier than attempting the same thing with a tea towel. One caution, be sure to rinse up with water or vinegar spray so as not to leave a powdery residue. I am not sure if the vinegar solutions worked a lot better than plain water would have, but I have discovered one reason that the green diy solutions are better, for me, at least, than using cleaning products. I drag my feet about cleaning a lot less when the prospect doesn't involve drying out my skin, burning my nostrils, and making the house smell like toxic chemicals.


I used Peapod to judge how much things cost at an ordinary grocery store.

Baking Soda is about $1 per 16 oz box. I'd say about an ounce (2 tablespoons) is enough to clean the whole kitchen and bathroom. So about 6.25 cents per cleaning session.

Vinegar is $3/gallon. Assuming you mix up half a gallon of floor cleaner and use about a cup of all-purpose spray per cleaning session (probably a way overestimate), that's one cup of vinegar per cleaning session, or 18.75 cents.

Baby oil is $5 for 20 ounces. You use only a few drops in a floor cleaner batch. There are apparently about 600 drops in an ounce. Let's say you use 10 drops each time. You're still only using 1/1200 of the bottle, or less than a cent.

Essential oils are expensive. I paid $10 for an ounce of tea tree oil. We'll say you use 3 drops per cleaning session (an overestimate - you only need 2-3 drops each time you *mix up* the vinegar solution, and it keeps indefinitely, so you can mix it up one session and use the rest the next). That means you use 1/200th of the bottle each time, or five cents.

Microfiber cloths, sponges, etc.: can be used again and again. It's hard to quantify how much wear and tear they get per cleaning session. I'll leave that out of my estimate for now.

Total cost per cleaning session (to clean all kitchen and bathroom surfaces and floors): about 30 cents.

This entry was originally posted at Dreamwidth.
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