The 20-Minute Environmentalist Part Six: Household Cleaners

You can save hundreds of dollars and take a serious chunk out of how much packaging you send to landfills each year by making natural household cleaning products. Plus, you will limit the toxins in your home and keep harsh cleaning product chemicals away from your children and pets, as well as our soil, water and air. You will also help to save the environment from any waste that the production process creates and lower energy usage that would otherwise have been used to make, package and transport the product.

All natural household cleaning products are surprisingly easy to make and require simple, inexpensive ingredients that you probably already have in your home, or can easily acquire the next time you go shopping.

Major corporations are making big money convincing us that we need their toxic household cleaning products in order to have a clean, sanitary house, but this simply is not true. Natural, eco-friendly cleaning products will get your house just as clean for pennies on the dollar.

Here are five basic household cleaning products that you can make in 20 minutes or less that will save you money while keeping the planet green.

1. Abrasive Scouring Scrub – One cup distilled white vinegar and Ã?½ cup baking soda mixed in a bowl is the only abrasive scrub you will ever need. Scrub your tub, shower or sink with this mixture, then wipe down the surface with a vinegar soaked rag followed by a wet cloth. It will take you less than 10 minutes to gather your supplies and stir up the mix and you will end up with sparkly clean surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom. While you are taking on the arduous task of scrubbing down your shower walls, you can keep your spirits up by thinking about all the money you will save using this mix instead of a commercial brand, and warm your heart with the knowledge that you will never send another abrasive cleaning product bottle to a landfill.

2. Multi-Surface Cleaner – For countertops and mopping I use one part distilled white vinegar to one part water mixed in a reusable spray bottle. This cleaning solution will clean and disinfect your surfaces and leave them sparkling. Simply spray on and sponge or wipe off with a dry cloth. For mopping you could also mix the solution in a bucket, I just usually spray it on since I always have this mix in my cleaning spray bottle.

3. Glass and Window Cleaner – The Multi-Surface Cleaner can also be used on windows, but some folks prefer a mix of one part distilled white vinegar to two parts water mixed in a spray bottle. Try them both and see what you think. Either of them will only take a couple of minutes to concoct, but you will save even more time if you use the same household cleaning solution for both countertops and windows. When you switch to this natural, eco-friendly option for cleaning windows and glass, you will want to add a small amount of dish soap to the mix the first time you clean your windows. This will remove the waxy residue left behind by commercial window and glass cleaners (if you don’t do this, you will end up with streaks).

4. Drain Cleaner – Commercial drain cleaners are hard on the environment and on your pipes. They are loaded with nasty chemicals and some even recommend using gloves and eye protection. And, this is before we even go into the wasteful packaging and the problematic chemical residue left in the bottle that you somehow have to dispose of. But, you can avoid this altogether and use a simple homemade drain cleaner that will cost you a few pennies instead of lots of dollars. Simply place Ã?½ cup baking soda into the drain, pour in one cup of distilled white vinegar and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, pour in a pot or teapot of boiling water. You might have to do this a couple of times to clear up the clog, but it will still take you less than 20 minutes to gather the ingredients, place them in the drain, boil the water and wait for it to work.

5. Carpet Deodorizer – Avoid artificially scented carpet fresheners (and having to dispose of the packaging) and use plain old, all natural baking soda to deodorize your carpets. It won’t take you any more time to sprinkle on the baking soda than it would to sprinkle on whichever chemical-based deodorizer you normally use, and you will find that it works just as well. In fact, baking soda is the main ingredient in a lot of the commercial brands, so why pay more for the added chemicals and packaging? Simply sprinkle the baking soda on your carpet liberally, let it sit as long as your patience will allow and then vacuum it up.

To make your household cleaning even more eco-friendly (and save money), turn old clothes and towels into cleaning rags instead of throwing them out and buying rags.

For more tips on how to make easy, inexpensive cleaning products for your home, check out my article, Greening Your Cleaning with Vinegar and Baking Soda.

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