'Going green' with household cleaners can trim expenses
If you are looking for new ideas to stretch the home budget, consider making home cleaning products. Homemade cleaning products are less toxic, safe, effective and cost less than cleaning products from the store.
Basic supplies for making your own cleaning products include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt. Consider these uses.
* Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and adsorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass. For laundry, add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals. It is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.
* White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces. Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.
* Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach. It can boost other cleaning products, but be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Don't use borax around food, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and be sure to rinse it out of clothes and off surfaces.
* Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets. As a window cleaner, use it with water, vinegar and ammonia. To use on stains and to polish, use a mixture of water and cornstarch. Sprinkle on carpets to remove stains and odors.
* Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little "greener" at home. It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available. Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.Â
* Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so they don't react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. If you have soft water, you can use liquid soap.
* Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol. Be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product as it can produce a harmful gas. These toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas. Be sure to keep all homemade formulas labeled and out of the reach of children.Â
Choose from these four general household, all-cleaning formulas:
1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon detergent, 2 cups water;
1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water;
2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, hot water;
one-half cup ammonia, one-fourth cup vinegar, one-fourth cup baking soda, 1 gallon waterÂ
Choose from these five formulas for window cleaning:
one-half cup vinegar and 1 gallon waterÂ (2 tablespoons to 1 quart);
one-half cup ammonia and 1 gallon water;
1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 quart water;
3 tablespoons denatured alcohol, 1 quart water;
3 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 tablespoon "Jet Dry" in one-half pail of water for outdoor windows
These formulas are offered to help minimize the use of toxic substances in your home and reduce the cost of purchasing manufactured cleaning products. Results may vary and cannot be guaranteed to be 100 percent safe and effective. Before applying any cleaning formulation, test in small, hidden areas if possible. Always use caution with any new product in your home. Â
Embracing a greener lifestyle isn't just about helping preserve equatorial rain forests, it can also mean improving your health, padding your bank account, using less toxic products and, ultimately, improving your overall quality of life.
Additional home cleaning recipes and information can be obtained at
Carolyn Washburn is Utat State University Extension family and consumer sciences agent, Washington County