Strapped for cash and still cleaning up after the holidays? Today's your lucky day. In an entry last month, I came clean about my addiction to eco-friendly cleaning products. However, with the exception of scrubbing the kitchen sink with baking soda once in a blue moon, I tend to buy not make natural household cleaners -- I’m a slave to packaging and branding and the thrill of discovering and trying out a great new product. I guess it makes sense that as a child I was drawn more to QVC than to Mr. Wizard.

I realize that concocting one’s own green cleaning supplies can be just as effective and eco-friendly (probably even more so) as purchasing a store-bought cleaner that’s been marketed as “green.” It's certainly more financially prudent since going the DIY route often calls for household staples like vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and baking soda.  Below is an easy, breezy instructional video on DIY cleaning solutions from the craft-meisters at ThreadBanger followed by a few basic nontoxic cleaning product recipes from Women's Voices For the Earth, an organization that promotes, among other things, "Green Cleaning Parties."  Think of them as you would any other fete -- chatting, wining, dining -- but with more sponges and a noticeable stench of vinegar. 


All-Purpose Cleaner for hard surfaces like countertops and kitchen floors, windows, and mirrors

2 cups white distilled vinegar, 2 cups water, 20-30 or more drops of essential oil (optional)


Creamy Soft Scrub for kitchen counters, stoves, bathroom sinks, etc.

2 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid castile soap, 4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (acts as a preservative), 5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, rosemary or any scent you prefer (optional). 
Mix together and store in a sealed glass jar, shelf life of 2 years. For exceptionally tough jobs spray with vinegar first -- full strength or diluted, scented -- let sit and follow with scrub. Dry soft scrubs can be made with baking soda or salt (or combination of both) with 10-15 drops essential oil to scent. 

Furniture Polish
1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar, 20-30 drops lemon essential oil
Shake well before using. Two  teaspoons lemon juice may be substituted for lemon oil but then must be stored in refrigerator. Dip a clean, dry cloth into the polish and rub wood in the direction of the grain. Use a soft brush to work the polish into corners or tight places.

Drain Opener
1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar
Pour baking soda down the drain and follow with vinegar. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Flush with boiling water.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, drizzle with vinegar, let soak for at least 30 minutes and scrub with toilet brush. Or, put ¼ cup borax in toilet bowl and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Swish with a toilet brush and then scrub. A few drops of pine oil can be added for increased disinfecting. 

 
And if case you were curious, according to the official Wikipedia entry, Mr. Clean is not a genie despite his hoop earring, folded arms, and magical cleaning abilities. He was modeled after a United States sailor in the late 1950s. In 2008 Mr. Clean was branded as "potentially offensive" by the European Parliament -- in several European countries he's known as "Mr. Proper" -- because his muscle-bound build might imply that only brawny bald men can clean house successfully. 
Photo: elycefeliz

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