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I'd like to make my own household cleaning products. Do you have tips?

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Many chemicals are brought into our homes as disinfectants and cleaning products. If handled incorrectly, these products can cause poisonings, skin irritation and/or respiratory problems. They can also be expensive. According to Co-op American Real Money, the typical household spends around $400 a year on cleaning and laundry supplies. You can make your own cleaning products using common household recipes and spend less than $100 a year.

Basic ingredients for homemade cleaning products include:

Baking soda. Use as an all-purpose cleaner, deodorizer, polisher and stain remover. Use in place of cleanser on tubs, sinks and showers.

Borax. Use to remove stains, odors, mold and mildew. Be aware that Borax is much safer than most store-bought cleaners, but it can cause skin irritation and may be harmful if swallowed.

Cornstarch. Deodorize carpets by sprinkling 1/4 to 1/2 cup cornstarch on carpet. Let sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum.

Lemon juice. Pour down disposal or drains to cut grease and deodorize.

Mineral oil. Use as a furniture polish.

Table salt. Use in place of abrasive cleaners. Vinegar. Combine with water to clean mirrors and glass or tile and vinyl floors.

Washing soda. Similar to baking soda, but found in the laundry section at the grocery store. Use for general cleaning or to soften hard water in the laundry.

Homemade cleaning recipes:

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER

1 teaspoon washing soda

1 teaspoon vegetable oil-based soap (all natural dishwashing liquids work well; available in most grocery and natural food stores)

2 cups hot water

Combine ingredients in spray bottle and shake until soda has dissolved. Apply to surface and wipe with sponge or rag. For tough cleaning jobs, increase the ratio of soap and soda to water. High concentrations may require rinsing. For a disinfecting spray, add 1 teaspoon Borax.

FURNITURE POLISH

Apply mineral oil to cheesecloth. Rub over wood. Allow to soak in for about one hour (or overnight for dry, unfinished wood). Wipe with a clean, dry cloth. Store the oiled cheesecloth in a sandwich bag and use in place of disposable dusting cloths.

TOILET BOWL CLEANER

1 cup Borax

juice of lemon

Add to toilet bowl. Scrub with brush and let set one hour or overnight.

DISCOLORED ALUMINUM CLEANER

Boil one of the following solutions in aluminum pan and watch discoloration disappear.

1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 quart water OR

2 teaspoons cream of tarter to 1 quart water

WINDOW CLEANER

3 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups water

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well before using.

For big jobs, apply vinegar and water with a sponge and squeegee dry.

SILVER POLISH

3 parts baking soda

1 part water

Mix to form a paste. Rub on silver with a clean cloth, rinse thoroughly and dry.

Posted on 22 Mar 2004

Kerry Case
Utah House Program Coordinator

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