Friday, July 3, 2009

Cleaning Green

I've recently begun to "clean green."  I know there are lots of products out there available to buy that will aid in this area, but with almost no effort, you can make your own.  And for a HUGE savings.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, my frugality was what got me on the bandwagon, but I also think that it's important to use as few harsh chemicals as possible.  

OK, so the first thing I tried was laundry detergent.  Here are the things I used:

1 bar of Fels Naptha soap (I found it in with the other bar soaps)  $1.29

2 cups Washing Soda (The whole "Arm & Hammer" thing might make you think this is just a giant box of baking soda, but it's not.  I found it in the laundry aisle) $2.99

2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax (I think this was in the cleaning aisle.  I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to refer to it by the full name "20 Mule Team Borax" throughout this post.  Simply because mules make me laugh.) $2.99

Oh, and 2 cups of sharp cheddar, grated.

Just kidding.  Basically, all you do is grate up the soap (and yeah, seriously, don't eat it) and then mix it with the washing soda and 20 Mule Team Borax.  Once you've mixed it up, put it in the blender in small batches and pulse it a few times to really blend it.

Use one tablespoon for each large wash load.  This recipe is good for 96 loads, and it costs approximately $2.90.  Yeah, compare that to Tide.

Two things to note:  your laundry won't have that nice, perfumed scent.  It just smells clean.  I'll admit that I kind of miss the added fragrance.  But I'll sacrifice the smell for the extra cashola in my wallet.  

Also, this detergent won't lather.  But rest assured, it IS getting your laundry clean.

All right.  Recipe numero deux.  Dos.  Whatever.

This is for all-purpose cleaner - I keep a bottle of it in my kitchen, and also one in my bathroom.  

Into a clean 32 oz spray bottle (you can get these at most Dollar Stores), put:

2 teaspoons 20 Mule Team Borax ("Ho, there, Sal!" *whip cracking*)

4 tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap (I got this at my local health food store.  It comes in a variety of scents - I got lavendar) $5.99...but it'll last forever

Then add 24 oz hot water.  Shake it well (also shake before each use).  I'm not crazy about having my apartment smell like a pickle factory, so to cut the vinegar smell, I added 5 or 10 drops of essential oil.  You can use tea tree, cinnamon, lavendar, pine or eucalyptus oil.  I used Rosemary, because that's what I happened to have.  In addition to imparting a refreshing smell, these oils are also natural disinfectants.  So bonus.  A bottle full of this costs about 5 cents to make.  FIVE CENTS, PEOPLE!  Compared to - what is it? - $2.99 for a bottle of Fantastik?  All of the cleanliness, and none of the harsh chemicals for a FRACTION of the price.  Whew.  I'm getting excited.  

One final recipe.  No pictures of this one because it's so easy and boring.  It's for daily shower spray.  In yet another clean 32 oz spray bottle, mix 8 oz of hydrogen peroxide with 16 oz of water.  Hydrogen Peroxide is highly acidic and can be reactive, so don't add essential oils to this mix; I have no idea what would happen.  Maybe it would blow up the bathroom.  I'm not a scientist, so I just don't know.  Anyway, spray this stuff on your shower walls daily, and watch them sparkle.  I actually can't vouch for this product, because I haven't used it consistently, but I know people who say it works fabulously.  If you have a little mold or mildew in the shower, you can spray some of this stuff on it, let it sit for a bit, and then scrub it with an old (obviously) toothbrush.

In some locales, it may be difficult to find the Fels Naptha soap and the Washing Soda.  I was able to find everything (except the liquid castile) at my trusty local Meijer store (although I got the 20 Mule Team Borax ("Whoaaaa, Francis!") at Wal-Mart because it was $1 cheaper), but I realize the magic of Meijer is limited to the midwest.  So you may have to shop around a bit (you can get everything on Amazon, but you'll end up paying more than you would if you bought locally).

Anyway, happy (and healthy) cleaning!