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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

homey clean

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Finally, after years of intending to make a home cleaner from natural stuff, I did it. None of the recipes had allured enough to push me past lethargy until Design Sponge shared this one (I've posted my version below). Read here some of the disturbing reasons you should consider it too, such as the fact that 17,000 petrochemicals have been approved for home use, but only 30% of those have been tested for impact on humans, and that the average American home has 10 gallons of harmful chemicals hiding in cabinets and drawers.

There are many things to like about this recipe, but the best for me is adding my favorite scents with essential oils.



Homemade All-Purpose Spray

Ingredients (I bought them all at a health food store, except the empty spray bottle, which I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond):
  • 1 empty 32 oz. spray bottle
  • 3/4 c. Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 c. Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Castile Soap*
  • 30 drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 30-45 drops Essential Oil of choice - I used 15 rosemary drops and 15 spearmint, then I added 15 drops of lavender to rise above the smell of the vinegar (other choices include lemongrass, lemon verbena, clove, cinnamon, anise, sage, grapefruit, lemon, and lime)
Mixing:
  • Place all ingredients into the spray bottle using a funnel or measuring cup with a spout.
  • Add water until contents reach top of bottle.
  • Shake vigorously and clean with pleasure!


I can still smell the tea tree oil on my fingers (I had to be sure it was coming out of the dropper). Tea tree oil is also known as melaleuca oil, something that was in Australian soldiers' first aid kids in WWI for its natural antiseptic properties.

With an initial investment of over $30 in the various bottles of stuff, I thought this homemade cleaner might be more costly than a ready bottle of GreenWorks natural all purpose cleaner, but I was willing to pay extra. When Don and I calculated the cost (by the way, apparently there are 600 "drops" in one fluid ounce), we discovered it was only $2.13 total for 32 ounces. (Compare: GreenWorks $3.39/32 oz.)

Squeaky, streakless. I've just increased my chances of becoming a clean freak.




*Castile soap alone is a profound discovery for its simplicity and pure, gentle cleaning qualities.

68 comments:

Annie said...

Interesting. Also normal body lotions can be very harmful in the long run because the chemicals in them do penetrate the skin and no one has studied their joint effects.

Ruth said...

Annie, I use olive oil and castor oil to clean my face, and a non-detergent shampoo.

Claudia said...

Great cause. So much of what we use to clean our houses and to put on our bodies has unknown and potentially harmful impact on the environment that we should really consider going 100% natural more seriously. I guess most of us don't, even though we'd like to, just to save a bit of time and hassle in our hectic life styles.

Ruth said...

Claudia, and I never quite trust the "green" products you can buy now, since I don't know exactly what they contain. But they're better than most I assume, and as you say, convenient.

Susan said...

Ruthie, if you say it works I must try it! I've tried the commercial "green" cleaners and IMO they haven't convinced me that they work as well as the chemical-y ones. It does concern me though when I use them. I do use the GreenWorks one and it is effective, but sooooo foamy in our water. It takes gallons to rinse it out of the bathroom sink!

I do use white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean the hardwood floor and it leaves a lovely shine, but you have to wipe it dry with a towel.

Does this one work on windows, too?

Susan said...

Oh, I forgot! I simply love the new header! You are ready for fall.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Susie, I'm glad you like the header. I brought it back from last fall.

I still haven't used this cleaner on absolutely everything yet. It did a good job on the mirror, but I haven't tried windows yet to see if they are streak free. Also, you and I may have different standards, so if you try this, of course you may not feel the same as I do. With the bleaching effect of hydrogen peroxide, astringent of tea tree oil, solvent quality of vinegar and pure cleaning of Castile soap, I think it might be about as good as you can get with safe chemicals.

VioletSky said...

I've never found the "green" products for sale to be as good as the other "toxic" ones. I use a mostly lemon, vinegar, baking soda and borax. But my favourite is just using a microfibre cloth on countertops and mirrors and glass - no added liquid other than water and no fuss!

As a kid I was allergic to detergents and the only soap I could handle (so I was told) was Castile. I HATED it. I always wanted something soft and silky with a nice light scent.

ellen abbott said...

Love the new header.

This sounds wonderful. I'll have to try it. My sister makes soap and lotion bars and lip balm. I haven't used commercial soap in I don't know how long.

ds said...

Very interesting. My mom makes a cleaner with vinegar & I think baking soda and/or borax. I keep trying, but am so used to that chemically "clean" smell (oh, those marketers know what they're doing)...will have to try harder.
And I do love your autumnal header, even though it saddens me to know that it's September already. Where did the summer go?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

And I would bet it smells so much better than the chemical stuff!

Nancy said...

We are on the same page. I'm slowly working my way through stuff I already have, and will replace everything with home-made or biodegradable cleansers. We already use this type of product for laundry.

Thanks for the recipe.

Thanks for recommending the books, by the way. I did read one by Miguel Ruiz, but it was a re-cap book - I need to look for other ones. Thanks.

Ginnie said...

You go, Girl! :D

Anet said...

I was just thinking of getting some tea tree oil!
Thanks for sharing this with us!
I love that you and Don did the math!!!
Your header... fab!

Jeanie said...

Hi, Ruth,

Thanks for the recipe. I'll need to try this one. I'm always looking for something better like that.

How're you holding up during new freshman week?@!

*jean* said...

yes!!! get rid of those nasty chemicals!!! good job, ruth!! i've been making my own cleaners for years...if you visit the women's cancer resource site you will find more info there as well.....i personally don't think women (and growing girls) should be around any of the industrial solvents known as "beauty products" either...just me...i'm a bit of an extremist when it comes to that....

and no chlorine bleach!! vinegar works just as well...the 5% acid vinegar...if we trust our food in it, it must be tough enough to clean the house...

jean

*jean* said...

oo by the way...can i just say that i LOVE your small blog?? i know it's comment-less but i adore the little photos you put there....

jean

RD said...

I love this! I'm tempted to go out and do the same thing. Will consider more closely. And about castile soap: my mom used this soap on all her babies, including me!, to gently clean the skin without chemicals and irritants. This was long before the green movement--it was just common sense to her.

CottageGirl said...

First off... love the new header! Very sophisticated yet warm and inviting! Beautiful!

Next -- what a great idea!!! I love the idea of making your own cleaning supplies! Good for you, Ruth!

I think I might just follow your lead! Makes sense all the way around!

Oliag said...

I love your new header...I adore figs! There is something about this time of year that cries out for new things like new cleaners and new headers...I think it is a throw back to the days of getting ready for the first days of school...and the spirit of a new year...

I will definitly try the cleaner...it will be my New Year's resolution...but I am afraid I am addicted to Formula 409:( and I may need an intervention!

Ruth said...

Violetski, that's great that you use the natural astringents. And I haven't tried a microfibre cloth yet, I will, thanks.

I've never used Castile soap alone, I thought it was gentle and soft, but now I wonder after what you wrote.

Ruth said...

Ellen, I'm excited because my friend just told me we have a person right here where we live, in our little town, who distributes essential oils. Don is talking about making soap but hasn't started it yet. Our daughter gave him a book about it. I don't think it's all that hard to make these things that we use. I just convince myself that it's too much effort.

Ruth said...

DS, I agree that we have to recondition ourselves, at least I do, about what is "clean." Is "clean" that shininess that comes from toxic chemicals that leave their residue in the air, earth and water? It's similar to the idea that food boxed up in factories is "cleaner" than home raised stuff. But until this recipe the vinegar and baking soda just didn't do it for me, even though I know it's healthy. I needed the scents of essential oils.

Ruth said...

Pamela, I feel happy when I spray this. It smells earthy and warm, not cold and clinical.

Ruth said...

Nancy, why finish the stuff you already have? I think the earth will not be happy you are being frugal. It might be a good investment in the environment to toss those half full bottles of toxics.

I want to reread Ruiz now that you posted about the Four Insights, even though that isn't the same author.

Ruth said...

Boots, I am a slow motion girl. :)

Ruth said...

Jeanie, tell me how you like this one compared to others you've tried.

I am starting to feel that the worst of freshman week is over. And my dreaded fears have not come to pass. I have actually enjoyed myself A LOT. One more day of walk-in advising today, and then we're into the routines of the semester. Routines are very good.

Ruth said...

Anet, sorry I skipped you. I left a comment at your blog and then got out of sync here.

I just found out from my friend in Lansing that there is a lady right here in Dansville who distributes essential oils!

Marilyn Everingham
Michelle Sidel
pawmadesoap@gmail.com
Dansville, Michigan
517.515.6435

http://www.pawmade.com/store/Default.asp

Ruth said...

Jean, my dear artist friend, I love your worldview.

It does me good to know you've been doing this for years. Our minds have to make adjustments to standards of "clean" - and the clinical "clean" of toxicity is not what I want, why would I? But it took a while for me to make that adjustment.

Of course you can say you love Small. :) It's not that I don't want to hear that you like it. I just want you to enjoy the images and not have to say anything. Thank you.

Ruth said...

RD, how silly that I had never heard of Castile soap. We have forgotten way too many things in this industrial age. I'm glad we're getting back to some simple help from the earth that people have known about for centuries.

I hope you will try this recipe. It is very warm and soothing to clean with it.

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, thank you, I'm glad you like it. I am one for change change change. But at least I brought this one back from last fall.

I do hope you'll try this recipe. I don't think you'll be sorry. And you'll have all the stuff to make many more, except maybe you'll need to buy more hydrogen peroxide for a couple bucks.

Ruth said...

It's true, Oliag, this time of year feels more like New Year's to me than Jan. 1.

Oh please do switch from Formula 409. I'll come intervene if you need me too. Try this and let me know if you like it. It is warm, inviting, and so satisfying to me.

Babs-beetle said...

With my allergic reactions to so many chemicals that are used in our society, I'm all for using natural things wherever I can.

photowannabe said...

Thanks for the recipe. it sounds like the perfect solution for those of us who have used chemicals for far too long. The squirt and a micro-fiber cloth are a great duo.
Love the Fall header too. Need to look at it as the temps soar to 100 today.

caroldiane said...

I have just copied your recipe and will hand it to my husband who is the master of all things green and healthy in our house and very fortunately for me - most of the cleaning too. Thanks!!

Dakota Bear said...

Thank you for the inspiration to try things more naturally. I always liked Castile soap when I was younger, but somehow I got lulled away from it.

Like your new header.

VioletSky said...

Castile is gentle - it just isn't silky with a light delicious scent. At least I remember it having an unpleasant scent - but then I was under 10!

Bob Johnson said...

Ruth that is too cool, how does it work on carpet stains?

Barry said...

I love the design of your cleaner bottle. It has that primitive earthy appeal that's just perfect for a natural product.

Ruth said...

Babs, it worries me how little we know about the effect of toxic chemicals around. If you watch Yann Arthus-Bertrand's film "Home" you see the poor earth and how it has been devastated in places. And what about people?

Ruth said...

Oh dear, Sue. I hope you don't have any fires up there. But that sun is enough to heat you up. Stay cool.

Ruth said...

Yay, Caroldiane, I hope he will enjoy it and find it cleanerly. I enjoyed your post Tuesday, and I hope you'll check out the video on my sidebar called "Moments."

Ruth said...

Dakota Bear, oh, you know about Castile soap too? I have been in the dark, dirty in the dark. I haven't used it by itself yet. I guess it can be used for dishwasher soap, or laundry, or whatever. Maybe I'll try it on my hand washables (but it isn't cheap).

Ruth said...

Violetski, I couldn't smell anything, but I didn't have it washed all over me either.

Ruth said...

Bob, I don't know, haven't tried that. Surprising since I am the queen of spills. :|

Ruth said...

Barry, I like this bottle too. Interesting what you find when you do something new. I didn't know 32 oz was a standard size for empty bottles, the way it is for full ones with products in them. Makes sense I guess.

dutchbaby said...

This is an admirable task and I thank you for sharing the recipe. I'm intrigued with the idea of adding my own scents.

Trader Joe's carries a great little product called "Blemish Stick" that contains tea tree oil. My teenage daughter discovered it - it is very effective.

dutchbaby said...

P.S. Where did you learn that a fluid ounce contains 600 drops? I love that you chased that fact in order to arrive at your cost :-)

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, thank you for the tip about the tea tree oil blemish stick. I'll look for it next time I go to Ann Arbor TJ's (me gots stuff to cover up on me face).

Whatever conversion site on the Web Don was using had drops - amazing, right? Ha.

Celeste Maia said...

This entry could not be more timely for me. Having just arrived in Madrid, after two months in Portugal, you can imagine what this house is like. I have to clean it top to bottom and I had bought some natural cleaners, but I am going to the health food store tomorrow and buy the ingredients to make "your" cleaner. Thanks a lot of the recipe.
After getting the house livable again I have to start working. It is back to reality.

Ruth said...

Celeste, well I feel for you and the mess to clean up and get back to routines, but your memories, images, and tastes of Portugal are from a dream and will comfort you, I think. I would love to be a mouse in the corner at your store to compare products and watch you shop.

Celeste Maia said...

Thanks for your comment in my blog. Believe me, inside I was screaming and kicking, outside I was waving goodbye with a big smile. "Invite me again, please, please, please, invite me again..." my head was thinking.

This is a really good entry, I reread it and learned quite a few tips.

Vagabonde said...

I am copying your cleaning recipe and will try it when we come back from our next trip. We are leaving next week for our 11 day to the Maritimes of Canada so I am reading as much as I can about Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, etc.

California Girl said...

i use vinegar and water on all my hard surfaces. I don't try to clean windows with it although it works but is streaky. But it's great on my granite counters and my stainless steel appliances. The old fashioned ways are back in fashion. They work. If you think about it, so much of what we have replaced them with is due to marketing.

lesleyanne said...

fantastic!! i really love this post. i've often thought about how awful most cleaning products are. i'm not as worried about it right now, even though we only buy GreenWorks or Seventh Generation cleaning products. but i know that once we have little ones in the house, i am determined that all of our cleaning products will have no harmful ingredients. maybe we should start now. :)

Sandy said...

thanks for the how to because I want to try this!

rauf said...

ah ! oh ! Ruth, i am thinking. We are breathing poison and eating poison.
Then my eyes go wide when i see the average life expectancy now, highest in history. More than 80 years in US 68 (pretty good) for India.
100 - 150 years ago, no traffic, no air water pollution, no pesticides insecticides and what was the life expectancy in US ? 30-40 years average.
People reaching 90 is common now. 100th birthday is no news,
You say oh that's nice, congratulations !
there are more than 50,000 hundred year olds in the US now, just 150 fifty years ago
What is happening Ruth ? i am writing about it, been postponing it because its quite annoying.

rauf said...

No, Ruth, its not science, technology medicine or surgery, people who have no access to these in India are crossing 90s, even the beggars in the streets.

freefalling said...

I'm with you Ruth.
I hate chemicals around the house.
I reckon that's why so many kiddies have eczema and asthma and allergies these days.
I reckon vinegar will clean most things.
And I love my essential oils too.
Ti-tree oil (that's how proper Australians spell it) is also very good for toe-nails. Makes them nice and healthy looking.
I'm a big fan of Eucalyptus oil too - very versatile.
I've got a great book on vinegar and all its uses (wish I could find it!)

Ruth said...

Celeste, have you got your place in Spain cleaned up yet?

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, a long road trip for you. I want to go to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (and Newfoundland) badly. My brother loved it there and took many photographs, some even hang on my wall. The wild country there, the sea. I look forward to the posts you will make of your trip.

Ruth said...

California Girl, if they marketed poo, someone would buy it. We are gullible, and now we believe only toxic chemicals can make a place really clean. We have to re-educate ourselves, but it will take a new kind of marketing. It is hard to know whom to trust. We have to study things ourselves, use common sense, and get back to something we forgot. Wendell Berry is my hero, and rauf, and people who think for themselves in spite of gimmicks. And you too.

Ruth said...

Wesrey, start now. :) You are my baby after all. If you were here I would make up a bottle for you.

Ruth said...

Sandy, add it to your September-when-you-get-settled-back-in-routines list!

Ruth said...

rauf, people are living longer and coming up with more diseases and syndromes younger and younger. It is rare to see a healthy child in the U.S. these days, one without asthma, allergies or ear infections. Living a longer life is not enjoyable if you are fighting some ailment most of the time.

I am waiting patiently for your next post, rauf.

Anna said...

Hey Ruth, thanks for the recipe, I will make a note. I have been using pure vinegar for cleaning and washing poultry and meats, I also use GSE a lot [Grapefruit Seed Extract]. I been aware of the chemicals for few years now, and we have very little at home including drugs. I do the same with Matthew, we use very little soap on him. And because I breastfeed, no hair coloring, no polish nail, no perfumes, and too use very little pampering products. As long as we keep house clean, there is no need for anything harsh. But it is scary about all the chemicals ... thanks Ruth for the reminder, excellent post. Anna :)

Ruth said...

Anna, you are a good mother.

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