Clean your home safely and effectively with a homemade all purpose cleaner using vinegar, castille soap and essential oils. Here is the recipe and why you should use it.
I used to search for the latest and greatest in cleaning products. If I saw a commercial advertising an instant clean, I was on it. Did it change color? I wanted it immediately. A coupon for a cleaner I haven't tried yet? Yes, please. I shudder to think of the fumes I've inhaled in my desire to feed effective marketing. We all want clean houses, and we have come to believe the only way to kill germs and keep them away is to spray them with chemicals. But it's not true. There is a better way! It wasn't until I had a child that I really started looking for new and better ways to clean my home while keeping my family healthy and safe. As a bonus, I was helping the environment too! Will karma forgive me my past indiscretions?
Recipe for a Safe, Effective Household Cleaner
White vinegar has been a common household cleaner for decades (probably longer). But being a product of contemporary times and effective marketing online, on TV and on social networking sites, I did not know of it until a little over a year ago. Since then, I have used trial and error and this is what I have found works best for me and my family.
What you will need:
- A spray bottle. Don't skimp on this. Go to Target or a hardware store and invest at least $3.00 in a good spray bottle for cleaning. I like a heavy duty one with spray options (stream to full coverage spray) since I will be using it a lot. I tried a bottle from the Dollar Store that only cost me a dollar, thinking "I just need it to spray" and that was a bad idea! You can find a good bottle in the cleaning sections of the store by the mops and brooms.
- Distilled White Vinegar. I now buy this by the gallon at the grocery store and never pay more than $3.00 for the entire gallon. Do get the entire gallon! Vinegar has a million uses in the home. In fact, I think I've cooked with it only twice in the last year, but I have bought several gallons for cleaning and laundry.
- Castille Soap. I prefer Dr. Bronner's soaps. I get several "flavors," though my preferred is lavendar. I also have used citrus, peppermint and almond.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil. Only a little of this is used. It has antimicrobial properties and adds a pleasant scent.
- Any other essential oil you might desire. I have played with lavendar and citrus to match the scent of my castille soap.
- Using water first, fill the bottle about 2/3 full.
- Add a tablespoon of the castille soap.
- Shake to mix.
- Fill the remainder with vinegar (this should be 1/3 to the 2/3 parts water)
- Add several drops of tea tree oil and if you choose, another scented oil.
The vinegar works against the castille soap and you may find that there are clumps of castille soap in the bottle. Shake it before each use. It is still effective and being used!
Additional Uses for Vinegar
- Add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in your washer to soften your clothes without fragrant chemicals
- Use vinegar to make a homemade powdered laundry detergent (recipe coming in a future hub - stay tuned!)
- Use vinegar to help scrub metals that have become oxidized
- Use it to eliminate odors from carpets by spot cleaning
- Use it with newspaper to clean spots off mirrors and windows
What else do you use vinegar for?
- Water & vinegar
I used to only use distilled vinegar and water, using about 50/50. This mixture still worked well, and the smell of vinegar dissipates over time as it dries. My husband, however, often wondered if guests would smell the vinegar and wrinkle their noses at it. I thought this was funny - cleaning with vinegar and water so frequently had got me used to associating the smell with CLEAN. I had to admit that is not the same for everyone!
The lavendar castille soap adds an added element of cleaning that I didn't worry about before. Vinegar cuts grease on its own. The castille soap just adds that little extra "elbow." The added hint of lavendar doesn't hurt either.
- Water, vinegar & tea tree oil
As I mentioned above, the tea tree oil is naturally antimicrobial, which is great when you are cleaning up food messes and milk spills. But the scent is another great benefit! It effectively overpowers the smell of vinegar and though I do still associate the smell of vinegar with cleanliness, the minty scent of tea tree oil is far more convincing.
Cost Benefits and Health Benefits
The cost benefit is immediately obvious. In our household, a bottle of this homemade all-purpose cleaner lasts a little more than a week. This is huge because I use it for everything:
- the toilet
- the bathroom sink
- spills on the carpet (paint, food, juice)
- coffee table
- kitchen table
- kitchen counters
- stains on clothing
Considering the cost of the vinegar is a mere $3, and several online shops sell the Dr. Bronner's soaps in 32 oz containers for about $16 (and I'm only using a tablespoon in this mix) and essential oils are anywhere from $4 - $10, one bottle of cleaner is about $1, maximum. With the ingredients already purchased, I can make several. But every ingredient can be used in different ways around your home!
And then there are the health benefits. I don't worry when I spray the stove and forgot our open container of leftovers is open beside it. The light mist that may have coated it is all edible. I also love that my toddler can help me clean and I'm not afraid it will get on his skin or damage his health! He loves to spray the coffee table at night and help me wipe it down - thanks to a homemade recipe using edible ingredients (in these diluted concentrations, of course), his help is fun and a learning opportunity, rather than the brawl it could be because I don't want him to risk harming himself while trying to help. It's a win-win!
Cathy Rickert on July 03, 2020:
does it have to be rinsed
Christen Roberts (author) from Harrisburg, PA on June 09, 2012:
I use it everyday!
themasterchoice from Bangalore, India on June 09, 2012:
it does work.. useful one..