Eco power: 7 ingredients to transform your cleaning bills
If you want to save money and use eco friendly cleaning products in your household, try making these easy cleaning products at home, says Cath Armstrong, author of Saving Money is Easy (Harper Collins). “You can save hundreds of dollars a year by making cleaning products at home, and you don't need a whole lot of chemicals, either,” she says.
Why make your cleaning products eco friendly?
Apart from the huge grocery bill saving, natural cleaners made from basic ingredients are far more family-friendly. A dropped teething ring on a floor that's been cleaned with vinegar won't pick up lots of nasty chemicals that then go into your baby’s mouth, for example.
Cath advises you need just seven cheap and cheerful ingredients to start making your own range of cleaning products. “It’s possible to clean your whole house, from top to bottom with just seven everyday household products,” says Cath. “You can even do the family wash by making your own washing powder using just three of them.” These include:
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #1: white vinegar
An acid and mild disinfectant, vinegar is a good general cleaner for glass, benchtops, showerscreens and floors. It’s also a great fabric softener in the washing machine.You can read more about vinegar's cleaning powers here.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #2: bicarbonate soda
This white powder makes a good yet gentle scourer for sinks and baths, and is a key ingredient in Cath’s Cheapskates washing powder. It also cleans and deodorises carpets and acts as a deodoriser in the fridge -- and if you mix it with vinegar, it's perfect for cleaning drains.You can read more about bicarbonate soda's cleaning powers here.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #3: salt
Common table salt can be added to a multitude of ingredients, it acts as a scourer and can also lift stains.Read more about the cleaning power of table salt here.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #4: borax
Used as a stain lifter in Cath's Cheapskates Washing Powder, and is a good creepy crawly repellent. It’s sold at most Binn Inns and Bulk Burns. Remember to keep borax out of reach of children, as it is toxic if swallowed -- just because it's eco friendly doesn't mean it's 100% safe. Read more about the cleaning power of borax here.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #5: washing soda
Known as sodium carbonate, this is a solvent and is often sold in many supermarkets near the laundry detergents. It can be used to clean the oven, stove, along with blitzing burnt pots and pans. Read more about the cleaning power of washing soda here.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #6: soap
This is another washing powder ingredient, and can be used to make dishwashing liquid, stain treatments for clothes, and can also be wiped over walls, doors, light switches, windows and mirrors to give them a clean.
Eco friendly cleaning ingredient #7: Eucalyptus oil
This natural oil is great as a disinfectant, deodoriser and can be used to treat sticky stains. It is toxic to pets and children, though, so use sparingly. Read more about the cleaning power of eucalyptus oil.
Cath Armstrong’s Cheapskate cleaning product recipes:
Extra-strength multi-purpose cleaner
Cost : Around $0.62 for 4 litres
- 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
- 3/4 cup cloudy ammonia
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 4 litres warm water
- 2 drops of food colouring (optional)
Mix all ingredients and store in a bottle out of reach of children. Pour into a spray bottle when needed.
Cost: $0.10 for 250ml
- 1/2 tsp dishwashing detergent
- 3 tbs vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 1 drop of blue food colouring (optional)
Blend well and store in a spray bottle
Cost: $1.88 for 90 washes
- 1 bar of laundry soap
- 1 cup of washing soda
- 1/2 cup of borax
Grate soap. Combine with washing soda and borax and store in a jar. Use 3 teaspoons per load for a top-loading machine and 2 teaspoons per load for a front loader.
Cost: $1.13 for 375ml
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
Pour oil and lemon juice into a jar. Stir to combine. To use, dip a dust cloth or rag into oil, blot the oil by folding the cloth together, and then dust your furniture. Leaves a beautiful finish!
Super-effective weed spray
Cost: $2.40 for 4 litres
- 4 litres white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 tbs dishwashing detergent
Mix well. Spray on weeds to kill them. This is a very effective weed spray, so only spray it on to plants you want to kill. It is excellent for weeding paths, pavers and along the edges of garden beds.
DIY Stain remover
Cost: $0.70 for 600ml
200ml cloudy ammonia
1 tsp eucalyptus oil
Mix cloudy ammonia, shampoo and 200ml water, then add a teaspoon of eucalyptus oil and store in a spray bottle. Shake well before spraying on collars and cuffs.
How much you can expect to spend making your own cleaners?
While making your own cleaning products may be good for your family and the environment, you’ll also save hundreds of dollars a year. “You can buy your Super Seven cleaning kit ingredients for around $25,” says Cath.“That will give you enough cleaning power to clean your home for a year, saving around $200 a year on basic glass, bathroom and floor cleaners.Make your own washing powder and you’ll save another $60 a year.”
Once you’ve bought your super seven cleaning products, and tried out the recipes above, keeping your cleaning cupboard stocked may be quicker than going to the supermarket. “It takes me no more than 10 minutes once a month to make sure my cleaning kit is stocked with everything I need,”says Cath.
While only natural ingredients are used, cleaning products must still be stored in a secure place away from children. “Always label the bottles and containers clearly so you know what’s in them and store them out of reach of curious little people and pets,” says Cath. “Once made up, the powder cleaners last almost indefinitely, as long as they’re stored in air- and water-proof containers.”
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This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidpot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidpsot.co.nz