As my mad scientist skills have improved over the years, I’ve been able to replace many of the store-bought cleaners that I used to buy with homemade cleaning solutions. Here’s a look at what I keep in my cleaning kit these days.
This is the star of the show. I use vinegar to sanitize surfaces, as a degreaser, to descale our coffee maker and humidifiers, to clean our chickens’ eggs, to clean and freshen drains (when paired with baking soda), to clean windows … and the list goes on. I buy vinegar by the gallon because it’s just so useful.
I use baking soda to clean our oven, as scouring powder, to remove silver tarnish, as a deodorizer and as an ingredient in my homemade dishwasher detergent. This is my number two cleaning ingredient. I buy the small boxes for baking, but I keep a big box of baking soda in my cleaning kit.
I use washing soda in my homemade dishwasher detergent and in my homemade laundry detergent. It works as a solvent, breaking down stuck on foods and stains, and it also serves as a water softener, allowing detergents to work better.
I used to use Borax in my dishwasher detergent. Now, I mostly use it as a laundry booster. Just drop a scoop in the wash, and your laundry detergent will do a better job.
A bar of Fels Naptha soap is the main ingredient in my laundry detergent recipe (still a work in progress), and it also works wonders as a stain stick. Just wet the bar, and rub it into the stain.
This is my go-to ingredient when I have a price tag or label to remove, or when I want to remove permanent marker from a yard sale find. I also recently used rubbing alcohol to remove sap from my cookie sheets, after I baked a batch of pine cones (I was making fire starters).
I use hydrogen peroxide to remove blood stains from laundry and to kill mold and mildew in the bathroom. My kids love to watch the chemical reaction that takes place, so they’re more than happy to treat their own clothing stains. Bonus!
I keep a box of Kosher salt in my cleaning kit because it happens to be a fantastic water softener. I use it in my homemade dishwasher detergent, and I’m experimenting with it in the toilet bowl tabs that I’m currently developing.
I use lemon juice in my homemade furniture polish. I also use it as a water softener in my homemade dishwasher detergent.
This is the other ingredient in my homemade furniture polish. Mix together one part lemon juice and two parts olive oil for a polish that smells nice and works well.
Orange, lavender, peppermint I keep a variety of essential oils on hand for use in my homemade cleaners. Some kill bacteria and mold; others tackle hard water stains; still others cut through grease. And they all smell nice.
Have a question about how I use any of these ingredients to clean? Just ask.