Making My Own Cleaning Products? Help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 05-26-2012, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I am moving in a month and am excited to start fresh. I'm needing advice on natural cleaning products or making your own cleaning products. I don't want to use all of my normal, terrible chemicals around my 2 small kids anymore. I know vinegar is a natural cleaning agent, but I honestly HATE the smell. Is there a way to use it and mask the smell? Also, anyone know about making your own (natural) laundry detergent? Or Dish Soap? Stuff for the dish washer? Stuff to make your house smell clean? Floor cleaner? Antibacterial? I'd love love love to go all out and not have any chemicals in the home. I'm also going to be buying new pots and pans, should I NOT buy the ones with teflon? Someone told me that as long as the teflon isn't scratched it is fine to use them. I will be throwing out all of our plastic stuff too and buying non bpa stuff, any advice on that?


Obviously I am just going to try really hard to seize this opportunity and get rid of harmful chemicals and anything that may create carcinogens etc etc (I know, practically everything in the household can be bad...but I'm starting with the obvious things) Advice would be much appreciated! (Sorry if this is in the wrong area, I wasn't sure where to post it)

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#2 of 6 Old 05-26-2012, 06:01 PM
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Vinegar is great for everything. I put about 12 oz vinegar, 12 oz water and then about 7 or so drops of mint oil to make it smell better. I use it to clean everything. For my wood, I combine straight vinegar with just a bit of olive oil and a few drops of mint. I wear a glove with the mint oil. I use regular dawn dish detergent with no antibacterial crap in it. I put a few drops of mint in a pot on the stove and diffuse the oil mixed in canola oil around the house. Sometimes, I will take cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, sprinkle in a pot of water and boil that to make the house smell nice.
I still use cascade for dishes.

I only use stainless steel (which now some say that isn't great either) and cast iron for cooking/baking. Watch out for ceramics with a glaze. Some are great, and others aren't. I am not a teflon fan at all. I replaced my cookie sheets. But here's the thing... lately I feel like there is no perfect solution. For example, I bought a cast iron skillet, and it turns out it was made in China and has a nasty coating on it. So now I have a lodge skillet and I am hoping that this one is good. It's supposed to be. I replaced my teflon covered cookie sheets with stainless, and now they are saying that stainless isn't as good as they originally thought. So I guess finding a balance is an art in itself. I get on information overload sometimes. LOL! I say pick one thing at a time and just keep adding things on as you can.

Mom to: Honey (6/04) and Bunny (9/09)
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#3 of 6 Old 05-27-2012, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Mkksmom thank you for your suggestions! I really appreciate it. I SO know what you mean about information overload. I have started to create my own little notebook to keep track of all of the information I come across. I'll share it here. And I know some of these things are controversial...but most are really great ideas and I'm excited to implement them in our new home. We're going all out with it will be interesting with no TV or microwave. We'll have to see how it goes. 



General Information
Fluoride is a metabolic poison and will actually damage your teeth. There is enough fluoride in a tube of toothpaste to kill a small child.
Get Rid of Toxic Plastics
Most plastics leach potential carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals that can screw up your endocrine system. The worst offenders are polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC), polystyrene (PS, a.k.a. Styrofoam, when extruded), and polycarbonate (PC). Steer clear of  these in cooking-oil bottles, cling wrap, microwaveable ovenware, Styrofoam containers, hard-plastic drinking bottles, and in the plastic liners of almost all food and soft-drink cans. Avoid them by opting for glass or cardboard packaging, storing your food in glass or ceramic containers, seeking out cardboard to-go packaging, rinsing all canned food thoroughly, and switching to stainless steel drinking bottles and non-plastic microwaveable containers. NEVER microwave food in plastic. 
So, if you get rid of your TV (or drastically reduce your viewing), what are you going to do with all of your reclaimed time?
The short answer is: you can do whatever you want. You can create something. You can exercise. You can focus on your relationships. You can contribute to other people in meaningful ways.
It’s liberating to not have a TV. Television sucks so much life out of our lives. It takes our money, our time, our attention, our awareness, our freedom, our relationships, and our creativity. And in return it gives us a little entertainment, it pacifies us for the moment. For many of us it’s our drug of choice.
Stop Using Bleached Products
Check this out, people: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that chlorine byproducts (known as dioxins) are 300,000 more times as carcinogenic as the scary chemical pesticide DDT. If you think about that statistic, cutting out bleached products like chlorinated paper towels, toilet paper, and bleached coffee filters is a no-brainer. Look for chlorine-free (or PCF) paper products, including toilet paper, as well as oxygen-bleached coffee filters, as they are bleached with chlorine dioxide (and don’t create nasty dioxin residues). 
Give Up Antibacterial Soaps
“Antibacterial” may seem like a good choice for a hand or dish soap, but triclosan (the antibacterial component) can cause big problems. First, it kills all bacteria — the bad and the good. It can also create antibiotic resistance, meaning that certain bacteria can grow immune to it over time. And when triclosans mixed with chlorinated tap water, the combination can create chloroform, a carcinogenic gas. The good news? You can avoid these poison problems by using only natural hand and dish soaps that are formulated WITHOUT triclosan, chlorine, or phosphates. Switch to Seventh Generation, Ecover, or Mrs. Meyer’s. 
Radon This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is emitted by decayed rocks and soil and can enter homes through small openings, such as cracks in the basement floor. Frightening find: It's the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country — and the EPA estimates that one in 15 U.S. homes contain a high level of the gas. If you haven't already, get your home tested (visit
Lose the vinyl shower curtain. Most shower curtains (including all liners) are polyvinyl chloride/PVC-based, which release chemical odors and gases into your house almost the second they are taken out of their packaging. They can continue to release these gases for years. A simple solution is to take a cue from hotel chains: Go nylon. These simple, white nylon shower curtains do not need a liner and are easy to clean–just unhook and throw into the washing machine.
No shoes in the house (as most household dirt, pesticides and lead come in on your shoes). Go barefoot or wear slippers. 
Use green plants as natural air detoxifiers. Remove odors with baking soda. Use fresh flowers or bowls of herbs like rosemary and sage to add a pleasant fragrance to rooms. Have your air ducts and vents cleaned with nontoxic cleaners. Get a portable air cleaner/purifier, especially for the bedrooms.
Use plastics wisely (as some contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to cancer and Phtalates, which are linked to endocrine and developmental problems). Avoid plastic food packaging (when you can). Don't wrap food in plastic. Don't microwave food in plastic containers. Choose baby bottles made from glass or BPA-free plastic. Avoid vinyl teethers for your baby. Stay away from children's toys marked with a "3" or "PVC." Avoid plastic shower curtains. 
Get a shower filter (as many of the contaminants in tap water become gases at room temperature). A shower filter can help keep these toxins from becoming airborne.
Get a water filter (as more than 700 chemicals have been identified in drinking water). Filtering your tap water is better than drinking bottled water.Get a water filter (as more than 700 chemicals have been identified in drinking water). Filtering your tap water is better than drinking bottled water.
Use low VOC, low odor latex (water based) paint. Open all windows to ventilate properly when painting indoors.
The receipts printed in the supermarkets and other businesses are printed on paper with a coating that is loaded with BPH. Handle it as little as possible. 
Organic coconut oil is great to cook with and makes a great skin moisturizer, relieves itchy skin, reduces inflammation, and is a good hair conditioner (use separate containers for the kitchen and bath). 
Many nurseries carry lady bugs in the spring. They are an inexpensive alternative to insecticides as they eat many garden pests. 
Check your burners: If flames are yellow-tipped, that may mean your stove is releasing too much CO. If you see yellow consistently, call your manufacturer to find out if your burners should be readjusted.
Milk of Magnesia (MoM).
Yes, you can spray some unflavored liquid MoM under your arms and it will dry to a powder form and works great as a deodorant. It can be used as a face and body wash with excellent antifungal and antiseptic properties. It is known to relieve dandruff and acne better than most other products. As an example, original Phillips Milk of Magnesia, widely available, can be left on the skin for five minutes or so, and produce positive results for a host of skin problems. Generics are even cheaper. Stick with unflavored to avoid junk additives. Just pour the liquid into a spray bottle, shake before using, and you are good to go. Absorption increases body stores of magnesium, an essential mineral in short supply for many people.
Fake fragrances (aka fakegrances) found in air fresheners, scented candles, perfumes, laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning products, dry cleaning, carpet cleaners -- all of which are loaded with phthalates, which likely contribute to early puberty in girls and low sperm counts in men.
Avoid non stick pans, pots, bakeware and utensils (as Teflon contains perfluorinated chemicals (PFC's) which have been linked to cancer and developmental problems).
Use Cellulose Sponges
Most household sponges are made of polyester or plastic which are slow to break down in landfills, and many are treated with triclosan, a chemical that can produce chloroform (a suspected carcinogen) when it interacts with the chlorine found in tap water. Instead try cellulose sponges, available at natural foods stores, which are biodegradable and will soak up spills faster since they're naturally more absorbent. For general household cleaning, try Skoy Eco-Cleaning Cloths. These cleaning cloths are non-toxic, extremely absorbent (15x paper towels), reusable, and biodegradable.
Exchange Indoor Air
Many modern homes are so tight there's little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any installed exhaust fans. In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide - windows and doors, and let fresh air in quickly for about 5 minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as 'heat sinks', and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained.
Grocery List
Baking Soda: A truly multitasking cleaner, baking soda is a perfect substitute for cleaning powders that scour sinks and tubs without scratching. It’s also great for wiping down and deodorizing the fridge. Combined with an equal amount of vinegar, baking soda can freshen drains and prevent them from clogging.
Borax: Combining equal amounts of white vinegar and borax will banish mold and mildew from hard surfaces. This natural mineral can also clean your toilet. Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few hours before scrubbing to eliminate stains and odor
Distilled White Vinegar: This pantry staple cuts grease, eats away lime deposits and destroys odors. Because of its neutralizing properties, white vinegar is also good for washing windows, sanitizing kitchen counters and shining bathroom fixtures. Simply dilute 1 part vinegar in 4 parts water. A natural antibacterial because of its high acid content, vinegar is an effective alternative to caustic cleaners on toilets and floors.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Typically found in the medicine cabinet, this disinfectant can also be used as an effective bleach alternative in the laundry room. Because it’s also a powerful oxidizing agent, it works especially well on food, soil, plant, blood and other organic stains. Just make sure to spot test in a discreet area because, like bleach, hydrogen peroxide may lighten fabrics. For each average-size load of whites, add 8 ounces of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide after you have filled the washer with hot water.
Salt: Perfect for cleaning grungy ovens, this natural abrasive is also great for soaking up fresh carpet stains such as red wine, coffee or ink. Pour salt on the wet stain. Let dry, then vacuum.
Vegetable Oil (Castile) Soap: This natural soap is great for floors and all-purpose cleaning when combined with vinegar, borax or even warm water. For an all-purpose cleaner, add 1⁄2 teaspoon of soap to either 2 cups of water or to the “All-Purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant” recipe below. For floors, combine 2 teaspoons of soap with 3 gallons of water. Make sure to rinse well to remove any dulling residue.
Washing Soda: This old-fashioned laundry booster cuts through tough grease on grills, broiler pans and ovens. Because washing soda is a strong alkaline, it’s perfect for tackling dirty linoleum floors. But because it’s caustic and strong enough to strip wax and peel paint, wear gloves when using—and use sparingly. Adding just 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of washing soda to 32 ounces of hot water will tackle the toughest grease.
Lemons: Lemon’s citric acid content cuts stubborn grease and makes your home smell fresh. Lemon juice is also a natural bleach, especially when combined with the sun. Freshen cutting boards by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface. This is especially effective for banishing fish odors. Undiluted lemon juice can also be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. 
Laundry Soap
For the bar soaps required in the recipes, you could try Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Avoid using heavily perfumed soaps.
Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry and cleaning aisles.
You can make huge pails of this at once, or smaller quantities. Also if you can get your hands on a few empty liquid detergent bottles, they work great for storing large batches. Just make a big batch and pour in bottles, cap then use as needed–shake before use.
Optional: You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover. Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil
Also, adding vinegar to the fabric softener cup on the washer will help to keep things more sanitary by breaking up leftover wash residues. I put 1/2 cup white vinegar in my downy ball and use for fab. softener.
1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
    Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until melted.
    Pour the soapy water mixture into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
    Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
    Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).
Automatic Dishwashing Powder: (all ingredients can be found at Wal-Mart in the laundry detergent aisle!)
    1 c. washing soda
    1/2 c. borax
    1/2 c. baking soda
Combine ingredients and store in mason jar under the sink. Use 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons for each dishwasher load, depending on mineral content of water. Use 1/2 cup white vinegar as a rinsing agent.
LemiShine is a product that's supposed to remove hard water build up in your dishwasher. Here's a link so you can see what the bottle looks like. It's usually in the same aisle as dishwasher detergent and rinse aids.
I wonder if the water temperature could be related to the problems some folks are reporting. When my kids were young, we lowered the temp on our hot water tank to reduce the risk of scalding and save energy...and had similar problems with the dishwasher and the washing machine. If you don't have a dishwasher that boosts the hot water temp, check the water temp setting on the hot water heater. The temp should be 120 or 140, depending on the source, for the dishwasher to begin the cleaning process, 140 to remove food soiling, and 155 to sanitize and remove bacteria. (In restaurants they boost the dishwasher temperature to 180 degrees to satisfy health requirements.)
My hubby added a bit of TSP to ours.. (available at building supply stores like Home Depot and ACE.. it is the Tri-sodium Phosphate to cut grease.. Cheap.. a Tablespoon in 2 qts of detergent.
Dishwasher Rinse
1 1/2 white vinegar added to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher 
Dishwashing Liquid:
2-3 c. diluted Castile soap
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lemon oil
10 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional)
Combine liquid Castile soap with water in whatever ratio you prefer (60-75% soap works well, depending on the mineral content of the water). Add tea tree oil and lemon oil. If desired, add grapefruit seed extract for increased disinfecting properties.
Microwave Cleaner
Mix 2T baking soda or lemon juice and 1 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for five minutes or until the liquid boils and condensation builds up inside the microwave. Wipe down.
Wood Floor Cleaner
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Mix well
1/4 cup Borax
1/2 gallon water
1 part bleach
9 parts water 
Oven Cleaner
Sprinkle salt on spills immediately
Baking soda
Steel wool
Clean grease with rag and vinegar. Sprinkle salt on spills. Let it set for a few minutes, then scrape the spill and wash the area clean. For stubborn spots, use baking soda and steel wool.
Drain Cleaner
1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
Pour baking soda, then vinegar down drain. Close drain until bubbling stops. Pour boiling water. If the clog remains, use a plunger or snake. If all else fails, take the elbow off the pipe.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Use undiluted white vinegar to scrub the inside of the toilet bowl. Before you begin, dump a bucket of water into the toilet to force water out of the bowl and allow access to the sides. Pour undiluted white vinegar around the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush to remove stains and odor. Use a pumice stone to remove any remaining hard water rings. Flush. 1 cup baking soda 2 cups vinegar. Put the vinegar in first and add baking soda. Foam will clean everything.
Kitchen Sink
Sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge.
For tougher grime, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to the tub or sink, and allow to stand for 10 to 20 minutes. Dirt, soap scum and deposits soften and are easier to remove.
Glass Cleaner 
Mix in a sprayer bottle:
    1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
    1 cup water
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
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#4 of 6 Old 05-28-2012, 09:07 AM
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Many people dislike the use of chemicals found in sprays that remove offensive odors. Air-ReNu a paint additive is a proprietary blend of naturally occurring polymer matrix materials that are inorganic, natural, non-toxic and environmentally safe. These matrix materials are ground into a powder and mixed with paint then applied to the interior walls of your home or business. Air-ReNu produces a continuous flow of healthful negative ions and IFR's, detoxifying the air while removing offensive odors. Air-ReNu only has to be applied one time, works 24/7/365

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#5 of 6 Old 05-28-2012, 09:55 AM
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Good suggestions! I just wanted to pop in and offer some advice about cleaning with vinegar. 


On a blog (can't remember where), I saw that someone would soak their citrus rinds/peels in vinegar to help get rid of the vinegar smell. We eat a ton of oranges here, so I started saving our peels and sticking them in a mason jar and keep them covered with vinegar. After a few days, the vinegar really stops smelling like vinegar and instead, smells like citrus. Maybe you can try something similar to help mask the smell?

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#6 of 6 Old 05-31-2012, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by willfulmama View Post

Good suggestions! I just wanted to pop in and offer some advice about cleaning with vinegar. 


On a blog (can't remember where), I saw that someone would soak their citrus rinds/peels in vinegar to help get rid of the vinegar smell. We eat a ton of oranges here, so I started saving our peels and sticking them in a mason jar and keep them covered with vinegar. After a few days, the vinegar really stops smelling like vinegar and instead, smells like citrus. Maybe you can try something similar to help mask the smell?

You have changed my life! DH hates the smell of vinegar so I have never used it to clean. DH had a pee everywhere adopted dog as a kid and mil used vinegar and baking soda to clean the carpet after the dog (afghan hound so lots of pee!) relieved himself on the carpet. He relates the smell of vinegar to dog urine.

willfulmama, THANK YOU!

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