Homemade Cleaning Supplies

contributed by Alisa

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After moving myself into a typical overpriced apartment in NYC, I realized that at $5 a bottle, cleaning supplies were not in my budget. When I added up the toilet cleaner, kitchen cleaner, window cleaner, carpet cleaner, etc., it seemed the average clean household required close to $150 worth of chemical supplies at all times.

While searching for healthier (and cheaper) homemade cleaning supplies, I stumbled upon the motherload of savvy saver information. If you look at labels, the best cleaners all use vinegar or baking soda, plus a wealth of chemical additives and dyes. Here's one case where generic is just as good as any brand name.

Always buy white vinegar. I know the smell would stop most people, but it does go away on any hard surface in less than ten minutes.

All Purpose Cleaner: You'll need a large spray bottle, a half cup of baking soda, and enough water to dissolve. To this, slowly add a cup of vinegar (it will fizz like mad for a bit), then top off with more water. Let this mixture sit overnight, and then flip end over end to mix. Be prepared for more fizzing. When fizzing ends, it's ready to use.

All Purpose Cleaner that Cuts Grease: Use the same recipe as above, but add a teaspoon of dish detergent. Organic detergent was my one splurge. After all, you are spraying this into the air.

Window Cleaner: Mix warm water, one cup of vinegar, and two capfuls of ammonia. Be careful and try not to inhale too much. This mixture should be kept away from children.

Toilet Cleaner: Pour two cups of baking soda into toilet bowl, scrub the inside, and flush. Now, pour two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl, swish around the inside, and flush. Do not do this if you have a clog, as you will quickly have a reenactment of Old Faithful in the toilet. However, regular application will keep your drains sparklingly clean.

Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer: Sprinkle baking soda over carpet and let it sit. You'll get better results if you let it sit for an extended period of time. It's okay to walk on it and grind it into the carpet. Then vacuum thoroughly.

Stainless Steel and Fixtures: To clean, use vinegar and cheesecloth.

Furniture Polish: In a small bottle, preferably foaming variety, add two parts lemon juice to one part olive oil (plain). To scent your furniture, add some essential oils to this. Keep the mixture in the refrigerator and discard in under a month. This does not last long.

Tile Cleaner: Mix equal parts baking soda and warm water, scrub into tiles, and then clean with all purpose solution.

The best part of all these remedies is that for under $20 a year, you can have a clean, chemical free home. The ingredients are cheap enough that you can toss them if they get old.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by MyStory@stretcher.com

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  • Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.

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