Commercial cleaning products are wasting your grocery money. They usually contain harsh chemicals, and often make some pretty dodgy claims. Not to mention they can be tested on animals! 😦 You can clean your whole house with only 3 natural, low cost ingredients to save money and keep things simple.
1) Dishwashing liquid
Dishwashing liquid is a mild detergent that is close to a pH of 7 (neutral). This is because it’s designed to be safe to come in contact with skin. Because it is mild, it can be safely used to clean most surfaces.
2) Washing soda
Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is an alkaline powder with a pH of about 10.5. It’s non-toxic and even used in food manufacturing.
3) Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus oil smells great and is a versatile solvent.
Although it is natural, eucalyptus oil is toxic if ingested, even in small doses, and should not be used directly on the skin of young children or pregnant women. Use sparingly and carefully.
What about vinegar and bicarb soda?
Bicarb soda (sodium bicarbonate) is also known as baking soda, but it’s not the same as baking powder which also contains other ingredients. It’s a bit like a milder version of washing soda (pH of 9, so less alkaline). It’s fine to clean with. I just rarely use it because it’s more expensive than washing soda, and it’s less effective.
Vinegar (active ingredient is acetic acid) is often touted as a multipurpose, natural cleaner. But being acidic (about pH 2 to 3) it is only useful for removing alkaline deposits (like white mineral deposits in the kettle). Vinegar also contains no surfactants, making it useless in cleaning oil or grease.
I find dishwashing liquid to be much more effective, versatile, safe for delicate and alkaline surfaces and much cheaper, as you only need a very small amount.
It also doesn’t smell bad or sting the cuts on your hands like vinegar does.
Mixing vinegar and bicarb soda together does not make an effective cleaner.
This is a MYTH!
Mixing vinegar (acetic acid solution) and bicarb soda (sodium bicarbonate) or washing soda (sodium carbonate) gives you water, sodium acetate, carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and some leftover vinegar or bicarb soda/washing soda depending on the ratio used.
A sodium acetate solution is not an effective cleaner.
Multipurpose Spray Cleaner
Add 1/2 tsp of dishwashing liquid to a spray bottle and fill with plain water. Spray lightly and wipe with a dry or damp cloth. Great for kitchen benches, tables, sinks, tiles, or really anywhere you can think of (that can be cleaned with a wet cleaner).
Heavy-duty Spray Cleaner
This is based on the “miracle cleaner” recipe on the back of the packet of washing soda. I leave out the vinegar (see above paragraph on vinegar) and have formulated the recipe for 1 Litre of water. This fills 2 sprayer bottles with a bit of room for the foaming that happens when you pour it in.
It’s great for the shower and bathtub, the stove and oven, and anywhere where the multipurpose spray isn’t strong enough.
– 1 Litre (4 cups) boiling water
– 30 g (1 1/2 metric tbsp) washing soda
– 30 mL (1 1/2 metric tbsp) dishwashing liquid
– 10 mL (2 tsp) eucalyptus oil
1) Add the first 2 ingredients, stir to dissolve and allow to cool.
2) Add remaining ingredients, stir gently and pour into 2 sprayer bottles.
Normal toilet cleaner is just a plain detergent with coloring and fragrance. You don’t need special antibacterial or bleach-containing toilet cleaner. It’s not like your toilet will actually be free of germs after using it.
Dishwashing liquid works just as well. Use like normal toilet either on its own or with a few drops of eucalyptus oil to make the toilet smell nice.
For hygiene purposes, keep a dedicated bottle of dishwashing liquid aside just for cleaning the toilet. You can decant it into an old toilet cleaner bottle if you prefer. Dishwashing liquid is generally cheaper than toilet cleaner (otherwise, just use normal toilet cleaner).
Paste Cleaner Alternative
Sprinkle washing soda over the area and scrub with a damp cloth or brush. Good for scum buildup in bathtubs and laundry sinks, or burnt on food in ovens.
Add 1 tbsp of eucalyptus oil per load of laundry to get rid of bad smells from clothes. Add either during the wash cycle, or in the rinse cycle for more retained fragrance.
Many Types of Stains
For greasy stains, saturate with heavy-duty spray cleaner or dishwashing liquid and then soak in the hottest water the fabric can tolerate. Leave overnight. Wash as normal.
For makeup, paints, glues, chewing gum etc scrape away as much as possible then cover the stain with eucalyptus oil. Gently blot as the stain lifts so it doesn’t spread. Repeat, adding more eucalyptus oil. When no more colour or residue is coming away, wash as normal in cold water.
For blood, tomato, tea, coffee and ink try a thin paste of washing soda. Leave the paste on overnight and then wash as normal in cold water.
Bad stains may need these processes repeated (wait until clothing has dried). Drying in the sun also helps to fade the stain. Do not tumble dry or iron until stain has completely gone.
Try to get any stained clothing into cool water immediately after the stain happens. Patch test if unsure of fabric suitability.
For dirty work clothes add 2 heaping tbsp to the machine with normal detergent. Start the wash cycle until the machine starts to agitate then turn the machine off. Let it soak for a while (ideally overnight) and then wash as normal.
Inside: spray lightly with multipurpose spray then buff with dry, lint free cloth.
Outside: add a tiny squirt of dishwashing liquid to half a bucket of hot water. Scrub with a sponge or cloth, scrape with a squeegee, then buff with a dry, lint-free cloth.
Add a tiny squirt of dishwashing liquid to a bucket of hot water. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil if desired for fragrance. Don’t use on any type of unsealed floor (it’s fine for stone and pavers though).
Not exactly a cleaner, but it makes things smell clean. Add about 1tbsp of eucalyptus oil to a small sprayer bottle and fill the rest up with water. Shake before each use. Great in the toilet, but also nice to freshen up the bedding.
Dishwasher Tablets/Powder Alternative
If you’ve run out of your normal dishwasher tablets or powder fill the detergent dispenser in your dishwasher with washing soda. Sodium carbonate is used to make dishwasher tablets and powder so it’s perfectly safe.
I’ve also found adding just 1 tiny drop of dishwashing liquid directly into the machine makes it more effective. Do NOT add too much or the dishwasher will just foam up and the water won’t circulate. (Not to mention potential damage to your dishwasher.)
It’s not quite as good as normal dishwasher powder so you might want to do a pre-rinse cycle for really dirty dishes.
Dishwashing Liquid Alternative
Okay, so this sounds strange considering I’ve been talking about all the other uses for dishwashing liquid. But if you run out and need to hand wash some dishes, try washing soda. A heaped teaspoon in a sink of very hot water works quite well (use gloves).
Laundry Powder/Liquid Alternative
If you’ve run out of laundry powder/liquid, use 1 tbsp each of dishwashing liquid and washing soda for a normal load and 1 1/2 tbsp of each for a heavy or dirty load. This works very well for everyday clothes.
… Okay, so that’s almost how to clean your whole house.
Everyone has dishwashing liquid, but I find that not a lot of people use washing soda. Do you currently use washing soda? What for? I always like experimenting, so let me know if you have any good uses for it.