Hopefully I'm not too mean as I bark orders...ahem...I mean encourage my daughters as we clean together:)
I was motivated by a friend's blog when she talked about how she makes her own laundry detergent. I also make my own and I've been inspired to try my hand at making other home cleaning supplies and personal hygiene items myself. So far I've made laundry detergent, body soap, skin cream and salve,dishwasher detergent, tooth paste (that one still makes me shudder!), glass cleaner, wood polish, stove top degreaser and multipurpose cleaner. Some have worked and some REALLY haven't.
I thought I was doing well with some of my cleaners but when I had the privilege of having someone come in and clean my house for a few weeks I found they were able, through their GREEN cleaning agents, to make my stove look brand new and my granite island sparkle. When I used my cleaning solutions things definitely looked clean but dull. I know! I feel like one of those cleaning commercials but feel it is my moral responsibility to share my discoveries.
Vinegar is not just for salad dressing anymore! I use vinegar for a multitude of cleaning projects. When I used only vinegar and water my tile floors and granite still looked dull, then I had an idea:) I added a little olive oil to the mix and found it sparkled without leaving a greasy film. Adding that little bit of olive oil gave my stove top that NEW STOVE look. And adding a little bit of a citrus essential oil (or lavender or...) helps keep the strong vinegar smell to a minimum. So this cleaner was perfect for all my appliances, tile and granite. (My cost: $.45 Store cost: $6.95)
Oil and Essential Oil: I found putting olive oil and some lemon essential oil in a atomizer (finer mist spray bottle) was just like lemon pledge for dusting. I just spray a little on a paper towel and go to work. It works wonders. (My cost: $.75 Store cost: $4.95)
Glass Cleaner: rubbing alcohol and water makes this a great glass cleaner. Again, I add essential oil (grapefruit maybe??) just because I like that smell:) (My cost $.15
Store cost: $2.95)
All Purpose Cleaner: A mixture of grapefruit seed extract (GSE), borax powder, baking soda, lemon essential oil and liquid castile soap in water...it's amazing! It's a great spot cleaner on my light color carpet, bleaches the blueberry smoothie stains on my cupboards, makes the toilet shine and is perfect for disinfecting all the door knobs and light switches. The grapefruit seed extract was shown in studies to be even more effective than bleach in fighting germs/bacteria. (My cost: $.30 Store cost: 5.95)
Deodorant: I started with a spray version which wasn't powerful enough for full day coverage. Then I tried making a stick deodorant by making a basic salve recipe but adding a little more beeswax to help it hold its shape in the twist up deodorant container. This worked better but not as much in the hot summer months. Finally I added some baking soda for absorption and it works great, summer time too! It's not an antiperspirant, but it at the end of the day we don't stink. (My cost: $1.50, or about 50 cents if I clean and reuse deodorant containers, Store cost (a "green" brand) $4.50)
Dish washing detergent: I tried a few methods with borax and baking soda...too filmy. I tried my multi-purpose cleaner...it worked "ok" but left a residue in my dishwasher, if not on the dishes. I tried just vinegar and it just didn't work. So I've settled for, and been very pleased with, these dishwasher tablets by Method. They work very well. It only serves me to make my own if I can make something as good or better than those other cleaning/hygiene products.
Toothpaste is another one I've had to search for instead of making it myself. I just CAN'T handle the taste of baking soda no matter how much peppermint oil or xylitol I use to help the taste! (BUY THE STORE BRAND! But, if you can stand it, it's only about $.25 per batch as opposed to $4.95 for a "green" brand)
Soap has been easy to make with just a few ingredients and the ability to be gentle enough for cleaning my little sensitive skinned baby or my...uh...manly smelling husband at the end of the day. I learned through a video called Homestead Blessings-The Art of Soap Making which is now available on Netflix. Very simple and very inexpensive. (My Cost: $.50 per bar, Store cost for "homemade" soap $3-$5 per bar)
So what I've learned is:
1. It only saves money if your family will actually USE the homemade version.
2. Some things really are better from the store :)
3. It really is possible to make big contributions to your home
4. It definitely requires an initial investment...learning to buy in bulk makes a big difference.
5. It's fun and a great skill to pass on to my children for their future homes :)