Look out your window. To those with snow on the ground, I’m so sorry. And to those with the AC pumping because temps are already reaching near triple digits, I’m also sorry. Global warming is a real bummer, man.
Despite what your weather app might tell you, it’s officially spring. You know, the season synonymous with allergies, bunnies, blooms, and cleaning. Maybe it’s that Aries fire energy at play, but no matter what the temperature it seems this time of year is when people are ready to get down and dirty and go all in on a deep home cleaning.
But if it’s been a while since you mopped all the floors, scrubbed the tile grout in the bathroom, and washed the windows, you’ll likely be low on supplies.
Instead of shelling out cash for products that contain potentially toxic, noxious, allergenic ingredients (ew!), make your own at home for a fraction of the price using ingredients that are totally safe for you, your family, and even your furry friends.
In addition to being non-toxic, cleaning products you make at home can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. Think about it — every product you purchase usually comes wrapped in plastic, with a plastic seal, in a plastic container. And those disposable, single-use cleaning products like Clorox wipes or even paper towels are definitely convenient, but end up directly in landfills. Contributing to the ever-growing trash island? Not a good look. Switch over to the homemade stuff; not only are these products just as efficacious as their conventional counterparts, you can use old rags, towels, or compostable sponges to clean.
Honestly, the best part about making your own products? You need under 10 ingredients on hand at all times to make pretty much any home cleaning product. In fact, you probably have most of the ingredients at home already.
Here are the basic, MVP ingredients you’ll need:
Distilled white vinegar —
It’s got that bitter smell, but vinegar is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral ingredient. It also cuts through grease in the kitchen and acts as a stain remover for fabrics. (Just don’t use vinegar on granite or marble, because it can damage porous surfaces.)
Because you definitely need martinis if you’re going to clean your house. Kidding! Vodka is an antibacterial with an extremely high alcohol content — as your college-aged self likely remembers — which makes it an excellent candidate to kill mold, mildew, and germs. Plus, it dries without a scent, so you won’t need to worry about your home smelling like a frat house. No need to buy the nice stuff, bottom shelf vodka works just as nice.
Essential oils —
Eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, lemon, clove, and cinnamon essential oils are all natural germ killers. Plus they smell amazing — add them to your formulas and you’re basically giving yourself a mini-aromatherapy session.
Castile soap —
You’ve likely used Dr. Bronner’s castile soap before, and, lucky for us, it’s a key ingredient for a lot of DIY cleaning products as it’s both vegetable-based and organic. It’s safe for animals, humans, and, for you overachievers out there, greywater systems, too.
So, now that you’ve got your ingredients, it’s time to get mixing! These five recipes are a great place to start:
ANTIBACTERIAL ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER
½ cup White Vinegar
2 cups Water
15 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
8 drops Lemon Essential Oil
So simple! Mix all the ingredients together in a spray bottle. Use for countertops, bathroom surfaces, and household spills.
KITCHEN FLOOR CLEANER
6 ounces Distilled Water
6 ounces White Vinegar
6 ounces Vodka
10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5 drops Eucalyptus Oil
Combine all the ingredients together in a one-gallon mason jar. Use freely on tile, vinyl, and hardwood floors.
FRUIT AND VEGGIE WASH
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ cup Lemon Juice
½ cup Water
Add to a spray bottle and spritz your organic goods with the wash. Rinse with cool water to clean.
CITRUS AND TEA TREE SANITIZING FABRIC SPRAY
8 ounces Water
4 ounces Vodka
2 drops Orange Essential Oil
4 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
Refresh your pillows, blankets, furniture, and all the spring and summer clothes you’re bringing up out of storage. Add all the ingredients to a spray bottle, shake to combine, and spray liberally on items to add a subtle, clean scent and to sanitize fabrics.
LAVENDER-ORANGE LIQUID LAUNDRY SOAP
½ cup Castile Liquid Soap
64 ounces Hot Water
¼ cup Borax
¼ cup Baking Soda
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
10 drops Orange Essential Oil
In a small bowl, mix together the castile soap, water, borax, and baking soda until the powders are dissolved. Then add the essential oils and stir until combined. Pour the hot water into a gallon-sized mason jar and add the soap mixture. Seal the jar, then shake lightly to combine.
Michelle Pellizzon is a creative consultant based in Los Angeles. A former professional dancer-turned-startup employee, she’s led a strange but wonderful creative life. Follow along for her latest projects and mishaps at @betterbymichelle.