28 September 2011

Green cleaning recipes - version 2

I did a post on green cleaning recipes in 2007 and over the years since then I've changed some of the things I do with my cleaning and altered some of the recipes. I give out those recipe in several of my workshops and every time I cut and paste them I tell myself to do a new post. It's time to review, edit and add a new green cleaning post.

You should be able to buy the ingredients for all these cleaners at your local supermarket. Please note that washing soda is different to baking soda. Sometimes there are two types of washing soda on sale - washing soda crystals and washing soda powder, buy the powder, it's easier to dissolve.

When you add your cleaner to a bottle, make sure you mark all the bottle with the name of the cleaner. If you reuse a bottle that previously contained other cleansers, make sure the bottle is completely clean and marked before you fill it with your homemade cleanser.

It’s a great organisational tool and safety measure to keep a record of all the cleaners you use. If you ever have an accident with the cleaners, or one of the kids swallows some, you’ll need to tell the doctor what the ingredients are so I recommend you keep these cleaning recipes together in a Homemaker’s Journal. You can also keep food recipes in it as well seed catalogues, garden plans, patterns and other bits and pieces that are helpful in your home. I have made a Homemaker's Journal using an old a three-ringed binder. That way I can add and remove pages when necessary. There is a  post here about making a journal.


Makes 10 litres
You may add any essential oil of your choice to these homemade cleaners. Oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender or rose are ideal but are not an essential ingredient. They are not necessary to the recipe but do not detract from the effectiveness by adding them.

  • 1½ litres water
  • 1 bar Sunlight or generic laundry soap or any similar pure laundry soap, grated on a cheese grater OR 1 cup of Lux flakes
  • ½ cup washing soda – NOT baking or bicarb soda
  • ½ cup borax
  • Saucepan
  • 10 litre bucket
  • Slotted spoon or wooden spoon for mixing

Above you can see the process. The ingredients are measured into a saucepan containing one litre/quart of water. Add one cup of soap flakes, half a cup of borax and half a cup of washing soda. Turn on the heat and stir. Bring the mix to the boil, stirring as it heats, and by the time the mixture is boiling, ALL the ingredients should be dissolved.

So, you've nearly finished and it's only taken less than ten minutes so far. When you're sure the ingredients are completely dissolved, pour the mixture into your bucket then fill to the top with water from the hot tap and stir it together thoroughly. You've made laundry liquid. And it's cost you about $2 Australian. Ten litres of laundry liquid at an Australian supermarket costs about $80! When you take into account the making, pouring and storing, it's taken you about 30 minutes. I make this about once every four months. If you have a large family, you might make it every two months. And it will save you about $80 every time you make it. How long would you have to work to make $80? Saving it is much easier.

Once you have the laundry liquid in your bucket, stir it around again, then start filling your containers. It's important to leave enough room in the containers to shake the liquid before you use it because it will separate. As you can see, I store my laundry liquid in a five litre blue container, a three litre glass jar, a one litre glass jar and a 750 ml bottle. I use the bottled laundry liquid for cleaning. It's great as a stain remover, for cleaning up spills, for cleaning around light switches, door handles, walls and floors. I use that little blue scoop to put the liquid into my front loader washing machine and I always use the one litre jar as my working jar. When it's empty, I refill it from the larger containers.

Above is the laundry liquid after it's been sitting for 24 hours. It's clearly separated into layers - the top layer is gel-like, the bottom layer is watery. You need that space in your container to shake and mix before you use it.

And here is my cleaning liquid that I shook just to show you what it looks like. So don't think you've done anything wrong if your mixture separates, it's fine, it just needs a good shake. This is safe in septic tanks but not for grey water. The borax in the mix builds up as boron in the garden and that is harmful to plants. If you want to use your grey water, don't add the borax.

Sometimes you don't have time to make up the liquid, so here is the powder version:
  • 4 cups grated laundry or homemade soap or soap flakes (Lux)
  • 2 cups borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash. Again, this powder will not make suds and again, it's perfectly okay.

For use on worker’s greasy or dirty overalls, football and sports uniforms or fabric that has food spills.
  • 2 cups grated Napisan or Sard soap or 2 cups of oxybleach powder (Napisan or the generic equivilent)
  • 2 cups grated laundry or homemade soap
  • 2 cups borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use two tablespoons per wash. The powder will not make suds. For a very heavily stained load of washing or tradesperson’s clothes, if you have a top loader let it fill with water and start working, then turn the machine off when the powder is dissolved. In a front loader, operate the machine to dissolve the powder and then stop the machine for an hour to soak the clothes. Leave to soak for an hour, or overnight, and then turn the machine on and continue washing as normal.

½ cup laundry liquid, rubbed into the stain, will remove many stains. Rub the liquid in with your finger tips, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash as normal.

½ cup white vinegar in final rinse

Bicarb soda (baking soda) is a good for soiled nappies. Dissolve ¼ cup of bicarb soda in a bucket of warm water, soak for at least an hour or overnight, then wash the nappies in hot water with homemade laundry liquid. Add ½ cup of vinegar to the final rinse and let them dry in the sun.

Nellymary has a post on making citrus vinegar which is a good old fashioned general cleaner. Her post is here. You can make a similar cleaner using lavender leaves and flowers or, for the Australians, lemon myrtle leaves.

½ cup washing soda
2 litres warm water
Mix together and store in a sealed container that is marked with the name. Can be used as a floor cleaner – tiles, laminate or vinyl or for general cleaning of walls, counter tops or sinks.

This method works by a chemical reaction between aluminium, salt and bicarb soda. Put the plug in the kitchen sink. Lay a piece of aluminium foil on the base of the sink and add your silverware. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the silver.
Add one teaspoon of bicarb soda and one teaspoon of salt to the water. Let it sit for about ten minutes. The tarnish will disappear without you touching it. Rinse and dry.

CREAMY SOFT SCRUBBER - a good bath cleaner
Simply pour about ½ cup of bicarb into a bowl, and add enough laundry liquid to make a texture like thick custard. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and start scrubbing. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bath and shower because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.
Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

¼ - ½ teaspoon liquid or grated soap
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
spray bottle
Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

Vinegar and newspapers
Pour a little vinegar onto a sheet of newspaper and wipe windows. Remove all the grime and polish the window with a clean sheet of newspaper.

½ teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wooden surfaces. Seal in the glass jar and store indefinitely.

FLOOR CLEANER – tiles, vinyl or laminate
½ cup white vinegar plus 2 litres hot water in a bucket and a clean mop will clean up all but the worst floor. If you have a really dirty floor to deal with, add a squirt of homemade laundry liquid to this mix.

WOODEN FLOOR CLEANER - Ammonia will strip floor wax (one cup to a bucket of hot water)
2 tablespoons homemade vegetable soap - grated
½ cup vinegar
500 mls strong black tea
bucket warm water
Combine all the ingredients in the bucket and wash with a mop.

A clean mop is a necessity when cleaning floors. If you start with a dirty mop you’ll just loosen the dirt on the mop by making it wet again and then spread that on the floor. When you finished your cleaning jobs, rinse the mop out to get rid of the loose dirt, rinse the squeeze as much water out as you can, then dry the mop in the sun.

Instead of buying cleaning rags or Chux, recycle your old towels and flannelette sheets. If you've kept your towels going for as long as you can, or you find a rip in a sheet that's already been mended a few times, cut them up and use them as cleaning rags. After all that wear, they'll be soft and absorbent, and just the thing to help you clean your home. If you're cutting up a fitted sheet, use the old elastic in the garden to tie up your tomatoes.

Add a few drops of water to some bicarb and make a thick paste. Wipe over the crayon marks and scrub off with a terry cloth.

¼ cup cooking salt or any natural salt.
¼ cup bicarb soda
Make up ½ cup at a time and store it in a sealed jar. Just sprinkle some of the powder onto your toothbrush and clean your teeth in the normal way. This powder is bitter and takes a little while to get used to but it works well. You could add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to mask the taste.

This works very well. Say goodbye to all those expense hairdresser shampoos. 
Dissolve a tablespoon of bicarb soda in a cup of water. If you’ve got children, it might be better doing this in a squirt bottle.
Wet hair thoroughly and apply the mixture to the hair, massaging it in well.
To rinse, just run water through your hair, or you could use a splash of vinegar. The vinegar smell will go when your hair is dry.
You’ll be amazed at how good your hair feels. It will be clean and healthy.
This is an excellent shampoo for long and frizzy hair or short hair.

Add some bicarb to a shaker and use that. Dabbing a bit of bicarb under your arms is very effective as long as you wash every day.

Please add your favourite homemade cleaner in your comment. I'm always happy to try new cleaners and ways of cleaning.

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