One facet of Home Economics is to save money around the house. With my husband being a full-time graduate student, this is especially important for us since we are on a very fixed income at the moment. I've been trying to come up with ways to save money, and I figured a good place to start would be to make our own cleaning supplies.
This is how I feel when my kitchen sparkles, too.
Making soap really intimidates me, so I wanted to start with something very simple. I began using distilled white vinegar around the house with great results. White vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and a great all-purpose cleaner that doesn't have all the chemicals that commercial cleaning products do.
Some things I use vinegar for:
I keep a spray bottle filled with half white vinegar and half water on hand at all times. I mostly use this for:
Cleaning windows and mirrors. Spray the mixture onto the glass surface, and then rub first with a crumpled up newspaper and second with a soft cloth for a streak-less shine.
Spot-cleaning around the house by pouring a little bit of washing soda onto what I want to clean, and then spraying with the vinegar mixture and buffing the area with a washcloth or toothbrush (depending on what you are trying to clean), rinsing with clean water once the area is clean.
It can also be used "straight up":
Use in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener to keep your clothes fresh and static free. This in-turn also cleans the machine and pipes.
The same use for the dishwasher to clean the machine and help your dishes shine.
Getting the coffee stain out of our coffee maker by pouring straight vinegar into the glass pot and letting it sit, then scrubbing lightly with a bottle brush and rinsing with clean water.
Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the reservoir of the toilet to clean the toilet from top down through the pipes.
It's also safe to be used on wood and the smell dissipates quickly.
You can buy gallon containers of white vinegar at the hardware store for just a few dollars, and I usually end up going through around 1.5 gallons per month. I admit, I'm still a little wary of the processing and the ingredients (GMO corn) involved in making bulk vinegar like this. But for now I have decided that the benefit of cleaning with something that has less chemicals than commercial cleaners is worth a bit of inconsistency on the "no-GMOs-in-the-house" rule.
While I definitely love the effectiveness of using white vinegar as a cleaning product, it can sometimes take some elbow-grease to cut through some of the more difficult grease and soap scum around the house. For this, I decided to try to make a citrus-infused vinegar to increase the cleaning and grease-cutting power.
This is so easy to make. All you have to do is put some citrus peels in a jar and then fill the jar with white vinegar. Let it sit for at least 3 days, or until the citrus peels start looking limp. At this point, you can take the peels out of the liquid and it's ready to be used! An added bonus is that you can use the vinegar citrus peels to clean your garbage disposal blades - Just toss them into the disposal instead of throwing them away.
I used the vinegar pictured above to clean the drip pans on my stove. I didn't get any photos because I was so excited that it was working so well, so you'll just have to try it for yourself to see the cleaning power in action! All I did was put the drip pans in the sink, pour a bit of washing soda into each pan then a bit of the vinegar infusion. I rubbed this mixture around so the whole drip pan was covered and let it sit overnight. When I started scrubbing it the next day, the cooked-on stains and who knows what else came off without me using hardly any muscle power! I had tried this in the past with just plain white vinegar and it did work, but definitely took a lot more scrubbing.
I feel kinda silly, but am really excited to have a new cleaning agent in my corner. Do you use vinegar for cleaning around the house? Let me know in the comments below!