Saving Some Green: DIY Household Products That Cost Less

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Getting things truly clean means using simple natural ingredients that are gentle on the earth and gentler on your pocketbook.

Harsh chemicals can be harmful to pets, small animals and, well, just about everybody.  The way that we have become obsessed with sterilizing everything has done more harm than good, doing damage to our bodies and impacting our water supply and food chain. 

The household product industry is an aggressive one that has convinced us all we need a proprietary cleanser for every aspect of our home – not only is it impractical, it’s also not true. 

The truth is, keeping the house clean doesn’t require toxic chemicals, and you can get excellent results by making some of these things yourself with really inexpensive ingredients. Yes, it does require a stint of time maybe a few times a  year, but if you make these cleaners in bulk and keep them in your garage, it saves you money and guilt: win-win! Bonus: making these products is a skill you can impart on your whole family. 

To start you off on the path to eliminating toxic chemicals from your house, here are some basic ideas that help to make your home feel wonderfully clean while you’re your household expenses.

Bleach-free laundry booster.  You do not need chlorine to get your whites really white and clean. This mixture eliminates stains by blending 2 cups washing soda and 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide in a container until it is granular.  For dingy whites and tough stains, let the whole load soak overnight with a quarter cup of your mix added.

Garbage disposal refreshers.  You know that drain funk?  Here’s the remedy for that. 

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap
  • 1 lemon
  • Small spoon or scoop
  • Sealable glass jar

Combine salt and baking soda in a bowl completely and grate in the peel from the lemon, then add the soap. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon.  Blend it all together thoroughly, and then make little spoon-sized scoops on parchment paper to dry over night.  The next day when these little guys are dry, pop them in the container and drop one in the sink every week.

Green carpet cleaner.  If you have wall-to-wall, you know how gross it can get.  Rather than renting a carpet cleaner, you can sprinkle this stuff on the carpet overnight and it will actually do the job for you.  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • Blender
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon Borax (optional)
  • Sprinkle-top container

We recommend blending these ingredients in a blender before adding them to a sugar container or something similar so you can disperse the cleaner easily.  Shake it all over the rug and let it sit overnight.  The next day, vacuum it up! You’ll have clean, sweet smelling, anti-bacterial carpets with little fuss.

Homemade furniture polish.  Get your wood looking beautiful again with this easy-to-make polish.

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Measuring cup and funnel
  • Small plastic container

Shake all these ingredients together and funnel them into a sealable container. Use a soft cloth to smooth onto wood.  Let it dry and then buff it out.  You can store the polish in your fridge for future use. 

Dusting wipes.  When you realize how simple and inexpensive dust wipes are to make, you’ll never go back . Cut up some old towels and stuff them into a container with some lemon peels and a stick of rosemary.  They smell wonderful and all you have to do is wash the dirty ones and pop them back into the container. 

Toilet bowl cleaner.  Shake some baking soda and about ten drops of tea tree oil into the bowl, letting it fizz.  Add a ¼ cup of white vinegar and scrub it out.

Anti-mildew tile scrub.  Speaking of vinegar, it acts as an alkalinizing agent so that funky fungus and other microbes won’t take over your shower.  Spray it on, let it sit for 30 minutes and rinse with warm or hot water. 

You will likely notice that many of these household cleaners have similar ingredients so you can save yourself some pennies that accumulate into dollars by buying things like baking soda and white vinegar in bulk. 

Another big advantage to making these cleaners is that once you make up a large batch, you save yourself time, trips to the store and reduce the plastic bottles and containers you would regularly throw in the recycle.  The idea is to cut down on the consumption altogether and over time, put far less of a ding on your wallet. Making these products at home is a fun project for the kids too, teaching them what the basic ingredients are for healthy, effective cleansers.