Five Reasons I Don’t Buy Cleaning Products Off the Shelf*

*usually

1. I’m Cheap Frugal
I just don’t like spending any more money than I have to. Using vinegar at approximately $3 for 4L, is far cheaper than buying, say, a brand-name cleaning product at $2.90 for 540ml.

2. I’d Rather Stay Home
I’ve gotta be honest with you: I hate cleaning. I hate it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. So when I’m in the mood to clean, I really have to make hay while the sun shines. The last thing I need is to stop and take a trip to the store because we’re out of some cleaning product.

3.  THE SMELL
Anyone else just find off-the-shelf cleaning products smell funny? I just can’t stand all those fake scents they put in them. Give me the smell of vinegar and Tea Tree Oil over that any day.

4. I have kids who like to help
Of course, they’ve been known to empty an entire bottle of my homemade cleaner on the dining room table, but it’s the thought that counts. I love to just give them a bottle of vinegar and water and let them go to town, and they’re content to just spend a half-hour dusting the dining room and living room while I clean other things. They’re busy, I’m busy, the house gets clean, everyone wins! And the only thing I have to worry about is someone getting vinegar in their eyes/mouth/hair/etc.

5. The Ingredients
Apart from your average chlorine bleach and bottle of Windex, do you actually know what’s in your cleaning products? I don’t. Don’t go check, that’s cheating!

 

What I DO use (the recipe)

cleanerWell I suppose it wouldn’t be fair if I told you why NOT to use something without providing you with an alternative (I hate it when people do that), so I’ll tell you the things I DO like to use.

Actually, you only need one thing, when it comes down to it: White Vinegar. Really. Just use it diluted, and you have yourself an incredibly simple cleaner that you can use on most surfaces (anything porous, though, you should test first in a discrete area). My formula is 1/3C vinegar in my 2C spray bottle, just fill the rest of the way with water. This is *the * best for mirrors, and doesn’t leave a residue like most store-bought products do.

So, that’s a great little cleaner, but what about those greasy areas? Or the dry, sticky mystery puddle the kids left on their nightstand? Or that area under the highchair that keeps getting missed? Don’t you need something more?  I’m glad you asked!

This is where my powered-up version comes in. It only needs one more ingredient, and when you fill the bottle with hot water (instead of whatever’s-coming-out-of-the-tap-at-the-time water, which is what I usually use), this really packs a punch. Ready for the recipe?

1/3C vinegar
hot water
and…
wait for it…
Up to 1Tbsp of Dish Soap.

No, seriously, that’s all. You don’t even have to measure it. I just drizzle a bit into the mostly-full bottle until it looks like there’s a lump of it big enough. Again, use it everywhere but test it blah blah…

The one caveat is that this one is not as good on mirrors, because it will streak a little bit. In a perfect world, I’d keep one bottle of the powered-up stuff and one bottle of just vinegar & water, but I can never keep track of which is which (I’m not that organized), so I just use the powered-up stuff and do a really good job of drying and polishing the mirrors. Of course, with the kids having their own bathroom now and performing heaven knows what kinds of experiments in there, I tend to need a little extra power for their mirror (which just happens to be the second-largest in the house), so it works out.

Finally, the only other ingredient I’ll use (sometimes) in my household cleaner is essential oil. Usually it’s Tea Tree Oil (for the natural disinfectant qualities, as well as the scent), but occasionally I’ll switch it up and use lavender. One thing to watch for if you do use Tea Tree Oil: Don’t let the kids spray the dog with it, as it can apparently be quite toxic if animals ingest it. Three drops should be plenty, and you can add it to either the standard vinegar and water or the powered-up version. If you do this you pretty much HAVE to have a separate bottle for mirrors, though, as I do find it adds to the streak factor quite a lot.

So there you have it! Happy cleani—no, I can’t say it. More bearable cleaning!

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