My first blogging series here at Simple Solutions for the Home is going to be on how to make your own all natural cleaning solutions. We moved into our first home 5 1/2 years ago when our oldest son, Elliot, was 9 months old. Our home has lots of hard floors and before we unpacked all our moving boxes, we wanted to do a thorough cleaning. Without thinking, I picked up a bottle of floor cleaner at the store, went home, and began scrubbing the floors while our son played nearby. As he inched closer to the wet, freshly cleaned floor. I suddenly realized that I wanted to know exactly what he was about to crawl into. I now know that the companies that make cleaning solutions are not required to disclose their ingredients; however, this company happened to list the ingredients on the side of the bottle. I knew that ingredients on a label were always listed in order of highest concentration to lowest concentration, so I was alarmed to see sodium hydroxide at the top of the ingredient list. I have normal (not sensitive) skin and I remember getting sodium hydroxide chemical burns from my college laboratory. Sure, it was a great laboratory cleaner, but I didn’t need anything that strong for my home and I definitely didn’t want to let my baby crawl near that stuff! Needless to say, my search for safer, more natural cleaning solutions began that day, 5 1/2 years ago, and continues today. As you will see in the “budget” breakdown below, grocery store varieties of all natural cleaning solutions can be expensive, but the crafty scientist in me knew I could make my own. Of all the recipes, I’ve tried, here is my favorite DIY all purpose cleaner (which was inspired by the ingredient list on the Eco-Clean All Purpose Cleaner from Rocky Mountain Oils).
3 Cups Water
¼ Cup Isopropyl Alcohol
¼ Cup Dishwashing Liquid (like Dawn, Joy, Method, etc.)
2 Tbsp. Citric Acid
Essential Oils (optional)
Preparation and Use
Gather all the ingredients as well as some measuring cups, measuring spoons, a funnel, and an empty spray bottle.
Place the funnel in the empty spray bottle and add the citric acid into the bottle.
Add the dishwashing liquid, isopropyl alcohol, and essential oils (optional) to the spray bottle.
Fill the spray bottle with water.
Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Label the bottle and then use to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces as you usually would.
Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds (like grease and oil), is an anti-septic, evaporates quickly, and is relatively non-toxic. Dishwashing detergents and soaps are used for cleaning because pure water can’t remove oily, organic soiling. Soap cleans by acting as an emulsifier, allowing oil and water to mix so that oily grime can be removed during rinsing. Detergents are primarily surfactants, which lower the surface tension of water, making it ‘wetter’ so that it is less likely to stick to itself and more likely to interact with oil and grease. The citric acid competes with the metals in hard water, preventing them from inactivating the dishwashing liquid and thereby allowing you to use less soap in the cleaning solution. Citric acid will also remove hard water stains from surfaces without scrubbing. Essential oils have a wide variety of cleaning properties depending on the specific oil used, but a few properties of a few of the more popular oils include cutting grease, deodorizing, and killing bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
The cheapest all purpose cleaners in my area cost $2-3 for 24-32 ounces ($0.06-0.13 per ounce). The cheapest organic or “all natural” all purpose cleaners will cost more. The all natural, all purpose cleaner presented here costs about $0.70 for 32 ounces ($0.02 per ounce). The cost breakdown was $0.06 for 2 ounces of alcohol, $0.33 for 2 ounces of dishwashing liquid, and $0.31 for 1 ounce of Citric Acid (which I bought in bulk from Amazon.com, citric acid from the grocery store would have cost much more). Essential oils will add a little to the cost of the cleaner, but will boost its cleaning power and, for may of us, make cleaning more pleasurable to the senses. The savings on this cleaner is about a third of the cheapest store bought varieties AND this cleaner is all natural and you know all of the ingredients.
So, now that you have the recipe, go make some! I hope you love it as much as we do!