DIY Window Cleaner

Well, it’s springtime now.  For many of us (particularly those of us who are “nesting” this spring), that means a little more rigorous cleaning around the house.  Several months ago, I did a cleaning series on this blog featuring my favorite homemade cleaning solutions (DIY all purpose cleaner, DIY Dishwashing Salts, DIY Powdered Laundry Soap, DIY Laundry/Carpet Stain Remover, DIY Color Safe “Bleach”, DIY Foaming Hand Soap).  I use the DIY all purpose cleaner for almost all hard surfaces, including countertops, tables, windows, and mirrors.  However, if I’m honest, it is a little streaky and sometimes (like when we’re having guests), the streaky surfaces bother me.  So, I tried out the DIY Window Cleaner recipe presented below and found it so much more effective for creating clean, streak-free windows and mirrors.

Ingredients

2 Cups Water

¼ Cup Isopropyl Alcohol

¼ Cup White Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Citric Acid or Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp. Cornstarch

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 all the ingredients (water, isopropyl alcohol, white vinegar, citric acid/lemon juice, cornstarch, and essential oils, if using).  Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.  Label the bottle and then use to clean windows and mirrors as you usually would.

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Science

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.  Since vinegar is acidic, it can dissolve mineral deposits from glass and other smooth surfaces.  In fact, malt vinegar sprinkled onto crumpled newspaper is still a popular method of cleaning grease-smeared windows and mirrors in the UK.  Vinegar is also antibacterial and, according to Wikipedia, one test by Good Housekeeping’s microbiologist found that 5% vinegar is 90% effective against mold and 99.9% effective against bacteria.  Citric acid (either as an isolated compound of its own or as part of citrus juices, like lemon juice) competes with the metals in hard water, making the cleaning solution more effective. Citric acid will also remove hard water stains from surfaces without scrubbing.  Cornstarch acts as an abrasive, helping to remove stubborn spots and smudges.  It also helps to absorb grease on the surface to be cleaned.  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.

Budget

The cheapest window cleaners in my area cost about $2-3 for 24-32 ounces ($0.06-0.13 per ounce).  The cheapest organic or “all natural” window cleaners will cost more.  The all natural, window cleaner presented here costs about $0.43 for 22 ounces ($0.02 per ounce).  The cost breakdown was $0.06 for 2 ounces of alcohol, $0.05 for 2 ounces of vinegar, 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), and $0.01 for 1/2 ounce of cornstarch.  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 (particularly, since this recipe contains potent-smelling vinegar).  The savings on this cleaner is about a fourth of the cheapest store bought varieties AND this cleaner is all natural and you know all of the ingredients.

I hope you love it as much as we do!  Happy Spring Cleaning!

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