Clean all the things!

I have been trying out several homemade cleaner recipes, for a variety of reasons — to appease my allergies, save money, eliminate harmful chemicals around my kids, make my home more eco-friendly, and simplify my life. I started with recipes I found on the internet, and have been tweaking them as I go. I give priority to recipes that are fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin, but they also have to be simple to make — I don’t have an abundance of free time.
Most of my cleaning supplies consist of varying combinations of water, white vinegar, and liquid castile soap. I particularly like the unscented soap from Carolina Castile Soap. Most recipes I have found use scented castile soap and/or essential oils, but I haven’t mucked about in scent yet; I want to get my allergies under control first. I know a lot of recipes call for Dr. Bronner’s, but I don’t care for the scent of hemp. (Yes, I can smell it. I have an annoyingly acute sense of smell.) Carolina Castile’s soap is fantastic, and their customer service is awesome — give them a try! (No, they did not pay me to say that.)

Here are my current formulas, in case you’re interested. I will post updates as I perfect my recipes.
Personal Care
Hand soap
This one’s easy — castile soap and water. I have two foaming soap dispensers; I fill to the line with soap, then top off with water.

Done. And cheap! Best of all, it’s far gentler on my skin than store-bought hand soap.

Body wash
In a pump bottle, mix:
1 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon glycerin
1/2 cup castile soap

I am still tweaking this one. It’s a bit runny, but foams up nicely on a shower poof. Used in combination with a washcloth, it effectively removes makeup. For everyday use as a face and body wash, it works great. But it’s not so good at removing sunscreen. I’m going to eventually try some recipes for homemade sunscreen, which hopefully will wash off more easily, but in the meantime I am still looking for ways to boost the effectiveness of this wash on store-bought sunscreen. Perhaps a scrub? I’m working on it.

This recipe can also be used on hair; in fact, the castile soap alone is a good shampoo (though a bit drying). But I get better frizz control with store-bought hair products, so I am sticking with them for now.

Shaving cream
Another easy one: half castile soap, half olive oil. Shake before using.

I store mine in a travel shampoo bottle, and just rub some on damp skin before shaving. The olive oil makes my skin really soft and prevents razor burn (something my sensitive skin is very susceptible to); the castile soap keeps my skin and the tub from getting slick and greasy. (Though it is not a bad idea to wipe the tub after use.)

Household Cleaners
All-purpose cleaner
Fill a spray bottle halfway with vinegar and top off with water. That’s it. Seriously.

For the bottle, I like the Smart Tube spray bottles that Clorox Green Works all-purpose cleaner comes in — they’re easy to clean for refilling, and the bottle design uses every last drop of cleaner.

I use this spray on everything but wood and electronics — including bathroom mirrors. No streaks. Eliminates odors, too…no perfume required.

Try straight vinegar on stubborn dirt and mold. I dumped the contents of a couple of those touch-ups bottles (the smell of the cleaner that came in them turned my stomach, but the containers rock) and filled them with vinegar for that very purpose.

For serious soap scum, try vinegar on a Magic Eraser. You’re welcome.

Dusting spray
In a spray bottle, mix:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup water

I have used this to dust, and also to clean leather furniture and wood flooring — it cleans (fruit cup juice residue, tracked-in/ground-in dirt) as well as dusts. Test in an inconspicuous spot before use.

Toilet cleaner
In an old shampoo bottle, mix:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons borax
1/4 cup castile soap

Shake well before use. Cleans 2-4 seriously funky toilets (my house cleaning schedule is a bit lax of late).

Dishwasher soap
1 1/2 cups washing soda
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup coarse salt
1 jar Lemishine

Mix thoroughly; use 2-4 tablespoons per load.

I have read that putting a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in the rinse compartment helps with the cloudy residue, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Laundry soap
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups Oxyclean
2 bars castile soap (I like Kirk’s)

Using a grater or food processor (I use a rotary grater I purchased just for this purpose, because I have no desire to eat soap), grate both bars of soap into fine powder. Mix in the other ingredients. Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load (regular washers; I don’t have an HE washer, so YMMV).

Upholstery cleaner
The only tip I have found that I didn’t alter in any way — see 551 east for instructions. This technique works really well, but be prepared to air out the room (or go outside for a bit) after use, especially if you’re cleaning a bunch of spots at once.

I have seen a lot of specialized cleaner recipes (especially on the mother of all time sucks, Pinterest), but these cover most of my daily needs.

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