Tuesday, September 11, 2012

DIY Cleaning Supplies

Holy cow! Fall is here! OK, not technically until next week, but it's certainly headed that direction. With my oldest going back-to-school and activities starting again, it's been crazy for me. I'm sure your family is no different. I constantly have ideas in my head for new blog posts. It's just a matter of me sitting down and typing them out for you.

At our house, there's never a shortage of messes, laundry, dishes, or cleaning to do. Not only do these things pile up, but they're never ending. And the supplies needed to take care of them can really add up, especially for a family on a budget (like ours). Thanks to the good ol' world wide web and my personal favorite, Pinterest, it's much easier to discover thrifty ways to save on cleaning supplies. In today's blog, I'm going to share a couple of favorites and one that was more of a bust.

Laundry, laundry, laundry. Completely unavoidable. It's not really the DOING of the laundry I dislike as it is the folding and putting away of the laundry. If I can put away all the laundry I wash and dry in a day the same day as I wash and dry it, it's reason for celebration. We do a ton of laundry around here. I wish I had a dedicated laundry room, but our washer and dryer are confined to a closet. (The architect of my house was a complete moron, or a single dude who has no idea how a family actually functions.) I digress. Having 2 kids who aren't afraid of getting dirty creates a lot of laundry in and of itself. Add on my husband and myself and towels and bed linens....well you get the picture. I generally try to limit my laundry to 2 days a week, but they're pretty full days of washing.

What I'm trying to describe is a LARGE amount of laundry. To buy detergent to wash that much laundry was getting a bit ridiculous, especially because of our sensitive skin. I had to buy dye free, perfume free detergent to prevent my kids and me from scratching our skin bloody. You laugh. It's happened. I had read some tutorials about how to make laundry detergent, but it appeared to be a little labor intensive. After talking with a friend who actually made her own, I researched more and thought I'd give it a shot. This is the recipe I used from a blog called I Can Teach My Child. My first batch was pretty much according to her instructions. The batches after that I've made slightly more concentrated. She recommends to split the mixture into 10  1-gallon containers and I've found with the amount of soiled laundry I have that about 7 1-gallon containers makes it at the strength I need to clean my clothes. Regardless, it is less than a penny per load!

I keep my jugs (recycled milk jugs) in the garage, clearly labeled, and bring them into my laundry area as needed. Give the jugs a little shake before using (it separates and gets a little chunky). I use about 3/4 cup per load of laundry. It works like a charm! As good if not better than commercial detergent. It does not irritate our skin. I'm incredibly happy I found this solution!

Another amazing DIY cleaning supply is a tub and tile cleaner I learned from my friend Angie. Angie has her own cleaning business (in addition to being a mom and a wife and having a successful direct sales business). She hosted our crafter's club meeting one month this spring and taught us how to make several different cleaners. My favorite was a tub and tile cleaner. It's easy to make and it works better than any commercial cleaner I've used. We have very hard water where we live, so the mineral deposits are endless. Plus, as I've mentioned before, my kids aren't afraid of getting dirty and my husband owns a landscape oriented business (read: lots of mud). Our showers/tubs get gross. This cleaner takes it all off. It doesn't require a ton of elbow grease to work either! Bonus!

Here's Angie's recipe:
12 oz white vinegar
10 oz blue Dawn dish soap (must be this color and brand)

Heat vinegar for 2 minutes in the microwave, add to spray bottle. Pour Dawn soap
into bottle and shake gently to mix.

TO USE: Spray cleaner in tub or sink, let sit for 2 minutes (or longer, depending on how
dirty it is) and then wipe clean with a DRY cloth! No water, or you will have a
bigger mess than when you started.

Seriously, try it. Hands down best tub cleaner out there.

Now for the flop. I'd had so much success with DIY cleaners, I thought this was the way to go! I researched and found a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe I wanted to try. (ps, this is a great blog, and the recipe may work for others. I am not stating it is a bad recipe.) I wash dishes and run the dishwasher like it's going out of style. That's what happens when you cook for 3-4 kids several meals per day and then a family at night. I was anticipating this blog, so took a great picture of the ingredients needed and was trying to make it look nice for my readers.

I ran the first load and wasn't happy with the results. It didn't clean very well at all. Thought I'd try a little more detergent the second time. It left a nasty film on all the dishes and the dishes were still dirty. I tried adding more vinegar as a rinse agent. Nope. Then I remembered why I originally started buying the expensive detergent: with our hard water and contractor grade appliance, generic and less expensive detergents didn't work. I have to get the name brand detergent (and then it cleans great). Sigh. Can't win them all!

Bottom line is that there are lots of options to try DIY cleaning products. Some will work. Some may not. Most are so inexpensive that you can afford to make them and try them for yourself. Good luck! May your house be clean and your wallet be full!


  1. Wow, I am sure this saves you a bundle. I have always tried to limit my costs on cleaning supplies for the home by searching for janirotial cleanup supplies. This provides me with cheap bulk-sized products that can last months. However, after seeing this post I might resort to making my own if it will save me a buck or two. Thanks for the great information!

    1. Trish, I hope it helps your family too! I've always been one to try things out and most of the cleaning supplies have worked out well (though not all). Thanks for reading and feel free to share my blog! :)

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