Frugal Friday

It's been a busy week, but I can't put my finger exactly on what made it so busy. Just life, really. Ma Luffin' Mayun had a huge event this past weekend, gone from Friday to Sunday with 600 teenagers (gulp), so there was family time to catch up on. Brilliant Beauty had her first project to complete for her SCOPE class. Little Big Man is progressing well on the PottyTrain, and Pretty Baby is eating Jethro portions of homemade fruit and veggie dishes and cereals. All the while clothes are being worn, dishes are being used, and toys are being strewn to and fro.

Phew. Maybe I can put my finger on what made the week so busy.

A long time ago, even before I ever actually did it, I decided I wanted to make my own cleaning products to be used around the house. I have a few reasons:
-I wanted products that aren't laced with chemicals that could potentially hurt these babies we continue to add to the family. I may not be able to explain the harmful effects of each unpronounceable chemical in the store-bought products, but if they burn your eyes and singe your nose hairs I'm thinking it doesn't hurt to replace them.
-In my staunch stubbornness to not spend the money, I am always determined to find ways to just do or make things myself. I once again refuse to spend a huge chunk of the ol' paycheck on over-priced cleaning supplies. Now that I know a little more what I am doing in the cleaning-product-making department, I know I'll NEVER spend the money on the store-bought stuff. (P.S. why are the foods and products that are best for EVERYONE so flipping expensive? Probably because we'll pay, we who have lost the art of thinking through, growing, preparing, and using the stuff on our own...but I'll climb that soapbox on another day, perhaps.)
-I like to do the mixin' (read: pretend to be a scientist).
-It's extremely gratifying to look at the finished product(s), use them, watch them achieve their intended purpose, and know I made them with stuff I had right in my pantry.

I took some time this morning to mix up new batches of my standard cleaning products, so I thought I would take you on a little tour, show you what goes in them and how incredibly easy they are to make. Too bad we don't have smell-o-blog because they also smell super great.

Let me first say I have picked up cleaner recipes here and there for years from books, the internet, and friends. My eternal and golden pal WagStat has been in similar pursuits for years and started a blog of her findings and sometimes foibles as she works towards "green"ery that's just her right fit.

Here's my little army of cleaners. Don't they look like a formation of soldiers standing at attention?

In order from left to right they are:
window cleaner
mildew remover
heavy-duty cleaner
all-purpose cleaner

Here are my recipes for each product. If you're like me, you'll have at least a vague recollection from childhood of these ingredients being used to clean. Again, I am not original, nothing is new under the sun, and women and men smarter and wiser figured out the uses of these items long before me. These are just my recipes.

window cleaner
You need: one spray bottle (I got mine for $1.00 and it has measuring marks down the side which is helpful when mixing proportions), white vinegar, essential oil (whatever smell you like), water

Mix the following:
50% white vinegar
50% water
30 drops of essential oil

Shake it up, and there you go. That's all you need. I will say that even with the essential oil this stuff still smells pretty vinegary, but it is an excellent cleaner (I remember Tunan using vinegar and newspaper to clean windows and mirrors when I was a kid. I think of that when I use this).

mildew remover
You need: one spray bottle, hydrogen peroxide, water

Mix the following:
1 part hydrogen peroxide
2 parts water

Shake it up. Spray this on anything with mildew (window seals, kitchen, bath), let it sit for fifteen to thirty minutes, and then wipe away. Works great.

heavy-duty cleaner
You need: one spray bottle, borax, liquid soap, essential oil, water

Mix the following:
*1/2 cup borax
2 tablespoons liquid soap
10 drops essential oil
water - enough to fill bottle to the fill-line

Shake it up. This cleaner is really good for the tougher-to-clean messes around the house, great for greasy messes, and for thoroughly cleaning places that tend to get the dirtiest like bathrooms.

all-purpose cleaner
You need: one spray bottle, liquid soap, essential oil, water

Mix the following:
2 tablespoons liquid soap
20 drops essential oil
water - enough to fill bottle to the fill-line

We use this for EVERYTHING around Quaint Cottage; counters, tables, walls...you name it.

Here's one more product that I use. This is a scouring paste.

I use this when I need to scour a surface. It works great in combination with the window cleaner because the vinegar reacts with the baking soda, making fizzy cleaning goodness (that is the scientific explanation of the chemical reaction, I'm quite sure).

scouring paste
You need: one wide-mouthed mason jar, box of baking soda, liquid soap, water (you can scent it with essential oil if you like)

Mix the following in a bowl:
box of baking soda
3 tablespoons liquid soap
2 tablespoons water

Combine all of these until it forms a nice paste. Transfer it to the mason jar. Just scoop out what you need when you need it (I just use my hand to scoop it out). That's all there is to it.

Here's a little more miscellaneous information . . .
I use liquid castile soap and I love it. It goes a super long way in the amounts I'm using it, is scented with all kinds of great natural fragrances, and completely safe for all the us-es. This link also includes a recipe for using castile soap in an automatic dishwasher. I just discovered it, and we'll be making a batch of that soon. One of my bottles is scented with lavender, and the other with tea tree oil. I actually didn't use the essential oils this time because the soap smelled so good by itself.

Remember, you can use ANY liquid soap you choose. It doesn't have to be castile soap. Basic dish soap works fine.

*Borax is awesome and amazing stuff. I do find that it tends to clump, so when I make the heavy-duty cleaner I pour the borax in and use a potato masher to thoroughly break up the clumps before funneling it into the bottle.

Another thing you can use the heavy-duty cleaner for is spraying around baseboards and door entries for pest control. How awesome is that?!

Make sure you pick essential oils that you can stand the smell of. There are a million to choose from and a few drops go a long way. I picked a smell one time, though, and used it in the all-purpose cleaner which meant I smelled it often. Blech. It was a nice smell in theory, but not in practice. Choose wisely according to your taste.

The window cleaner can also be used as a finishing spray if you feel there is a soapy residue from the scouring paste or the heavy-duty cleaner. It will take it right up.

This time around in my mixing I decided to "color code" the cleaners to make it easier for the us-es to identify the cleaners. I simply did this with literally just a couple of drops of food coloring. Presto. Colored cleaners.

I also write the type of cleaner and it's recipe on the plastic bottles with a permanent marker. I never have to remember the recipe.

I'm not sure if I remembered everything I wanted to say, but one never does, do they? Let me know if you have questions. There are all kinds of places online with recipes for cleaning products. You know me...just google it.

Here's to frugal Friday. I'm off to clean. With this FabFive, the mess possibilities are endless. Buh-lee dat!

Happy sifting!


  1. Love the ideas, but I absolutely HATE, CAN'T STAND, the smell of vinegar. Ugh, I remember at college they would clean the bathrooms with vinegar and it was oh so yucky to me. It reminds me of poached eggs. Anyway to make the window cleaner without the yucky smell?

  2. Yeah, Debbie, the vinegar can be stinky to say the least. And if you go vomiting because of the smell of your window cleaner, we might be defeated the purpose of cleaning at all.

    Let's see, you could use rubbing alcohol in place of the vinegar and get a pretty good result, too. I know you can add the alcohol to the vinegar/water solution (parts 1 to 1 to 1), so I think I would mix a 50/50 solution of alcohol and water. I bet the mildew remover concoction would work, too.

    Just some thoughts. I'll look it up. Thanks for asking...and reading!

    Love you.

  3. I use 20 Mule Team Borax as flux when forge welding steel. How bout that Chop !

  4. That's cool, PP. What does it mean to flux when you're forge welding?

  5. Love the ideas, Jess. We are really working to become more green, so love it!!

  6. This, my friend, is truly awesome. I won't be back in my own home until May, but I will be making some of these ASAP!! I've always wanted to make my own cleaners, but haven't had all the info in one place before. THANK YOU for doing all the hard work for me!

    Well, cleaning is hard, but you're right that it will be so much more gratifying when I am using my own products. Yay!!

  7. I have been making my own laundry detergent for months and it works great! I also make my own Windex. So cheap!

    Here's the laundry detergent:
    I mix up the powder in individual zip-lock baggies, then mix with the liquid ingredients when ready to use.

    1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
    1/4 cup borax
    2 oz castille soap
    2 gallons water (use a 210 0z container)

    for one gallon:
    4 T Arm & Hammer
    2 T Borax
    1 oz castille soap
    1 gallon water

  8. I was wondering, can use use the concentrated orange oil as an "essential oil"? I was thinking that would be cheap and smell good!


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