Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Going Green the Hard Way Part 5: Making You Own Floor and Counter Cleaner!

Tea tree oil is missing because I found it RIGHT when I was mixing everything up.
So, one of my big challenges in doing "green" my own way was to research how home made cleaners were made.  When I get my nerd on it's truly a scary process.  My husband can attest to the reams of paper I've printed off through different projects throughout the years (freezer cooking has one ream, just general cooking and baking another, home made spa products another, gluten free cooking yet another, gluten free baking another, lotions...well you get the idea ;).  I'm starting to collect binders as time goes on to help me organize my "hobbies".  I feel sort of bad because I know some eco-conscious people out there are totally flinching right now thinking about the sheer amount of trees I've killed in compiling my research "novels".  But please, comfort yourselves knowing that at least 1/4 of the paper I used was on the back of mis-printed coupons and I've written TONS of notes on the papers instead of having to go and get a separate notebook for each pile of paperwork...although I must admit it would make me more organized.

So, I've run into no less than I'd say about 12 different recipes for home made cleaners.  When trying to decide on what to make my own with, I decided to stick with the basics that I found in each recipe and take and ditch things I figured I could live without (like lavender oil...I don't need to feel relaxed when cleaning *laugh*).

So, anyway, here's the VERY simple recipe I concocted and decided to try tonight.  The basic ingredients are shown above, although I did throw in a change here and there.  So, here's the recipe I came up with...

You will need:

  • 1 Gallon Container (remember, recycled milk jugs are your friends.  Personally I used a recycled iced tea container because I thought it looked cooler, but whatever you have works :)
  • 1 container to mix your stuff up in to make your life easier (I used a liquid measuring cup since it had the nice spout on it)
  • Empty Spray Bottles (to put your cleaners in.  You can find little ones in the travel section at your local store for like 1.00)

And here's the "chemistry" part (okay, so it's the mixing part and there's not a lot of chemistry involved...give me my "mad scientist" fantasy here ;):

  • 2 Tablespoons liquid castille soap (a lot of different recipes called for peppermint scented, but I only had unscented, so I went with that).  Honestly you could probably use whatever dish soap you had around the house, but I was really going for "all natural" here for my peace of mind :).
  • 10 to 15 drops sweet orange oil
  • 15 to 20 drops lemon oil (unless you're using lemon scented dish soap...then you could probably omit this)
  • 5 to 10 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 gallon of hot water
Other recipes I'd found called for the adding of alcohol to the batch, but I wanted something non-toxic in case the kids got a hold of it.  At most this stuff would give them stingy eyes that you'd have to flush out with water and no need to call poison control.

Mix up the oils and soap in a liquid measuring cup or something with a spout.  Fill up the liquid measuring cup 3/4 of the way full with hot water, stir to make sure all of your ingredients are combined and pour into gallon jug.  Fill up gallon jug about 1/2 way with hot water, swish around to make sure ingredients are combined again (do not shake unless you want suds everywhere) and then fill up the rest of the way with hot water.  This is what mine looked like when mixed up. 

I know, unimpressive as it looks, it does work ;)
Now why did I choose the essential oils I did?  Well the lemon and orange oils are citrus, therefore will help to break up crud on your floor and counters.  The tea tree oil is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so it works great for helping to disinfect things.  Just in case though, I'm going to empty out a spray bottle and fill it up with some of the super cheap (.12 a bottle) hydrogen peroxide I scored at Target with the .75/1 Up&Up First Aid coupon.  Once you're done cleaning you can then spray your counters and other surfaces (like after cutting up raw poultry for instance) with the hydrogen peroxide to kill everything that needs killing.  And once it's done evaporating it turns into just plain water (from what I understand...I by no means am a chemist) so you don't have to worry about after nasties from it.  I loved the orange smell this stuff ended up with (was hoping more for a lemon type of smell, but hey I'm not that picky ;), and it seemed strong enough to mask the scent of the tea tree oil a bit.  I was tempted to add about 1 cup of vinegar to the mix, but my husband hates and I mean HATES the smell of vinegar, so I was worried the essential oils wouldn't mask it (although I might try adding it when he's not home to see what it comes out like ;).

Now I put this stuff toe to toe with other natural cleaners I had cleaning up my kitchen (and no, I didn't show the sty my kitchen was after getting done cooking yesterday ;).  My verdict?  Really, other than having to let it sit a little bit longer (or use a bit more cleaner) than the other brands this stuff worked just fine and hey it's dirt cheap to make (if you added the vinegar for acidity, I bet that would help to alleviate this problem).  Yes you're start up costs will cost you probably around 26.00 or so.  But considering this stuff takes so little to make your costs MORE than make up for themselves.  I mean with the materials above I have enough raw materials to make this cleaner for YEARS without having to invest in new oils or soap (mind you I plan to multi-task both the oils and the soap, but you get the idea ;).

So there you are folks.  A super simple (although honestly there were simpler ones I'd read) cleaner recipe :). Good luck in your green adventures today.  I'm going to bed!

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