I really hate using store-bought, chemical-heavy cleansers to get my apartment spiffy. On the one hand, they clean effectively with very little elbow grease. On the other hand, they make my nose crinkle and eyes water and often congestion follows, they are harmful to the environment, they cause increased waste (all that packaging and shipping), and they can be toxic to pets and small children. Why damage yourself, the environment, and risk injury to others? Below are some make-it-yourself cleanser ideas for different areas of your home. I warn you, these often require a little extra scrubbing. BUT the payoff is worth it (especially consdering how cheap these recipes are to make)!
Scouring Powder for countertops, tubs, sinks, stovetops, etc.
Combine 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup borax, and 1/4 cup washing soda (you may already have some, after making your own laundry detergent)
Put it in a container that is sealed.
Use it like any other scrubbing powder- it's non-abrasive and so easy on porcelin sinks and whatnot. It cuts grease and mildew, and disinfects, with no odor. Yay! It's all natural, so if it goes down the drain you can be happy that it isn't polluting the runoff.
All-purpose liquid cleanser
Combine 1 tsp borax, 2 Tblsp white vinegar OR lemon juice, 1/2 tsp vegetable oil-based soap (like Dr. Bronnor's), and 1/2 tsp washing soda in an empty spray bottle (make sure it's been cleaned out thoroughly before you put this mixture into it).
Add a small amount of hot tap water and shake until everything is dissolved. Once it's all dissolved, add enough hot tap water to fill up the remainder of the spray bottle.
This liquid cleanser is also a disinfectant and can safely clean any countertop surface.
Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon (or other preferred spice, like nutmeg, cardamom, etc) and 1 box of baking soda. Cover and shake to thoroughly mix it up. Whenever you need it, sprinkle a light layer of carpet freshener down, and vaccum it up (preferably after letting it sit for 20-30 minutes). This works well after cleaning up a wet spot in the carpet, too (say your puppy peed on the carpet- first, blot up all the wetness with a towel, then use a damp towel to scrub the area and bring up the last of the urine, get it as dry as possible, then use the carpet freshener and a vaccum and voila! Clean, pee-free carpet).
Pour 1/4 cup baking soda down your clogged drain. Follow with 1/2 cup white vinegar (it will get all fizzy). Once the fizzing has stopped, pour 1 gallon of boiling water down the drain.
Window and glass cleaner
Combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a pre-cleaned empty spray bottle. Use like any other glass cleaner (both rags and newspaper work well).
Bonus on this one- it disinfects the floor AND the mop at the same time! Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1 gallon of water, and mop away as usual.
White vinegar (yep, this stuff can do everything but solve your math homework). Just pour 1/4 cup of it into the fabric softener dispenser of your washing machine. It removes excess detergent and softens clothes, without leaving a scent.
Combine 1/4 cup olive oil or mineral oil with 4 Tblsp white vinegar and 20-30 drops of essential lemon oil. Pour into a pre-cleaned empty spray bottle and shake well before using (each time).