Clean Up Your Life (And Your Home) With These 3 Homemade Cleaning Concoctions
That is, until guests announce that they’re going to be visiting–then it’s an all out war. I throw on my dishwashing gloves, brandish my feather duster, and rev up the vacuum-mobile. I take out the trash (*POW!*) and eliminate the filthy scum (*SHINE!*) until the place is safe once again to have other people over.
In protecting my home against germs, I’ve tried to be more mindful of protecting the planet too by living more green and using all-natural ingredients in my cleaning products. In doing so I produce less toxic waste and prevent harsh chemicals from harming the environment. Natural cleaning solutions also prevent me from getting a headache while cleaning since I don’t have to breathe in those noxious fumes.
To that end, I’ve found a wide variety of cleaning product recipes online, many of which use one or two of the high-end spices and herbs we sell at Savory Spice. I’ve compiled three homemade cleaning sprays here, based on common recipes for a natural multi-purpose cleaner, disinfectant spray, and glass cleaner.
I was truly surprised by how well these natural solutions worked compared to the harsher, store-bought cleaners!
Quick disclaimer: I’m not a scientist. Though I’ve researched how and why these natural products work, to me, most science is basically magic and I don’t have all the answers. I just know that in my experience, these natural cleaners work well and that from now on I’m using less of the store-bought stuff.
Multi-Purpose Citrus Cleaner
Yield: 1 Liter
Time: 10 to 14 days
If you’re into making all-natural, homemade substitutes for harsh chemical cleaning products, chances are you’ve seen at least a variation on this recipe called a “Citrus Enzyme Cleaner.” That’s technically a misnomer, as the enzymes in citrus fruits aren’t actually useful for cleaning.
This recipe is very useful, though – not because of enzymes – but because of the terpenes (specifically limonene) that are found in the peels of lemons, limes, and oranges. Terpenes are often found in cleaning solvents and degreasers because of their ability to dissolve oils.
Citrus fruits also contain high concentrations of citric acid, a chemical which makes metals soluble and is the active ingredient in most commercial cleaners. On top of the terpenes and citric acid, this recipe produces alcohol through fermentation, which is also a useful cleaning agent.
I made this with Minced Lemon Peel for that clean, lemon-fresh scent. Minced Orange Peel would also smell amazing. Make it with the Minced Lime Peel if you want your guests to constantly wonder where your fresh-made margaritas are.
To make the cleaner: Pour the Minced Lemon Peel In a 2 liter bottle, using a funnel if necessary. Add the brown sugar, yeast, and water. Cover the bottle with a lid and mix well by shaking for about 30 seconds. Loosen the lid slightly so trapped air can escape during the fermentation process. Let sit for 10-14 days. Check on the bottle at least once daily to make sure the gas buildup doesn’t release the lid. Release any air pressure if necessary then place the lid back on the bottle, slightly loosened. Shake the mixture well the first three days to help mix any settled yeast.
After fermentation is complete, use a strainer or cheesecloth to remove the solid peel from the liquid. The citrus cleaner will be opaque and yellow-ish. Add the white vinegar to kill off any remaining yeast bacteria and add another measure of cleaning power. Shake to mix the solution and store with your other cleaners. Dilute by mixing 1 part cleaning solution with 10 parts water in a spray bottle before using.
The cleaner is concentrated and the vinegar adds a minor pungency, so be sure to dilute it with the 1:10 ratio of cleaner to water (e.g., 1/4 cup cleaner and 2 1/2 cups water). It cleans nearly anything and everything from tables to tubs to vegetables to vehicles! You can use the solution undiluted in your dishwasher– just use ¼ cup per load. It’s also great for removing stains and cleaning drains. It’s like magic. #ScienceRules!
Herbal Disinfectant Spray
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Time: 50 min.
Alcohol is a natural disinfectant, able to kill many of the harmful microorganisms in high-traffic, high-germ areas of your home (toilets, counters, sinks, etc.). Most disinfectants include isopropyl or ethanol. But the half-empty bottle of vodka hanging around your cupboard’s top shelf, that’s definitely only for cooking purposes (this is a family blog, Sharon), works just fine. For this recipe, I used 80 proof vodka. Herbs such as lavender and rosemary have biostatic properties, meaning they inhibit bacteria growth. The infusion of the herbs and vodka creates a powerful antimicrobial spray.
To make the disinfectant: Pour the Cracked Rosemary and Lavender into the vodka and cover the container. Let it sit for 40 min. until fully infused. Strain the herbs from the infused vodka, using a fine mesh strainer to avoid getting any particles in your disinfectant that may clog your spray nozzle. Pour the water into the infused vodka and shake to mix. Fill a spray bottle to use.
Note that most disinfectant sprays do not clean, and most cleaners do not disinfect. A cleaner’s job is to remove dirt, a disinfectant’s job is to kill microorganisms. The most effective way to clean and disinfect is to first clean using your multi-purpose cleaner, then disinfect with your disinfectant. When using disinfectants, it’s recommended you let the spray sit 5 to 10 minutes with the surface still wet in order to work. Remember that no disinfectant spray eliminates all bacteria.
Mint Fresh Window + Glass Cleaner
Yield: 4 cups
Time: 5 min.
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 1/2 cups vodka
- 1/2 tsp Natural Peppermint Extract
When I first saw this recipe circulating online, I thought I was being pranked. Cornstarch? As part of a glass cleaner? I pictured my windows and mirrors cloudy and slippery with thick white sludge. But don’t fret, Bernadette! Cornstarch acts as a superfine abrasive here, making it perfect for cleaning smooth surfaces. It doesn’t streak and evaporates quickly due to the addition of alcohol. Not only does it clean glass like a dream, but with our Natural Peppermint Extract, it smells infinitely better than a bottle of the blue stuff.
To make the glass cleaner: Mix the cornstarch with cold (this is essential) water. Whisk until thoroughly mixed, then add the vodka and shake. Once combined, add 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract. Shake once more and fill a spray bottle to use.
The cornstarch will eventually settle on the bottom of your spray bottle. So you’ll want to shake it well before each use to effectively mix the solution again and avoid clogging your nozzle.