Spring Cleaning weekend is nearly upon us! It’s a hell of an endeavour but I really do enjoy it. This year is a little different, however. This year, I am generally creating my own cleaning supplies instead of purchasing myriad sprays and scrubs that are flush with chemicals and dyes and cloying fragrances. And I like making messes in my kitchen. Especially messes that are meant to go into prettily labeled sprayer bottles.
My quest for “Greener Cleaners” as they say has resulted in some successes and some failures.
After formulating and reformulating and researching, I finally found a make it at home laundry detergent that does the job. Our washers kind of suck, but that’s a different issue entirely. Yes, there is a 5 gallon orange bucket of goo on our back porch. But I decant it into smaller bottles for easier hauling. I’ll give you the link to the recipe if you’d like it.
You might wonder why I started doing all this in the first place. Well, linen spray. I wanted some lavender linen spray, and some essential oils laying around for scenting things. So I did that. And then I went to the library. (Most expensive messes in my life, when self-inflicted, start at the library. How I manage to make a free institution of learning and community become a costly mess is beyond me. But it often start with finding books like The Naturally Clean home.)
For some time now, I’ve resented the high cost of laundry detergent. It’s pretty ridiculous, and if you read up on it, possibly dangerous (I say as I knock back the rest of this aspartame-sweetened Diet Coke), but mainly it’s just stupid expensive. Like Brita filters (I also found a way to make your own Brita filters but I’m holding off on that one. It involves fish tank supplies.) I’ve also been wanting to “Go Green”, and I had always assume that that would mean a recycling program. But when you see the official Blue Bags being pitched into the garbage truck right alongside with the trash…well…you feel like that sort of effort might be wasted. So I started to think wow….I bet Ajax and Comet and bleach are really unnecessarily potent for most of the things I need to do (Don’t worry. Cat Box Disinfecting will probably still involve bleach). And then I’m a big fan of How CLean is Your House where the Ladies are cleaning out drains with baking soda and hot water and I try it and it works! So I figure there IS a better way. And I love a science experiment.
The latest failure is dish soap. I don’t care how toxic one purports sodium lauryl sulfate to be. I need suds people. Even if they are just for show. Homemade dish soap does not lots of bubbles make. And I need them.
Another failure: homemade fabric softener…i.e. vinegar. I mean, I suppose it worked in the sense that the clothing was fluffy and soft. It failed in the sense that we smelled like a giant pickle. So to all the ladies on whatever the hell blog I was reading that said, “The vinegar rinses out! You can’t smell a thing!” Go get some decongestants. And beg forgiveness from your poor children who have gone to school smelling like salad dressing lo these many years.
Now, the vinegar incident DID inspire me to try one more…not greener, but cheaper alternative: homemade dryer sheets. You mix up a little liquid fabric softener and water in a bowl. Cut up an old tshirt into squares and slosh the squares around in the bowl. Then hang them up to dry. You can throw them in just like regular dryer sheets and they last a few loads, AND you don’t have to throw them away. AND the bottle will last basically forever. So there’s that.
I have had some success with baking soda sink scrubbers, tea tree toilet cleaners and club soda. So we’ll say I’m 50/50 at this point. My next project will be, from the book Folk Wisdom for a Natural Home, the “Almost Dry Cleaner for Mattress”. I have a feather bed that needs attending to.