Thrifty Thursday: Homemade cleaning supplies


Web Editor - Ryan Burkett

Cleaning products are necessary for maintaining attractive and healthy conditions in the home and the workplace.

In addition to looking clean, you're also removing dust, allergens and infectious germs. However, some cleaning products can cause eye, skin or even respiratory issues. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency wants you to go green.

The EPA says less hazardous products can reduce water and air pollution as well as ensure the effectiveness of the product itself. Plus, buying less hazardous cleaners could reduce costs when it comes time to properly dispose of any leftover cleaners.

We know that you're thinking: those "green" cleaners are usually more expensive in the grocery store than other cleaners. We're going to tell you how to make these yourself with ingredients you might already have.

"Green" cleaner recipes, courtesy of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, are below.

- Glass cleaner: 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and one quart of warm water.

- No-streak glass cleaner: 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of corn starch and 1 quart of warm water. Mix the ingredients and apply with a sponge or pour into spray bottle and spray on. For lint-free results, wipe dry with crumpled newspaper and buff to a shine.

- Mirror & window polish: Corn starch and water. Mix together corn starch and water to make a paste. Use a soft cloth to apply the paste to the mirror. Rub gently, then wipe clean with a soft cloth.

- All-purpose cleaner: 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon each of washing soda and a vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 2 cups of hot water. Just mix in a spray bottle or bucket and it's ready to use.

- Disinfectant: 2 tablespoons of borax, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of hot water. Combine the borax and vinegar with the water in a spray bottle. Use as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.

- Wood cleaner: 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and white vinegar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a soft cloth, rub the mixture into the wood in the direction of the grain.

- Floor cleaner: 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of washing soda, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 2 gallons of hot water. Mix together until the washing soda is dissolved, and you're ready to mop.

- Laminate floor cleaner: 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 gallon warm water. Mix together. Avoid overwetting the floor by using a spray bottle to apply the mixture to the floor. Mop as usual (microfiber mops are recommended).

- Furniture polish: 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of olive oil (the least expensive is fine) and 1 teaspoon water. Extract the juice from the lemon. Mix with oil and water. Apply a thin coat on your wood surface and let it sit for 5 minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine. (Note: This polish should be made fresh each time you use it.)

- Drain cleaner: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 gallon of boiling water. Pour baking soda down drain/disposal, followed by vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for several minutes before flushing the drain with boiling water.

- Garbage disposal cleaner: 1 cup ice and a used lemon or orange rind. To eliminate garbage disposal odors and clean and sharpen blades, grind ice and rinds until pulverized.

- Oven cleaner: 2 tablespoons each of vegetable oil-based liquid soap and borax. Mix the soap and borax in a spray bottle. Fill the bottle with hot water and shake well. Spray on the oven and leave it for 20 minutes, then scrub off.

- Refrigerator cleaner: 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of warm water. Dissolve baking soda in water. Use to wipe all surfaces inside and out. For stubborn spots, rub with baking soda paste. Be sure to rinse with a clean, wet cloth.

- Non-abrasive soft scrubber: 1/4 cup of borax, vegetable oil-based liquid soap and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon essential oil. In a bowl, mix the borax with enough soap to form a creamy paste. Add lemon oil and blend well. Scoop a small amount of the mixture onto a sponge, wash the surface, then rinse well.

- Fragrant kitchen cleanser: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 pints of water and 4 drops of essential oil (lavender, tea tree oil, lemon, lemongrass or rosemary). Combine ingredients in spray bottle and use as a final rinse after cleaning kitchen surfaces. Store in a cool, dark place.

- Plumbing fixture cleaner #1: 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of water. Dissolve the baking soda in the water. Wipe on fixtures, then rinse. (Use to clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures.)

- Plumbing fixture cleaner #2: White vinegar and paper towels. Soak paper towels in the vinegar and leave them on the surface. Wipe clean after about an hour. (Hard lime deposits around faucets can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels.)

- Toilet bowl cleaner: 1 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

- Tub & tile cleaner: White vinegar and baking soda or non-iodized salt. To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Next, use baking soda or salt as you would scouring powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

- Garbage can deodorizer: 1 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil. Mix together in a small bowl, working out ll the lumps with a fork. Sprinkle the mixture in the bottom of the trash can after the liner is removed. Periodically rinse container with white vinegar and dry in the sun.

- Copper & brass cleaner: Lemon juice, non-iodized salt and corn starch. Mix equal parts of salt and corn starch with lemon juice to make a paste. Apply to surface with a soft rag. Rub gently. Rinse with warm water and mild dish soap. Dry with a soft cloth. (Not for use on lacquered finishes.)