This spring, as I approached Spring Cleaning with zeal (no, really, I did), I decided to use some “tried and true” homemade cleaners. I had the ingredients (frugal), the chemistry seemed logical (smart), and I was not up for spendy possible solutions (expedient). Here are a few of my favorite, which include liquid cleaners, as well as simple solutions to cleaning issues.
Last year when I had the shower grout addressed, the contractor suggested switching to a liquid body wash because it would not build up as badly as bar soap can (and did, in my case — I hated cleaning that up). So I switched, and we have loved it. The shower stays cleaner longer.
With our hard water here, dried minerals really look bad, even though there is now almost no soap buildup. I found several online versions of this cleaner:
- half blue Dawn
- half white vinegar
The vinegar cuts through lots of stuff, and the Dawn dissolves oils and dirt. The vinegar also leaves chrome fixtures and ceramic tiles sparkling. I put mine in the fillable handle of a kitchen scrubber ($3), and keep it in the shower. Each day I do a different wall, floor or shower curtain. It takes 20 seconds, including rinsing with water. The solution is so mild I don’t mind doing it while I’m actually in the shower. No spray, no odor, no excuses. Eliminating excuses was important.
Keeping bathrooms clean is more important to me this spring. When disinfectant wipes went on sale, I grabbed some to keep in each bathroom for daily or spontaneous cleanup. Yes, I would prefer to use cleaner and a washable cloth. And I tried that method, unsuccessfully; the wipes just work better for me. One container has enough for a month, they’re handy and easy to use, and again there are no excuses. Online recipes have been around for decades, and still have some I’ve tried. Once the habit is established, I will likely use one, and find a better material than cheap paper towels. Stay tuned.
Mirrors and windows are tough to get and keep clean. Our exterior windows hadn’t been addressed in a few years. Okay, a bunch of years. I hired my son to wash all 20 of our exterior windows, using another online recipe:
- half gallon warm water
- 1 Tablespoon Finish/Jet Dry dishwasher rinse aid
- 2 Tablespoons blue Dawn
This works awesomely well! Spray the window with a garden hose to loosen and soften dirt. Spray the solution or dip a squeegee/spongee in a bucket of solution, then scrub with the sponge scrubber. (We have a very long telescoping pole, and I rigged the scrubber to the pole…voila!) Then rinse with the hose spray again, no squeegee necessary, as the rinse aid helps the water sheet off. I am impressed, and now use the same spray cleaner to do the insides and mirrors, like a conventional window cleaner (with a rag, not a hose).
The house has blinds on most of the windows, which are a pain to keep clean. A new-to-me technique has me not dreading that chore.
- Close the blinds. Using a microfiber cloth, lightly moistened with water and/or cleaner, wipe the blinds horizontally, moving from top to bottom.
- Open the blinds, then close them the opposite way. Clean the cloth or get a new one, and repeat the wiping.
- Now remove the blinds, turn them so the back is to the front, rehang them temporarily, and repeat the process. Most blinds have cubical holders with clips, which makes this part really easy.
- Raise the blinds all the way, remove them and set aside. Clean the window, sill, moldings (especially the top where the dust lands), and rods (you should wash your curtains at this point, too) with mild cleaner.
- Replace the blinds the correct way. You’re done.
In the kitchen, I’m keeping a bottle of vinegar handy on the counter and a mini scrub brush under the sink. I find the vinegar helps cut through and soften some crudded cooking messes, keeps the mineral deposits at bay, and helps remove odors. It does not clean by itself; it helps the effort by its mild acidic nature.
For greasy or stubborn dirt, and when I need to soak something a long time, I’m using Dawn Direct foam in the pump. I don’t use the online recipes for refills that use regular Dawn; the formula is different, and the Direct foam works better than regular Dawn for different jobs. I got a closeout on refills last year, and it lasts a very long time. Try this on stovetops, oven racks, broiler pans, grill utensils, etc.
These are my current favorite solutions for cleaning. What are yours?