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Tue, Feb. 18

Column: Do-it-yourself cleaners inexpensive, easy to make

Making household cleaners can save a significant amount of money and give peace of mind because of the ability to control which ingredients and chemicals are in them. When Ross and I began researching recipes for cleaning supplies we had three requirements: The products should work well. They could only require common, easy-to-access ingredients. And, of course, they needed to save us money.

Many of the recipes for homemade cleaning supplies use the same key ingredients. Baking soda is good for softening water, scouring and deodorizing. Vinegar is good for cutting grease, removing mildew, and it's great for removing odors. Borax softens water, removes stains, whitens clothes and disinfects. Washing soda cuts grease, removes stains and softens water. Lemon juice is effective against grease and household bacteria.

To begin, find a spray bottle and place a piece of tape on the bottle. With a permanent marker write the recipe for the cleaner on the tape. This will keep the recipe handy and save you time when it is time to make another batch.

The ingredients used to make all-purpose spray cleaner require a minimal investment and they are easy to find in most any grocery, hardware, or discount store. This cleaner is incredibly fast and easy to make, and the most exciting part is that it costs only 4 cents to make a 16-ounce bottle of cleaner.

All-purpose cleaner

1 tsp. borax

1/2 tsp. dish soap

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

16 oz. water

Mix all of the ingredients together in a spray bottle. Use for cleaning surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens.

We found a recipe for furniture spray that works great. The recipe calls for either olive oil or mineral oil. When olive oil is used the cost of making it increases, but it might be handier if you commonly keep olive oil in your cupboard. Either way, the recipe can be mixed as needed in very small quantities. After mixing the dusting spray, I have found it necessary to keep the bottle in the refrigerator because the lemon juice tends to begin to smell sour.

Furniture spray

1 part lemon juice

1 part mineral oil or olive oil

Mix both ingredients in a spray bottle. The furniture spray is great for dusting and revitalizing wood surfaces.

Finding a cleaner that works well for cleaning the shower is very exciting. The minimal cost to make it and the non-toxic ingredients are even more exciting.

Shower cleaner

1 cup water

1 cup vinegar

3 tablespoons liquid dish soap

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. (If the dish soap is not dissolved the mixture will be too thick to spray). Spray it on the walls and floor of your shower and let it sit for 10 minutes. For extra cleaning power sprinkle baking soda on the wet mixture and let it stand for a while before scrubbing.

Another cleaner that is extremely economical and handy to make is window cleaner. It costs fewer than 20 cents to make a full bottle. Even more exciting than the price is how well this cleaner works. Again, it is a good idea to write the recipe or the ratios of the ingredients on a piece of tape on the outside of the bottle.

Window cleaner

1 part water

1 part rubbing alcohol

1 part vinegar

A squirt of dish soap

Mix in a spray bottle and use it on windows and mirrors.

Using the following non-toxic cleaner to clean toilets is great for the environment, plus the ingredients are usually in the kitchen cupboard.

Toilet cleaner

Pour approximately 1/4 cup baking soda and one to two cups of vinegar into the toilet basin. Let it stand for several minutes then scrub the basin with a brush and rinse.

With a very small investment of time and a few easy-to-find ingredients, you can have green cleaners and save a significant amount of money. If you have additional cleaning recipes you would like to share with others, email me at

Kara Rozendaal, a financial planner, wife and homeschool mother of three, has lived in Prescott Valley for 16 years. Learn more about her classes and ways to save money at

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