Green Clean This Spring

By Reba Ray

When a friend of mine told me about making her own laundry detergent, I thought she was goin’ granola to the extreme on me, but when she told me how much money she saved by doin’ so, a bell went off. Sounded somethin’ like “Cha-ching!” So I finally rounded up a couple of teenagers who work for pizza and told them to start grating bar soap for my homemade laundry detergent. Twenty minutes later, they had a big ole batch of soap that I put in a empty box from the last detergent I had bought at the store. Those 180-load boxes usually lasted me about two months and cost about $20. This home-made detergent cost me about $30; difference is it’s lasted me since last November! Yep, I’m goin’ on five months now and have a third of the box left! Don’t ask me why, but it only takes a few tablespoons of the homemade stuff to get the clothes clean. And I even like how it smells.

Besides just savin’ money, I believe homemade cleaners are better for a body. Did you know that house wives who are exposed to cleanin’ products are two times more likely to develop some types of cancer, includin’ breast cancer? Now that’s a fine howdy-do for keepin’ a clean house! But the fact of the matter is we’ve done the same dang thing to our cleanin’ products since the 1950s as we have our food: made ‘em dern bad for us!

Let’s get back to basics and save some money while we’re at it. Here are some recipes of a different kind: downhome healthy concoctin’ for one! Most of this information is from If I haven’t convinced ya to try some of these recipes, check out their article on a recent study linking 200 household products with asthma and hormone disturbance (hmm, that actually explains a few things!).

Get ready by buyin’ a few high quality spray bottles with ounce measurements on them, some castile liquid soap (you can find online (Amazon, or in health stores; a gallon of distilled white vinegar; washin’ soda and borax (found in your supermarket’s laundry aisle) and a big box of bakin’ soda.

  • For Scrubbin’ and Scourin’, Alternative to Scouring Powder: For a “soft scrub,” mix together baking soda and liquid soap until you get a consistency you like. The amounts don’t have to be perfect. Make only as much as you need, as it dries up quickly.
  • Surface Disinfectants, Alternative to Lysol: Spray surfaces with vinegar and then with 3% hydrogen peroxide (available in drug stores). Keep the liquids in separate spray bottles and use them one at a time.
  • Glass Cleaner, Alternative to Windex: Put 3 tablespoons vinegar per 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Some recommend using half vinegar and half water. For extra-dirty windows try this: 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 cups of water. Shake well, spray on and wipe off with newspaper. Alternately to the alternative, try washin’ yur windows with club soda.
  • Drain de-clogger, Alternative to Drano: To de-grease and deodorize sink and tub drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down drain followed by 1 cup vinegar; let bubble for 15 minutes; rinse with hot water. You might have to repeat the whole procedure more than once or leave the baking soda and vinegar to “cook” overnight.
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Alternative to Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Pour 1 cup of borax and 1/4 cup vinegar into the toilet before bed. In the morning, scrub and flush.
  • Deodorizer, Alternative to Air Fresheners and Febreze: Vinegar and baking soda are great room fresheners. Vinegar deodorizes, while baking soda absorbs odors. Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vinegar (or lemon juice) and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle and spritz in the air to remove odors. Zeolite, a mineral, also absorbs odor, but good luck finding it in stores and if you search online, be sure to enter “zeolite odor control” because it’s wildly popular as a detox treatment. Zeolite products can also replace yur Carpet Fresh and if you sprinkle some in the litter box, you can buy a lot cheaper kitty litter without smelling the difference.
  • Furniture Polish, Alternative to Pledge: First off, you should know that only real wood furniture needs an oily polish, everything else can be dusted with a damp cloth just as well. For real wood, polish with a rag lightly coated with olive oil.
  • Whitenin’ and Sanitizin’ Agent, Alternative to Bleach: Use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach.
  • All-purpose disinfectant, Alternative to Pine-sol or 409: 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 to 4 cups hot water in a spray bottle. For extra cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap to the mixture.

And finally, I leave you with the concoction that’s cleanin’ my clothes so well.

1 box borax
1 large box baking soda (find it in the laundry section)
1 box washing soda (also found in the laundry section)
1 large tub oxyclean – optional
2 bars Fels Naphtha soap, grated
2 bars Zote soap, grated

Mix it all together and use sparingly, about 3 tablespoons for a large load. Dissolve it for a bit in hot water, then change the temp to warm or cold, accordin’ to what yur washin’. This soap doesn’t foam up, so don’t sit there watchin’ it! It’s doin’ its job, I promise.

* See W.E. Morton, Further Investigation of Housewife Cancer Mortality Risk, Women and Health, 1982, 7:43-51; Dr. D.A. Sterling, Comparison of Risk of Chronic Conditions and Cancer Between Homemakers and Otherwise Employed Women, National Center for Health Statistics Conference, Washington, DC, July 15, 1991

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