Frugal Housekeeping Tips

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Are you beginning to notice how so much of what we use to run our homes is inter-connected? The way in which we wash dishes affects our water and heating; electrical or gas usage. And, windows, doors, and insulation have a direct connection to the cost of heating and cooling our homes. But, what about keeping your home clean? What tricks and tips can you use to lower the cost of keeping your home squeaky clean?

It’s simple. Take a clue from the women of old and use natural, basic and inexpensive supplies for keeping your home clean and fresh. Newspapers or cotton t-shirts, cut to size, make great towels for washing windows. T-shirts, old cotton socks or cotton diapers can be used as dusting cloths, while threadbare towels make good cleaning rags. Keep a box close by to collect and store these items as they come available.

To get started gather up a few ½-gallon or gallon jugs, spray bottles, cheese grater, measuring cups, bowls and spoons for mixing, and labels. You’ll want to keep these items separate from other kitchen utensils so try to find a nice box or bin to store them in. Thrift stores are a great place to find these items inexpensively.

Many of the ingredients needed may already be in your home, like baking soda, distilled water, white or cider vinegar, salt, lemon juice, olive oil and essential oils, but if they are not, they can be purchased at most stores. You’ll also want to add Borax laundry booster, washing soda, Castile soap (liquid and bar), ammonia and these essential oils; lavender for repelling insects, tea tree for an antibacterial and fungicide; and lemon, orange or tangerine for grease cutters.

Laundry detergents are probably one of the most expensive items we buy for cleaning. But, did you know that in powder form almost 75% of the detergents contents is chalk? And more than half of the liquid brands are water. In fact, most cleaning supplies are mostly additives to fill the packaging. But, with just a few ingredients and a few minutes of your time you could be making your own supplies and saving bundles. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 bar (4 to 6 ounces) Castile soap, grated
2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda
Essential oil if desired

Combine first four ingredients then essential oil if desired. (tea tree oil makes great anti-bacterial/anti-fungal properties) Store in a tight lidded jar. Use ¼ to ½ cup per load depending on load size, water type and machine. This is a low suds detergent so don’t be worried if it doesn’t bubble up the way commercial detergent does.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar, grated
1 cup washing soda
½ cup Borax

Add grated soap and water to saucepan. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. (you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons once soap has cooled) Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel) Yields 10 gallons.

To use: Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Lavender Laundry Softener

1 cup lavender buds
1 quart white vinegar
2 to 4 drops lavender essential oil

Pour lavender buds into wide mouth jar; add vinegar and cover with a plastic lid. Let stand for one week, then strain. Add essential oil if desired. Store in glass jar with plastic lid. To use: add ½ for medium to large loads and 1 cup for large to extra large loads to rinse cycle.

Delicate Wool Wash

2 cups Castile liquid soap
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops cedar wood essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a squeeze bottle. Shake before each use. To use: fill washing basin with warm water, add 1 Tbsp of Delicate Wool Wash and swish with hand. Place garments in water and let soak for about 10 minutes. Drain water and gently rinse until water runs clear. Gently squeeze out water and lay flat to dry. (wash and rinse water can be recycled in the yard without harming plants)

Dishwasher Detergent

1 cup Borax
½ cup baking soda

Combine and add to dispenser as usual. Fill the rinse dispenser with white vinegar for a sparkling clean load.

Scented Dish Soap

2 cup liquid Castile soap
10 drops essential oil
5 drops tea tree oil

Mix well in a squeeze top bottle. Makes great hand soap too.

All-purpose Cleaner

1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Castile soap, liquid
1 tbsp Borax
1 cup distilled water
Essential oils if desired

Combine all ingredients in spray bottle and shake well to mix.

Soft Scrub Cleaner

¼ cup baking soda
2 to 3 tbsp liquid Castle soap

Combine and mix well until smooth. Apply with damp cloth and rinse clean.

Spray for Dusting

1 cup distilled water
2 to 3 drops essential oil

Place in spray bottle, shake gently and dust away.

Window Cleaner

¼ to ½ tsp liquid Castile soap
3 tbsp white vinegar
2 cups distilled water

Combine all in spray bottle, shake gently before each use.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

1 gallon tap water
1 cup ammonia
½ cup vinegar
½ cup baking soda

Mix well in large container then pour into spray bottles.

Tub and Shower Scrub

1 cup baking soda
¼ cup salt
10 drops citrus essential oil
5 drops tea tree oil

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. To use: sprinkle around tub, scrub then rinse.

Lemon-Citrus Degreaser

½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup baking soda
10 drops citrus essential oil

Combine ingredients to make a paste. Pat on greasy area then wipe off with damp cloth.

Oven Cleaner

1 small box baking soda
Liquid Castile soap

Spray generous amount of water on bottom of oven, avoiding the coils. Cover with baking soda, then spray more water over soda. Let stand overnight. In the morning wipe with a scrubbing pad. To remove soda residue, put a few drops of Castile soap on a damp cloth and wipe clean.

Fresh cut or dried herbs and flowers from the garden not only brighten a room, but can also replace expensive room fresheners. As their scent fades sprinkle with a few drops of essential oil.

Lemon or orange peels put through the garbage disposal, now and then, will freshen the disposal.

Not only will these frugal cleaning supplies save you money, they will leave your home smelling fresh and clean, unlike the chemical laden cleaners.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nationaal Archief

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