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Money & Career

How to make your own cleaning products

When we clean our house, the smell can be hard to handle — I have asthma and the chemicals in most mainstream products are really hard on my lungs. I also worry about the effect all those chemicals might have on my kids.
By Caroline Cakebread
spray, clean

When we clean our house, the smell can be hard to handle — I have asthma and the chemicals in most mainstream products are really hard on my lungs. I also worry about the effect all those harsh ingredients might have on my kids.

In the past, I’ve tried to buy environmentally friendly cleaning products — but, man, are they expensive. To add insult to injury, they also come in really small bottles (just two full house cleanings from one store-bought bottle of enviro-friendly, all-purpose cleaner?!).

So now I'm learning to make my own cleaning products. It’s not hard — and everything you need is in your kitchen. Here are just a few tricks I’ve learned:

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Vinegar: I’ve always used vinegar for cleaning — and no, my house does not smell like pickles. It is a natural disinfectant and the smell dissipates quickly. Diluting vinegar in a bucket of water creates the best cleaning product — you can use it on floors, in your bathroom and on your windows (just put the mixture in a spray bottle and it works beautifully).

Baking soda: It's not just for muffins! Mix baking soda with water to make a paste to make a good substitute for abrasive cleaners, without the heavy chemicals. Add a bit of lemon and you can make it smell nice too.

Rags: With a toddler and a three-year-old, paper towels never lasts long in this house. So I keep a stash of rags — cut up sheets and t-shirts make the best ones. Rags get our windows much cleaner than paper towel.

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Still working on it: I have to admit that I still keep a can of disinfectant wipes (yes!) around, but I have a potty-training boy and, well, really messy mistakes happen. I also use chlorine-based products in the toilet.

I’d be open to hearing any suggestions about cleaners from you — and does anyone have a solution for homemade HE laundry detergent or dishwasher soap? Or would that just be a disaster? Let me know in the comments!

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