The most basic supplies for creating your own inexpensive, environmentally friendly cleaners are probably already in your kitchen. All you really need is white vinegar, baking soda, canola oil, and a spray bottle. These items are inexpensive, even if you haven’t got a coupon! Sample prices below are from Kroger.
White Vinegar, 32 oz $1.17
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and degreaser. You can use it on almost anything. I keep a spray bottle with equal parts of vinegar and water for general cleaning purposes. The mix is perfect for cleaning windows, as well. It doesn't streak at all. You can pour a little straight vinegar on your stove to remove all the grease and grime. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe clean. The longer it sits the less elbow grease you'll have to use. Want something that smells better than plain old vinegar? Try the recipe my grandma taught me, included at the end of this post.
Baking Soda, 16 oz $0.79
Baking soda is your scrubbing power. Use it dry to scrub out stubborn stains on countertops, or make a paste with water to scrub tubs, sinks, showers and even toilets. You can even use baking soda to scrub out your oven. Make a paste with water and go at it. You have to love a clean oven that doesn't come with the acrid, science-experiment-gone-wrong smell of some of the specialty oven cleaners available at the store.
Canola Blend Oil, 48 oz $2.59
Canola oil replaces wood furniture cleaners such as Pledge. It is safe to use on all types of wood. Only use it in small amounts, though; use too much, and you'll be left with an oily mess. If you want to, you can always add a drop of lemon juice to your rag to give your wood the lemon fresh scent of Pledge. You could even add a drop or two of any essential oil to make a specialty scent. I'm fond of adding lavender oil myself.
You can unclog drains with a mix of baking soda and vinegar. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by half a cup of vinegar. Wait for it to bubble up just like the science fair volcanoes of your elementary school years. The bubbles mean it's eating the clog! Rinse the whole thing down with hot water!
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Mix it all up in your spray bottle, and you're good to go. It smells great.
There are lots of other ways to clean without store-bought cleaners. I know some moms that swear by a teakettle full of boiling water for surface cleaning. What are your homemade cleaning solution secrets?