: Recipe for Clean (A Starter kit for Students)

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My eldest recently packed up, stuffing her car to the roof, and drove off to university. Instead of living in the dorm this year, she and some other ladies are renting a house together. And that means they have to clean it.

My daughter is sensitive to the harsh chemicals found in typical cleaners. And she can’t afford the steep price of most commercial green cleaners.

So I am making her a starter kit and recording the ingredients for each cleaner so she can make more when it runs out.

You know that old saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”? This is kind of like that. She’s learning how to do this the cheapest way possible. All the ingredients came from the Dollar Store.

I thought I would keep things small and compact for her. This whole thing is small enough for her to tuck away under her bathroom sink.

In this small basket she has gloves, sponges, magic erasers, a micro fiber duster, a small broom and dust pan, cleaners for almost any job, and a cute ducky scrubber.


Best thing is that everything (including the ingredients such as peroxide, liquid soap, and lemon juice) were between $1.00-$2.00 each. The basket I already had.

So this all came out to around $17!  There is still plenty of the soap, lemon juice, and peroxide left over to make several more batches.

Along with the cleaners I made, I had to add something with more power. I am her mamma after all. You never know when a nasty cold will sweep through the house.  Or swine flu.  Or a zombie apocalypse. I can’t help but think of every possible scenario (ok,..maybe I have seen every episode of The Walking Dead. At least once).

What I am talking about is the cleaner used for generations. It cleans house like nothing else. Dettol. It will kill any germ or zombie out there. Back in the olden days, when people bathed once a week, mothers actually put this stuff in the bath water. Because they only bathed once a week.

It’s potent stuff. But it gets things CLEAN. And it even treats cuts or nasty pimples. A little goes a long way. So I have filled a small spray bottle.

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If you want to commit to shunning commercial cleaners, you will need to use lots of elbow grease. And good ‘cleaning house’ music. Yup, they have a Songza playlist for that.

Make your own cleaners. Not just to save money. Because as it turns out, most commercial brands labelled green, aren’t that green after all. Or they aren’t that effective. Here is an eye-opener of an article on top selling ‘green’ cleaners by Adria Vasil, if you care to read :


I mixed my batches to yield 1 cup each of cleaners. That was all her small spray bottles would hold. You can triple these recipes to fill most spray bottles.

General Gentle Cleaner:

1 cup of water +  ½ tsp liquid soap + 3 drops essential oil (optional).

This is for light cleaning of surfaces. A few drops of essential oil, like lavender, or orange can be added to make it smell nice (lavender also has antibacterial properties). For scrubbing power, sprinkle the surface with a bit of baking soda before spraying. If some grit is left on the surface, respray and wipe with towel.

Bath and Kitchen Disinfecting cleaner:

½ cup water + ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide + ¼ cup lemon juice.

Peroxide kills germs. This, lemon juice, and water is all that’s needed in kitchens and baths.

* A natural cleaner for toilet bowls (which I did not make) is a 2 step method. First, spray toilet and bowl with a mixture made from 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1/2 cup water  and several drops of  essential oil (optional-for pleasant smell). Leave sit for several minutes, then shake about ½ cup baking soda into bowl and scrub. If you don’t want to use commercial toilet bowl cleaner (which has hydrochloric acid and bleach), then you will have to do this at least twice weekly if you don’t want your toilet getting gross.


½ cup lemon juice + ½ cup water, + 1 tsp liquid soap.

Good for grimy surfaces in kitchen or shower stalls. Lemon juice, coupled with soap, is effective at cutting through grease. Sprinkle with baking soda and then spray. If you have burnt spots to contend with, you can sprinkle on table salt for more scrub power.

For really nasty pots, heat some vinegar and pour in, letting it sit an hour before scrubbing.

Laundry stain remover:

1 part liquid soap + 1 part hydrogen peroxide.

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Peroxide is a safe alternative to chlorine bleach and also loosens dirt. It’s color safe as well. The dish detergent cuts through oil based stains. You use 1:1 ratio of peroxide and liquid soap such as Dawn dish soap. Dawn is not a natural soap. If you want to be totally green, you can purchase a pure liquid castile soap like Bronner’s brand.

Let mixture sit on your stain for about an hour, gently scrub by rubbing fabric together, toss in washer and launder as usual.

Zombie Killer:

Definitely not green, but sometimes you need a powerful germ killer. This is it.

Image from Google search

Image from Google search

Dettol is concentrated and must be diluted with water. Use a 1:20 ratio solution by mixing 20 ml of Dettol with 400 ml of water. **This is an antiseptic, so keep away from pets and children**

Alternatively, a spray bottle of alcohol works too

Here is one final tip: when cleaning with vinegar, use it as a ‘chaser’. If you mix vinegar with soap, it (being an acid) cancels the effectiveness of the soap. Use vinegar after the initial cleaning. Also, vinegar kills 80% of germs. Almost as effective as peroxide.

But neither will kill zombies.


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