Okay, so Spring Cleaning isn't exactly a party. But if you're anything like me, it's usually still a big to-do. Lately I've been inspired to be more environmentally responsible in my cleaning, and it's usually the case that the natural, green, safe products with the pretty packaging are far more expensive than the hardcore off-brand Clorox made of god-knows-what. And part of what you're paying for is that pretty packaging. (An exception: Target often has great in-store sale prices on J.R. Watkins stuff, which I love.) So I was delighted to find a slew of recipes online for DIY cheap green cleaning, made from easy-to-find (you-probably-already-have), inexpensive ingredients.
A CHEAP GREEN CLEANING SHOPPING LIST…
Kosher salt – $2
Baking soda – $.50
Castile soap – $11 ($10 at Trader Joe's)
Olive oil – $3
Green dish soap – $3
Essential oils – $4+ (lemon, thyme, lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus are though to be disinfecting)
Citrus fruits– $.50 – $1
Borax – $6
Chalk– $2 (for stains)
Laundry soap – $2
Hydrogen peroxide– $5 (for stains)
Oxygen bleach – $2 (for grout)
All these items may even be cheaper in stores (drugstore, grocery, supermarket, etc), and will ensure you avoid all shipping charges.
Natural sponge – $3
Reuseable paper towels – $10 (Seriously, how brilliant? Washable up to 100 times!)
Spray bottle – $2 (Or recycle an old one)
Toilet brush – $4
(Adorable) brush & dust pan– $15
With a bit of a bigger skill, time, and money investment, you could make super cute reusable paperless towels that will last forever, but I'm not so crafty. I usually end up using an old shirt as a rag for jobs that require soft cloth.
If you have to buy EVERYTHING above, it brings you to a total of about $97. Yeah, that's a lot all at once, especially for an activity that's usually not very fun. But dollar for dollar, you're saving immensely compared to conventional store-bought cleaners, and you'll be able to make a bajillion different things. Look: Apartment Therapy has an incredible roundup of green cleaning recipes for the whole home, and And Then We Saved has a great laundry detergent tutorial. Here's a little cheat sheet for the basics:
The good news is that your home will no longer smell like harsh chemicals after cleaning. The bad news is that it might smell like vinegar. Choose soaps and essential oils with scents that you find fresh and clean. I like the minty, lemony stuff.
And don't forget the value of a good old seasonal purge! I recently went through my closet to get rid of things I don't love or need anymore. Not only do I feel better about my wardrobe (and clutter), but it was also an amazing lesson in my spending habits. It was so easy to see the kinds of things I had bought impulsively or emotionally that I didn't ultimately wear very much.
Any other tips or tricks for cheap green cleaning?
Lauren Johnson is a filmmaker/producer living in West Hollywood who enjoys a great foreign thriller, leisure beers, and non-primary colors. She also writes the site LOCONCEPTS.