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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Homemade Household Cleaners

Homemade Household Cleaners

Make your own homemade household cleaners from household items.  Baking soda is one of the many common household items that make a great addition to one’s cleaning arsenal but there are many more.

Here are a few suggestions for items to stock in your spring cleaning pantry:

Baking Soda (good for scouring surfaces without scratching, great deodorizer);

White Vinegar (used to get rid of mold, bacteria, and germs, great in combination with baking soda);

Ammonia (similar to vinegar but stronger);

Rubbing Alcohol (kills bacteria and germs and evaporates quickly);

Salt (good for scouring and removing tannin stains);

Lemon Juice (kills germs and bacteria, acts like natural bleach, hides odors);

Olive Oil (good for polishing surfaces);

Hydrogen Peroxide (kills bacteria and mold);

Tea Tree Oil (kills germs, hinders mold, and hides odors);

Club Soda (great for stains, especially on carpets and upholstery);

Mild Dish Detergent (cuts through grease) or for a more natural approach, pure castile soap (soap made with vegetable oil, eco-friendly);

Borax (good for scouring, breaking up stains);

Empty Spray Bottles (these can be recycled from store bought cleaning products, or bought empty), rags, scouring pads, a good scrub brush, bucket, and mop.

Once you’ve assembled all of that, you may still need some guidance on what to do with it. Not all natural cleaning supplies are created equally. Each one has a range of things it’s good for, and each one mixes with some of the others for an enhanced outcome. Here are a few cleaning “recipes” to get you started.

All-purpose cleaner
Fill a spray bottle halfway with vinegar and top it off with plain water. Add lemon juice or another pleasant-smelling essential oil to hide the vinegar smell. Shake it up and use as every day household cleaner. For a stronger all-purpose cleaner, you can use ammonia instead of vinegar. Use four parts water for every one part ammonia.

Glass surface cleaner
Fill a spray bottle a quarter way with vinegar and top off with warm water. For a faster-drying alternative, pour 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon vinegar into a spray bottle. The rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, and acts as a good rival for commercial glass cleaners.

Bathroom Cleaner
Make a paste from baking soda and a little castile soap or mild dish soap. Add a few drops tea tree oil for antiseptic properties and mold repellant. Scrub down bath and sink surfaces first without water and then rinse. To keep the mold growth in your shower and bathtub down, keep a spray bottle with water and several drops of tea tree oil on hand, and spray after each bath or shower.

Toilet Cleaner
Pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda in the toilet. Add 1 cup vinegar. Stir it up with scrub brush and let it sit and fizz, then scrub and flush. For heavy stains, use ammonia instead of vinegar.

Floor cleaner
Fill a bucket with 1 gallon hot water, 1 cup vinegar, and a few drops of tea tree oil. For tough jobs, add 1/4 cup borax or baking soda and 1/2 cup ammonia. For marble or granite floors substitute rubbing alcohol for vinegar or ammonia. This will protect the porous surface from the harsh acidic qualities of the vinegar and ammonia.

Furniture polish
In an old olive oil bottle, mix 1 cup olive oil and 1/2 part lemon juice. Pour the oil onto soft cloth and gently rub into the furniture. This is best for real wood surfaces, but works on faux wood and plastic, as well.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.