Saturday, August 18, 2012

C is for Cleansing

In the last year, I've moved to making all of my own household cleaning products (except for soaps and dishwasher tabs). It started with floor wash and carpet sprinkles and has moved to all homemade all the time. Y'all know I love dual purpose magical and mundane things that cut down on work and time spent for regular maintenance. The recipes I use are broken down below, along with a tutorial for my all-purpose kitchen spray. They're ripe for expansion and personalization.

Magical benefits: While one could enchant the Windex to act as a barrier on gateways made of glass (mirrors, windows) and the detergent to make your clothes give you an extra special aura of attractiveness, those things aren't going to be quite the same as controlling the ingredients and process of making them yourself. Natural ingredients, the ability to add herbs and oils, plus the option to make them at advantageous times make this a no-brainer. The ingredients are classic things you use for magical house cleansing and protection anyway. Now they're doing the physical cleaning at the same time.

Practical benefits: It turns out that making most household cleaners is dirt cheap. You'll be ticked at yourself for paying $3-5 a bottle for them. The homemade stuff works better, even on hard water stains, and it doesn't have the chemicals that irritate your respiratory system (ok, the stuff with vinegar still smells like vinegar). The essential oils great for cleansing magic-wise are also great at cleansing and germ killing physically. Plus, they're the cheaper oils like mint, eucalyptus, orange, lemon, rosemary, and lemongrass.

Helpful Hints: There's a big difference in quality and longevity between the $1 bottle and the $3 bottle: get the more expensive one in the cleaning aisle because it will last for years instead of weeks. Tap water is the enemy because it has trace mineral deposits in there that can leave a film of lime buildup on the thing you just cleaned. You can always add a little more of the active ingredient or of the essential oils if it doesn't have enough oomph.

Peeps' All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
This is for a standard 32 oz. household cleaning bottle from the grocery store. It's easily divisible if your bottles are smaller. It takes about 30 minutes to make, including cooling time.
  • Purified or distilled water - about 3 3/4 c. 
  • 3 Tb. Borax
  • 2 Tb. Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap
  • Essential oils of your choice (a few drops will do the job)
  • Optional: food coloring, herbs to infuse with the water
In a small saucepan, heat up the water and Borax together, stirring occasionally until the Borax is well-dissolved. Turn the heat off and let it cool down for about 20 minutes. Stir in the Dr. Bronner's soap, food coloring, and oils. (I got a little excited with the food coloring. It doesn't dye anything I spray it on, but usually a couple of drops will do it.) This would be an ideal time to enchant it specifically in conjunction with the oils you're using.

The oils you use are up to you. Orange is a great cleaner that dissolves dirt and brings in luck, love, happiness, and prosperity. Rosemary is an excellent protection herb that smells great and has anti-microbial properties. Eucalyptus wards off evil and is anti-bacterial. Lemon is an amazing cleaner that also cuts through bad stuff and clears it away. Mint breaks up bad stuff and repels evil.
Et voila! House cleaner! Shake it up before you use it to help distribute the oils evenly. It will get the nasty stuff off of the stove as well as 409.

Tub and Sink and Tile Cleaner
This works wonders on my evil and impossible hard water (yay country living). One thing I love about it is that vinegar is something I use anyway (with a little salt) to seal the drains as a gateway into the house. Now I just dump some salt on the drain when I'm rinsing this off. It cleans really well, but as with all cleaning, you will have to go over it with a sponge or scrubbing brush to work tough stuff loose. It's only a teeny weeny bit of elbow grease, I promise.

In a bottle, mix 2 parts Dawn with 3 parts white vinegar and add a few drops of an appropriate essential oil. It won't cover up the vinegar smell, but it will help. Spray it on, leave it for a few minutes, wash it off. It does great things for rust and calcium buildup rings at the top of the water in the toilet bowl, too.

Germs Be Gone! Spray
Instead of Lysol or bleach spray, you can use this. Grapefruit Seed Extract is an incredible anti-bacterial agent that you can use internally* and externally, as well as around the house. It's being tested as a hospital-grade antiseptic, so it should be up to the job of taking care of your household germs. It's available at health food stores like Whole Foods, and a small bottle will last you quite a while.
  • 4c./32 oz. distilled or purified water
  • 30 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Essential oils as desired
Spray down counter tops, doorknobs, light switches, bathrooms, produce, kitchen surfaces. It will kill mold and mildew and fungus without the odor of bleach or harsh chemicals.

*This has cured strep throat for me twice in the last decade. It's incredibly bitter, but you gargle with it several times daily. The blisters just went away within a couple of days while the other people I knew sick with it were sick for about a week. YMMV and read up on it some before taking it internally.

Glass Cleaner
The ingredients for a two year supply for our house costs less than a single bottle of Windex. Ammonia is nasty stuff that cleans like a dream. There's a reason it's in so many Hoodoo formulations for washes that get the nasties cleared out of your home.
  • 1.5 oz ammonia (the white kind, not the scented kind)
  • 5 oz rubbing alcohol (or vodka, whatever...)
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with purified or distilled water