DIY Natural Household Cleaners
Grandma’s Stain Sticks
- 2.5 pounds lard – I never substitute with another oil, sticking with what Grandma knew to be good.
- 2 tablespoons borax
- 2 tablespoons ammonia
- 1-2 oz. lemon and/or orange essential oils – my addition. Helps with grease cutting.
- 5 ounces lye
- 12 oz. cold water
In a small stainless steel pot, pour in cold water and add lye. Stir until lye is melted. Be careful to not breathe in the steam as it is caustic. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Melt lard in another stainless steel pot. Cool to room temperature as well.
Carefully pour the lye solution into the melted oils. Add all other ingredients. Stir with a stick blender for about 7-10 minutes or until thick.
Pour into a parchment lined log mold or mold of choice. Do NOT use any metal molds other than stainless steel.
When the soap is cool enough to hold its shape, but still warm when touched, take it out of the mold and cut into bars. This usually takes about 6 or os hours. Don’t wait until the soap is cold, or it will shatter when cut.
Let them sit on top of your fridge or a shelf uncovered for a month to fully cure. You can then grate the soap for dishes and laundry or keep as bars to use as stain remover sticks.
Cleaning your home with DIY natural cleaners is not only environmentally and personally friendly, but these cleaners are cheaper than store bought products to boot! Science has seen that the active ingredients of many of the “antibacterial” cleaners have been linked to endocrine disruption, thyroid damage, and the emergence of drug resistant superbugs. Uncool, my friends, uncool.
The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate tissue function, reproduction, cellular metabolism, sleep and mood, growth and development among a vast array of other functions. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system. It’s kind of an important body system, hey? With a disrupted/damaged endocrine system, serious diseases and physical symptoms arise.
Try these cleaners to save money, do your part for the environment, and feel better both physically and emotionally!
Vinegar and essential oils
Vinegar retards mold growth and can kill viruses and bacteria. While vinegar is not recognised by the EPA as a certified substance, those in some circles will opt for 70% alcohol instead. That doesn’t deny vinegar’s abilities, however. It also does a great job with general cleaning of windows and other surfaces. Vinegar is a good grease cutter. Boost plain vinegar by steeping finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, citrus, thyme, oregano, and lavender in vinegar for 2 weeks, then strain and use as the base cleaner. Keep in mind that commercial white vinegar is made with GMO corn, so think about opting for organic vinegar.
8 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. I like to add a teaspoon of a blend of essential oils such as orange, rosemary, cedar, and lavender. Put in a spray bottle to clean countertops, tubs, sinks, and many flooring materials such as wood, tile, and linoleum. Do a trial spray on a little seen part first to make sure that the essential oils are not doing any damage to finishes.
Cedar, lavender, peppermint, thyme, oregano, and rosemary are very potent fungus and bacteria killers. Use them full strength (wear gloves) on mold around the sinks and tub, aluminum windows and sills. Look for “essential oil” on the label not “fragrance oil,” as fragrance oils are neither antibacterial nor antifungal, and are made with carcinogenic petroleum based ingredients.
Baking soda, water, and vinegar
Using equal parts, blend in a bowl and apply with a sponge to a dirty oven, including the inside door and racks. Close the door, turn the oven on to 225 degrees, and let the solution do its thing for 45 minutes. Wipe down with a wet sponge what was once baked on food and grease like a champ! You’ll need to frequently rinse the sponge as it will quickly get clogged with the food and grease.
Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
Sprinkle baking soda on countertop, sink, and tub stains, splash on hydrogen peroxide to wet the baking soda. Wait 2 minutes and gently scrub to easily remove the stains. It works a charm!
Stains such as grease, oil, ink, blood, baby barf, and grass on laundry come out effortlessly in the washer using my Grandma’s laundry soap. I have her recipe card dated 1928! Grandma used her laundry soap to wash clothes, dishes, and her floors. She knew what she was doing!
The soap can be shaved into hot dishwater for sparkling clean dishes. For laundry soap, put 1/3 cup of shavings in a pan filled with a quart of water. Turn the heat on medium and without stirring, allow the soap to dissolve. Pour into a container. As the solution cools, it becomes a gel that can be used in clothes washers. The laundry gel is low sudsing. After every 10 or so washes, run the washer without clothes with hot water and 2 cups of vinegar, then wipe to get rid of any soap scum that may be present at the top of the washer.
Cut of a few bars to use as laundry stain sticks. Wet either the stain or the bar, rub on the stain, and launder as usual. Most stains come out in one washing. Occasionally, a second application needs to be made with stubborn stains. See the sidebar for complete recipe!