I got this book (Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan) on a recommendation and it got great reviews on Amazon. Given that we will soon have a little one crawling around and putting everything in his mouth I would prefer to not clean with a bunch of chemicals. At the same time, I want things to be clean. So I'm not really doing this for the planet (I suppose it's an added bonus) but I'm doing it for the kid.
According to the book you can basically stop buying all cleaners and just make your own. They tell you how to make everything from all-purpose cleaners, to disinfectants, to furniture polishes, to laundry detergents and dishwasher detergent.
I followed the guide lines in the book and started out getting my containers, then ingredients. I would actually suggest figuring out what cleaners you want to make first, then getting the container and ingredients you need for them. Getting everything at once was a little more expensive than I had anticipated, but on the plus side I don't have to buy anymore.
The containers: There is a list in the book of suggested containers, sizes, and quality guidelines, and it's too long to put it up here. I definitely see the point in buying the better containers. You want to be able to adjust the spray on your squirt bottle and you don't want something that's going to clog or break after a few uses. I think I paid about $3.50 for each of my big bottles here, sure I could have gotten them for $1 but I would have to replace them much sooner. I would also suggest collecting empty container from around the house. As you finish with something in a bottle (like shampoo) just wash the container and keep it to use for a cleaner.
Next are the ingredients. The most expensive thing was the essential oils, but that's also my favorite part. And those may be some tiny bottles, but they last forever. I ordered mine from Amazon and I think I paid about $17 for 8 different oils.
baking soda (get the biggest box)
liquid soap: castile, vegetable-oil based, or glycerin (I got the non-scented castile soap at HEB)
white distilled vinegar
borax (this is the one thing I could not find at HEB, I guess I'll have to try walmart)
purified water: or you can use a home filtration system if you have one
There is also a list of things you should have around, like salt, petroleum jelly, and olive oil, but I'm not going to list them all because I have yet to need them.
Now for the fun part - mixing things!
I stared out with a basic all-purpose cleaner (mostly for the kitchen counters)
Ingredients: (for a 16 oz squirt bottle)
10 oz water, 4 oz vinegar, 1 tbsp liquid soap soap.
How to Make: Use warm water and stir in the soap, add the vinegar, dump into the squirt bottle.
Review: It worked fine. I wasn't too impressed until after the counter had dried and I came back to it. I think it looked the cleanest it ever has and I would have easily eaten off of it. This ones a keeper.
Next it was onto the bathrooms. One of my big concerns is the diaper pail(s). Given that we'll be using cloth diapers and they'll be sitting the the pails for a day or so, I can imagine the smell. Bleach is what I've always used to clean out these types of things and I haven't ruled it out yet but here are 2 ideas to try first. There are 2 things to keep the smell under control, one is simply putting some smelly essential oil on a paper towel and putting that at the bottom of the pail. The other is using this recipe and sprinkling it in the pail and using it to clean the pail while diapers are being washed.
Doctor Diaper Pail: Disinfecting spray alternative (works to clean the bathroom too)
Ingredients: (in shaker)
1 cup baking soda, 50 drops tea tree oil; optional lemon and lavender oil too.
How to Make: Add the oil(s) to the baking soda and stir with a work to get all the lumps out.
Review: This was super easy to make. I added the lemon and lavender oils and it smells great. As a cleaner I was much more impressed with the next one. Obviously I haven't tried it out on a diaper pail, but I have hope.
Earth Scrub: Tub and Tile Cleaner
Ingredients: (for 16 oz. bottle)
1 & 2/3 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup liquid soap, 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp. vinegar, Optional essential oil.
How to Make: In a bowl mix the baking soda, liquid soap, and water. Stir until the lumps are gone. Add the vinegar and oil, pour into container.
Review: I love this one! It was fun to make and reminded me of something I would have tried as a kid. Plus when I added the vinegar it bubbled and fizzed. I cleaned the bathroom counter with it and it worked great. Next time I'll use the combination of oils from the previous recipe (tea tree, lavender, lemon). But this is by far my favorite. It got all the gunk and stuff off the counter and out of the sinks very easily and it didn't take a lot of rinsing. After I scrubbed the counter top, I just rinsed the rag and wiped it once and it was gone. You can use it just about anywhere, the tub, sink, toilet bowl, garbage cans, any greasy, grimy job.
From left to right we have a floor cleaner (very similar to the all-purpose cleaner, just concentrated) I didn't put it up because I haven't tried it yet. The big bottle is the all-purpose cleaner, the one with the blue lid is the Earth Scrub, and the shaker is the Diaper Pail disinfectant. I need some labels!
Basically, I really like it so far. I don't know that I will ever completely give up my bleach and I don't plan on using only baking soda in the dishwasher (that is what's recommended) but I do like that I'm using far fewer chemical. And who knows, I may get adventurous one day and try making my own laundry detergent. I must admit that I'm curious...