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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vintage article: Making your own household cleaners

When we unloaded a credenza the other day, my SIL found an old, yellowed article that some conscientious homemaker had clipped from a newspaper years ago. I'm sure she had every intention of saving up to $120 a year by making her own household cleaning products. I've clipped a million articles in my time, and I've rarely followed up on the advice in a single one. I wonder if she did.

Here are the products we could make, if we were so inclined:

Wet Spotter for Carpets:  Mix one part glycerin to eight parts water in a plastic squeeze bottle with a cap. Shake well, then squirt or tamp the solution into the carpet using the back of a spoon or a small brush. This works with many kinds of stains, even ink.

Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo: Mix one-fourth of a cup of a mild detergent powder with a quart of water and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Whip it into a stiff foam using an eggbeater. Apply the foam only to the fabric with a soft brush, sponge or terry cloth, rubbing gently and using even pressure to prevent streaking. Scrape away soiled foam with a dull knife. Then wipe off the residue with a damp cloth or sponge.

All-Purpose Household Cleaner: This is for things like floors, countertops, walls, woodwork and appliances. Mix one cup of laundry detergent, three-fourths of a cup of household ammonia and one gallon of water. For really tough jobs, reduce the amount of water you use. Dispense onto a sponge or cloth, NOT on the surface to be cleaned, or you'll get one superclean spot.

Cleaner for Tubs, Toilets, Sinks and Tiles: Mix one part chlorine bleach and two parts water. Let it stand on surfaces for 15 minutes before rinsing off. And you can remove hard water mineral deposits and soap scum with a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and water. For rust stains, apply the vinegar full-strength.

Copper and Brass Cleaner: Mix white vinegar and ordinary table salt to make a paste. Rub in, then polish with a soft cloth.

And if the choice came down to making my own cleaning products
or having hubby clean for me...I'd say to heck with the $120.
Duska Dorschel, the home extension specialist mentioned in the article, retired in January, 2010, after 35 years with the Duval County (Florida) Cooperative Extension Service. 


  1. Love the photo! We clean with vinegar all the time and I make my own laundry soap - but hubby is convinced those can't work as well as his mama's chemical cleaners so he does do his own laundry - so you see, you can have both!

  2. @DearHelenHartman: My daughter and SIL are big on cleaning with vinegar, but I have to confess that I'm more like your husband. I'm not giving up my Windex. ;)

  3. Great photo! I love the idea of using fewer chemicals, but I love my 409 spray cleaner. Little bit at a time I guess.

  4. @Midcenturymadam: Yep, I adapt to change pretty well, but on a few things, I dig in my heels!