Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Make-It-Yourself Cleaners

This helpful hint was in my Old Farmers Almanac newsletter. Our grandmothers would be so proud. :)

WARNING: Never mix cleaning products containing bleach and ammonia as dangerous fumes will result.

GENERAL CLEANER: dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water.

GENERAL-PURPOSE CLEANER: combine 1 teaspoon borax, 1/2 teaspoon washing soda, 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 2 cups hot water. If you don't have washing soda (generally found in the laundry section of supermarkets), use 1 teaspoon baking soda instead. For a more pleasant smell, use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Be sure to label the bottle accordingly.

SURFACE CLEANER: mix together vinegar and salt. Apply and rinse with water.

EASY SCRUB: combine 3/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup borax dishwashing liquid. Mix in enough dishwashing liquid to make a smooth paste. If you prefer a pleasant smell, add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice to the paste.

HEAVY-DUTY DISINFECTANT CLEANER: slowly stir together 1/4 cup powdered laundry detergent with 1 tablespoon borax into 3/4 cup hot water until dissolved. Add 1/4 cup pine oil (available at hardware stores and supermarkets), or pine-based cleaner, and mix well. For bathroom cleaning, use the mixture full strength. In the kitchen, dilute it with water.

TOILET CLEANER: combine 1 cup borax with 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice to make a paste. Apply it to the inside of the toilet bowl; let sit for 1 to 2 hours, and scrub.

MILDEW REMOVER: in a pail, combine 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent with 1 quart chlorine bleach and 2 quarts water. Wearing rubber gloves, wash off the mildew.

GLASS CLEANER: Combine 2 tablespoons ammonia, 1/2 cup alcohol, 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and a few drops blue food coloring water. Then add enough water to make 1 quart. If you prefer a nonammoniated cleaner, substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.

DRAIN CLEANER: pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it.

OVEN CLEANER: mix together 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid, 2 teaspoons borax, 1/4 cup ammonia and 1-1/2 cups warm water. Apply to oven spills, and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Scrub with an abrasive nylon-backed sponge and rinse well.

POLISHING CLOTHS I: you can make your own polish-impregnated cloths to dust furniture. Pour some furniture polish into a large glass jar and shake it until the sides are coated. Pour the remainder of the polish back into the polish container. Place terry or other absorbent cloths in the jar and cover tightly. Leave overnight or until the cloths have absorbed all the polish. Store the cloths in the jar.

POLISHING CLOTHS II: here's another method for making polishing cloths. Add 1/4 cup polish (such as lemon oil) to 2 cups hot water. Mix well. Soak dust cloths in the mixture, then let them dry before using. Save the mixture in a glass jar. When the cloths become soiled, wash them, re-treat them, and use again.

FURNITURE POLISH I: mix two parts vegetable oil or olive oil and one part lemon juice. Apply and polish with a soft cloth.

FURNITURE POLISH II: Add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 tablespoon boiled linseed oil and 1 tablespoon turpentine into in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake until blended. Dampen a cloth with cold water and wring it out until it's as dry as you can get it. Saturate the cloth with the mixture and apply sparingly to a small area at a time. Let dry for about 30 minutes, then polish with a soft cloth. Note that this mixture gets gummy as it sits, so make just enough for one day's work.

WOOD FLOOR POLISH: mix together 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Rub on the floor and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

FLOOR WAX REMOVER: mix together 1 cup laundry detergent, 3/4 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Apply to a small area of the floor. Let the solution sit long enough for it to loosen the old wax, at least 5 to 10 minutes. Mop up the old wax (or scrape it up, if there's a lot of it, using a squeegee and a dustpan). Rinse thoroughly with 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon water and let dry before applying a new finish.

RUG CLEANER: Combine 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid with 1 cup lukewarm water. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution over a large area, or use the solution to spot-clean nongreasy stains. (Don't use laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent in place of dishwashing liquid, as they may contain additives that can affect the rug's color.)

CARPET FRESHENER: Combine 1 cup crushed dried herbs (such as rosemary, southernwood, or lavender), 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons baking soda in a large jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend. Sprinkle some of the mixture on your carpet, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum it up. It will give the room a pleasant smell and neutralize carpet odors.

JEWELRY CLEANER: combine 1/4 cup ammonia with 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and 3/4 cup water; mix well. Then soak your jewelry in the solution for a few minutes. Clean around the stones and designs with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Buff dry. (Caution: Don't use this with gold-plated jewelry; with soft stones such as pearls, opals, or jade; or with costume jewelry, because it could ruin the plastics or loosen the glue.)

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