Homemade Cleaner for Liberal Arts Majors


Yesterday my aunt asked me why I was interested in giving up shampoo.  Let me tell you how nice it was to have a moment of dialogue about this topic instead of the stay-at-home monologue-in-a-vacuum I’m usually privy to.  It makes you consider your answer instead of just blasting out your opinion on the internet.  My answer had nothing to do with toxins in the shampoo or stripping the scalp of natural oil:

“I don’t like throwing away the bottles.”
And, “It’s cheaper.”

It’s the same case for homemade cleaner.  I’m sure there are nasty things in commercial cleaners, things I don’t need my toddler chugging when I’m in the bathroom alone for two minutes.  But to be honest, I’m not a chemist.  I don’t claim to know about ingredients and how they interact and why one is better at cleaning two-day-old spaghetti sauce off my Silestone.  What I care about is that it works, that it saves me money and that it keeps me from tossing something else in the trash.

Using homemade surface cleaner is also an example of how routine can turn something that seems inconvenient and time consuming into something…well…routine.  I’ve made my cleaner so many times, refining the process each time that now it is an mindless extension of daily kitchen work.  I can mix up my cleaner simultaneously while making school lunches.  And it’s a better experience because no one will complain about it or leave half of my effort in a lunchbox at the end of the day.

*Probably not a good idea to actually make lunches and cleaner at the same time.  My cleaner uses Borax which, while ‘natural’, is going to make your evening unpleasant if ingested.  So I still keep it up higher than the crayon-toting hands of the house.

This recipe has been adjusted to fit your standard, grocery-aisle spray bottle (32 oz).

So here are the cast of characters:

Boil the water.  Or at least get it hot.

Aren’t I fancy with my boiler?

I totally got this for myself for Christmas.  Bought it, wrapped it, and didn’t even pretend to be surprised when I opened it.  This thing is a kitchen force multiplier.

Combine:  2 tsp. Borax, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 5 – 6 drops of dish soap.

Be careful with littles around Borax, k?

Whisk together, add water and whisk again.

Let mixture cool down.

Pour into spray bottle.

To use:  I don’t know if it’s needed since my bottle is opaque, but I give it a good shake before I start cleaning.  I use it on the kitchen counters, the toilet and occasionally the floor.

I don’t use it:  to really de-grease the stove or as guest-worthy toilet disinfectant.  I keep some nasty, mask-required stuff on hand for that.  In seven years in this house, I’m still on the same bottle.

Oh yah, and don’t forget the Mr. Yuk stickers.

When I figure out where in the internet world I got this recipe, I will totally give credit.

July 31, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. IronMike

    We are in love with cleaning vinegar. We use it on almost everything. Love the picture of (?) Hadley with the yuck stickers!

  2. zerowastemommy

    I've only recently started trusting its disinfecting strength in the bathroom. For some reason I though you had to have the nasty, toxic stuff but if you think about it, the stuff you are killing in the kitchen is probably more important than what's growing in the boudoir.


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