The Edmond Sun

March 29, 2013

Make your own cleaning supplies, save some green

By Leilana McKindra
Special to The Sun

STILLWATER — Spring is here, and that means many of us are on our annual cleaning kick. If you are interested in saving a little green while you spruce up the place, think about making you own cleaning products.

Often made from familiar household items such as vinegar or baking soda, homemade cleaners help you simplify your routine by reducing the number of products you need. An added benefit is these types of cleansers may release fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“Making your own cleaning supplies requires some preparation time, but they usually cost less,” she said. “Homemade cleaners also can positively affect the indoor air quality in your house by cutting down on toxins that could be introduced by some commercial products.”

Many recipes are simple and call for ingredients you can easily purchase at the grocery store. Less common items such as essential oils could be found at local health food or natural food outlets.

For instance, mixing 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water is a great refrigerator cleaner.

Cornstarch and water make an effective mirror and window polish when you combine them into a paste and use a soft cloth to apply, rub gently and wipe clean.

Mixing 1 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil creates a garbage can deodorizer. Blend the ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to work out all the lumps before sprinkling the mixture in the bottom of the container after the liner is removed. Periodically rinse the garbage can with vinegar and allow it to dry in the sun.

“Be sure to follow basic safety measures while you’re making and using any type of cleaning product, homemade or otherwise,” Peek said. “Read product labels carefully, and know that some chemicals can never be mixed.”

Other safety tips include mixing only enough for a single cleaning session or making no more than a month’s supply. It also is important to mix solutions in well-ventilated areas.

“Placing newly mixed cleaners in unused new containers, storing the sanitizers out of the reach of children and labeling containers with ingredients and the date they were made are all critical things to keep in mind when making your own cleaning supplies,” Peek said.

For more information on making your own cleaning supplies, contact your local county Extension office.