Many of us have been formulating our own cleaning products for years. The Internet has many sites for do-it-yourself-ers or DIYs, but there's a way to duplicate products you might not find recipes for - read the list of ingredients. Keep your eye out for books that tell you what the tongue-twisting ingredients listed are, such as "A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives" and "A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients" - both by Ruth Winter. These tell you what the ingredients are in plain English, most of which you won't need anyway.
Following are examples of costly products easily made by simply reading what is in them; sometimes they will list the percentage in the product of the active ingredients, making your job easier!
For example, swimmer's ear drops are around $6 per tiny bottle. They are made of hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, and filtered water, all of which combined are less than $6 and you can make enough for the entire county.
Anti-wrinkle spray and many laundry pre-wash sprays contain the same active ingredient - rubbing alcohol. You can experiment with the ratio of alcohol to water or club soda (even flat) to get what works for you, as with any other solution you make. For organic stains such as chocolate and blood, peroxide used as soon as possible will remove stains and is safe for most fabrics.
The all-natural products are always more expensive, but are the easiest to duplicate. Bug sprays usually consist of an inert ingredient and pine or cinnamon oil at a ratio of 2% to 98%. These oils aren't cheap, but a bottle is going to last a long, long time. Because of their potency, use with care. For an insect repellent on exposed skin, add just a few drops of citronella oil to a couple of ounces of olive or almond oil. A flea powder containing diatomateous earth costs around $15 for 16 oz. At your local farm-supply store, you can get a 50lb. bag of the earth for $30 and it can be used for all kinds of garden pests, including slugs.
Afraid of germs? Grapefruit-seed extract, or GSE, is one of the most powerful antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-whatever-is-thrown-at-it and about 30 drops in a quart of water is a super disinfectant spray. Colloidal silver and olive leaf extract are just as good. For bigger jobs, 1/2 cup of borax to a gallon of warm water will sanitize as well as hospital disinfectant, according to a California study. Anyone can tell that rubbing alcohol is the active ingredient in those hand-sanitizers. Keep some in a little spritzer if you need that antiseptic, sterile scent.
A good micro-fiber cloth will wipe away bacteria with its tiny fibers, plus they clean wonderfully by themselves, with no cleaning product. They are the best for glass and windows - just wet with warm water, wipe glass, then dry with clean paper towels. Making sure your paper towels are changed often avoids streaking.
When it comes to cleaning, like cleans like. Shampoo will cut soap scum quickly and leaves a beautiful shine - just like hair! Orange or lemon oils, or laundry pre-wash for greasy, dirty clothes are super on kitchen grease.
You get the idea. Read labels. You'd be surprised at how easily you can duplicate formulas at home. It's a lot of fun, cheaper, safer, and you'll have the satisfaction of not adding to the coffers of the corporate giants!
More dollar stretchers and helpful tips:
Don't throw away your old Tupperware that's become sticky and discolored - sprinkle borax on it and scrub. It'll look and feel like new.
I inherited a car whose glass and paint were practically etched with the hardest water I've ever seen! I tried everything I could think of, but it looked like the water spots were INSIDE the glass and I almost gave up. Finally, a good, heavy-duty rubbing compound and WD-40, along with scrubbing using #00 and #000 steelwool did the trick! I used the compound and WD-40 with non-abrasive sponges on the paint to clean it. Spray the WD-40 first and let it sit a while, depending on how bad the stains are.
Use plain borax to clean really dirty, grimy hands. If you've been gardening without gloves, use the hose with a hard stream to clean under your fingernails quickly without scraping them.
Add a bottle of Pepsi, along with your detergent, to clean a load of really greasy clothes.
Above the stove or microwave are the worst places to keep herbs and spices. Keep away from heat in a cool, dry spot.
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