Recently, I totaled up how much it cost me to purchase household cleaners. I was astounded. So yes, I am currently following the bandwagon of homemakers who are making homemade cleaners...but as my experiment with homemade laundry detergent taught me, homemade isn't always more frugal. Would the cleaners I tried work? And would they save us money?
Tub & Shower Cleaner #1:
The first cleaner I tried was a tub and shower cleaner recipe I found at Food.com (of all places). I figured I needed a really good DIY cleaners because, um, my tub was really dirty.
Ick. That's a couple of weeks worth of soap scum and dirt (worsened by the fact that our tub was resurfaced by the previous owner and therefore seems to attract dirt much more than an ordinary tub).
Normally I use Scrubbing Bubbles, but in addition to cost, I can't seem to find the traditional version of this product locally, and the newer version is terribly noxious.
So, I whipped up some homemade cleaner.
What You Need:
A 24 oz. (or larger) spray bottle (You may use one from an old bottle of cleaner; just wash it thoroughly first.)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) white vinegar (for the best price, buy it in the largest bottle you can find)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) Dawn liquid dish soap (again, buy it as cheaply as you can, which usually means buying a bigger bottle)
How Make It:
1. Measure out the vinegar in a Pyrex (heatproof) measuring cup. Heat it in the microwave until it's warm. In my microwave, that took about 60 seconds, but your microwave may vary, so heat it 30 seconds at a time until it feels warm.
2. Carefully pour the vinegar into the spray bottle.
3. Measure out the Dawn, then pour it into the spray bottle.
4. Put the lid on the bottle and shake gently to mix.
How to Use It:
1. Spray onto the tub, shower, sink, and/or fixtures.
2. Use a scrubbing sponge, scrub the surface.
3. Rinse clean.
4. If there are particularly dirty areas, you could let the cleaner sit for several hours, or overnight. I didn't find this necessary.
Conclusion: My tub and fixtures were sparkling clean after using this homemade cleaner. It worked at least as well - if not better - than Scrubbing Bubbles. It even had a pleasant scent (not chemically, nor very vinegary). It was very bubbly, however, so I suggest using less cleaner than you normally do.
But was it cheaper? My homemade cleaner cost $1.32 for 12 oz., while Scrubbing Bubbles (at Walmart) is $2.47 for 12 oz. - saving me $1.15 a bottle. I also used less of the homemade cleaner, so my own concoction is clearly a better deal - and I don't have to worry about noxious chemicals.
Tub & Shower Cleaner #2:
Two weeks later (but with a tub that wasn't nearly so disgusting), I tried a super-simple homemade cleaner: Ordinary baking soda.
How to Do It:
1. Sprinkle the baking soda lightly over the bottom surfaces; you don't need much.
2. Wet your sponge and used the scrubbing side to clean the tub or bottom of the shower.
3. To clean the vertical parts of the tub or shower, sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp sponge, then scrub.
Conclusion: This worked very well, although it took a little more scrubbing and the tub didn't shine as it did with the Dawn mixture. Too, baking soda isn't as effective at killing germs as vinegar (although it does have antifungal and some antiviral and antibacterial properties, according to Wikipedia).
Was it cheaper? Most definitely! A 4 lb. container is $2.88 at our local Walmart, and I used just a couple of tablespoons. That means I'll get at least 32 cleanings from of that one box of baking soda. (For those who are concerned about chemicals, please note: Arm & Hammer baking soda is aluminum free.)
Before I busied myself with cleaning the tub with baking soda, I tried another trick I've read about: Using baking soda in the toilet.
How to Do It:
1. Measure 1 cup of baking soda and dump it into the toilet.
2. Let it sit for 1 hour, then flush.
Conclusion: This didn't work at all. However, after I flushed, I used a toilet brush, and the toilet cleaned very easily - more easily than if I'd used Scrubbing Bubbles. I will use this trick again!
Is it cheaper? Oh definitely. Baking soda is very inexpensive. (See Tub & Shower Cleaner #2, above.)