I’ve always had a bi-polar relationship with cleaning. Sometimes, I’m at the point I want to make the plunge and make what we have a little more lasting. Other times, I let the cleaning go onto greener pastures. During those times of the pastures, I’ve had a bad habit of collecting cleaning products.

Tilex? I had two bottles.

Ajax Scrubbing Agent? Too many of those green powder bottles to count.

Sanitizer wipes? There was always a need for these.

I figured the more I gathered of these products, the cleaner my house would be. When I got to that point, I needed a swift, very painful kick to the ass, tookus, seat warmer or whatever your word of choice is to call your gluteus Maximus.

After two kids and accepting that my house will always be in a perpetual state of cruddiness, I had two main reasons to switch to more creative means of cleaning. I mean, hell, I ain’t no Martha Stewart.

1. I’m beyond dirt poor. I don’t even have enough cents to make sense.

2. One kid is extremely sensitive to certain chemicals. The other has asthma.

After months and months of research and testing, I was able to pare my cleaning closet down to just the essentials; several cleaning rags, a Swiffer broom attachment, a regular broom, a mop, and a bucket.

Why and what are these magical and cheap cleaning products I use? And no, these products will not make you magically spout rainbows out of your tookus or unicorns out of your ears.

The first product is white distilled vinegar.

Most people have this wonderful little or large bottle somewhere in their home. They know they need and they buy it. They just don’t know what to use it for or how to use it. Vinegar is the end-all-be-all for green and thrifty cleaning. And it has a pungent enough smell to match its cleaning power.

By itself, vinegar can used as a mold killer, fabric softener, degreaser. It also makes a great alternative to Drain-O. Vinegar is also a good dishwasher cleaner and softener for hard water.

baking-sodaNext comes baking soda.

Baking soda is that wonderful little white powder. No, not that kind of powder. Baking soda mixed with water makes wonderfully soft abrasive for cleaning up soap scum or scrubbing baked on gunk. I’ve also used it to brush my teeth with and mixed it into a paste for a facial cleanser.

Pour it dry down into a clogged drain with a half cup of vinegar. That sucker will bubble like Pompeii, but ten minutes later, you’ll have a clear drain for pennies on the dollar.

And now my best friends, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.
Yes, wonderful isopropyl alcohol has more uses than stinging like a bitch slap and disinfecting cuts.

I use it to polish my shiny bits and chrome pieces. It’s fast drying and doesn’t leave any streaks. Rubbing alcohol is also a good degreaser. It’ll cut through the yuck like the proverbial knife through butter. This alcohol is also good for removing sticky residue.

Hydrogen peroxide is good for whitening. Dip your toothbrush into a small bowl of it after you add your toothpaste and brush away. Over time, you’ll see whiter results.

Another one for you is table salt.

Salt is a great brightening agent, but it doesn’t remove or bleach out the color. With a little scrubbing, it also removes white water rings from wood furniture. Mix a tablespoon with some water, and it makes a good homemade exfoliant.

1003p50-lemon-juice-lHopefully everyone keeps a bottle of lemon juice in their refrigerator. Or even a couple of packets of lemonade drink mix.

What can lemons, do for you? The quick answer is a whole hell of a lot.

If you don’t want the smell of vinegar, mix in a cup of lemon juice and it cuts right through the smell. Kind of makes the room smell like, well, lemons. So, it makes a wonderful odor basher.

Everyone also knows that lemon juice is a good bleaching agent. Want natural highlights, rub lemon juice in your hair and go sit in the sun for a few hours.

Lemon juice also makes a wonderful insecticide. Having problems with ants and roaches? Mix lemon juice with a bit of salt and sprinkle it in all of your access points. They don’t like to walk across the salt and neither can stand the smell of lemons.

And last and never least is good, old-fashioned dish soap. It doesn’t matter what kind. I tend to use the dollar store kind that I can get two bottles for a dollar.

What more can I say? It’s fairly self explanatory. Dish soap is awesome. You can use to clean floor. It cuts through grease. You can wash windows with it. And it makes a good cleanser to remove the grime and dirt from your cabinet doors.

This is how I use them:

All-purpose spray
One 32-ounce spray bottle (Use a leftover one, and your ass is recycling. Just be sure to wash it thoroughly before using.)
1 cup of hydrogen peroxide
1 cup of isopropyl alcohol
1 cup of vinegar
Pinky-nail sized amount of dish soap
3 cups of hot, hot water

Pour all into the bottle and then shake real good to mix everything together.
* I use this spray for just about everything. I clean windows, wash my floors, and use this as an after-shower spray to keep down on cleaning the soap scum.

coke-canToilet cleaner
1 cup of hydrogen peroxide or 1 can of Coca-Cola

Pour into the toilet bowl, swish around to cover the bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes. Swish again and then flush. Both products do the same thing, surprisingly. But I don’t think you’d want to waste a can of Coke just to do this.

These are the first recipes of many.

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