Cleaning on a Budget

We all know that a clean home is a happy home. Clean homes smell good, keep us safe from germs and sickness, and are more welcoming to guests. Unfortunately, cleaning supplies can be expensive, and many of them contain harsh chemicals capable of harming people and the environment.

But these problems don’t need to stop you from cleaning!  It’s actually incredibly simple to mix your own safe, effective cleaning products.  Using basic ingredients often already in your home, you can create an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly mix to rival anything bought in a store.  You still have to clean though. Sorry!

Here are a few recipes to conquer any surface in your home.  With just a few ingredients – and a few dollars – you can make your holiday home cheerier, brighter, and healthier.

cleanhome4Homemade Window Cleaner

1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
2 cups warm water
1 spray bottle

Directions: Mix the cornstarch with the vinegar first. Add all ingredients in the bottle and shake. Works just like Windex! Feel free to double or half the recipe to fit your needs.







Homemade All-Purpose Cleanercleanhome5

2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
Citrus rinds
1 spray bottle

Directions: Mix all ingredients into a spray bottle and hit any surface you want to clean!  The citrus rinds provide a nice aroma. Bonus – eat the fruit before getting started for! Again, adjust the recipe as needed, but keep the 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar.



Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution)
1 extra spray nozzle
1 spray bottle

Directions: DO NOT MIX. Leave the hydrogen peroxide in the dark bottle it comes in – it is very sensitive to light and can lose its cleaning power if exposed for a long period of time. Insert extra spray nozzle into the hydrogen peroxide bottle to replace the regular cap. Transfer vinegar to the other spray bottle. Hold your hydrogen peroxide bottle in one hand and vinegar bottle in the other. Spray the surface you want to disinfect with the hydrogen peroxide and then follow up with a spray of the vinegar. Wipe clean!


Bleach Alternative
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
3 tablespoons lemon juice
15 cups of water

Directions: Your best bet is to use the same method as above, spraying with two bottles.  Keeping the hydrogen peroxide in a dark bottle will make it last longer.  If you plan on using your whole mixture quickly, you can also mix it all together.

Softscrub Alternative
3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup castile soap
1 tablespoon water

Directions: Mix the baking soda and castile soap together first. Then add water. With a sponge, or rag, scoop out the solution and start cleaning!

Additional notes for all general cleaning:

  1. Cut down on paper waste: To save on paper towels (environmentally friendly!) – you can use old t-shirts or rags to clean up surfaces. These can be reused.
  2. Brighten your cleaning scents: Although not necessary, you can add tea tree oil, or other essential oils to subdue the vinegar or alcohol smell in some of the solutions.
  3. Keep your supplies handy: Stock up on everything you need for these homemade solutions with this shopping list —
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – used as a disinfectant and bleach. Great to use in kitchen areas, countertops, and bathrooms where mold and mildew might grow.
  • White Vinegar – has high antibacterial properties. Buy the distilled white vinegar. Helpful in cutting grease, loosening mineral deposits, and removing mildew.
  • Rubbing Alcohol – dissolves dirt and oil, and is a strong disinfectant.
  • Cornstarch – great for stain removal – especially in carpeted areas. Also removes odor.
  • Oranges or Lemons – these acidic fruits have antibacterial properties. Works similarly to white vinegar and also provides a pleasant aroma.
  • Tea tree oil
  • Castile soap
  • Spray Bottles

Keep it fresh, and happy cleaning!

– Katy Connolly, RD, MPH
Michelle Santillo, MPH Intern

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