Monday, February 25, 2008

Dusting off the Birkenstocks

Mikey started walking not long after The Mister and I completed 90% of our kitchen remodel (someday we'll have a backsplash). The cabinet installers agreed to put in the safety latches, but bailed 13 seconds after they hung the last cabinet. I guess they were tired of our little old house with it's crooked walls and uneven floors. I asked The Mister to do it a couple of times (17--who's counting?) but something always seemed to come up. It didn't help when I took away his motivation and started storing all the cleaning supplies on the top shelf in the pantry.

One day I decided I was tired of grabbing the step stool every time I needed to wipe down the counters and started researching recipes for homemade cleaning supplies. I found one, bought all the ingredients, and made it despite The Mister's scoffs and jeers and crunchy-granola-California-hippy-Birkenstock-mama proclamations. I'll admit I was a little worried I had fallen into some deep, dark, stay-at-home-mom place I might never crawl out of without a pile of glad rags and Patchouli oil, but sonofabitch it worked better than anything I had ever used. I've even found a way to use my homemade concoction in front of others without feeling like a wayward Jack Kerouac groupie. I just start spouting off about the environment, chemicals, mention a landfill every now and then, toss in a well timed sniff and shoulder shrug and before you know people look interested. Guilty, but interested. I usually seal the deal when I mention it costs about $0.30 to make. So, are you feeling interested and guilty, yet? If so, here is the recipe. It's a modified version of Alice's Wonder Spray from Clean House, Clean Planet, which in all seriousness is a fantastic book. Great cleaning supply recipes without the crunch of granola.

All Purpose Household Cleaner

2 TBS White distilled Vinegar
1 Tsp Borax (this is mildly toxic, so be sure to keep the final product in a safe place)
1/4 cup Dr. Bonner's liquid soap (I have peppermint scent) or 1/8 cup liquid detergent
1 16 oz. trigger spray bottle
essential oils

Mix 2 TBS of vinegar with 1 tsp of borax in the 16 oz trigger-spray bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot, purified/distilled water. Shake until the borax dissolves completely.

Add the liquid soap or detergent last. Follow with 20 or so drops of an essential oil. I like lemon and lavender, or lavender and tea tree.

It's very important to keep the order of ingredients as they are. Adding vinegar to the soap will cause it to clump, and if you don't first add the hot water to the borax you will have a tough time getting it to dissolve.

Recipe for a Clean Home

I use this on all of my soapstone counters, my kitchen table, range, sink, and faucets. There isn't much this recipe hasn't been able to tackle. In fact, over Christmas when I knew company was coming, I went out and bought the most popular product on the market to clean my kitchen cabinets. I thought for sure I needed something commercial to clean a year's worth of grime. I threw it away after the third cabinet--it just greased up the cabinets even more! I ended up using my homemade cleaner to clean the cleanser and the grime off the cabinets. I should have never doubted my homemade cleaner.

If you try it out, tell me if it works for you. If you have a recipe of your own, please share!

Fast forward three years and we still haven't child-proofed our cabinets.