Know Your Cleaning Products

Two women, different locations, same accident. Both women using an ordinary commercial toilet bowl cleaner, were not satisfied with the way it was removing stains. Each added household chlorine bleach and stirred with a brush.


One died quickly, the other spent a long time in the hospital.

Here’s the problem: Whenever chlorine bleach comes into contact with acid or an acid-producing substance like toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, there is a sudden release of chlorine gas. This is not a good thing. A similar result occurs when chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia, lye or other alkaline substances. Chlorine gas is lethal.

Now that I have your attention let me assure you: If you stay clear of chlorine bleach, you have nothing to fear by making your own cleaning products. Why should you even consider doing that? The cost, for starters. You know that blue window cleaner sitting on your counter? You paid about 30 cents an ounce for it and it’s 95 percent water. Your own products will cost only pennies to make and will not contain toxic chemicals that could be harmful to your family and the environment.

HEAVY DUTY WINDOW CLEANER: 1/2 cup household ammonia, 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon liquid blue Dawn. Mix ammonia, alcohol and detergent in gallon jug. Fill with warm water. Shake before each use. This solution is great for cleaning really dirty windows and for  removing soap film from shower doors.

DISINFECTING CLEANER: Mix household ammonia and rubbing alcohol together in equal proportions in a spray bottle. Label and keep out of reach of children. This is a very strong cleaner so make sure you have ample ventilation when using. Wear gloves.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER: Combine 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 4 drops liquid blue Dawn soap and 1/4 cup baking soda into a gallon of warm water. Mix well and dispense with a spray bottle.

TUB AND TILE CLEANER: This is a terrific homemade version of Soft Scrub. In a small bowl mix together 1 2/3 cups baking soda with 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (like blue Dawn or Joy). Dilute with 1/2 cup water and add 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Stir with a fork until smooth and all the lumps are gone. Pour into a 16-ounce squeeze container with a squirt flip-top cap (like a ketchup bottle or similar). Shake well before each use. Keep tightly capped between uses. Hint: Rinse the flip-top cap after each use so that it won’t get clogged.

CLEANER FOR PAINTED CABINETS: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon warm water. Mix together and pour into a spray bottle. Wash cabinets with a sponge and this solution. Rinse with a clean sponge and water. Wipe cabinets completely dry.

Want more recipes for household cleaners? Download my 40-page booklet, Cheapskate Solutions. It’s packed with dozens of recipes and formulas you can make on the cheap.

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6 replies
  1. Moneybags
    Moneybags says:

    well I definitely wouldn’t create any cleaners that use both an acid and a base. That would be counterproductive. Also I don’t think you need to put dawn in everything

  2. NF
    NF says:

    I guess this kind of falls under cleaning. I love scented things, particularly laundry and rooms. I tend to use a lot of candles, some incense and purex crystals. Just my thing. Unfortunately, my vacuum cleaners tend to get funky smelling with all the pets I have. Changing bags helps some,but after awhile the bag/vacuum gets funky again, even if it’s only partially full. Spraying cologne on the bag works, fragrance dissipates quickly. What works well is the purex crystals and this is NOT recommended by any of the manufacturers, vacuums or purex. I pour a small amount of the purex crystals on a non porous floor or surface and vacuum it up. Simple and it works. The exhaust from my vacuums smells wonderful for quite awhile. Purex crystals are pretty inexpensive compared to other scented products and u only need a small amount to make an impact. I would not do this with an empty bag or if it’s really humid. I worry about the dye in the crystals leaking thru the bag. The crystals I use are very blue and I would not want to harm the vacuum or the surface from which it’s being vacuumed.
    I also pour the crystals into non-porous bowls and use them as small room deodorizers or in my cabinets for a great scent. Stir them occasionally to refresh the scent. I leave an inexpensive or plastic spoon/fork in the bowl of crystals to stir them up quickly.
    I have also found a mixture of dried, fragrant herbs, vacuumed up, does a great job of deodorizing the vacuum.

  3. Bernadette
    Bernadette says:

    One thing worries me about using the laundry detergent with Dawn. The Dawn bottle says do not use with bleach. So is it safe to add bleach to a load of clothing with this detergent?

  4. lisette
    lisette says:

    Amen to getting toxic products out of our homes! One thing: commercial dish soaps like dawn and joy are cheap and they work, but……did you know that they and most other commercial products are tested on animals, incuding dogs, cats, puppies and kittens? And then the animals are killed. I have gotten perfectly good results with plain castile soap (castile means made of vegetable oils and not animal fat), and it doesnt cost ant more. I use Dr Bronner’s because it is so easy to find, or if you order from the company they ship for free. Totally safe, pure, nontoxic, free of carcinogens, abd cruelty free, and it does everything from household cleaning to laundry to washing the dog and us. It is concentrated so a bottle lasts us forever, and i can add vinegar to ut for cleaning, borax and washing soda for laundry. Although the heavy duty versuon they make with fir needle oil works excellently all by itself for even the heaviest cleaning and laundry. Smells god, and best of all it is kind to my asthma and allergies.

    • DianaB
      DianaB says:

      For whatever reason, I had forgotten about Dr. Bronner’s. It is a super product and the labels are a hoot to read. Anyway, I even used to use it to bathe and shampoo. Now I will be off to purchase it again. I believe it still can be found in your bigger grocery stores. If not, certainly your local health food store should carry it. It may sound a little pricey but, as Lisette mentions, lasts a very long time.

  5. Lissa Thomas
    Lissa Thomas says:

    FYI – A really good tile a grout cleaner: mix equal parts of blue dawn and warmed vinegar. (Heat up the vinegar in the microwave for about 30 seconds.) Mix these together in a spray bottle. Then spray the mixture on your bathroom tile and grout. Let it set for about 15 minutes. Come back and wipe off with a wet sponge. You will see the grime and mold come off. It won’t make for sparkling white grout but it will definitely get it clean!

    Also if you happen to have a really dirty (lots of soap scum) on your shower door mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar. It will foam up and that is OK. Make a paste and smear it over the glass door. Let this set for 15-30 minutes. Come back and spray it off. Squeaky clean!


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