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How to Make Homemade Natural Furniture Polish and Get Rid of White Rings

Years ago, I got a request from EC reader Kelly for a homemade furniture polish recipe. She said that she uses a lot of it and it’s getting so expensive.

A girl sitting on a table

My first thought was to quickly suggest that Kelly time her purchases for when furniture polish goes on sale, and then to stock up as a good way to save money. Economically, that’s is a good idea but that didn’t seem like the best response to her query.

Kelly didn’t mention environmental issues in her desire to make her own furniture polish, but after doing some research on the matter, I became convinced that is something all of us should consider—perhaps even more than the high price of quality furniture cleaners, polishes, and protectants.

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Here are the Best Homemade Cleaning Recipes

I pretty much hate to buy things I know I can make for less money—to say nothing of the time required to find them in a store. Take cleaning products for example. Knowing I can make homemade cleaners for pennies that cost dollars in a store just makes me happy. It’s a no-brainer.

Here are my top five homemade cleaning recipes to help you get started saving all that money you’ve been spending on cleaning products.

spray bottles

Eyeglasses Cleaning Solution

To make this homemade cleaner, you will need:

  • 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol**
  • Blue Dawn
  • distilled water

Fill a spray bottle of any size 3/4 full of  70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol (91% or 99% are fine to use here, but more costly and not necessary). Add 2 drops mild Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid and fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water*. Gently shake or roll the bottle to mix, so as to not create a lot of bubbles.

To use: Spray both sides of your lenses and gently rub them clean with a microfiber cloth.

NOTE: For years, my husband and I have been using this cleaner on our eyeglasses, which that have anti-reflective coating—without any issues. However, in an abundance of caution, please run this by your optician if you are at all hesitant.

More: Worst and Best Ways to Clean Your Eyeglasses

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14 of the Very Best Homemade Cleaners that Really Work

Items in your pantry like baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, and even tea bags, can work as effective cleaners. Even better, compared to pricey commercial products, homemade cleaners cost next to nothing.

So the next time you’re staring down a big mess but you’re out of your favorite product, don’t run to the store—open up the pantry and try mixing up one of these DIY cleaning recipes instead. Step back and enjoy the results and the savings, too!

A bowl of fruit sitting on a table, with Cup and Vinegar

Vinyl Siding Cleaner

In a two-gallon bucket, carefully mix together:

  • 2/3 cup Spic and Span Liquid All-Purpose Floor Cleaner
  • 1/2 cup Liquid Tide Laundry Detergent (do not use the Tide liquid that has fabric softeners added)
  • 1 quart liquid chlorine bleach*
  • 3 quarts hot water

Next, using a funnel, carefully pour into an ordinary hose-end wash gun or (garden sprayer) set to the highest concentration and apply to vinyl siding. Then you will see the dirt, film, and mildew just slide off. After five minutes, rinse with the hose and clear water. In all cases, label clearly and keep out of the reach of children.

All-Purpose Liquid Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup household ammonia*
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1-gallon warm water

Mix all ingredients together, label clearly, and keep out of reach of children. Then, use as you would any commercial all-purpose multi-surface cleaner such as pricey Formula 409 or Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner.

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How to Remove Years of Kitchen Cabinet Grit and Grime

When did you last look at your kitchen cabinets? Not a passing glance, but an up-close visual study—paying particular attention to the areas around the knobs and handles that get touched thousands of times throughout the weeks and months? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about and what I’m pretty sure my dear reader Sandy is talking about, too.

before and after proper cleaning of filthy kitchen cabinet

Dear Mary: We’re moving into a new (to us) house and would like to know what kind of cleaner to use on the wood kitchen cabinets? They’re pretty skanky and feel sticky to the touch!

I hate to think how many years of dirt have built up on them. But I don’t want to remove any finish that is on them. How can we clean the years of dirt without damanging the finish?  Sandy

Natural Orange Oil

Dear Sandy: If sounds to me as if your challenge is greater than simple maintenance of kitchen cabinets to keep ahead of sticky build-up, the result of cooking. Anyone who has a kitchen and actually cooks in it knows this just happens!

Your situation may call for a good commercial product for the simple reason that you don’t know how old this dirt is, or what kind of finish is hiding beneath it. It’s quite possible the cabinets are in great shape and can be restored to their original beauty. You really can remove years of grit and grime from any wood surface. And you have options—use a commercial product or make your own wood cleaner.

Should you prefer a commercial product, you won’t find anything more effective than Howard Real Orange Oil products. You can depend on the effectiveness of real orange oil polish to melt away grease, grime, polish, and wax buildup, leaving a fresh scent and beauty in its place. It’s going to cost a bit to do your entire kitchen, should you decide to go the commercial route.

Your other option is to make your own highly effective cleaner, for just pennies.

I have two recipes for you and any readers with wood cabinets, regardless if those cabinets have a natural finish or they’re painted.

The first is for cabinets that just need some sprucing up to bring back the beauty and shine; the second is more powerful if you’re looking at years of built-up gunk and grime.
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Where to Find Basic Essentials When the Shelves are Empty

The disruption to U.S. food supply chains is now playing out in grocery stores and supermarkets across the country. It seems like shoppers empty the shelves just as quickly as supermarkets can restock, especially on high-demand items like non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and, of course, toilet paper.   empty shelves

Good news! Finding the essentials you need may not require you to stand in long lines or spend hours clicking through Amazon search results, only to be disappointed over and again.

Today, I have alternatives for you to consider plus options for where to find the essentials you need that are—surprise!—in stock.

Meat, poultry

While we’re being told there’s no shortage of food in the US—for whatever reason, fresh meat and poultry have pretty much disappeared. And when found you’ll discover shockingly high prices, at least for now.

Reasonable alternatives for fresh meat and poultry are canned options that are just as nutritious like tuna, albacore, salmon; chicken, corned beef, and …  Spam!  And don’t forget the frozen food aisle where meat, seafood, and poultry seem to be more plentiful.

Pro tip

Consider this challenge the perfect opportunity to try out more meatless meals, built around eggs, cheese and other non-meat protein.

Meal Kits

Home Chef meal kits with contactless delivery right to your front door are looking better than ever, starting at  $6.95 per meal—with no delivery fees or gratuities. You can still use this link to get $35 off your first order, and that looks like free food to me! Seriously, that is a great deal for excellent quality fresh food that is super easy to prepare.

Home Chef continues to be the cheapest and most family-friendly meal kit service out there—available for delivery in 95% of the US. And of course, you can cancel at any time. Might be time to give Home Chef a try.

Flour

While supermarket baking shelves continue to be cleaned out, online sources like King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill are fairly well stocked; however, that changes day by day. Keep checking.

Webstaurant is another online resource for flour. Just know you’ll be dealing with professional baker quantities in 25-pound or even 50-pound bags. An easy solution there is for family and friends to go in together on those large quantities.

Another option for flour is to call a local bakery. One reader reports that she called a local bakery in her city to inquire if they might be willing to sell flour. The answer was a resounding Yes! She picked up 25 pounds for just $18 and got to support a local business at the same time. It just might be worth your time to make a call.

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Best Ever NO-YEAST Homemade Bread

Hot, homemade bread with no yeast, no egg, no oil, and no sugar. For hard-core bread lovers, that may sound awful, but you just have to try this.

For those times when you’re fresh out of yeast—this is the recipe you’ll be glad you’ve kept handy.

Bread and Loaf

No-yeast bread, often referred to simply as soda bread, is different than a light, airy yeast bread. It’s rustic, more dense—a bit heavier than yeast breast. And oh, so delicious. Eat it plain, toast it or serve it warm and all slathered up with butter.

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Homemade Artisan Bread—Amazingly Easy and So Delicious!

The year 2007 was a good one for me for lots of reasons. Here’s one: It’s the year I got good at baking homemade bread thanks to a simple discovery that would go on to revolutionize the world of home baking.

A close up of a piece of bread

 

Presented in their book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, authors Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoë Franḉois stated that anyone with an oven, flour, yeast, salt, and water could make authentic, artisan bread in just five minutes a day.

Within hours of getting my hands on that book, I was onboard. My first attempt was ridiculously easy. And so successful I shocked myself and my family! A more delicious loaf of bread I cannot buy anywhere. And why would I, when I could now make it myself for about $.40 a loaf in just five minutes a day? Read more

How to Make the Best Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

Powdered laundry detergent

Detergent and Laundry

To make one quart powdered laundry detergent, you need these items:

  • 32-ounce or larger container with lid
  • 1 (5-oz.) bar Fels Naptha laundry bar
  • 2 cups (14 oz. ) borax
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz.) washing soda

 

A stack of flyers on a table

Three ingredients required for homemade laundry detergent powder.

Fels Naptha

This product is available in the laundry aisle of many supermarkets and department stores like Walmart and Target, and the soap I use in powdered detergent. However, you may prefer to substitute with 5 oz. of a similar product such as ZOTE, Dr. Bronner’s Castile bar or Ivory.

Borax

You can find Twenty-Mule Team borax, or any brand of borax, in the laundry aisle of your supermarket or a department store like Walmart or Target.

Washing soda

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is the brand of washing soda available in many supermarkets and stores like Walmart and Target and online.

An alternative to branded washing soda is soda ash (also just plain sodium carbonate). Soda ash is the generic form and exactly the same thing as Super Washing Soda  (not to be confused with baking soda) and is used in swimming pools to fix the ph. It’s readily available in pool supply stores or even larger department stores that carry pool chlorine and so forth, or online.

Step 1

Grate the entire bar Fels Naptha or other laundry bar soap using the fine side of a cheese grater.

Laundry and Detergent

The pile is the result of grating one full soap bar. The wrapped bar in the back is a prop, and good to have on hand for the next batch.

Step 2

Pour grated soap, borax, and washing soda into a large mixing bowl.

 

A bowl of rice on a plate, with Laundry and Detergent

It’s not cheese!

Step 3

Stir to mix well then transfer mixture to quart-size or larger container. Apply the lid and label (which, clearly, I failed to do before snapping this photo!)

 

Laundry and Detergent

This is how it looks mixed up and ready to go. Just one tablespoon is likely all you’ll need per wash load.

To use: Add 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent to the wash load. You may need to adjust depending on your conditions and washer size. You will not need much to produce excellent results.

Pro-tip: This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.

Frequently asked Questions

This recipes has, over the years, prompted many questions from my readers. What follows are those asked most frequently:

Which is better, the liquid or powdered version, and why?

That’s a tough question because there are so many variables. I prefer the liquid version because my HE washer uses so little water, I find the powdered version doesn’t dissolve well. That’s why I recommend powder users to throw the powder into the washer itself (not the dispenser) first, before the clothes. Now it will get hit with water first, giving it more time to dissolve and get to work. The liquid version does involve a few more steps which is why some readers do prefer it.

Can I use homemade laundry detergent in HE washer?

Yes. Both this powdered and the liquid version are non-sudsing, even though they contain soap. What makes the HE-compatible is that the soap becomes highly diluted. Remember that this homemade detergent—either version—is not going to produce bubbles or suds. If you need that to be satisfied, you won’t like these recipes! The proof for how well they work is in the dirty water you’ll see. It’s amazing that so little homemade detergent can produce such great results.

Won’t borax, washing soda or Fels-Naptha void my washer’s warranty?

Please consult your owner manual. While many manufacturers recommend a specific brand of detergent because they have marketing partnerships with major brands, I have yet to see where any warranty was put at risk in writing for using borax, washing soda, Fels-Naptha or another laundry bar soap in the machine.

I’ve used all of those products including white vinegar (1 cup in the final rinse) by the gallon in my machines and have never had a repair issue, let alone warranty problem. However, please make this determination for yourself. I cannot guarantee your outcome.

Are these recipes fragrance-free?

Technically, no. Dawn does have some amount of fragrance as does Fels-Naptha. But again, compared to fragranced commercial brands of laundry detergent, it’s minuscule. Remember the dilution with these recipes. You can substitute ZOTE laundry bar soap for the Fels-Naptha, which is all-natural and fragrance-free.

How much should I use per load?

Start with 1 tablespoon. And do not judge the outcome by the number of bubbles and suds you can observe during the wash cycle. Know now that you will see none.

Do I still need to pretreat stains, or will these recipes take care of that?

Absolutely, you need to pretreat stains. Without question. You have many very effective options: Dawn, Lestoil, Soilove, Fels-Naptha (dampen a corner of a Fels-Naptha bar and rub it into the stain). Treating stains ahead of time is another reason you can use so very little detergent in the wash load.

Why has this homemade detergent turned my white things gray and towels stiff and stinky? 

Remember what I said about learning things the hard way? This is it. I know from experience that using too much detergent will make white things dingy, and towels and other items stiff, scratchy, and stinky too. The problem is the detergent you’ve added to the wash cycle was too much to get rinsed out fully.

Detergents build up in fabrics and become breeding grounds for bacteria. Those bacteria and all that build-up of detergent create that grayish color and the stink, too.

Why should I bother to make my own laundry detergent?

Two reasons: You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll know what’s in it. These days, many laundry detergents and softening products are laden with harsh chemicals and overpowering fragrance. And compared to the basic ingredients that go into them, they’re expensive!

Over the past 20 years, the price of ingredients for homemade detergent has pretty much held steady. I can still make my own for less than a nickel a washload. Compare that to these currently published prices for popular commercial options:

  • Tide Pods $.34/load
  •  Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day $.20/load
  • Kirkland Ultra Clean liquid $.20/load
  • Kirkland Laundry Powder $.16/load

Can I use these recipes to wash clothes in cold water?

Yes. However, I prefer the liquid option with cold water as there is much less product that needs to get dissolved for the detergent to work well.

First published: 5-13-13; Most Recent Update: 9-30-19

Detergent and Laundry

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Making laundry detergent is easy, cheap, and effective in standard and HE washers. Save money and avoid harsh chemicals with this ORIGINAL recipe and procedure for making powdered homemade laundry detergent. It is so good and costs less than 5 cents per load.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Housekeeping
Cuisine: Laundry
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 75 wash loads
Cost: $3

Equipment

  • 1-quart (32 oz.) or larger container with lid
  • cheese grater

Ingredients

  • 1 bar (5 oz.) Fels-Naptha laundry bar (Note 1)
  • 2 cups (14 oz.) borax (Note 2)
  • 1 3/4 cups (14 oz.) washing soda (Note 3)

Instructions

  • Grate the entire bar Fels Naptha (or other laundry bar soap (Note 1) using the fine side of a cheese grater.
    Laundry and Detergent
  • Pour grated soap, borax, and washing soda into a large mixing bowl.
    A bowl of rice on a plate, with Laundry and Detergent
  • Stir to mix well then transfer mixture to quart-size or larger container (Note 4). Apply the lid and label clearly.
    Laundry and Detergent
  • To Use: Add 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent to the wash load. You may need to adjust depending on your conditions and washer size. You will not need much to produce excellent results.

Notes

Note 1: Or ZOTE, Dr. Bronner's Castile Bar, or Ivory.
Note 2: Twenty-Mule Team Borax is one brand, which is available in the laundry products aisle of most supermarkets and stores like Walmart and Target. 
Note 3: Super Washing Soda is a brand name by Arm & Hammer. The product is sodium carbonate (not the same as baking soda). Soda ash is its generic name and much cheaper! Buy soda ash in swimming pool supply stores, or online for a fraction of the cost. 
Note 4: Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into your blender or food processor to create a fine powder that will dissolve more readily in a cold water wash cycle. It's a messy process because you'll create a lot of dust needs to settle before proceeding. Be careful not to breathe that fine powder that will be produced.
Pro-tip: This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.
Pro-tip: This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

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How to Make the Best Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

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Homemade Fabric Softener

How to Use Wool Dryer Balls and Why You Should

How to Make Ugly Soap Scum, Mildew, and Water Marks Disappear Like Magic

When all three messages landed in my inbox on the same day, the problem of soap scum, shower mildew, and hard water buildup grabbed my attention.

I’ve been told that if one person actually writes to me with a problem, that represents a thousand other readers with a similar situation. True or just slightly exaggerated, either way, three in one day tells me there’s a lot of this problem going on!

 

A bunch of items that are on display

How do you remove soap scum from shower walls and fl00r—and the hard water spots from shower doors? Diane

My shower mat has turned almost black. I have tried to clean it, but unsuccessfully. Can you help me? Ronnie

We recently remodeled our kitchen with stainless appliances. We have treated well water. The very first week we had a large water stain in the water dispenser area that I can’t get off. It looks terrible! Is there any way to remove it? Help! Pat

Quite possibly one of the best tips to ever land my mailbox came from a guy who is a professional property manager. He handles rental apartments and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants. 

This reader told me that the biggest challenge is always the bathroom, specifically the tub and shower. He kindly left specific details to my imagination but let me know that “gross” is not strong enough to describe what he often finds.

And that’s when he gave me his super magical potion—the only product he uses to return showers, tubs, tile, enclosures, faucets, and doors to their sparkling clean and sanitized selves.

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