Recipes for DIY cleaners from Group for the East End

Christine Tylee, program and stewardship coordinator for the Group for the East End, mixes up an all-purpose cleaner of white vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Christine Tylee, program and stewardship coordinator for the Group for the East End, mixes up an all-purpose cleaner of white vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

In a country where convenience is king, making your own cleaning products probably sounds like a chore. But that’s actually not the case, says Christine Tylee of Group for the East End in Southold.

“They’re simple to make,” said Tylee, the nonprofit’s program and stewardship coordinator. “When it’s ‘do-it-yourself’ some people can be overwhelmed, but then they realize how easy it is.” 

Just how straightforward is it? Tylee, who teaches the public how to make their own all-purpose cleanser, furniture polish and more every year at Downs Farm Preserve & Nature Center in Cutchogue, said most of her old-fashioned recipes consist of just a handful of ingredients, like vinegar, water and baking soda.

“It’s eye-opening for a lot of people,” she said. “We use olive oil for furniture polish, cornstarch for glass cleaner.”

The approach is also much cheaper, Tylee said. For instance, a 26-ounce bottle of Windex currently retails for $5.49 at drugstore.com. But, she said, making your own glass cleaner costs just 48 cents.

Aside from being easier on the wallet, she added, making your own cleaning products is better for the environment.

“With Clorox, there’s a list of hazards on the back of the bottle and what you pour down the drain can go into the groundwater,” she said. “When you make your own, you don’t have to worry about that. They get the job done just as well and you can feel good about it, too.”

Interested in making your own cleaning products? Read on to get Tylee’s recipes for six different products.

All-purpose cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons baking soda

15-20 drops essential oils (tea tree, orange or lemon oil/juice)

Pour ½ cup white vinegar into a spray bottle and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Add a few drops of essential oils and then fill the bottle to the top with water. Give it a good shake and let settle before using.

Wood furniture polish

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

10-15 drops essential oils (lemon or orange)

Add essential oils to a container or spray bottle, then add olive oil and vinegar. Shake well.

Glass cleaner

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups warm water

Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake well. The cornstarch will settle at the bottom, so shake well before each use.

Air freshener

1 cup water

15-30 drops essential oils

Add water and 15-30 drops of essential oils to a spray bottle, feeling free to mix and match scents. The amount of essential oils you use depends on how strong you want the spray to be.

Oven cleaner

Make a paste of baking soda and water. Coat the bottom of the oven with paste. Spritz with water and then sprinkle sea salt, which acts as an abrasive. Let sit overnight. Remove the paste with a sponge or spatula and wipe any residue with a clean, wet sponge.

Dish soap

2 1/2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon borax

1 tablespoon washing soda

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 cup liquid castile soap

10 drops essential oils (optional)

1. Measure and add the borax and washing soda to the mixing bowl along with the liquid soap and white vinegar. You can find pure castile soap at your local health food store.

2. Boil the water and then slowly add in the ingredients, using a whisk to gently incorporate. You can also add a few drops of essential oils.

3. Let the soap come to room temperature before adding it to your container. It will thicken as it cools.

ryoung@timesreview.com

Making the all-purpose cleanser adding baking soda to the white vinegar. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Making the all-purpose cleanser adding baking soda to the white vinegar. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

2 Comment

  • As a woman with a 1 year old daughter for me is very important not to use too much chemicals for the cleaning of my home. I really like the idea of using DIY cleaning products instead of buying some expensive and often dangerous ones. Thank you for the great recipes, I am definitely going to try all of them 🙂 🙂

  • Very nice post! I like trying different green cleaning recipes! Thanks for sharing!