Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Homemade (Tightwad) Cleaners for Body and Home

Many years ago as a newlywed my younger sister got me a book called the Tightwad Gazette for Christmas. Upon opening the gift the rest of the family all laughed at how fitting the book was for me. When our company left, my husband and I gathered up the wrapping paper and began cleaning our tiny apartment...  and I broke down in tears. At the time, I was so hurt that my family thought of me as a cheap tightwad.

Rewind: My husband and I dated for over four years before we were married. Over the course of those years we discussed everything we wanted for the future. We both felt strongly that we wanted a family and that I would stay home to raise our children instead of returning to work. As a young couple, we knew this would be a challenge. We decided that from the day we were married, even though I was working a full time job, we would budget and live as if we only had one income. That way, when I left my job to raise a family, we would not go into shock from having been use to living on two incomes. (Plus my income, set aside, made for a good down payment on our future house.)

Fast forward: Three children later, I never dreamed I'd still be at home, now homeschooling my kids. When my children were young I'd have people tell me how lucky I was to be able to "afford" to stay home with them. Let me tell you, luck had nothing to do with it... sacrifice and doing without did.

So now as a mom of three, I no longer cry at being called a tightwad. I fully embrace my ability to stretch a dollar. Times and the economy have only gotten harder for my husband and I, not easier... but we still manage. I fully admit now to being 'a little bit crunchy.' The crunchy in me makes everything from scratch whenever possible.  Many times it is because I feel I make things better, healthier, and less processed for my family (not necessarily cheaper.) Other times, it simply costs less to make it myself!

Here are a few of my (tightwad) homemade cleaners for the body, clothes, and for all around your home.  I'll be adding more great cleaning tips as I come across them so keep checking back!

~For the Home~

Homemade Daily Shower Spray
Daily shower spray was a luxury for me. I can't stand getting on my knees and scrubbing, so a few spritzes of daily shower spray really helped with the frequency that I'd need to scrub the tub. Most shower sprays are expensive and leave a terrible strong odor. This shower spray is cheap, doesn't smell bad, and best of all, it works! I make a large batch and store it in an empty 1 gallon plastic jug. I then fill up a spray bottle as needed using a funnel. To make things easier, I write the ingredients with a permanent marker on the container I store it in.

3 cups water
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
2 teaspoons original blue Dawn dish detergent
2 teaspoons Jet-Dry

Homemade Glass and Countertop Cleaner
This is a great cleaner that I use all over my bathroom every single day. It works really well on windows, glass countertops, and mirrors. I make a big batch of it and fill it up in an empty 1 gallon plastic jug. I then fill up a spray bottle as needed using a funnel. As with the shower spray, to make things easier, I write the ingredients with a permanent marker on the container I store it in.

1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar

Homemade Laundry Detergent
This is a newer recipe for me, but so far I've been fairly pleased with it. I wash all my clothes in cold water and the detergent dissolves just fine in it. If you have trouble finding some of the ingredients, I find the grocery store always carries more of the harder to find items I'm looking for. If you have heaily soiled clothing you can also add a scoop of Oxi Clean to this recipe. However, speaking honestly here, I have not found this detergent to be comparable to good ole' Tide when it comes to ground in dirt and grass stains- especially dirty socks.

1 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated (I use a cheese box grater.)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/4 cup baking soda

Use 1-2 tablespoon. I've read that this is a low sudsing recipe and works well for HE washers. (But I do not use a HE washer.)

Homemade Fruit and Veggie Wash AND Countertop Cleaner
I keep a bottle of this next to my kitchen sink. I use it to clean fruits and veggies as well as mopping my floor and cleaning down my counter tops.

lemon, lime, and or orange peels

Fill a glass jar with citrus peels. Fill with vinegar and soak for 2 weeks. Fill a spray bottle with half citrus vinegar and half water. (Or, you can use straight vinegar.)

Laundry Stain Pretreater

Typically I love using liquid Tide or Shout as a stain pretreater for all of my family's (many) stains. However, if you're looking for a cheaper "tightwad" alternative, this solution works pretty good.

2 parts hydrogen peroxide
1 part original blue Dawn dish detergent

Mix together in a spray bottle.

~For the Body~

Homemade Foaming Hand Wash

This couldn't be any easier! Pour about 1 inch of a clear liquid hand soap into an empty foaming soap pump and fill then fill with water. Be careful not to fill with too much water or it will spill over when you add the pump back in. Swirl gently to combine.

Clear liquid hand soap (not the cloudy moisturizer kind)

Homemade Facial Astringent

This is a great 'recipe' I have been using for years now. If you think your face is clean using soap, go over it again with the recipe and you'll be shocked to see all the dirt you left behind.  Even my kids approaching the 'acne years' are using this to clean their face before bed.
Witch hazel
Rubbing alcohol

Mix equal parts of all of the above in a bottle. Using a cotton ball and apply as needed. In the winter months when my skin is drier, I will use a higher ratio of witch hazel to rubbing alcohol. In the hot and sweaty summer months I will use a little more rubbing alcohol.

Facial Mask for Acne
Baking soda
Orange juice

Combine baking soda with a small amount of orange juice (or water) until you have a thick paste. Rub on your face and allow it to dry. Rinse. For spot treatment of acne. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and place directly on your 'trouble spot'. Allow it to dry and then rinse.

Vinegar in the Shower (Vinegar Hair Rinse)
When vinegar is placed in a baggie and tied around your shower head with a rubber band- you will find that all your hard minerals will be dissolved by the morning and your shower head will run perfectly.

I also keep a bottle of vinegar in a spray bottle by the shower. When I am finished with my shampoo and conditioner, I follow up with spraying my hair lightly with vinegar and then rinsing it out with cool water. Trust me, this will NOT leave your hair smelling like vinegar. The vinegar helps soften my hair and also makes it more manageable. I can't take a shower any more without this step!

Body Scrub (and Shaving Scrub) for the Shower
Light Olive Oil (or any olive oil)

Combine sugar with a little bit of olive oil. Take in the shower with you as an exfoliant.
For extra smooth legs: Shave as usual and follow up with the sugar scrub on your legs. Rinse and shave one last time. Lightly towel dry and follow up with moisturizer.


  1. I love this post! It's a little bit 70's hippie and a little bit Millenium hipster or whatever is cool for the current generation! (It's meant as a compliment) I just found your blog and I love it..

    1. Thank you, Barbara. Glad you have you here! :)

  2. I too despise scrubbing the shower so I'm going to make the shower spray. I am going to try it with Dr. Bronner's Sal-Suds instead of Dawn, to make it even crunchier! :)

    1. I love Dr. Bronner's! I have not tried the Sal-Suds yet. Thanks for the idea!

    2. Dr bronners will clump when mixed with vinegar.

    3. Yes, I never mix Dr. Bronner's with vinegar... great article here: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=292
      My shower spray has no vinegar in it.

  3. Hey, I just wanted to let you know that your daily shower spray works. I've been using it, after every shower, for the past six weeks, and do not have any hard water residue. We have very hard water here - when using the miracle dawn/vinegar cleaner, I had to let it set for 24 hours to make a dent in it. So, you can see, I was very hopeful when I found your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Waoo awesome, today am gonna try this and luckily i have successfully done this. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  5. Thank you so much for the daily shower spray recipe! I have been using this in our new home, the shower is a huge walk thru all tile shower. This keeps the tile spotless and dries the water up quickly. I will never use anything else! Except my "Blessing in a Bottle" when I feel that it needs a light scrub. Thanks again!
    Grammy Sheryl

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  7. Really simple yet cool! I'll try this at my shower.

  8. I have been using this Shower spray after each shower for over a year now AND I LOVE IT. I give the shower glass a spritz and squeegee as usual before I step out. No harsh smell, no scum build up, no high priced chemicals.

  9. Vinegar and baking soda are really the go to for cleaning the house. I appreciate your awesome post!

  10. Does this shower spray work well for tile showers?

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  13. Great content. Some useful cleaning tips.

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  14. I was interested in the daily shower spray, but wanted to note that JetDry is very toxic:
    There are alternatives out there; for example:

  15. PLEASE be careful NOT to use VINEGAR on Some surfaces. I learned the hard way and used it on marble floors, but there are MANY other surfaces you shouldn't use it on! https://www.consumerreports.org/cleaning/things-you-should-never-clean-with-vinegar-distilled-white-vinegar-a3336471803/