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Do It Yourself Laundry and Household Cleaners


Oh, the joys of Do It Yourself Laundry and Household Cleaners! They're CHEAP, SIMPLE to make, and don't contain any scientific names that you can't begin to pronounce!

In this post I'm going to share with you a few uses of those cheap items that you probably already have in your kitchen. Chances are your grandmother used these and they worked!

Baking Soda: Also known by its scientific name, Sodium Bicarbonate. Scientifically related to Sodium Carbonate, or Washing Soda, but please don't confuse the two!! They cannot be substituted one for the other.

The main reason that Baking Soda is so effective lies in its chemical structure:

  • Cuts grease and oil because it is alkaline.
  • Since it fizzes when added to white vinegar, it literally lifts away dirt and grime.
  • It is mildly abrasive, so when mixed with a little water to form a paste, it can then be used as a scrub, either for stubborn laundry stains or household cleaning like soap scum rings in the tub.
  • It neutralizes odors.
  • It is also absorbent so can be sprinkled on still-wet carpet and upholstery stains and will help absorb the liquid.

Cream of Tartar: Scientifically known as potassium bitartrate, cream of tartar is another great cheap and simple stain remover.

  • Rub a little cream of tartar on porcelain sinks or tubs and get rid of those gross rust stains.
  • Mix a few teaspoons of cream of tartar with glycerine and use it like a pre-wash stain remover spray.
  • Mix a little cream of tartar with white vinegar and make a paste and use as a non abrasive cleaner. Works great on mold and mildew stains on grout (like around the tub).
  • Mix some with lemon juice to clean copper kettles and other copper items.

Lemon Juice: The essential oils in lemons are what makes them great deodorizers and cleansers. Since lemon juice is acidic, it works great as a bleaching agent. One word of caution, however. Lemon juice can STAIN WHITE FABRIC. If the fabric is white that you are trying to get a stain out of and you don't want to use bleach, try white vinegar.

  • For berry stains on fabric (like blueberries) – first rinse the item with cold water, then soak in lemon juice for about 30 minutes. Rinse item again with cold water. Repeat as necessary.
  • Lemon juice and a bit of salt makes a great cleaner for stuck on gunk.
  • For “body fluid” stains, such as urine, feces, sweat, vomit, etc. – Rinse stain with cold water, then use 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Rinse again in water, repeat as necessary. Still won't come out? Make a paste with cream of tartar and lemon juice and a bit of water and scrub it.
  • Hair dye stains on clothing? Try the cream of tartar and lemon juice paste and scrub it. Soaking it in lemon juice will also help.

White Vinegar: Since vinegar is acidic, it reacts with stains that are alkaline, thus removing the stain.

  • Hard water deposits and stains are alkaline. Spray a mixture of vinegar and water (2 parts vinegar, 1 part water) on the stain or spot you want removed. Then rub it off with a soft cloth. Viola!
  • Blot a coffee stain on clothing with a bit of vinegar, dish soap, and water. Vinegar is a good bleaching agent for coffee and tea stains on just about anything.
  • Ink stains – try a paste of cream of tartar and vinegar and scrub it.
  • Use vinegar as a rinse aid in your dishwasher to remove those ugly hard water spots. Just put the vinegar in the rinse aid compartment just like you would the commercial rinse aid products. Voila! No more spots.

Other DIY Household Ideas:

  • A mix of baking soda and vinegar really does work to clear clogged drains. Our bathroom sink (the one the girls use) seems to drain slowly a lot of the time. Since I don't want to use Draino or other caustic junk, I did the following and IT WORKED: I poured a 1/2 cup or so of baking soda down the drain, followed by about a cup and 1/2 or so of vinegar – fizzed beautifully! I waited about 15 minutes and poured a couple cups of boiling water down the drain – no more clog!
  • The Baking Soda and Vinegar mix worked on our clogged dishwasher drain too. I repeated the whole process about 3x but it worked. I'm thinking its time I got my “Jr. Plumber's License”… 🙂
  • A mix of white vinegar, lemon juice and water works GREAT as a glass cleaner.
  • Here's a link to a laundry detergent recipe that I use. It even works on my husband's greasy, nasty lobster fishing clothes. Trust me, if it will get THAT grease and odor out, it will work on just about anything!

I hope you found some useful ideas in this post. These are methods that our grandmother used and they worked! We don't need to buy expensive “miracle” products that contain nasty, caustic chemicals that can potentially make us ill. We already have the “miracle products” in our pantries and they do work!

I'd like to thank Laurie for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post today. Common Sense Home is one of my favorite blogs and I look forward to receiving “The Weekly Weeder” in my inbox. It always contains useful tips on various plants that you just might have growing in your own backyard. 🙂

This is a guest post by Susan Hutchinson.
Susan is a Christian, homeschooling Mama of 3 girls, and wife of a lobsterman! She lives on an island off the coast of Maine. She is passionate about whole foods, herbal remedies, reading, and stillness.

You may also enjoy the post “DIY Natural Cleaners Made with Essential Oils” and other ideas on the Green Home page.

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  1. For fruit and vegetable stains pouring boiling water through the stain works very well for me. And hydrogen peroxide almost completely removed a blood stain.

  2. Great tips! It’s not “natural” but I found that putting a tablespoon of fabric softener in a empty spray bottle and filling with water, makes a “Febreeze” type spray that is great for eliminating pet odors and musty smells in the carpet at a fraction of the cost.

  3. What a great bunch of tips! I am always looking for DIY cleaning tips. Thank you so much!

    I am stopping by from the Barnyard hop, have a lovely week. 🙂

  4. Try heating the vinegar before you pour it onto the baking soda in the sink. If you have a microwave (I don’t), you can use that or put in a stainless steel pan or glass pan on the stovetop. Either way, heat till it is nearly boiling then very carefully take it to the sink and very carefully pour it onto the baking soda. Rinse with hot water. This gets soap scum real well.

  5. Not sure, but I thought I found some where that washing soda was nothing more than baking soda baked down in the oven to reduce the moisture content…. true?

    1. From the Arm & Hammer website (

      Baking Soda is made of 100% Sodium Bicarbonate. Super Washing Soda is made of 100% Sodium Carbonate. While they sound similar, they are not the same. Both products can be used to improve liquid laundry performance for cleaner, fresher clothes. Both products can also be used for cleaning around the house. Baking Soda can be used in baking, as a dentifrice and as an antacid, Super Washing Soda cannot. Super Washing Soda should never be ingested. Be sure to check product packaging for specific uses and recommendations.

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