DIY Diva: Cheap and Eco-Friendly DIY Cleaning Supplies

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Hey-o – the DIY Diva here.  Since my housemates and I were able to save enough $$ in our monthly bills to get our cable reconnected I’ve found myself up late night, staring at the boob tube after everyone else has been sawing logs in our household.

My latest late night television obsession is the BBC show How Clean Is Your House?

I happen to be a bit of a neat freak at times (I come by it naturally, my mother is a master-tidier).  And, seeing others wholly disgustingly filthy living situations makes me feel better about the pile of laundry in the hamper I’m procrastinating on doing or the fact that my housemates leave shoes lying everywhere or the couple of dishes left from last night’s dinner that we haven’t washed and put away.

A clean house is the next best thing to crawling into freshly washed/dried bedsheets at night for making me feel calm and like everything in the world is in order.

Kate’s Handy List o’ Cheap/Eco-Friendly Cleaning Stuffs:

White Vinegar: If you mix equal parts of white vinegar with water and store it in a spray bottle (grab one at the dollar store) it is great for cleaning surfaces like glass.  You can also use vinegar and hot water to clean your kitchen and bathroom floors.  Granted your house then smells like vinegar… better vinegar than harsh chemicals?

Lemon & Water: This is an amazing tip, seriously… I doubted this would work until I tried it.  Take one whole lemon and slice it.  Put the lemon into a glass bowl of water (or a large Pyrex baking pan) and use it to clean your microwave or oven.  For the microwave, just zap the lemon and water for five to ten minutes (depending on how dirty and gross your microwave is) and then remove.  The grime on the inside of your microwave will now be able to be wiped away with a cloth or a sponge.  The same thing works for a conventional oven.  Use a high temp and leave the water and lemon in for an hour or longer.

Baking Soda: Baking soda is great for scrubbing surfaces like your sink or counter or bathtub.  Mix about a quarter cup of water with three cups of baking soda so that it forms a paste.  With a little elbow grease and a sponge it will clean even the grimiest bathtub scum.  Baking soda is also great for deodorizing  fabrics.  Sprinkle it on your carpet or fabric covered furniture, leave it sitting for about a half hour, then vacuum it on up.

Sodium Borate: This is better known as the cleaning product called Borax.  It costs about $10 for a big-stinkin’ box of the stuff which will last you forever and a day.  And, it can clean just about anything.  I use it for fleas and ants.  It kills ’em dead.  AND it’s not toxic to people or animals (unlike Raid or other comparable pest sprays).  If you have a pet that brings fleas into your house (or a friend who has a pet w/fleas who brings them in on their clothing, as happened to me) just sprinkle sodium borate onto the carpet and all fabric surfaces you think might be infested.  Let it sit for an hour and then vacuum it away.  Fleas and flea eggs?  DEAD.  For ants you just need to mix a tablespoon of sodium borate with a few tablespoons of water in a shallow dish (a plastic lid from a to-go container works well) and leave it where ants come and go.  The ants will be attracted to the mixture because it’s sweet, they will eat it and track it back to their ant hills, killing the ants dead.  Borax is also a great stain remover try using it in place of laundry soap.

Club soda: This works really, really well to clean caked on grease or soap scum.  Fill a clean spray bottle with club soda, spray it onto the area you want to clean and let it sit for ten minutes.  The gross grime will just wipe away with a sponge or cloth.  If it’s really icky you might need to repeat the process a couple of times.

Old Dryer Sheets: Old dryer sheets work extremely well to dust and polish furniture.  And, it makes me feel a little better about using them (as they aren’t really eco-friendly) to use them twice.

Coca Cola: Okay, it is SERIOUSLY scary that Coca Cola works as a cleaning product… We put that shit into our bodies and it will clean everything from your toilet to the wheel wells of your car.  It’s especially effective for toilets.  Just dump one can of Coke into the toilet, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes and then use a toilet brush to scrub the inside of the toilet bowl.  Voila!  Totally clean.

Toothpaste: Is great for cleaning tile and grout.  Especially if it has baking soda or peroxide in it.  Just dab a little bit onto the area which is gross and use a scrubbing sponge or toothbrush to work the toothpaste into the surface.  Let it sit for a bit and then wipe it away with a damp cloth.

All of these methods cost pennies on the dollar in comparison to commercial cleaning products.  And, they are mostly eco-friendly (or friendlier than the other choices).  I’ve tried all of them and stand by them working for you.

Happy cleaning!

You can read more writing by Kate Kotler on her website.

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Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler - DIY Diva

Kate Kotler is a freelance writer and professional blogger. IRL she is a very nice person, regardless of what you might have read about her on the innerwebs. Kate lives in Berkeley with her dog, Max. You can follow her on Twitter @adorkablegrrl


  1. October 23, 2009 at 10:48 am

    This was fairly interesting, until the Coca-Cola comment: I’ve seen that episode of Mythbusters, and a quick look at calls it into question, as well. Cleaning anything, including a toilet, with something with very weak acids in it (much weaker than orange juice), and tons of sugar (nice bacteria food) is ludicrous.

    Admittedly, the rest of the suggestions are reasonable and thrifty. But if you want brokeasses to have unclean toilets, I’d withdraw one of those comments.

  2. […] DIY Diva: Cheap and Eco-friendly cleaning supplies […]

  3. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    October 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Hey Robert — I’ve actually used Coke to clean my toilet and I can confirm that it works. Some sites recommend that you let it sit overnight so the acid can really work it’s wonder on the hard water, lime and poop scum on the inside of the bowl… But, as I’ve said, I found that 30-40 minutes and then using a stiff toilet brush works very well.

    If you question it’s ability to work, I’d suggest that you fill a glass (glass glass, not a plastic cup) half way with Coke and drop a dirty penny into it. Within an hour you’ll see a bright, shiny copper penny that looks brand new.

    If you still question this, check Wiki How:

    And, check #3 on Coke vs. Water on —

    In addition to cleaning your toilet you can also use Coke to get rid of the gunk on a corroded battery, clean stained china (like pulling out coffee stains, etc), to clean up blood and to get grease out of fabric…

    Again – all the tips I posted today have been verified as working (and, working well) by me.

    Thanks for reading!!

  4. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    October 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm
  5. Amanda
    October 25, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Hi there,
    thanks for all those great hints and methods of cleaning some really do work (I have to say I was surprised) although sometimes they didn’t in those cases I used my favorite natural cleaner, Citra Solv, which can deal with anything, I love it!

  6. January 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    This is a very much reach and enjoyable site. I wanna thank the site owner for providing the nice site.

  7. Liz
    June 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Hey there. I see the Coke thing. I wonder if anyone has ever put it into the tank of the toilet and cleaned it from the inside that way? Not trying to sound dumb. I have seen products that you stick in the tank and it is said to clean with each flush.

    I am not a coke drinker any longer. The other uses for Coke are amazing and mind blowing.

  8. July 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Coca Cola cleans toilets? Would would have known!

  9. August 25, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Excellent tips..thanks for sharing such a lovely tips..I generally use shaving cream shaving cream, allow it spray on the carpet, wash clean with dab and clean with damp cloth…

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