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Recipe for non-toxic all purpose surface cleaner

 
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I'm looking to make a non-toxic product similar to a glass cleaner (Windex) or all purpose cleaner. I've tried a simple dilution of vinegar in water. It was ok but lacked grease-cutting power for things like cleaning the surface of the stove. So I bought a supposed "green" cleaner from Sprouts but I've noticed that I'm sensitive to it and it is causing me to wheeze.

What do you all use to address grease residue?
 
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Hi Jennifer
I use Dr Bronner's Sal Suds for stove, floors, etc. Does the job for me. Windows, I use white vinegar.
Edited for recipes I've used.
For stove, etc - Borax, washing soda & a squirt of Dr Bronner's liquid soap in a spray bottle of warm water shaken well. This does need to be wiped with clean water rinse. Found this online (sorry, it was so long ago I can't site credit, my apologies).
I'm interested in what others have found to work.
Cynthia
NE Kansas



 
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Borax, washing and baking soda make a comet replacement good for scrubbing. Spritz it with vinegar or lemon juice to make scrubbing bubbles.

We put slivers of soap (end of the bars or scraps from the ends of our homemade soaps) into a mason jar to make a liquid soap. A little bit of it in the spray bottle with the vinegar will help cut the grease.
 
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For glass I fill a spray bottle with vinegar and a few drops of Dr Bronner's or dish soap and a few drops of tea tree oil.

For a spray that discourages ants and mice I add about a half teaspoon clove oil and a half teaspoon peppermint.

You want just enough soap to act as a surfactant but not enough to streak.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Thanks for the responses, guys!

I was wondering if you all have any experience with orange oil?

I'm hoping to create a substance that does not have to be applied and then rinsed off - because I'm basically lazy and I have pain issues. However, a two step process is much better than a product that causes wheezing!
 
Matu Collins
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I don't rinse off the vinegar cleaner. For a mild spray I dilute with water but mostly I don't.
 
R Scott
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Orange oil works, but is pricey.

I wonder if you tincture orange peels in vinegar you will get enough oil to be useful?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Good question! It's citrus season right now so I have a lot of citrus peels....
 
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I make citrus peel vinegar, when I've got the peels. I'm not sure that it does anything more to clean than straight white vinegar, but it smells nice.

The only thing I've found that really cuts grease is some kind of soap. Dr. Bronner's or something of that ilk might be the least toxic and most eco-friendly - I just add a squirt or two of my natural dishwashing soap to my vinegar and water spray. I never wash it off after application, just wipe it off. When I want to boost my germ-killingness, I first spray with my vinegar solution, then with hydrogen peroxide (the regular 3% from the grocery store or pharmacy), then I wipe the two off together after a couple of minutes.

Glass and mirrors, I use vinegar and water again, with less dish soap, just a dash. But the trick is to use newspaper instead of cloth or paper towels to wipe with - it leaves a streak-free shine. Newspaper ink will stain caulking or grout, so just use it on the glass!

Baking soda in a parmesan shaker is my comet cleanser - I use it in the bathroom a lot. Sprinkle some baking soda in the toilet and then spray with vinegar, then scrub.
 
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Lye. Or if you are far from civilization, nature's equivalent -- wood ashes.

There's nothing like the saponification reaction to turn grease into soluble soap, which then easily washes away. Orange oil, vinegar, turpentine, the cleaning action of these is all by solubility, trying to get your grease to dissolve in something that can be easier to wipe away. They don't chemically change the grease, and when you get down to the last few layers of molecules that are on the surface, sometimes solubility is less of a draw than the surface tension holding the molecule to the surface -- meaning that they can leave a film. To get rid of the last of that film, you need to change it chemically, then you are back to lye or ammonia, which will chemically cut the grease.
 
Jessica Gorton
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Wow, John, that's a great idea! Now, I have plenty of wood ash, but how do I use them safely (other than waiting till all the coals are out, I'm not quite that dumb...)? I've heard that wood ash can be caustic when mixed with water, just like lye. Is it a matter of how much you use, or should I be wearing gloves, or what?

On a related historical note - I've also heard that one theory for the original discovery of soap was burnt offerings - the fat of the animal mixed with the ashes of the fire, and when the offerings were washed away later, the suds were noticed and studied...
 
John Elliott
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Jessica Gorton wrote: but how do I use them safely (other than waiting till all the coals are out, I'm not quite that dumb...)? I've heard that wood ash can be caustic when mixed with water, just like lye. Is it a matter of how much you use, or should I be wearing gloves, or what?



Hazmat suit with full face shield and respirator, depending on the job.

Wood ashes are lye, just with a few other things that are almost as caustic (like P2O5 and CaO) and maybe some bits of charcoal. One of the reasons that solutions of lye or wood ashes feel soapy between your fingers is that they are turning the oils on your skin into soap. One touch isn't going to kill you, but strong enough for long enough is going to cause some real damage. I always recommend wearing gloves, unless you are working next to the sink or a garden hose and can wash it off right away if it starts to burn. Even then, if you waited long enough for it to start burning, that was too long and you better put some aloe on it.
 
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The steam cleaners only use water to clean. It heats it up and sprays hot steam out of a nozzle. I really like them because I can use them to mop the floors, clean the counters and clean the windows all without worrying about my children being around weird chemicals. When you have babies crawling on the floor and putting whatever they find into their mouth, it is really nice to know it was only washed with steam.

They work for greasy situations, too. I have effectively used them to clean the grates of my stove top which of course get covered in large amounts of food and grease matter. The only downside is that since they are spraying a highly pressurized jet of steam, the food particles can sometimes get sprayed around the kitchen. Also, depending on the model you have, it takes time to heat the water and sometimes more time to clean up certain things, like grease, because in order for it to be most effective you need to use the smaller spray nozzle. Small price to pay in my opinion for not having to worry about chemicals.
 
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We put the remainder of lemon, limes, etc (basically citrus fruits) in a jar of vinegar for about 4 weeks. Take the peels out and mix with water and it makes a very good general purpose cleaner.
 
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An important thing to note, is that when you make your own cleaners, mixing together soap and vinegar (base & acid) will neutralize both...I read a post about it on the Dr. Bronners website. Sorry I don't have the exact link. We use a simple solution of water (2 cups-ish) add a good squirt of castile soap and ten drops of tea tree oil.
 
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Exactly. I was thinking the same thing when I read this thread. Soap works because it is alkaline, and alkaline helps let water and oil mix, so that you can lift grease off with a wet sponge or cloth. So adding vinegar to soap just cancels both.

I clean windows and a greasy stove with whatever soap or detergent I'm using for dishes. It doesn't leave a residue.
 
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Real lye-based Soap made according to a proper recipe will be fairly neutral. Near 7 pH.
This is because during saponification, the lye (base, caustic) interacts with oils (acid).
Normal plan for solid soap is to have an oil excess.
This makes sure that you don't have too drying a soap, and more importantly, no free lye in the final product!
Some soaps will have added oil after trace, so it ends up feeling moisturizing due to the oil left over, replacing what's removed from your skin.
Liquid soaps, though brewed up with lye excess temporarily, are then completed so that the lye is neutralized. Also some have added oil for the same reason.

Soap just breaks surface tension, and let's oils be diluted and removed by a water-based solution.
 
Trevor Walker
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A suggestion for thinning oil or grease on the stove:

In art school, we learned to use oil painting with two methods of thinning. One was turpentine, the other was linseed OIL.

The clean oil simply diluted the oil paint with pigment in it.

Perhaps rough rags / paper with very warm oil on them could help loosen and remove the grease?


(I like making soap, but using lye for cleaning seems extreme to me. Perhaps finding a way to limit the spatter and spill would be more friendly to body and energy?)
 
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I have used several powdered or cream type abrasives for cleaning stoves, including just plain old baking soda, and I can say that honestly regardless of what you use you can get a good result by doing the following:

1. Take a cloth and wet it with warm or hot water and ring it out so it is not drippy. Use this to wipe off loose debris. If there is lots of fresh grease on the stove that's not burned on you can repeat this step a few times to remove most of the grease. There should not be any pooling water on the stove when you are done, we need it to be mostly dry for next steps.

2. Sprinkle the stove with abrasive powder use lots where it is very dirty but don't worry about putting much or any in places that are clean.

3. Using a cloth that is wrung out really well, or a new cloth that you wet only a little at the portion which will be making contact with the surface when you scrub, buff the whole surface with strong circular motions. You want to use a cloth that is just wet enough that the powder sticks to it when you wipe, if the chunks of powder get pushed away instead then it is too dry. If you end up with flowing sludge instead of a chalky film then that's too much water and you'll need to wipe it up and probably add more powder. You should get a pasty build up on the cloth and keep using this portion as you attack the corners and crusty burnt on things.

4. Check for water marks that are not coming off. If there are some stop buffing and let the chalky film dry. Once it is dry Buff off with a dry cloth. Usually this works fine, if not you will probably only notice the marks when the stove is wet so not a total loss of your effort.

5. Wipe down once or twice with water to remove traces of powder and dry well to make it shiny. If it looks good, you're done!

6. Is there still some burnt on black stuff? Use a flat edge scraper tool on a flat top to remove this. On other stoves you can use a steel wool type scrubby, the plastic ones are more forgiving because this will scratch the enamel and you have to be very mindful of where you apply pressure and how much pressure you are using. Decide If you are cool with a little perma-dirt or a few asthetic surface scratches. Whatever you do don't scrape down to bare metal. Additionally, as you continue to clean the stove regularly over time any remaining blackness will reduce In appearance so don't tire your arm out or damage your stove trying to make it perfect in one go.

6. Wipe off the scrapings and clean your tools. all done!

Main takeaways are that you need an abrasive and to keep your wet- dry ratio proper when buffing, see step 3 for details.

Also works great for sinks. Happy scrubbing!
 
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You usually don't need anything but plain old water and scrunched up newspaper to clean windows. If there's grease, cut a lemon in half, rub it over the greasy spots and wipe until they're gone. In my experience it doesn't take much. Then finish up with plain water and newspaper.

j
 
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I have always heard that the newspaper trick works I just have not tried it as I usually don't have any newspapers.

Nowadays most subscriptions are online.

I like to recommend this book:

https://permies.com/wiki/edible-clean


 
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6 Ways to Keep Chickens, ebook - now FREE for a while
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