Dirty Little Secrets -Part I

I thought I’d share all of my tried and true cleaning secrets and recipes on here for all of you. You read that right: RECIPES. You see, I don’t buy any cleaning products for my entire house. EVER. None. I haven’t for almost 2 years. Why? Quite a few reasons… in a nutshell: First, I hate spending money on all of these things. They never seem to last long, they smell awful and cost a fortune. Second, Many of your store bought cleaning supplies have the same main ingredient: water. Which ties back to my first point. Who wants to pay for water? Third, most of these products are full of chemicals- many of them harmful… which is why they smell so stinking bad.

I make all of my household solutions with the following:

Baking soda. Mine is used so much that I keep a giant jar of it right next to my flour, sugar and coffee containers on the counter. I go through maybe 12 pounds of it per year. And it’s almost always generic brand. Baking soda is baking soda.

White Vinegar. I often can make it a whole year on about 2 gallons. Another product that is satisfactory when purchased as a generic brand.

White ammonia. Again, generic is perfect. The white part is very important.

Rubbing alcohol. Generic! I only go through a pint each year.

Peroxide. You guessed it- generic! Maybe 2 pints per year for cleaning.

Dawn dish washing liquid. My personal preference and I’ve found to be best smelling. Here, brand can matter. And the blue colored kind is just fine.

Suave hair conditioner. I swear. I but about 4 of these a year. At less than $1 at the grocery its an amazing value! Its almost always just used for scent – I like waterfall. But if coconut or something is your thing, go for it!

Lemon juice, sometimes actual lemons. Lemon juice is naturally antiseptic, acidic and nicely scented. All perfect for my purposes. Actual lemons are only a preference when I make a few of these things. Lemon juice keeps longer in the pantry and fridge.

Essential oils: Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint are best.

I bought all of these AND my homemade laundry detergent supplies in one swoop at Walmart for less than $50!

**Important to note** 

– I always purchase new spray bottles and storage containers for my cleaning supplies. As nice as recycling is… the chemical reaction, burn and explosion risk of splashing new chemicals into old chemical containers FAR out weighs the benefits. Just don’t do it.

Mixing anything is always dangerous. Lots of my cleaners rely on small chemical reactions between acids and bases. Use gloves, glasses operate in a well ventilated area ( I use my back deck). I always take a thorough shower after my mixing to ensure nothing lingers on my skin or runs the risk of getting my eyes or mouth.

-It may be a good idea to test some of these solutions on the surfaces of your home first. For instance, I have Corean countertops. If you have granite or something else you may want to check with your care manual or test a spot yourself before using all over. The same goes for carpet, clothing, tiles, tubs, sinks, flooring, appliances, etc.

-Always store these and all chemicals away from the reach children and pets. Be smart.

And finally….Here are some of my multipurpose solutions you may like to try for yourself!

Lemon Infused Vinegar

Place the peels of 2 lemons in a wine bottle (or any bottle you can reseal well), fill with vinegar. Allow to sit/ferment for 2-4 weeks. Shake the bottle once a week. When ready, strain lemon and debris from vinegar into a new clean container. You can use this vinegar wherever any of my recipes call for vinegar. It takes the funky scent from vinegar and adds to its cleaning power!

“I Wish I Were Windex” Glass Cleaner

1/8 cup White Ammonia

1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol

1 TBSP Dawn


Mix ingredients together in spray bottle and fill remainder of bottle with water (about 2 cups) and shake. I like this better than actual Windex brand and I’ve turned quite a few friends on to my recipe. Another tip- I use newspaper whenever I have it rather than paper towels. I leaves no lint and less streaks (and its green).

All Purpose Cleaner

1 cup Vinegar

1 TBSP lemon juice


Mix ingredients together. Fill remainder of bottle with water (about 2 cups). I also use lemon infused vinegar rather than the combination. Whatever you have around works.

Pet Stains

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup vinegar

Keep this mix in a spray bottle ready to go. Spray on stain and allow to soak for about 30 minutes. Blot with clean cloth towel. Should still be damp.


Mix a fresh batch of:

1 cup Peroxide

2 TBSP Baking soda

1 “squirt’ (TBSP-ish) Dawn

Shake well and spray this on the stain allow to soak and then dry (overnight-ish).

Mop Mix

1 cup vinegar

1 gallon of water

Mix in bucket and start to mop. That’s it! For a better scent use lemon infused vinegar or add a splash of lemon juice to the bucket. Also, you can use a few drops of essential peppermint or tea tree oils (one or the other. not both and without lemon). Both of these scents naturally deter insects!

Drain Cleaner

Pour 1 cup baking soda down the drain and allow to work on breaking up the grime for about 5 minutes. Then pour 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain. It will foam (chemical reaction creates a non hazardous gas and expands into a foam the pushes through the drain). Cover drain opening with an upside down bowl or cup for about 30 minutes. Uncover, run your faucet at its HOTTEST temperature for 3 straight minutes. Should be like new! My mom did this for years before I ever tried it myself. I haven’t bought Drain-O in 5 years and she hasn’t bought it in about 20 years. I always try this before I call a plumber. If this can’t fix your drain then you definitely need a plumber.

Stay tuned for my next Dirty Little Secrets: Part II is Bathrooms and Part III is Laundry. Prepare for LIFE CHANGING secrets… at least they were for me.

Hilda’s Housekeeper is named Hilda too

One of the things I’m trying to do around here is keep it clean. This probably seems obvious and sounds simple, but let’s remember that I’m a working mom of a not-even-three-month-old. Time, money and energy are all issues here. We can’t really afford to hire a cleaning service or house keeper on a regular basis. My husband (a neat freak) and I (a type A) seem to have differing definitions of “clean”. His is something like this: Vacuum tracks in the carpet, no clutter on counters and no dishes in the sink, but strangely can over look dirty windows, grubby countertops, dog hair riddled cushions and overflowing trash cans. Mine is more like this: Manageable (but still existing and necessary) piles of immediate to-do’s & bills, shiny windows, countertops, floor, empty trash cans and no visible laundry, nicely placed pillows. These overlap and gap in understandable ways. Recently we reach a point where the house was out of control. I felt I was doing most of the upkeep on a daily basis and he felt it wasn’t dirty until it was out of control. Both parties were frustrated. We don’t want to spend an entire weekend day de-cluttering, deep cleaning and shoulder deep in laundry, nor do we want to live with “out of control” all week until we have time for that entire day of torture. After chatting with fellow wives/mothers, a good chat with the hubby and a little googling and pinteresting we came to what we think is a manageable solution: a cleaning schedule. We sat down and discussed what needs to be done daily versus weekly and broke it up into easy to accomplish 30 minute per day tasks. We considered our schedules (coaching soccer, pilates, yoga, church group, etc) and built it for what suits us. So far it’s a work in progress but it looks like this:


-Make beds

-coats, shoes, bags (always scattered at the door or in the foyer)

-baby bottles: soak, scrub, sterilize, assemble

-dishes, dishwasher (load/unload accordingly)

-clear kitchen & bathroom counters

-pack lunches, baby bag, etc for tomorrow


-Sort laundry

-budget, meal plan

-grocery list and coupons


-Laundry wash, dry, fold, away



-floors: sweep, mop, vacuum


-kitchen and bathroom scrubdowns

-trash & recycling


-dust shelves, blinds




-sweep & vacuum



-clean out fridge, pantry or closet (rotate accordingly)

… I will post an update in a few weeks. I hope we can stick to it!