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Everyday Cheapskate: Knowing Your Cleaning Products Is Good for Your Health and Wealth

Mary Hunt on

Two women. Different locations. Same accident. Both were using an ordinary commercial toilet bowl cleaner containing ammonia and were not satisfied with the way it was removing stains. Each added household chlorine bleach to that commercial product and stirred with a brush. One died quickly; the other spent a long time in the hospital.

Here's the problem: Whenever chlorine bleach comes into contact with acid or an acid-producing substance like toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, there is a nearly immediate release of chlorine gas. This is not a good thing! A similar result occurs when chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia, lye or other such substances. Chlorine gas is lethal.

Now that I have your attention, let me assure you: If you understand the problem, you have nothing to fear by making your own cleaning products. But you may be wondering, why should you even consider making these things yourself rather than just buying the commercial brand? The cost, for starters.

You know that blue window cleaner sitting on your counter? You paid about 32 cents an ounce for it and it's 95% water! Your own products will cost only pennies to make and will not contain toxic chemicals that could be harmful to your family and the environment.

Lesson to be learned: Know your cleaning products. This will remove all fear of unintended consequences so you can enjoy the spectacular results and cost savings of making your own cleaning products.



Club soda. For a light-duty glass cleaner, just pour club soda (less than 2 cents an ounce) into a spray bottle. Now you have a very effective, nontoxic glass cleaner. How simple and cheap is that?

Vinegar and water. Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a spray bottle. If the glass is particularly dirty, wash with warm, soapy water first.

Ammonia and rubbing alcohol. To make a heavy-duty formula for cleaning glass, mix household ammonia and rubbing alcohol together in equal proportions in a spray bottle. Label and keep out of reach of children. This is powerful stuff!



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