Welcome back to Fabulously Frugal Friday!
This week I decided to share one of the simplest, and yet powerful cleaners that anyone can make frugally for their own home cleaning.
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With three children, we eat a lot of snacks, and a few years ago, I decided to make one of our daily snack times a fruit or veggie snack rather than always having baked goods, or carbs. A LOT of fruit peels later, and in a rather frugal moment, I came across an article on making your own cleaners, and how effective and powerful they can actually be.
As I have said before in many other posts, once you begin to make things for yourself, and see the cost is only pennies compared to what you would normally spend…
When you realize it is healthier for your family to clean in a natural way rather than using tons of chemicals, sprays, or harsh products that get breathed in…
Well, you end up like me, unable to buy anything in the store without feeling guilty because you KNOW you can make it at home for much cheaper.
All that being said, however, this cleaner is so simple your 12 year old can do it.
Mine does.
  You want to start with the peels of about 3-4 oranges, and pack them into a wide mouth quart jar, empty and clean mayo jar, whatever you have available that you can put a lid on. As you can see from the picture below, the jar on the left is packed full up to the bottom thread on the jar. You then take white vinegar, and fill, slowly, until you reach the top thread of the jar, cap it, and place it somewhere for two weeks.I place mine in the kitchen cupboard near the dishes because I will see it, and remember it needs to be shaken every day. Make sure you have a tight-fitting lid. Below you can see I used an old peanut butter lid on a regular mouth jar. It was not as good as a fit as my regular lids and rings were, leaking occasionally when shaken, so I wont be doing that again.
Shake every day for two weeks, and don’t worry if your vinegar level falls below the peels over the time lapse. They will absorb some of the liquid before you are done.
This is the final product. I purchased a very inexpensive spray bottle at Kmart, for around $1.00. I made sure to mark it. When the jar is strained out, you will have around 1 1/2 to 2 cups of orange vinegar to pour into the spray bottle. Straining it from a regular mouth jar is a little more work, which is why I prefer the wide mouth jars, but seriously, use what you have available. It should fill the spray bottle around halfway, and then you fill the remainder with water. The color will look like this (sorry folks, mine is half used up–which is why I have another container going):
When freshly started, mine is filled all the way up to the large part on the neck, about 1″ from the top ring.
Now you may be asking—WHY would I do this? Why would I use a combination of orange peels, that I would normally throw away, and something as simple as vinegar to make something that is supposed to clean my house. Don’t I need something stronger to actually CLEAN the house? You now, like something I buy in the store? Will it hurt my furniture? Floors? Does it actually do the job?
Well, dear readers, let me tell you a few facts about vinegar you may not already know.
  • First of all, your grandmother, and my grandmother knew the cleaning properties of vinegar. That was why so many of them had crocks on their counters where they were always making their own. (Yes that IS possible, and later this fall I will show you how, I promise.) Vinegar can kill up to 99.8 % of all known bacteria…..which is just as good as bleach. And I assume you don’t clean your entire house in bleach, right?
  • How can you get any stronger than something that cleans as well as bleach? One of the best parts about this simple cleaner is that after a short time the vinegar smell dissipates, leaving only the scent of the citrus hanging in the air. Oh, and before you ask, YES, if you like the smell of grapefruit, lemons, or limes better than oranges, then please, by all means use those instead. However, remember that part of making this is the frugal part, so don’t go making this product as expensive as what you would buy in the store by buying a bunch of fruit you wont eat just for a different smell. πŸ™‚
  • Let me tell you all the parts of my house I use this on: every part. It cleans windows. It cleans floors. Counter tops, cupboards, doorknobs, bannisters, sinks, cutting boards, even in the dishwater with glass jars. We spray down the trash can with it between bag changes to kill any bacteria that might be lingering. And best of all, this all natural cleaner will never hurt my kids, cause asthma, or skin reactions, unless someone decides someday to bathe in it, which just might end up a possibility if you don’t know my kids.
  • When I use it to clean the bathroom, I always use my other bottle of Orange Vinegar that has 1 tsp of tea tree oil added to it for that extra boost of cleanliness. I could (and have) used very strong thyme tea added for the same purpose (1/2 cup worth), but like the smell of the tea tree oil much more. And since a bathroom is supposed to smell clean and welcoming, I would rather go with a smell I really like.
So what do you have to lose? Do you like the smell of a certain herb? I have also made lavender vinegar for cleaning certain things, or even added in sprigs of rosemary to my orange vinegar for a change once in a while.
As I always say, once you start thinking outside the box, the sky is the limit. πŸ™‚
Let me know when you plan on trying it, or ask questions and I will do my best to get back to you soon.***** UPDATE: I have now been  making this cleaner for almost a year, and have tweaked it a bit to include different scents and abilities to tackle the worst items and areas in your home.
1. I have made it with grapefruit peels and rosemary leaves, and very much enjoyed the scent change. If you want the citrus smell to be even stronger, you can use essential oils. I dont find it that much of a difference though, and certainly more expensive, so I still do it my way. :)2. I changed the formula in the bathroom to using lemon and lime peels, with thyme leaves and tea tree oil for that added boost of bacteria killing. Thyme and tea tree are both major germ killers, so I feel this cleaner packs more of a punch that just the all purpose orange vinegar.3. It was pointed out to me that in some cases, and depending on the acidity of your vinegar (NO LESS than 5% acidity should be used in these recipes), it can actually encourage different types of bacteria growth, such as Ecoli. from raw meats. SO please, do not use this on your cutting boards to sanitize. Some good old fashioned elbow grease, and boiling water will do the trick just as well. However, in all other instances, we do not need the commercial cleaners, which do more problem-causing than they help. With a good cleaning schedule, and a dedicated worker that is equipped with these cleaners, you can achieve a clean, and safe home, even with children around.

Many blessings to you and yours,