Over at credit.com, I wrote about my experiences using the recipes from a book called Make Your Place: Affordable & Sustainable Nesting Skills to make home cleaning products from scratch. (UPDATE: you can purchase Make Your Place from the publisher, Microcosm Press, here. It is sold on a sliding scale, from $(removed)-9.)
I went online and ordered all the necessary ingredients and equipment: funnels, plastic squeeze bottles, spray bottles, vinegar, borax, castille soap, baking soda, and oils of peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus. Most of the ingredients were inexpensive, except the oils, which were quite costly. Fortunately, the recipes called for just a few drops of the fragrant oils. A little goes a very long way. I estimate that home-made cleaning solutions cost about half as much as store bought products.
My two daughters (ages 7 and 13) and I made the all-purpose cleaner first. We combined water, castille soap, borax, the essential oils, and a bit of vinegar. It smelled good and I tested it on a sticky, crumb-covered countertop. The solution made short work of the mess.
Next, we made the window cleaner, which was mostly vinegar and castille soap. After mixing the ingredients, my younger daughter sniffed the solution and wrinkled her nose. "Yuck! She exclaimed. It smells gross." I took a sniff myself and was nearly bowled over by the foul smell. My older daughter said it smelled like vomit.