Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I’ve been experimenting with a few simple household items in order to replace more expensive bath and kitchen items. For instance, distilled white vinegar in a shallow dish will dissipate over a couple of days and help eliminate persistent, bad or stale odors in a room. Baking soda sprinkled on a carpet and allowed to sit overnight before vacuuming will do the same for a carpet. Best of all, there’s no fake, cloying, floral scent left over.
I’ve also been experimenting with replacing more complex products, such as dishwasher soap. One popular formula mixes equal parts of baking soda and Borax (such as Twenty Mule Team Borax), though I’ve been having better luck with a recipe consisting of washing soda, Borax, and sugar free lemonade Koolaid (citric acid helps to prevent white deposits on dishes), based on a recipe found at The New Homemaker. My main modification is that I don’t add the essential oils.
The primary advantage to these home mixes is that they’re typically cheaper, but a secondary advantage is that most of the alternatives are also much better for the environment. They don’t contain bleach and potentially other, harmful chemicals, and though something like Borax is toxic if ingested, most cleaning material is toxic when ingested. What happens to the material when it hits your sewer system and your water supply is what makes the difference.
As I find recipes that work, I’ll post them online. In the meantime, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has posted a list of unusual uses for ordinary objects you might find both interesting and helpful. For instance, to remove the chlorine discoloration from hair, dissolve eight aspirin in a glass of water, work into your hair, leave on for ten minutes, and then rinse. Much cheaper than exotic shampoos, and better than turning your silver hair blue.
(Note, the P-D does have a habit of changing URLs over time, so you might want to print the page.)