Not only are most of the commercially-available household cleaners fairly expensive, their chemical content makes them environmentally hazardous. There are a variety of simple-to-make homemade cleaners that can do an equally effective job, are environmentally friendly, and cost considerably less than the cleaners you find on the store shelves.
For starters, consider vinegar.
A vinegar solution can clean anything from glass and mirror surfaces to kitchen and bathroom counters. Dilute it by adding one-third cup of vinegar to an empty spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with tap water. If you find even the scent of diluted vinegar to be a little overpowering, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to create a much milder lingering effect.
For kitchen and bathroom counters, use a clean rag or sponge. For windows and mirrors, you will find that crumpled newspaper does a better job of preventing streaks and smears.
You can likewise replace fabric softener with vinegar. Add a one-quarter cup during the rinse cycle. This also removes the need of a dryer sheet, as well.
Baking soda makes an ideal replacement for scrubbing powders. Combine it with water to make a paste that will work extremely well to remove grime. For particularly difficult stains, you can dilute a small amount of vinegar with water and then mix with the baking soda. Careful, though: Vinegar and baking soda can create a combustible substance—never combine them in an enclosed container.
Baking soda has long been promoted as an ideal deodorizer for your sink and garbage disposal. It can serve a similar function on carpeting, on the bottom of a trash can, and also mixed into the gravel or sand in a litterbox. For rugs and carpets, simply sprinkle a generous amount, allow it to absorb for twenty minutes, and then vacuum.
Salt is perfect for cleaning copper and brass. Make a paste from salt and vinegar, and apply it to the surface with a sponge or cloth and scrub thoroughly.
Salt can also be substituted for those harsh oven cleaning agents. Heat your oven, sprinkle some salt on the stains, close the door and allow the oven to cool. Afterwards, scrape off the stains with an old spatula. Grime and spilled food will come right up with the salt.
If you spill a drink on your carpet, sprinkle a liberal amount of salt on the spill right away. Salt will soak up much of what has been spilled, making clean-up and stain removal much easier down the road.