Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making Homemade Cleaning Wipes

Doesn't that title just reach out and grab you?

One of my experiments around the Farm in May was making my own cleaning wipes. You know those Clorox or Lysol cleaning wipes we all have under our bathroom sinks? Well, I wanted to see if I could make some which were cheaper and, if not better, at least as good in terms of cleaning.

The Young'uns use those wipes while cleaning bathrooms and other various messes around the house. With 5 kids, a dog, 2 bathrooms and said kids doing at least half of the cleaning (they use more product than I do when they clean), finding a cheaper alternative was appealing. Plus, I'm always on the look-out for a way to clean things using less harsh chemicals than those found in most cleaning products.

I made the wipes at the start of May and after a month's use, here is the verdict from all involved: they are fine. No one raved about them, but after getting used to the "newness" of them, no one is complaining either. Also, I haven't noticed a difference in the cleanliness of our commodes and such. All in all, I'm thinking this means the homemade wipes have passed the test thus far. (If I was going to be honest I'd tell you I was actually quite excited about them and had to stick the container in the Big Guy's face for him to admire when I was finished making the wipes. I didn't make him come examine the counter I wiped off with my new creation, however. That would be taking it too far for even a good sport like him.)

Homemade Cleaning Wipes

1 lidded plastic container large enough to hold 1/2 of a roll of paper towels (think one of those plastic Flogers coffee cans)
1 roll of GOOD paper towels - like Bounty or Viva (the kind I never usually buy)
cleaning agent of your choice - I used something from Fleet Farm called Jungle Jake, but you could use Pine Sol or whatever you like. (I have a goal to use Tea Tree Oil soon, more on farther down)

1. Take the lid of the container off and lay it on a cutting board or your garage work bench or a surface you won't mind dinging up a bit. Get a sharp something or other (I used an exacto knife sort of thing) and cut an "X" in the top of the lid. The legs of my "X" were each about 1 1/2 inches long. Cut a bit from each of the sharp corners on the inside of the "X" you just cut. If you don't round these cuts a bit, your paper towels will shred when you pull them out.

2. Put the lid aside and put your roll of paper towels on the cutting surface. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll in half all the way through. Serrated knifes are the ones that look as if they have teeth. They are also the only knife to use to cutting homemade bread!

3. When you've cut your roll of towels, stuff it into the container and then ease out the cardboard center of the roll. I had to rip a bit of the cardboard to get it started, but then it came pretty easily.

4. Pour the water and cleaning mixture into the container. For my purposes - general cleaning - I used about 1/4 cup of cleaning solution and 2 c of water. You'll probably want to play with this a bit. The first wipes I made were really wet so I cut back on the water. I'd say start with less water and go up if you need it.

5. Put the lid on and shake gently. Let the wipes sit for several hours so the towels can soak up the liquids. If they seem dry to you, add a bit more water.

6. Stick the end of the towel from the inside of the roll (hint - the part where you took the cardboard out of) through the "X" in the lid and put the lid on. Ta Da! Now just pull out a wipe and you're good to go!

A few notes from my whole ONE month of experience in all this.
-The towels shoud come out and rip on the perforations. If they don't come out easily or rip at a place other than on the factory made perforations as you pull on them, you probably need to make the cuts in the lid wider and/or more rounded

-We tried Bounty towels on our first go round and Viva on the second. Viva seem to be the winners thus far.

Here's the cost breakdown:
2 pack Viva towels $3.46 - .40 coupon + .50 for the cleaning solution = 280 cleaning wipes for about $3.56

This is about 1.3 cents per wipe. If you get a GREAT deal (sale price and coupons) on Clorox/Lysol wipes, you'll pay at least 4 cents per wipe.

My kids said they felt like they had to use more of the homemade wipes to get the job done. With the price different, even if they had to use double the number of homemade wipes, we'd still be saving money - 1.4 cents to be exact. They didn't think they used double the amount though. I know 1.4 cents seems like practically nothing, but eventually practically nothing adds up to dollars and we like saving dollars.

I am planning to try making the next batch using a Tea Tree Oil in place of the cleaning solution. A 1 ounce bottle of the oil costs around $8.00, which seems like a fortune for such a small thing. However, I think I'll only have to use 10 or so drops for each batch so it should last for a long time. Tea Tree Oil is a natural disinfectant, smells good and I love the idea of the kids using natural things while they clean up around the place. I've also thought about trying Grapefruit Seed Crush/extract. I'll let you know which way we end up going because I just know you'll be waiting on pins and needles to find out.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding. I love the creativity on this one! Awesome.

    I was thinking of turning a 2 liter bottle into a bird feeder the other day. If it's a success I'll post my creation on my blog.