It’s easy to save money and make your one homemade cleaning solution if you have a wood stove or a fireplace. You’ll never need to buy store-bought cleaning solutions again. You’ll have a cleaner that will lift the most stubborn stains out of your clothes and easily clean up any oily fingerprints.
How it works
In colonial times, economizing housewives made use of every discarded item in as many ways as possible to save money. Rendered animal fat was used in the making of bar soap and unused cooking grease was used to make candles. For a homemade cleaning solution, colonial housewives collected wood ash in a bucket and allowed rainwater to seep through it. This process made lye that was strong enough for the most difficult of dirty stains. Once the cleaning solution reached the required strength, it was mixed with rendered animal fat and made into bar soap. For us, however, the solution is a lye mixture that’s perfect for lifting grease out of clothes, and for washing floors, countertops and just about anywhere else you’d use a store-bought cleaner.
How to make it
First, get a 10-gallon flat-bottomed container and drill or punch out a series of one-eighth-inch holes in the center. You’ll need holes big enough to allow the water seep through without letting it pour through. If the holes are too small, the solution will clog and won’t drain. If the holes are too big, you’ll have to wait for the sediment to settle in the bottom bucket before you bottle the mixture of homemade cleaning solution. You may want to experiment. Cookbooks from the 1700s suggest you use a wooden barrel, but I’ve found that a plastic container works just as well.
Second, get a five-gallon somewhat transparent container and place it under the larger container. Pour wood ash into the top container after a rainfall so you don’t melt the container. The reaction between the water and the ash produces lye and the solution will drip down and into the bottom container. Your lye will be the correct concentration for a homemade cleaning solution when it has a deep amber color. Colonists said an egg would float in lye that was strong enough for soap. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for two years now. If your solution is a dark yellow, almost the color of butterscotch candy, you’ve got lye that’s strong enough for anything you can throw at it. You may have to run the fluid though the ash a few times to get it to the strength you want.
When you’re done, just bottle your homemade cleaning solution in all of the plastic gallon milk jugs that you usually send to your area recycling center. Then get a spray bottle, fill it up and go to work, hunting down all of those seemingly impossible daily dirty jobs that modern families create.