"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homemade cleaning wipes

I try to use cleaning rags as much as I can but, there are times when using a paper towel or a cleaning wipe is the best choice for me. Since I have cats I deal with hairballs, vomit, litter boxes, etc...

I looked online at several recipes for cleaning wipes, until I found one that I thought would work the best for me and my purposes. The only problem is that I wanted some scented wipes to help make these kind of chores more pleasant. So I ordered some essential oils and I add some to each batch for a pleasant scent. My favorites are citrus oils so I normally add a little orange, lemon, or lime. I also put a small amount of tea tree oil in the batch I make for the litter box area.

Now I'm going to sound like your mother for a bit:
Be sure and check to see that any oils you select will be safe in the amounts you will be using for this purpose. Tea tree oil can irritating in larger amounts or for those with sensitivities. Please use caution if you choose to include it in your mix. There are also fragrance oils out there in a multitude of fragrances. Please research the safe uses for fragrance oils if you wish to use them instead.I sure wouldn't want anyone to have irritated hands or damaged surfaces in their home from using these!

You will need better quality paper towels for this since they will be sitting in the cleaning liquid until you use them. I got a big package of the 'house brand' at the local warehouse store and they work great! My paper towels have 90 on each roll. The surface of my paper towels look very similar to the roll pictured in the link above. If you normally use a name brand paper towel and their commercials or packaging have statements about how tough the towels are or how you can scrub with them, then they will probably work just fine for this purpose.

I use a rectangular container with a snap on lid and the bottom of my container says that its capacity is 64 ounces (or 1.89 liters for my non-USA visitors). My containers have absorbed the scent of the essential oils so I suggest selecting or buying a container or containers just for this purpose. Folding the paper towels to fit your container is not the most exciting thing so you might try doing your folding while watching TV, talking on a hands free phone, watching stuff on YouTube, etc...

The number of paper towels you can fit in your container will vary depending on how you choose to fold them. If you have a large enough container, you can even leave them flat. I prefer to fold mine and I can usually get an entire roll in my container after they have the cleaning solution added to them. When you first fold up your towels you will think I'm nuts as you will have a very tall pile of paper towels and your brain will tell you there's just way this will work. You may prefer to split up that roll into two or more containers and I do that sometimes myself.

Here's the recipe I use for my wipes:
(here's a volume converter for any non-USA readers)
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/2 tsp household ammonia
1/2 TB (1 1/2 tsps) Dish washing liquid( not the kind you use in a dishwasher)
1 US Quart( 4 cups )of water
20-30 drops essential oil [edited to add My personal experience making these is that they are *not* going to smell as strongly as the commercial ones. I've noticed that the ones on the bottom of the container do have more of a fragrance than the ones closer to the top. If you are expecting the very strong scents of the commercial wipes, you may be unhappy with these. I've never tried making these with the fragrance oils I mentioned before but, if you want a stronger scent, you might do some research into using those. You could also look into the effects of using more of the essential oil you have selected.]

Here's some pictures to help you understand what I'm talking about.

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I'm going to be using the lid of my container as a template for folding my paper towels.

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Here's one with a ruler so you can see the size better. Click on the picture to see a larger size. Don't you love my ruler from 1975? I found it in my late grandmother's sewing cabinet. She was a huge pack rat. I also found an "I like Ike" button!!

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Once again, please click to see a larger size.

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Ever wondered what 90 paper towels would look like if you folded them up? Well, there's your answer! I know some of you are saying there's just no way all those paper towels will fit in that one container. Well, lets see.

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Here's all the ingredients except for water and essential oil for those who desire it.

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These are essential oils I have on hand right now. I order mine from Vitacost.com. For those of you who are signed up with Mr. Rebates, the rebate from Vitacost.com is currently 6%.

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Here's the cleaning solution all mixed up with some tangerine essential oil and some tea tree oil mixed in. Kinda muddy looking, huh?

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Added the first few paper towels to the container.

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I've continued to add paper towels and press them down into the cleaning solution. Notice the indentations on top from my fingers pressing down. You have to push kinda hard without slopping out any of the cleaning solution as you continue to add your paper towels.

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If you look closely at this picture, ( click to enlarge it if you need to) you will notice that the middle looks dry and only the edges appear wet. That's okay because we are going to...

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squish them down and get the lid on. Be sure that lid is on good and tight because....

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we are going to turn the container over and let gravity take over. If you look closely, you may notice some orange looking areas on the tub. That's just where the essential oils started to settle back out after mixing. It's okay, don't worry about it. Now, leave your container like this for an hour or so and then flip it back over, take the lid off and see if the paper towels on the top are damp. If so, then you are done. If not, turn them back over and let them sit a bit longer or overnight. If they are still not damp or you prefer your paper towels to be more wet, then you can mix up a little more of the cleaning solution and add it to your tub.

I'd love to hear from anybody who tries this. If you use essential oils in your wipes, please tell exactly what you used as someone else may want your 'recipe'!