Okay, not really. There are a lot of things that a melamine foam “eraser” is just the best option for, and I have no plans on giving them up. But I DO like to use fewer of them, and to have a highly effective alternative for things they just don’t do that well. Although I’ll probably never quit them entirely, I did discover that you can save serious money on magic eraser by buying generic, and now I really will probably never buy them again, because I have so many in my stockpile now that my children’s children will be using them.
That said, this is a sprayable surface cleaner that will change your life. I developed this DIY “Magic Eraser” recipe shortly after moving into my first home. Formerly occupied by hoarders, then left vacant and frequently broken into by squatters and teens looking for a place to party away from adult supervision, my first house was not fit for human habitation. I cleaned literally every surface. Walls. Ceilings. I took the kitchen cabinets into the yard and cleaned them with the hose. As you can imagine, spending that many hours inhaling the fumes from commercial cleaners is not going to do anyone any favors. And most of the “green” cleaners on the market didn’t have enough “oomph” to get the job done. This one was, in all but the most intractable built up grime situations, a spray on and wipe off solution. (I went through A LOT of rags…)
Most of what you are paying for when you buy a ready mixed cleaning product is water. By volume, anyway. A signficant portion of the purchase cost is related to the cost of shipping that product to you, which means you are paying someone to ship you the same H2O you can get from your tap. DIY cleaners are made from more concentrated ingredients and diluted at home, so you can not only control the ingredients (no perfumes that give me a headache! Huzzah.) you can significantly decrease your carbon footprint by not using fossil fuels to transport water to your home.
This recipe holds on the shelf, so you can make (AND LABEL, or you’ll end up with a housemate who uses it on glass, which is a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE MISTAKE- ask me how I know) a bottle up in advance. I actually marked the measurements for each ingredient on the bottle so I didn’t have to look it up every time and so other people could refill it when they finished it.
"Magic" All Purpose Surface Cleaner
- 1 quart HOT water
- 2 Tablespoons liquid soap I prefer Murphy's Oil, but any liquid soap will work
- 1 Tablespoon borax crush any lumps thoroughly
- 1 Tablespoon washing soda
use a funnel to add all ingredients to a large spray bottle. (Good ones are available in the cleaning products section of any hardware store. In a pinch, you can re-use one that came with another cleaner in it, but if you want one that will last, buy a good one.) Shake well and you're done!
Worried about the borax? You CAN skip it, although from personal experience when making a batch between store trips, I can tell you it probably will not work as well. (Some of this depends on the chemistry of your tap water… you may find you need to adjust the quantities a bit if your water is very hard.) But before you decide not to use it, watch this, and understand the chemistry and level of risk. (Spoiler: dose makes the poison!)