i have a secret weapon

I have run out of window cleaner.  It is at these moments when you are prompted to look at a viable home made alternative.  Yes I can all hear you shouting vinegar and newspaper, but we have a lot of glass in our house and we are none too keen to live in  something that smells like a pickle jar and we are trying to reduce our newspaper purchases.

However, I am nothing if not resourceful, for that read enjoy research, otherwise known as nosey.  Prior to the arrival of the internet I began collecting recipes and books for homemade toiletries.  I collected rather a lot, far more than I would ever need.  Yes, I did pass some of them on in the Great Book Cull of 2013.  Who knows you might even have one of them now.

Post WWW I began to collate websites and links to recipes.   I have made a scientific, evidenced based discovery.  I cannot be faulted for the breadth of my research, the number of (unwitting) trial runs into thousands and are spread throughout the world.  Granted there was an element of self selection but in any trial you chose participants who actually suffer from the ailment if you are looking for a treatment.  No point putting Mrs Bloggs through a long trial for prostate cancer is there?

So drum roll…. big, prestigious scientific boffiny prize ……

Result: For any one homemade toiletry or cleaner required there will be no more than four ingredients using practically identical recipes.


  1. Vinegar, alcohol, lemon juice form the core of every cleaner.  Beeswax and oil form the basis of every toiletry.  Amounts vary depending on recipe and product required.
  2. The stuff we buy off the shelves must have some pretty expensive and quite probably unsavoury ingredients to justify the cost.
  3. I have been wasting money for donkeys’ years.
  4. I have a secret non-vinegar smelling solution.

So back to the windows.

The recipe that gets the most stars is vinegar, alcohol, water and cornflour.  As we can’t get rubbing alcohol (isopropanol – your useless fact for the day) my options would be surgical spirit, or if I fancied a change from the pickle jar smell, meths, which has the added advantage of giving it a gentle purple glow.

I am opting for the surgical spirit.  Not sure I am going to like the smell.  However as the Boss is currently bubbling vats of beer in the kitchen it might mask the hoppy yeasty aroma that is seeping out of every pore….

Now, the bit you have all been waiting for, the recipes:

Top Rated Window Cleaner from Crunchy Betty

  • 1/4 c. rubbing alcohol (or in my case surgical spirit)
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 c. warm water

Shake up and spray.  This is still going to smell of vinegar so I have a secret weapon.

Orange all purpose cleaner

  • Orange peel
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Yup that’s it.  You will need a large jar, I have a 2 litre kilner jar.  Fill it with orange peel.  I bought several bags of past their sell by date oranges, made copious quantities of orange juice (earning Mum of the year award to add to my scientific boffin award), shoved the peels in the jar and covered with white vinegar (or brewed condiment as it was quaintly called on the bottle).  Leave to soak for 4-6 weeks.  During this time the orange oil will seep into the vinegar and the vinegar smell completely goes (or so I hope).  Dilute with water and pour into spray bottle.  Hey presto.  I have at least 3 weeks to go before I can report back.

It strikes me that if I substitute my lovely orange smelling vinegar for pure vinegar in the various cleaning concoctions we will live not in a pickle jar but an orange grove …. where would you prefer to live?!

17 thoughts on “i have a secret weapon

  1. Fantastic, Gillie. I am a vinegar and newspaper devotee but husband complains that bathroom smells like a fish and chip shop without the goodies for hours after. As I use my orange peel for making marmalade, I might just add a few drops of essential oil to stop the complaints. Nice one!

  2. This is very helpful, affordable and environmentally friendly. Yeah. BTW, while doing a little research for a cook book post I came across an entry in an old Mrs. Beeton’s book describing using gin to clean mirrors and glass surfaces…. Hmmm… Wonder how many tipsy house cleaners there were?

  3. you say you can’t get isopropanol? my chemist orders it for me, along with my Industrial Meths and acetone (I use them for cleaning porcelain and glass and in restoration) , only the meths needs a HMRC licence the others he can just get from wholesaler.

    1. It’s okay, I’ve got surgical spirit which is just as good for house cleaning. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could order it. I suppose I was fearful of what they thought I would do with it!

  4. And excuse me, but your orange vinegar is also lovely on salads….. I make all sorts of different fruit vinegars, some with some sugar in too, some without. Method exactly as per your cleaner!

  5. Gillie, when I worked in the pharmacy, we used to be able to order isopropanol in. Have a chat with your local independent. It is usually behind the counter or even in the back rather than on general sale, due to the risk of people buying it for drinking!!!

  6. Gillian,
    I’m so glad that you didn’t keep this your secret! Thanks for sharing it with us! I’m definitely going to try both these cleaners. Now I’d like the recipe for the beeswax-toiletries? Pretty please?

  7. I love the sound of the orange cleaner. I’ve tried rubbing squeezed out oranges or lemons on the sink and the juice conbined with the oil works really well. But that’s a messy job and can only be done when the fruit peels are around.

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