How to Mix a Multi-Purpose Cleaner - dummies

By Gill Chilton

For less than five pence for the entire bottle, you can make an efficient cleaner for all the hard surfaces in your home that can safely withstand bleach without risk of damage or colour fade. Zap it over sinks and baths (unless they’re enamel), kitchen worktops, ceramic and plastic tiles, and plastic rubbish bins.

Never, ever use this solution with an ammonia-based cleaner. The mixture of bleach and ammonia produces toxic fumes that may send you to hospital or even prove fatal. Follow these steps to make your concoction:

  1. Buy a large heavy-duty plastic spray bottle.

    You can find appropriate spray bottles in any DIY store or try a gardening store.

  2. Fill it with

    • 500 millilitres (ml) (1 pint) of warm water

    • A generous squirt of washing-up liquid or a teaspoon of bleach-free washing-powder

    • (The item below is definitely an AND. There would be very little cleaning power without any bleach.)

    • 30ml (2 tablespoons) of liquid bleach – economy bleach made up from sodium hypochlorite is fine.

  3. Use the spray pipe on the lid to give the mixture a stir.

You can spray this generously onto your chosen hard surface. Follow up by rinsing the surface using a dampened cloth or sponge. Most surfaces can air-dry, but you need to rub metal with a cloth if you want to get a good shine.

Germs breed fastest in wet environments. So if there is a risk that the surface won’t dry in a reasonable time, wipe it with a clean cloth or a paper towel.

Once bleach is diluted it quickly breaks down (mostly to salt and water), so you need to use up this solution in a day. Because it is so low-cost, that’s no problem. When you finish cleaning, take any leftover solution and go give an outside drain a treat!

Bleach can damage fabrics and porous surfaces. Always check that a surface is bleach-safe by testing it out on an inconspicuous spot. Use a cotton bud (cotton swab) to wet the smallest area, then leave it to air-dry. You can tell that a surface is not bleach-safe if you can see a colour fade or the surface looks pitted or feels rough to the touch.

Some surfaces you can’t use bleach on include:

  • Enamel: When bleach sits on enamel that’s already showing wear, it can take off the shine.

  • Fabric treated with special finishes: It can cause fading and take shine off the finish.

  • Leather: It can cause fading.

  • Marble: It can pit the surface.

  • Metal: Don’t spray chrome or gold-plate taps. Sloshing past the metal drain plug is okay, just don’t let the solution pool on the drain – wipe the plug dry.

  • Silk: It can rot fibres.

  • Wool: It can rot fibres.

If in doubt, use a mild cleaner, such as diluted washing-up liquid, instead. You can still fill this into the spray bottle, for quick easy cleaning.