Perhaps you’ve heard people raving about enzyme cleaners and have considered buying one to add to your cleaning supply closet. Well, you can actually make an effective enzyme cleaner right at home! The ingredients you need might surprise you a bit.
With a simple mixture of citrus peels, brown sugar, yeast, water and a little patience, you can make your very own DIY enzyme cleaner. It’s cheap, effective, natural and non-toxic. Enzyme cleaners have been growing in popularity so more and more people are experimenting with them at home.
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What is an enzyme cleaner?
Enzyme cleaners are natural, non-toxic cleaning products that are made from enzymes and can be used get rid of stains and odors in your home. They are effective, safe to use and gentle on household surfaces and plumbing.
Enzymes are animal and plant-based catalysts, which means that they help make chemical reactions happen faster. They can break things down or build things up. Enzymes remove odors, rather than cover them up. They are naturally occurring proteins that work to break down things like fats, urine, blood and feces.
Where can you use enzyme cleaners?
Enzyme cleaners are very versatile and can be used throughout your house to deal with different situations commonly encountered by homeowners. One of the most common uses for enzyme cleaners is getting rid of urine stains and urine odors from pets. They can also be used to remove stains from clothing and even to help unclog your drain.
You can use enzyme cleaners for some of the following situations:
- Dealing with carpet stains from urine, blood, wine, or other organic materials
- Pet accidents from pee and poop
- Removing clothing stains
- Breaking down odors on laundry
- Washing the floors
- Unclogging the drain
One important thing to be aware of is that bleach and enzyme cleaners cannot function together. The bleach will make the enzyme cleaner ineffective if they are mixed. If you would like to use a combination of both, start by using the bleach, and make sure it is completely dry before you use your enzyme cleaner.
Remember that enzyme cleaners are not disinfectants, they get rid of stains and odors, but they cannot protect you from bacteria or viruses. So, you will need to use something else in addition to your enzyme cleaner to fully sanitize your home.
Making an enzyme cleaner at home
Making an enzyme cleaner at home is a simple, straightforward process, but it does take some time. You will need to wait at least a few weeks before your new cleaner is ready to use to give it time to properly ferment so it can work like it’s supposed to. To get started, gather your ingredients.
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups of fresh citrus peel (lemon, lime or orange)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp yeast
- 4 cups warm water
- Clean 2-liter soda bottle (Soda bottles are best because they’re meant to withstand pressure)
Follow these simple steps:
- Clean the citrus peel and cut it into ½ inch chunks. Make sure the peels are fresh.
- Add the ingredients to your soda bottle using a funnel.
- Shake the bottle until the sugar dissolves completely (it should take a few minutes).
- Release the pressure that has built up in your bottle by opening the cap and putting it back on.
- Set your bottle to the side, out of reach of any small children. It will ferment best in a warm, dark location. The ideal fermentation temperature is 95 F/ 35 C, so find a warm spot like above the fridge.
- To release the pressure in your bottle, continue to open the bottle cap three times a day for two weeks. Make sure to always put the cap on tightly so the yeast can properly ferment.
- After two weeks, you only need to open the cap once a day
- Let the bottle sit so the mixture can ferment for two more weeks, all the way up to three months. It will be ready after two weeks, but it gets stronger with time.
- Remember to let it vent daily and shake it gently to mix the ingredients together again.
Making sure you let your enzyme cleaner ferment long enough is crucial because the cleaner is made with yeast and sugar, but you don’t want to spray yeast and sugar onto the surfaces you’re trying to clean. Letting the solution ferment means that in the end it is mostly made up of alcohol and any bacteria will be gone altogether.
When you’re ready to use your enzyme cleaner, strain out the citrus peel chunks, squeezing them with a cheese cloth to get any last enzymes out. Store your concentrated cleaner in an airtight container. It’s important the enzymes aren’t exposed to too much oxygen, or they’ll be less effective.
Using your homemade enzyme cleaner
Now it’s time to get to work cleaning your house with your very own homemade enzyme cleaner. You can vary the concentration of your enzyme cleaner for different purposes. To make an all-purpose cleaner that can be used for cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, carpet and more, find an empty spray bottle. Mix ½ a cup of your enzyme solution with 4 cups water. You can use a more concentrated version on tougher stains.
Here are some ratios for various cleaning tasks:
- All-purpose cleaner (bathrooms, kitchen surfaces, carpets, insignificant stains): 4 cups water, ½ cup enzyme cleaner
- Gentle cleaning tasks (washing cars, floors, other areas that don’t need a strong cleaner): 1 part enzyme cleaner, 20 parts water.
- Laundry: ¼ cup undiluted enzyme cleaner per load. Use as a substitute for laundry detergent or in addition to it.
- Strong all-around cleaner (bathrooms, kitchens, difficult stains): 1 part apple cider vinegar, 4 parts enzyme cleaner
- Heavy-duty jobs (built-up filth and odors, tough stains, limescale build up on appliances): undiluted enzyme cleaner. Spray directly and let soak for a few minutes or longer, depending on the stain. Wipe it away with a wet cloth when done.
It’s a good idea to use your enzyme cleaner within one or two months, because it won’t last forever. But the good thing is you can always make more now that you are an expert in the field.
Frequently asked questions about enzyme cleaners
Is baking soda an enzyme cleaner?
No, baking soda is not an enzyme cleaner. While baking soda is a common ingredient in many do-it-yourself cleaning solutions, it’s something completely different than an enzyme cleaner. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical salt compound. It is often used for baking and cleaning.
One of enzyme cleaners’ most common uses is getting rid of urine stains from pets, and some at-home urine stain removal suggestions also include the use of baking soda. Baking soda sprinkled on top of a stain absorbs odors, but it doesn’t actually get rid of the smell. The odor will come back because you haven’t deep cleaned the carpet and gotten rid of the problem at its source.
When dealing with pee stains, enzyme cleaners are a much better solution, as they eliminate the problem at its root.
Is hydrogen peroxide an enzymatic cleaner?
No, hydrogen peroxide is not an enzyme cleaner. However, hydrogen peroxide is often combined with enzymes to make an effective cleaning solution.
Products marketed as oxy cleaning solutions or oxygen-powered cleaning solutions often combine hydrogen peroxide and enzymes to get rid of pet urine stains. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down the stain and then the enzyme lifts it away and removes it completely.
What is an enzyme cleaner made of?
Enzyme cleaners are made of plant and animal-based enzymes or proteins that breakdown and eliminate stains and odors. If you don’t want to buy a commercial enzyme cleaner, you can make one at home using citrus fruits, sugar, yeast and water. If you look at the ingredients label on a commercial enzyme cleaner, it will probably contain some of the same ingredients.
Clean safely with your homemade enzyme cleaner
By following the instructions for making your enzyme cleaner, and letting it ferment for the proper amount of time, you’ll be able to safely use it to clean many surfaces around your home. If you’re sick of strong-smelling commercial products, your natural non-toxic enzyme cleaner might be just the replacement you’ve been wishing for.
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