Enzyme cleaners are a total godsend. Anyone with small children or pets knows exactly what I mean. When we first brought our 8-week old puppy home, my husband and I went through a gallon of the stuff a week. Okay, it probably wasn’t that much – but it was darn close.
Touted as the only solution for protein-based stains (think grass, urine, blood – the fun ones), enzyme cleaners actually break down the stain as opposed to just washing it away. But with all that fancy cleaning power also comes a steep price tag. That’s why I started making my own. This enzyme cleaner is green, nontoxic and biodegradable. And it’s made from food scraps. How’s that for saving the planet and your hard-earned money at the same time?
DIY Enzyme Cleaner
In case you’ve forgotten 6th grade science class, enzymes are compounds that drastically speed up the rate at which a particle breaks down. This makes them a great addition to household cleaners, because rather than just treating the stain, they actually get rid of it entirely.
But I know what you’re thinking: Make my own enzyme cleaner from scratch? Last I checked I also forgot my bunsen burner and centrifuge in that same 6th grade science class.
Yep, me too. But it turns out that with a little time on your hands, enzymatic cleaners are actually easy to make.
A lot of the foods we eat on a regular basis, like oranges, lemons and pineapples, have naturally occurring enzymes on their skins. By soaking the leftover skins in a sugar water mixture for a few weeks, fermentation eventually kicks in and you’re left with alcohol and enzymes. AKA the building blocks of the perfect everyday cleaner.
I chose to make my cleaner with pineapples because they contain protease, the same protein enzyme used in most commercial cleaners. Papaya and kiwi skins will also work here since they, too, contain protein enzymes. But if you have a bunch of citrus fruit lying around, feel free to use those instead. Just note that you’ll be left with slightly different enzymes, and that might affect the cleaning power in the end.
Because the resulting cleaner is a brown color, I would stick to spraying it on hard surfaces as opposed to fabric. But if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to test it out on some old fabric and let me know how it goes.
Here’s how to make your own.
All-Purpose Enzymatic Cleanser
Yield 4 cups
- 1 pineapple
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon bakers' yeast
- Remove the skin from the pineapple and set aside the fruit to eat later.
- In a blender, combine the pineapple skin and water. Blend on medium until the pineapple is finely chopped.
- Add the yeast and brown sugar and pulse until just mixed.
- Pour the mixture into a large glass jar. Screw on the lid and place in a warm, dark cabinet to ferment.
- Once a day, shake the mixture and unscrew the lid to release any built-up pressure inside the jar. If you don't, eventually your jar could explode so it's best to keep an eye on things.
- After 4 weeks, strain the mixture into a glass spray bottle. Wrap the pineapple skin in a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze it to get any lingering enzymes.