I’m pretty excited about this one, folks. I’m big into making my own cleaning products and finding cheap substitutes for things I’d normally purchase…and this recipe hits a home run in so many ways.
You know how price tags and jar labels leave a sticky residue behind that’s super tough to rub off? For years I’ve used the major brand products to fix the problem, namely Goo Gone or Goof Off. I’ve been looking for a homemade replacement for a while, both for the simplicity of one less thing to buy at the store, and because I had the vague impression that it’s something of a toxic chemical. Before publishing this, I thought I’d confirm the facts by looking up some info on their ingredients.
Both Goo Gone and Goof Off brands are required to post Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on their website for the hazardous materials they contain. Turns out these two products have quite the list of reasons not to buy them.
Here is a sampling (for full details, you can do a web search for the product you have and add “MSDS”):
- Causes eye irritation
- Contact with skin may cause irritation; Prolonged or repeated contact with skin may cause drying or cracking
- Ingestion/Inhalation can cause headache, nausea, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, convulsions and loss of consciousness. ASPIRATION HAZARD. Harmful or fatal if aspirated into lungs. (Um, yikes.)
- Extremely flammable
- Keep away from children
You get the picture. Which is why I’m so excited to announce victory in the hunt for a good substitute. Last Saturday, I started my morning by going to one of my favorite thrift store and found, among other things, a box of pint-sized mason jars plus two big gallon jars with lids, which ranked as a spectacular start to my day. All of them had sticky labels, of course. I purchased my first jar of coconut oil last week after reading online about its many, many uses. This article in particular contained just the nugget of wisdom I had been looking for:
34. Mix with baking soda for a non-toxic “Goo Gone”.
Replacing a toxic cleaning product with one that’s safe enough to eat? Sign me up. (But don’t. It would taste awful.)
I mixed 1 part baking soda and 1 part coconut oil, rubbed a little on the sticky spot, and let it sit for a minute or so. Then I scrubbed the spot with a scouring pad, rinsed it off, and voilà! Good as new, gunk is gone. There was one jar that had a full label on it that barely budged when I tried to peel it off―that one took three cycles of putting the mixture on, letting it sit, and scrubbing. But that’s right on par with how much Goo Gone I would have applied as well―from my test, the two are interchangeable as far as effectiveness in getting rid of the sticky stuff. And this mixture smells like tropical paradise.
My next test was our vacuum cleaner. We’ve had it for a year and a half, and still hadn’t gotten around to getting the big giant sticker off the front. That stupid sticker has been bugging me, but I was worried that Goo Gone would affect the color so I let it be after attempting unsuccessfully to peel the thing off.
One quick caution–the baking soda is a mild abrasive, which is ideal for glass, but might leave faint scratches on plastic. If you’re concerned about plastic finish remaining perfectly smooth after you get the residue off, you might want to try something else first.
I mixed up about a tablespoon of each and had some left over after all this, because a little goes a long way. I’m going to store it under the sink for next time. I got a pint of organic coconut oil at my local co-op for $9.99, and the baking soda was $1. Both are available on Amazon (here is the brand of coconut oil I use), and each one has hundreds of other uses in your home, for cooking, cleaning and body care, so you can use up the rest real easy. (For ideas on using coconut oil, read this or this. I don’t have articles to recommend off the top of my head for alternative uses for baking soda…but Google or Pinterest can help you, there’s no shortage.) If you want to make it smell like the store-bought stuff, try adding a few drops of orange essential oil.
There you have it! Let me know if you try it, or if you have any additional tips of your own for other non-toxic cleaning gunk removers.