Easy Recipes for Natural Homemade Cleaners

This Wednesday, Katie Kimball will share some of her easy routines for green & natural cleaning, so it seemed like a good time to re-run this post; it was originally published on February 19, 2010.

If you do a search for “natural homemade cleaners”, you will find about a gazillion results out there. So why am I trying to reinvent the wheel?

In a word, simplicity.

Contrary to what the cleaning aisle at the supermarket might say, you don’t need a lot of different specialty products to get your home clean. And when you look up homemade cleaners online, a lot of recipes call for many different ingredients for different types of cleaners. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated. With just a few basic items, you can do the vast majority of your household cleaning, save money, and keep your home free of the toxins found in many store-bought cleaning products.

White vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are about to become your new best friend.

Here are a few recipes that will help you do most of your everyday cleaning.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray:

For countertops, sinks, toilets, and for spot cleaning floors
Mix 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Spray and scrub.
For really tough soap scum or mineral deposits, warm the solution first, spray, and let sit before scrubbing, or use straight vinegar (but avoid straight vinegar on tile grout – it can cause the grout to break down).

Bathtub / Sink Scrub:

In a bowl, make a paste with baking soda, a squirt of your dish soap*, and a squeeze of lemon, to the consistency of frosting. Dip cloth or sponge into paste and scrub.
For really stubborn grime, allow to sit 10-15 minutes before rinsing.

Mirror & Glass Cleaner:

2 tsp vinegar
1 quart water
Mix in a spray bottle. Spray on mirror or glass, and wipe clean with old newspaper. (The ink doesn’t smear, and it leaves no lint!)

Floor Cleaner:

1/4 Cup dish soap*
1/2 Cup white vinegar or lemon juice
2 gallons warm water
Combine in sink or large bucket, and use with mop.
You can use this on any floor, unless the manufacturer has specified to avoid all detergents.

lemon

Photo by Scott Feldstein

Some other tips:

• Don’t use vinegar on marble – it can damage the surface.
• If you’re concerned about the smell of vinegar, you can always add a few drops of essential oil to your mix, but know that the odor of vinegar disappears as it evaporates.
• Vinegar is a disinfectant, but for raw chicken juice and other clean-ups involving bacteria, you will want something more powerful, like hydrogen peroxide. Read more.
• For really dirty toilets, you can shake in some baking soda in addition to using the all-purpose cleaning spray, and add a little lemon juice, too, if you like.
• If you don’t want to cut up fresh lemons, keep a squeeze bottle of lemon juice in your fridge. You can buy this, or make it yourself by squeezing some lemons ahead of time. If you buy it, make sure it only contains 100% lemon juice, with no added oils or essences.
• Use 100% cotton microfiber cloths for your cleaning – they will not leave lint behind, and you can throw them in the wash afterward and re-use them.

*About dish soap: when you purchase dish soap at the store, look for words like biodegradable, septic-safe, and non-toxic. Don’t buy anything that contains petroleum distillates or phosphates. Some good brands are Seventh Generation and Earth Friendly Products (this is what I use and I love it – it’s cheap and lasts forever).

These basic recipes should take care of 95% of your basic housecleaning needs. They will also save you money and most importantly, they are safe and non-toxic, so you and your family can rest easy.

Have you tried making your own cleaners? Please share your successes or failures!

About Katie

Katie loves to learn about natural living, and believes that caring for the earth and caring for yourself don't have to be mutually exclusive. She loves to help other people understand how they can both contribute to and benefit from a switch to a more natural and organic lifestyle. She is a stay-at-home mom and a native Texas girl, happily married to her best friend.

Comments

  1. Great recipes! I’m excited to try the sink/tub scrub – our tub is in need of a good cleaning.

    One “recipe” that I LOVE to use on windows and mirrors is straight Club Soda. This came from the Clean House, Clean Planet book, and it works fantastic! You have to watch out for the squirt bottle to bubble over, but once the fizz is out, it stops. I work in small 1 – 2 foot square areas. I spray, wipe clean with an old t-shirt/sock/onsie. Then I wipe thoroughly until dry with another clean, dry t-shirt (until the streaks are gone). Perfectly streak-free windows every time (OK, maybe not perfect; but close as I can get them). :D

  2. what a wonderful run down! Thank you so much for putting it all in once place! Going to try the mopping one this week!

  3. Elizabeth E. says:

    Thanks for this. I love the fact that there is so much disparate information on the web about this topic and it can be tough to sort through it all. Having a concise summary is so very helpful. Thanks!

  4. I love these recipes!

    I use the 1:1 vinegar to water cleaner all the time. I like to add a few drops of orange and peppermint essential oil to this for a pleasant (albeit vinegary) scent.

    Nice info, Katie!

  5. I love to use baking soda and vinegar for my cleaning. It works so quickly and smells good. I also enjoy the fact that I don’t have to fear when I give a bottle of vinegar spray to my kids to help with cleaning.

  6. Christine S says:

    I love using these cleaners. But anybody have any tips on cleaning glass shower doors? I’ve tried all of these, including major elbow grease, and still can’t keep them clean. Any earth friendly advice would be welcome!

    • rachelina says:

      hi christine!

      my husband and i had the same issue with the shower doors. we tried several different cleaners that are supposed to remove soap scum, etc. nothing worked.

      after purging all of the toxic cleaners from our home and making our own cleaners, we decided to try some borax.

      we scrubbed it on (not aggressively) with a kitchen sponge, and it took EVERYTHING off! no more cloudiness! the doors are crystal clear now! we were in disbelief as to how WELL this worked! (even after LIME-AWAY didn’t work…)

      hope that helps! good luck

  7. I love using these recipes for all my house cleaning so my children can use them too. I do not have to worry about harmful chemicals and they love having their own spray bottle and rag. I do still supervise to make sure they use them for their intended purposes though! :)

  8. Thanks for all tips. I’m so happy more and more people start cleaning green.

  9. I started using natural cleaners a year ago. No more “lung burn” from harsh chemicals. Love it!!

    Thanks for the recipe for floor cleaner. Will give that a try.
    Carrie´s latest post: Kitchen Cupboard Organizing 1

  10. i NEED NEED NEED a natural cleaner recipe for my awful oven. yuck. yuck. please help. i want a spotless oven cleaner!

  11. so I must say I made the sink scrub today (just got done) and I am impressed! holy moly…. my sinks and tub cleaned up quick and they were in need of it tooo!
    awesome post thanks sooo much~

  12. I came across a “soft scrub-” type homemade cleaner that sounded cool that had vegetable gylcerin as an ingredient. Does anyone know anything about this or where to buy it?

    Thanks for all your recipes, Katie!
    Nicole aka Gidget´s latest post: Sponsorship- Advertising- Recommendations- etc

  13. This is a great post. I use baking soda and white vinegar alot in cleaning.

    I put baking soda or vinegar in my laundry when I want to take the smell out of something. The baking soda works best for freshening things up in the washing machine I have found.

    I wish i could find a little sticky baking soda pouch to stick to the lid of my garbage pail, and the lid of my diaper pail to help absorb odors, to be replaced every three months. I’ll have to invent something what do ya’ll think?
    Jen @ Go Green Natural Living Says;´s latest post: Eco Friendly Brown Bagging It

  14. any ideas on a homemade/natural cleaner for a glass cooktop? the cleaner that came with my new stove smells awful and is probably quite toxic.
    Nicole aka Gidget´s latest post: this moment

    • For my glass top, I use Mrs. Meyers scrub. Works Great! Not homemade, but not toxic either.

    • On my glass top I use Scour Off (heavy duty paste) made by Shaklee. It is all natural like all of Shaklee’s products. It’s amazing! You should be able to find a Shaklee rep/seller in your area.

  15. I love these simple recipes, but does anyone have a simple spot cleaner recipe that I can use on fabric? I have two little ones under the age of 2 yrs, and am constantly spotting the couch, carpets, chairs, clothes, etc. Can I make my own cleaner to do the job?!

  16. To clean mirrors, I use just water, and that works great.

    I was wondering if anyone here had ideas on where to get glass (or plastic) containers (other than spray bottles) to store some of these homemade cleaners, and natural beauty products, as well. I don’t want to re-use old containers because I like for my bathroom (where I keep all of this :) ) to look clean and tidy, so I prefer to have all clear containers. I’m a bit of a neat freak.

  17. Great tips guys! I will give them a try and will post a ffeedback asap.
    house cleaning
    Professional Cleaner´s latest post: We Provide a Full Range of Cleaning Services

  18. Dear Simpleorganic,
    Thanks for the above, We make natural homemade dog food for our dogs, and you might be wondering why.
    Cheers

  19. Nice tips and i will these with my cleaning.

    We provideHome cleaning melbourne

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