Easy Recipes for Natural Homemade Cleaners

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.


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.


  1. Robert moeller says:

    We have ignorantly invited TOXIC* chemestry into all corners of our homes. We slather our bodys liberally with polimeric goo, and eat and drink products never intended for consumption.
    Gee, I wonder why we are all fat, depressed and tired all the time? Gee I wonder where that mysterious “Cancer,” came from? What about diabetes?

    I think something is jarring me from my chemical induced delerium…
    I want to be healthy and happy.
    The way nature intended!
    *Toxins: Start learning now… Search “toxins in the home”, then check your labels. If the product wont list their ingredients, DONT SUPPORT THEM!
    Happy healthier living!!!!!

  2. Several years go I was at a flea market and bought some of the knock-off sham-wow chamois cloths. I don’t know what they are made of but, they are incredible on windows and mirrors and for polishing fixtures. They last FOREVER and are pretty cheap. I don’t know what their environmental impact is but, I bought a pack of 3 large 36″ x 36″ cloths for $8. I cut them down to washcloth size and they still are in perfect health!

    Our house is paper towel and paper napkin free. We use cotton washcloths for rags and I Crochet our bath washcloths. You can find washcloths at garage sales for a nickel or dime and they last ages! I just throw them in when it’s time to wash bath mats or our regular towels.

  3. I tried cleaning my tile floors yesterday using a mixture of 1/3 c baking soda, 1/3 c vinegar, 1 tbsp dish soap and 2 gallons hot water and was left with a gritty residue. I have used my steam mop twice to try to remove the residue and it won’t come all of the way up. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? I don’t have a mop, I use a scrub brush on my floors. Also, any suggestions on how to get the grit up?

  4. Natural and Eco-friendly method of making cleaning solution in home and it saves lot of money!

  5. Any ideas for cleaning upholstery please?

  6. Michele says:

    Let me point out that most white vinegar is synthetically manufactured (http://www.theecomum.com/1/post/2011/11/eco-myth-busting-myth-3-white-vinegar-is-the-greener-cleaner-nope.html). It is typically about 5% acetic acid, and it is caustic meaning it damages live tissue. I learned this the hard way when I was cleaning the bathroom and I had the lining of my throat burned from inhaling the vapors. Luckily that is an extremely fast healing part of the body and I was back to normal the next day. Treat your “natural” home cleaning products with all the same precautions you would a store bought cleaner: ventilate, use gloves, keep it away from your face/eyes, and be extremely cautious if you’re mixing anything (do your research first). The problem with “natural” home cleaners is that there are no warning lables or instructions, and every blog espouses how safe they are but that’s just not true. I’ll be trying Apple Cider Vinegar next time since it’s supposedly fermented, but I’ll still be taking all the same precautions. Some more info from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/81-123/pdfs/0002.pdf

  7. I was wondering if the multipurpose cleaner can be used on walls. Cleaning walls is never mentioned. :)

  8. Your all remedies are natural and I like natural cleaning methods then chemical cleaners because there is no side effect of natural and organic cleaner and your tips are really house made and it is very helpful for all household persons especially for my so thanks for sharing this informative article.

  9. Thanks for the great cleaning ideas Nicole. I really like this recipe for removing stains from coffee & tea mugs.
    1 tablespoon Baking Soda (per cup)
    2 tablespoons White Vinegar
    Place 1 tablespoon of Baking Soda into cup.
    Add 2 tablespoons White Vinegar.
    Let the mix fiz and use a kitchen cloth or scrub brush to cover inside of the mug with mix.
    Let the cleaning solution soak in the mug for 10 minutes.
    Rub inside of cup with a scrubbing brush or kitchen cloth.
    Rinse with warm water.

  10. Nicole, you put together a great list! I like to add tea tree oil and essential oils to my all purpose cleaner for extra antibacterial properties and to help mask the vinegar odor. Thanks for sharing lots of good ideas in this post. – John

  11. Just a heads up on vinegar. Sometimes vinegar is made from a petroleum base, so it is wise to do research on your vinegar to see what source it is made from.

  12. Baking is my favorite thing to do when eating sweet foods.

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  14. Baking something to eat could be hard but it is fun to just cook.

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