How to Make a DIY All-Purpose Cleaner for (Almost) Every Surface

spray bottle of cleaner with black top on counter with pink sponge and purple rubber gloves

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

The number of commercial cleaning products on market shelves is overwhelming. There is a different cleaner for every room and surface. Rather than filling your cabinets with so many cleaners, you can DIY all purpose cleaners that will take care of nearly all of your cleaning chores around the house.

Here are three "recipes" for DIY all purpose cleaners that you can make with basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Before You Begin

While the term "all-purpose" sounds inclusive, no one product is safe and effective for cleaning every surface in your home. For instance, while a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water works well to clean most non-porous surfaces including windows, it is harmful to unsealed granite and other types of stone, as the acid can etch the stone.

Before you use any DIY or commercial cleaning product, take the time to understand the ingredients, how they work, and the type of material you are cleaning.

Safety Considerations

There are some safety considerations you should acknowledge when you make any type of homemade cleaner.

  • Always use a new container to store the DIY cleaner. Old bottles may still hold traces of other chemicals that can cause an unfortunate reaction.
  • Always apply a label to the container that states the purpose and ingredients. No one wants a mix-up about what is in a cleaning product.
  • Never mix products unless you are sure that they are safe to combine.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 spray bottle
  • 1 set measuring cups and spoons


  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar
  • Distilled water
  • 1 box baking soda
  • 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
  • 1 bottle isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • 1 bottle lemon juice


How to Make a Vinegar-Based DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

When making this DIY all purpose cleaner, use cleaning or distilled white vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar, which is also used in many store-bought cleaners, is a powerful cleaning agent that dissolves mineral deposits and greasy smudges.

  1. Fill a Spray Bottle

    Fill a clean spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and distilled water and label the bottle. Distilled water is recommended when making cleaners because it contains no trace minerals or chemicals. If you live in a hard water area, the level of minerals in the water can leave scratches or water spots on surfaces.


    If you don't have distilled water, boil the required amount of water and allow it to cool before mixing it with other ingredients.

  2. Add Fragrance

    Even though the smell of vinegar dissipates quickly, you can personalize the fragrance of your DIY all-purpose cleaner with essential oils, citrus, or herbs.

    • Use DIY scented vinegar in the mixture.
    • Use essential oils. Add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil into the water and vinegar in the spray bottle and shake to mix. If you plan to add essential oils, consider using a glass spray bottle. Essential oils, even diluted in the liquids, can still be concentrated enough to degrade some types of plastic bottles and cause leaks.
    • Add citrus - lemon, orange, lime - peels to the vinegar mixture in the spray bottle.
    • Add herbs like sprigs of rosemary or mint to the mixture.
  3. How to Use and Store Your Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner

    • Lightly mist the surfaces you are cleaning and wipe away the soil with a lint-free microfiber cloth.
    • If you use only vinegar and distilled water, the mixture will last indefinitely. If fresh citrus peels or herbs are added, discard the mixture after one month and mix a fresh batch.

How to Make an Alcohol-Based DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is sold in drug stores in two levels of concentration: 70 percent and 99 percent. 70 percent is best for a DIY all purpose cleaner. The solution has more water which helps the solvent dissolve more slowly to break apart dirt and grease molecules.

  1. Mix the Ingredients

    Add the following ingredients to a glass spray bottle:

    • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 5 to 10 drops essential oil
    • 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid soap
  2. How to Use the Cleaner

    • Shake the spray bottle well before each use.
    • Spritz the cleaner lightly on the non-porous surface and wipe away grime with a microfiber cloth.
  3. How to Store the Cleaner

    Since isopropyl alcohol is flammable, store the container in a cool place away from any direct heat source.

How to Make a Lemon Juice-Based DIY All Purpose Cleaner

The citric acid in lemon juice is an excellent degreaser and the gentle abrasive power of baking soda helps cut through sticky messes.

  1. Mix the Ingredients

    In a spray bottle, combine:

    • 2 cups distilled water
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
    • 1 tablespoon baking soda


    If you don't have lemon juice, use one tablespoon of citric acid powder instead.

  2. How to Use the Cleaner

    • Spritz the surfaces and wipe away the mess with a microfiber cloth.
    • If you are cleaning a very greasy surface, dip the microfiber cloth in hot water and wring until it is not dripping to help lift the grease from the surface.