Cleaning Solutions to Use Around Your Home

Lemons by a spray bottle

Crema Joe / Unsplash

Making your own cleaning solutions can save money, reduce your exposure to excessive chemicals, and give you a sense of self-reliance if you can't get to a store for your usual favorite cleaner.

We've put together five cleaning solutions to help you with house cleaning and some tips on how to use pantry items in ways you never thought possible to make your house sparkle.

Tips

Follow these general tips for the best results:

  • Mix cleaning solutions in small batches. Since there are no preservatives added, mixing too much at once can cause the cleaner to lose potency.
  • Add your favorite essential oil to give a fresh scent.
  • Label every bottle including the ingredients. This is particularly important if you reuse spray bottles or something that could be mistaken as a food container.
  • Store homemade cleaning solutions safely away from children, pets, and vulnerable adults.

Make Your Own Dishwashing Liquid

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons liquid Castile soap
  • 2 teaspoons glycerine
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 10 drops essential oil

Combine the ingredients in a large spray or squirt top bottle. Give the bottle a good shake before each use.

Uses

Warning

NEVER combine chlorine bleach with ammonia, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other harsh chemicals. You can cause a chemical reaction that is harmful to surfaces and, more importantly, your lungs and can cause death.

Make Your Own Glass and Window Cleaner

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups warm water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix and shake well before using each time.

Uses

Warning

Do not use homemade glass cleaner on electronic—televisions, computer monitors, cell phone—screens.

Make Your Own All-Purpose Cleaner

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • Strips of lemon zest

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Store in a temperature-controlled space.

Tip

For stubborn stains and dried-on messes, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the area first and then spritz with the cleaner. There will be a bit of fizzing to help loosen the stain so you can wipe it away with a microfiber cloth.

Uses

  • Clean hard surfaces like kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Freshen trashcans
  • Remove water spots on counters
  • Remove fingerprints on walls

Warning

Do not use this cleaner on marble, the acid content can etch the stone.

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

What You'll Need for Powdered Detergent

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup powdered citric acid
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine all of the powdered components, mixing well. Store in an airtight plastic container. Use one tablespoon of the detergent per dishwasher load.

What You'll Need for Dishwasher Tablets

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • Silicone candy molds or ice trays

In a mixing bowl, combine the washing soda, kosher salt, and baking soda. Add the lemon juice and stir well to make sure that all of the ingredients are equally moist.

Add one tablespoon of the moist mixture to silicone candy molds (shape should fit in your dishwasher detergent cup) or ice cube trays. Allow the molded tablets to dry completely and harden. Remove from the molds and store in an airtight container. Use one tablet per dishwasher load.

Tip

To boost the cleaning power of DIY dishwasher detergent, fill the rinse agent compartment with distilled white vinegar. This will help remove any residue that may cause water spotting on glassware.

Uses

  • Wash dishes in an automatic dishwasher
  • Add to pans with burned-on food for a presoak

Make Your Own Toilet Bowl Cleaner

What You'll Need

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon essential oil (tea tree, lavender, or pine have disinfecting properties)
  • Distilled white vinegar

In a sealable glass container (essential oils can pit metal and some plastics), combine the baking soda and essential oil stirring until all of the oil is well-distributed. This mixture will last for around 30 cleanings.

When ready to use, add one tablespoon of the baking soda mixture to the toilet bowl. Pour in 2 cups distilled white vinegar. The solution will fizz up. Allow it to work until the fizzing stops or at least 15 minutes and then scrub the bowl with a toilet brush and flush.

Uses

  • Cleaning toilet bowls
  • Freshen sink and shower drains

Pantry Items That Will Make Your House Sparkle

Just a few essentials like baking soda, distilled white vinegar, lemons, and toothpaste can make your cleaning routine easier and more effective.

Baking Soda

This ingredient goes beyond cooking. It can deodorize, scrub, and clean.

  1. Remove Odors

    Sprinkle dry baking soda on upholstered furniture and rugs to help absorb odors. Leave the powder on the surfaces for several hours—overnight is better—and then vacuum away.

  2. Remove Wall Scuffs

    Sprinkle a dab of baking soda on a microfiber cloth to gently remove scuffs from wallpaper and painted walls and woodwork.

  3. Deodorize Kitchen Appliances

When it's time to clean the inside of the refrigerator and microwave, mix a solution of one cup of baking soda and two cups of water to remove stains and odors

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is one of the most convenient ingredients for cleaning and has many uses.

  1. Descale Coffee Makers

    Whether you have a single-serve coffee maker or a larger unit, you can remove mineral deposits by running equal parts distilled white vinegar and water through the system.

  2. Clean Shower Heads

    If your shower head is removable, soak it overnight in distilled white vinegar to remove mineral deposits that are clogging water flow. If it can't be removed, pour vinegar in a heavy-duty plastic bag and tape it onto the showerhead.

  3. Sanitize Dishwashers

Place one cup of distilled white vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of your empty dishwasher and run a wash cycle to help remove grease and residue that may be redepositing on your dishes.

Lemons

Lemons can do more than flavor food—these fruits can help clean and polish your home, too.

  1. Remove Stains on Cutting Boards

    Cut a lemon in half and wipe down plastic and wooden cutting boards to help sanitize and remove stains after washing. For tough stains, sprinkle the area with a bit of salt and rub with the cut side of the lemon. Let the lemon juice sit for around 20 minutes and then rinse and dry the board.

  2. Polish Pots, Pans, and Hardware

    To brighten dull aluminum pans chrome faucets, and cabinet hardware, cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side over the inside and outside of the pan. Do not rinse. Buff with a soft cloth.

  3. Remove Underarm Stains on Shirts

Some antiperspirants react with body salts to create yellow stains on white clothes and discoloration on colored shirts. To remove the stains, mix one-part baking soda, one-part lemon juice, and one-part water. Use a soft-bristled brush to rub the solution onto the stains and allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes. Wash as usual.

Toothpaste

This bathroom essential can go beyond its intended purpose. Below are three fresh ideas for using it around your home.

  1. Remove Crayon Marks From Walls

    A bit of non-gel toothpaste on a damp sponge will remove stray crayon marks from painted walls. Finish by wiping down with a damp cloth and allow the area to air dry.

  2. Shine Silver Jewelry

    Toothpaste works great if your silver jewelry has tarnished or your diamonds are looking a bit dull. Use just a tiny bit on an old toothbrush to get into every crevice. Rinse well and buff with a dry cloth to see the piece sparkle. Never use toothpaste on soft gems like pearls or opals that can become scratched from the abrasive quality.

  3. Prevent Mirrors From Steaming Up

Use a bit of toothpaste on a damp cloth to wipe down mirrors. Work in small circles and allow the toothpaste to dry; then buff with a dry cloth to prevent steam from fogging up the mirror.