How to Make Homemade Cleaners That Work

common household cleaning ingredients

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Whether you're sensitive to harsh commercial household cleaners, or you'd rather fill your home with more natural ingredients, there's no shortage of greener cleaner recipes. You probably already have the ingredients you need at home to make healthier house cleaners.

What You'll Need

Check your pantry for the following ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap (we recommend the original blue version of Dawn)
  • Essential oils
  • Fresh lemon

You'll also need recycled (and relabeled) or new spray bottles you can buy at the grocery or home improvement store. The following recipes show how these ingredients can be mixed and matched to make a variety of cleaners appropriate for every room in your home.

ingredients for homemade cleaners

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Distilled White Vinegar vs. Cleaning Vinegar

Many types of vinegar can be used for cooking and cleaning, but while distilled white vinegar can do both, cleaning vinegar is not recommended for cooking. Cleaning vinegar has a higher acidic content than milder distilled white vinegar and has more cleaning power (though you probably can't pick up cleaning vinegar at the grocery store).

Recipes for All-Purpose Cleaners

Multi-purpose surface cleaner: This mix takes a minute to make and you can use this cleaner on virtually any surface in your home. Use on wood furniture and hardwood floors, but wipe wood surfaces completely dry after cleaning. Fill 1/3 of the bottle with white vinegar and fill the rest of the bottle with tap water. The vinegar scent starts to evaporate after spraying your cleaner, but adding essential oils will help mask any lingering smell. Add at least three to five drops of your favorite essential oil to the bottle. Some favorite essential oils for cleaning solutions include lemon, orange, lavender, pine, and eucalyptus.

Window cleaner: Clean your windows and mirrors using the same white vinegar and water mixture as above. But sometimes, a special ingredient may be necessary to blast through the smudges on your windows. Dish soap and vinegar work wonders for that extra smudge-cutting and cleaning mixture. Mix in a spray bottle 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 2 1/2 cups of water, plus 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap. Rinse windows and mirrors with clean water to clear off any suds. Cleaning windows and mirrors can become a fragrant chore with this mixture. Use this mixture on your windows indoors and outdoors. Window squeegees are easiest to use. But if you prefer, use a lint-free towel, wiping windows with a Z-shaped motion.

all-purpose cleaner recipe

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Recipes for the Laundry

Stain remover mix: If you have pets or kids, you'll especially appreciate having a stain-removing recipe on hand. Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 part baking soda. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on the stain and let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a rag, brush, or old toothbrush. Let dry, then wash the item with the regular laundry.

Stain remover with dish soap: Sometimes all you need is a few drops of dish soap designed to cut through grease (we recommend Dawn) and a toothbrush to pre-treat a tough stain. If dish soap alone doesn't help, then try again by mixing 2 parts of hydrogen peroxide and 1 part dish soap mixed in a spray bottle. Spray generously on the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Scrub with a towel, brush, or old toothbrush. Blot with paper towels, let dry, and the stain should be gone. You can also toss the item in with the regular laundry.

laundry stain remover

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Recipes for Kitchen and Bath

Disinfectant surface spray: For an extra-strength antibacterial cleaner for your kitchen and bath, use the general recipe of filling a spray bottle with 1/3 white vinegar and the rest with water, then add specific essential oils. The essential oils that tend to effectively destroy several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens include cinnamon, clove, thyme, rosemary, and tea tree oil. These particular essential oils may have a potent, earthy scent rather than a floral or citrus fragrance.

Garbage disposal cleaner with lemon: For regular cleaning and maintenance of your garbage disposal, make sure to run it every day or at least every other day. To freshen the disposal, toss in half of a lemon. Turn on the disposal with the lemon in it and run until the lemon is completely broken down.

To dislodge food particles stuck in your disposal's blades, take this additional step: Add a few ice cubes into the garbage disposal about once or twice a week and turn on the disposal until the ice is broken down, then run the tap water for a minute.

Drain cleaner: Shower, bathtub, and sink drains become quickly clogged from hair, soap, fats, and oils. (Remember, soap is made from fats and oils.) Many cleaning recipes to unclog drains call for vinegar and baking soda, which can produce lots of foaming action to help clear the clog.

Bathroom air freshener: With a dropper, add several drops of your favorite essential oil directly on the inner cardboard section of your toilet paper roll. Aim for fresh, clean, and soothing neutral scents such as lavender or vanilla.

adding essential oil to the inside of a toilet paper roll

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

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  1. Swamy, Mallappa Kumara et al. Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils Against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated ReviewEvidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016, pp. 1-21. Hindawi Limited, doi:10.1155/2016/3012462