Homemade Cleaners That Work

A man cleaning a window with a sponge

Paul Bradbury / Caiaimage / Getty Images

Believe it or not, most of us have almost all the ingredients we need to make some healthier cleaners right at home, saving us time and money. Some of the products you should always have around include baking soda, white vinegar, bleach, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, cornstarch, Dawn Dish Detergent (the original blue version), and spray bottles.

  • NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, always use the Original Dawn (the blue one) when the recipe calls for that specific one. Do not substitute other dish soaps. And when a recipe refers to vinegar, it's white vinegar.
  • REMINDER: Always, always label the contents of the bottles. If you are using leftover bottles, try to remove the original label. Another option is to buy brand new bottles, which are very inexpensive at grocery stores, drug stores, retail stores like Target and Wal-Mart, and dollar stores.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part warm water, along with 1/2 part of baking soda. If you want it scented, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Stain Removers

  • Stain Remover #1: If you have pets or kids, you'll especially appreciate these stain removal recipes. Mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 part baking soda. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle (a funnel helps here). Spray on the stain and let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a rag or brush. (We love wire-bristle brush sets). Let dry. Repeat for really bad or old stains.
  • Stain Remover #2: Mix 2 parts of Hydrogen Peroxide and 1 part Dawn Dish Detergent. Mix in a spray bottle. Spray generously on the stain. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Scrub with a towel or scrubbing brush, blot with paper towels, and let dry.

Disinfectant Spray

Mix equal parts vinegar and water. Add several drops of essential oil (whichever scent you like). Mix well in a spray bottle. Did you know essential oils have antibacterial properties? Spray on whatever you need to disinfect and wipe clean.

Window Cleaner

Need to clean windows and mirrors? Try this instead of the well-known retail options. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn Dish Detergent. Mix in a spray bottle. If you want a scented cleaner, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Garbage Disposal Cleaner

For regular cleaning and maintenance, make sure to run your disposal every day or at least every other day. To freshen the disposal, put in ½ of a lemon. You can even use one you've already juiced. Turn on the disposal with the lemon in it and run until the lemon is completely broken down.

Also, 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. The ice will help dislodge any food particles that are stuck in the blades. Run the tap water for 30-60 seconds afterward.

To clean the disposal, follow the recipe for drain cleaner, below.

Drain Cleaner, Clog Remover, Drain Freshener

Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain. Add 1 cup of distilled vinegar. You'll see lots of foaming as the vinegar interacts with the baking soda. Let it sit for 30 minutes and don't use it at all. After 30 minutes, pour down 1 cup of boiling water (or run very hot water for 15 to 30 seconds). For stubborn clogs, you may need to repeat.

Air Cleaner and Purifier

Did you know there are household plants that clean the air?

It's a simple, natural way to purify the air in your home. All you have to do is water them when needed. When staging, plants are also a great accessory or décor item that stagers and agents recommend. It's always good to have fresh plants or flowers in your home. So, household plants do triple duty. They are pretty to look at, work great as staging accessories that you can also take with you, and they purify the air.

Bathroom Freshener

Finally, here's a bonus tip for making your bathroom smell fresh and clean. Add several drops of your favorite essential oil on the cardboard section of your paper towel roll. What we use is a matter of preference. But remember, for staging you want fresh, clean, neutral scents. we recommend something like lavender or vanilla.

These are just a few simple, inexpensive recipes for homemade cleaners. These are especially great for staging because they won't leave that chemical smell in your home.