I first began using homemade cleaning products back when I wrote for a newspaper in Texas. I did a story on a couple of women who were trying to spread the word about “green” cleaning alternatives. I used homemade cleaners for a long time after that–I loved how much simpler they were, as well as cheaper. And they work! Later, I got out of the habit as I worked outside the home and was “too busy” to prepare the homemade cleaners and would just grab something off the shelf at the store instead.
Of course, in truth, it takes no time at all to put homemade cleaners together and it is actually so much simpler than buying and storing an array of cleaners for every different task. As well as being environmentally-friendly, homemade cleaners are better for our health as we aren’t breathing in all those complex chemical fumes. They’re more economical, and in the rural and sometimes cut-off periods of winter, for me, they mean laying in a few basic supplies guarantees me some glass cleaner if I’m just dying to clean in the middle of January and there’s a foot of snow on the driveway.
Our great-grandmothers did their cleaning with homemade products, of course, using whatever was available to them–and their homes were probably cleaner than ours! If you’re like me and used to make your own cleaners then got out of the habit, let this be your little nudge to get started again. It’s better for you, your family, the environment, and your budget.
For most basic homemade cleaners that will tackle almost every job in your house, you’ll need these standard supplies (along with water):
*You can make your own homemade laundry detergent to use in cleaning recipes!
You can buy plain spray bottles, or save old store-bought spray bottles to wash out and reuse for homemade cleaners. Be sure to label everything and store cleaners out of the reach of children and pets.
Undiluted white vinegar, by the way, works wonders by itself. It’s very good for cleaning hard water deposits or soap scum. You can use 1/2 to a full cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle to soften laundry instead of store-bought fabric softener. (It won’t leave any vinegar smell on your laundry!) You can also use straight vinegar to remove mold and mildew. (Lemon juice works well for this, too.)
Vinegar is also a great stain remover on many surfaces! (Tip: Run 1/4 cup vinegar in with a pot of water through your coffeemaker to remove stains on the carafe.) The wonders of white vinegar go on and on. Buy it in the bulk size.
This first recipe is very basic and is what I call “Kitchen Cleaner” because it’s great for cleaning countertops, appliances, backsplashes, etc. It’s also great in the bathroom. (It also works on many carpet and other stains.)
Note the PRINT LINK directly below. (This will give you a graphics-free printable page, and will print all the recipes in this post.)
Here’s another good cleaner for just about anything–
per 2 cups water, add–
1 tablespoon ammonia
1-2 tablespoons laundry detergent (liquid, not powdered)
My all-time favorite and most-used cleaner is glass cleaner. I’ve been tempted to put some blue dye in it so that Morgan won’t complain about another homemade something!
1 cup water
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 tablespoon white vinegar*
*You can also use ammonia instead of vinegar if you need a stronger glass cleaner.
And this is, hands-down, the best furniture polish you’ll ever use.
Per cup of olive oil, add–
1/2 cup lemon juice
This makes your house smell so good, you’ll want to polish your furniture more often!
For the floors……
1 cup white vinegar in a gallon of water
1/2 cup white vinegar in a gallon of water
If you want any of your homemade cleaners to have fragrance, you can add a drop or two of any essential oil. For example, love the orange scent of some store-bought cleaners? Add a drop of orange oil. Or whatever scent you love. (Essential oils can be expensive, but they go a long way when you’re only adding a drop or two, and in the end, you are still spending less than if you bought cleaners at the store.)
Homemade “Soft Scrub” Cleaner:
Combine a small amount of baking soda in a bowl. Add liquid detergent (such as from your homemade laundry detergent, or dishwashing liquid) until it forms a paste. This works really great on surfaces where you are worried about scratches, and makes a great basic bathroom cleaner.
For a more basic scrub, just use a scrubby pad and plain baking soda!
More for the bathroom…..
Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
1/4 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
Combine and pour into the toilet bowl. Let sit 5-10 minutes, then scrub.
Once you get the idea of how homemade cleaners are put together, you can experiment to make your own recipes for specific cleaning tasks. Ammonia is a strong cleaner for tough jobs. Olive oil adds softening and protection. Lemon juice dissolves dirt and eliminates odors. Liquid detergent adds extra cleaning and sudsing power when you need it. (It’s soap, of course.) Alcohol is added to glass cleaner for the “evaporating” aspect, leaving your windows and mirrors clear and streak-free. (Also good for many shiny fixtures.) Baking soda is a mild abrasive and deodorizer. Vinegar is also a deodorizer and a gentle cleaner (and adds shine to floors).
In case you get a hankering to include bleach in any of your homemade cleaners when you are experimenting, please note this: DO NOT combine bleach with ammonia or vinegar as this can create toxic fumes. Be careful out there!
Now go clean something!