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homemade cleaners
Economical, Musings, Products, Quick and Easy

Four Homemade Cleaners

by Nick

One of Betsy’s goals for the year was to ditch some of our standard cleaners that we use around the house and make them! Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about this project mainly because I wasn’t sure that homemade cleaners would really get the job done.

And my lovely wife is a bit of a neat freak so there’s no way she would use something that didn’t perform well.

So a couple of weekends ago she went out and bought a few staple ingredients and some empty spray bottles and we spent a few minutes mixing up four different homemade cleaners that have since replaced 90% of the cleaners we use around the house.

For the last few weeks we’ve been using them now and I’ve been so impressed by how well they are working, I thought I’d share them all with you in case any of you are interested in ditching the chemicals.

The Cost of Cleaning. The thing about homemade cleaners is that the initial start-up costs might seem a bit high. A tiny bottle of lavender oil (.5 ounces), for example, will run you $7-$8. But the thing to remember is that for each batch of cleaning solution, you’ll be using literally just a few drops of oil.

I would guess we spent around $30 on our homemade cleaning supplies for these four solutions, but now we have enough supplies to last us years. By the time we run out of lavender oil, for example, our cost per bottle for these cleaners will be reduces to cents.

ingredients

Basic stuff.

Really Clean Cleaning. After using these solutions for a few weeks, what I’m most impressed with is their cleaning power. They really work. Not only do they work, but I get the strange impression that they are even cleaner than the standard products.

When you clean a counter with the all-purpose cleaner it’s squeaky clean and the whole room smells awesome, not chemical at all. I hate to say this, but having these easily accessible actually makes me like cleaning. DON’T TELL MY WIFE.

My ultimate decision to post on these solutions was just because they worked surprisingly well.

The Basics. Betsy and I did some research on books for home cleaning solutions and I would recommend these two to anyone who wants to learn more:

Green Clean including vinegar, citrus fruits and baking soda (I guess unavailable for now on Amazon)

Homemade: How to Make 100’s of Everyday Products

As far as ingredients go, a good number of ingredients you will probably have on hand already at home. Things like vinegar, baking soda, citrus, etc. Those are easy.

The tricky stuff are these items:

close up

Some of these are a bit expensive.

Most of the recipes involve castile soap and a few drops of essential oils. These are the pricey items and the ones that you won’t need to buy very often even if you make a ton of these solutions.

For the recipes I’m giving in this post, you’ll need the below items. You can find all of these at your local supermarket or health food store or you can grab them from Amazon. I’ve included links to the amazon pages.

Castile Soap – An all-natural soap that’s surprisingly strong. A few drops go a long way. We like the lavender scent, but they have others available.

Lavender Oil – A natural anti-bacterial oil that smells wonderful.

Tea Tree Oil – A natural oil that cleanses and disinfects.

Washing Soda – Sodium Carbonate which is just a strong base that works great as a laundry detergent. It has a million uses around the house.

Mixing the Solutions. If you’re going to do this, definitely buy new, clean plastic bottles. Don’t use old bottles as the trace chemicals in them might react badly.

Also, I’d recommend getting some labels because while they are all different, these solutions all look a bit similar.

The Recipes!

Let’s start with an easy one.

Lavender Anti-Bacterial Spray

- 1 Cup water
– 20 drops lavender essential oil

Easy right?! It’s smells great and lavender is very high in linalool which is naturally antibacterial.

adding oil

Just a few drops…

The next recipe is the one that we use the most which is the all-purpose cleaner. It’s our daily cleaner now on everything from counters to floors.

One note about this one is that it will bubble A LOT (think high school science volcano) so make sure you leave plenty of room in your bottle for an eruption and mix it over the sink just in case.

All-Purpose Cleaner (Watch out for a reaction! It will bubble a lot.)

– 3 Tablespoons vinegar
– 1/2 Teaspoon washing soda
– 1/2 Teaspoon castile soap
– 2 Cups hot water

I think you can see how little of each ingredient is used for a batch.

mixed up

All mixed up.

The next formula is the one we use on the stove or any place that accumulates a lot of oil or grease.

Grease Cutter (Note that if you have a good eye, I messed up the label on this one for my bottles.)

- 2 Cups water
– 1/4 Cup castile soap
– 10 drops lavender oil

And finally the strongest of the solutions that we made which is for really scrubbing hard to clean areas like bathroom sinks and mildewed tubs.

Bath, Sink, Tile Cleaner (Again, watch out for some bubbling.)
NOTE: Ideally, mix this one in a SQUIRT bottle, not a SPRAY bottle. It’s pretty thick and almost a paste.

– 2/3 Cup baking soda
– 1/2 Cup castile soap
– 2 Tablespoons vinegar
– 1/2 Cup water
– A few drops of Tea Tree oil

cleaners again

Labels definitely help.

Like I said, we’ve been testing these out for the last few weeks now and I really love all of them. My favorite is the all-purpose cleaner and the antibacterial spray which just leaves everything really clean and smells fantastic without being overpowering.

If you’re looking to cut out some chemicals from your cleaning products and save some money (in the long term), you should try these out!

Anybody make their own cleaning supplies? If you have a good tip or recipe, leave a comment!

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377 comments on “Four Homemade Cleaners

  1. I totally love this idea and I have been wanting to try this forever…so glad you and Betsy did all the work!! I was a little worried about investing the money in natural cleaners that didn't do the job. Thank You!!! I am thinking of making this up as gifts for myself and a couple friends :-)

  2. We have not bought soap in 13 years, we make our own olive oil soap and it is just amazing. It is a Castille base which you can then fragrance anyway you like with essential oils or ad amazing things like carrot juice, polenta etc. We also grate it and mix with hot water to make liquid soap. You can add a tablespoon of vodka to the lavender / water mix for a lovely room and linen spray.

      1. Yes, that is the olive oli soap made in the style similar to that originating in the Castile region of Spain. Really amazing stuff and I am not sure why, but it is a excellent stain remover, yet gentle on your skin – maybe because it is so pure?

    1. I love all of your tips, but I am allergic to lavender, any suggestions on what to substitute for lavender?

  3. I haven't washed floors in about a year…once my economist husband found out you could use vinegar, the joy of saving money has moved him to take over all floor-washing duties. I'm definitely going to share this post with him, and maybe I'LL never have to clean again! Great post!

  4. I have been using vinegar water as my de-greaser for a while now and vinegar and baking soda as my oven cleaner. Just sprinkle baking soda on the area to clean and spray or pour the vinegar right over it and leave for an hour.

    Love natural cleaning! I will be looking up of Jasmine is as good as Lavender though 'cause I really can't stand the scent of Lavender anymore… I once had an over scented candle that has just ruined me forever!

  5. BTW, I just wanted to say that I love that I can edit my comments, especially because I seem to keep goofing up the links I want to post, and this way I can fix them if I need to. :)
    My recent post Snow!

    1. You should be able to find both near the detergents and stuff at places like target or just your supermarket. Sometimes you might have to go to a natural foods place for castile soap.

    2. I know they sell the castile soap at Target…but I had to get the washing soda online at Amazon. A friend of mine who shops at natural food stores couldn't find the washing soda anywhere.

      1. u can find washing soda @ Krogers, Harris teeter and Walmart also. it helps if u actually know whatt the box looks like before u go in because u can miss it seriously….

        it's usually in the same isle as detergents either laundry or dish, but not right beside them so it's easily overlooked.

    3. You can also make your own Washing Soda by baking some Baking Soda at 250-300 degrees for one hour.

  6. Can anyone attest to the avalability of these ingredients in Canada? I have a hell of a time finding Borax anywhere here. (I live in the great old province of Quebec!)

    I like the post Nick, and I am anxious to give it a try. especially the front loading machine laundry tip. I wonder, would that be considered HE?

    1. Wherever you live, just buy a box of "20 Mule Team Borax" which you will find in any supermarket in the laundry detergent section. It is sold as a laundry additive, and my box is half French so is obviously meant for the CDN market. If you can't find it, something called "Borateem", same section, will also work.

      It is a great ant killer mixed half and half with sugar if you are looking for another use.

      Great website Nick!

    2. Hi Jason. I'm in Canada too. I buy Borax at my Independant Grocer (in the laundry aisle) or at No Frills (again – the laundry aisle). Same goes for Washing Soda as it's also a laundry item. My local Health food store carries A couple of Dr. Bonner's liquid soaps and also carries essential oils like the lavendar oil

    3. Hello Jason,

      Read the recipe this morning and went out to my local grocer and found the products. I was at the Super Store but know they have the same at Sobeys. I live part time in Sherbrooke, QC and will let you know how I make out there.

      Nick Thank you for the great recipes they work great. I have made other natural cleansers and did not find they worked as well. Let us know if you locate a recipe for an oven cleaner. I tried vinegar and baking soda but found it just made a bigger mess.

      As far as spray bottles….What I did as I finished off the store boughten ones that were previously in my home I cleaned them out and saved them. Never cost me a penny more and they work great. I just made new labels for them.

      PS My brother came to visit this afternoon and could not believe how nice my house smells when you don’t use a bunch of chemicals.

  7. Which one do you use for pots & pans done in the sink? I don't use many cleaners any more since I discovered microfiber cloths from Amazon (I've had my first batch for 18 months and they're still going strong) and they're on sale right now if you want to share a bunch with friends. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XECJES/ref=o
    But that leaves me primarily with hand dishwashing pots & pans and dishwasher. Ideas?

  8. I've been won over by a vinegar mix that I use for scrubbing floors–you have no idea how great it is to have a product that cleans off dried on spaghetti sauce (and whatever else falls off the table under my 4 year old) without spending several minutes scrubbing. I blogged about it here http://countrygirlcouture.wordpress.com/2010/06/2… and you can get the link for the exact recipe from there. I just mixed it up in a heavy duty squirt bottle and use it as needed. It works better when it's hot, but for small messes in between heavy scrubs it works fine at room temp too. :-) Now I'm off to see about getting some supplies to try your cleaners, are there other oils (besides lavender) that will work? We aren't completely opposed to lavender, but prefer something else if possible. Thanks for the "recipes"! :-)
    My recent post Snow!

    1. There's a whole bunch of essential oils that you can add to these things, but we haven't experimented too much with any of them other than lavender and tea tree oil which I think are the most popular ones.

      1. I am the only one in my family who detests lavendar, so googled other oils w/ similar properties and clove appealed to me – lemon or grapefruit also. Am going to try this soon!

    2. Eucalyptus Oil and Lemongrass both contain antibacterial properties. As well as oregano, thyme and cinnamon oils. I love the smell of eucalyptus.

  9. I've been making something similiar to your all-purpose cleaner for a while now, but I have a problem with the castile soap and the vinegar solidifying. Do you have the same problem? Maybe I'll try your recipe instead!

  10. I've made my own laundry soap for a year and it works great!

    Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

    4 Cups – hot tap water
    1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
    1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
    ½ Cup Borax

    – Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

    -Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

    -Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

    -Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

    -Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

    -Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

    -Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

    *Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!

    Powdered Laundry Detergent – Top load machine

    1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
    1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
    ½ Cup Borax

    -Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

    *Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!

    TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can often be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.

  11. Thanks for these recipes! I've been making my own soaps for about a year and LOVE them. So nice to pass up the cleaning supply aisle in the grocery store.

  12. Wonderful! Thanks, I have been using vinegar and hot water to clean my hardwood floors for years. My husband is a floor guy, and he says this is the best thing to clean them, most commercial cleaners have petroleum bi-products that don't mix well with the urethane used for re-coating floors. Also, we use fels-naptha and water for a natural bug-repellant on our organically grown produce! Thanks for the post.

    1. please tell me the proportions for using on hardwood floors, can you just spray the vinegar on the floor and then mop with hot water??

  13. Nick, I've totally been wanting to ditch my cleaning products for something better — we did work with the Breast Cancer Fund last year, and I learned that basically ALL of my cleaning products are potentially giving us cancer. I love this & I'm sharing with everyone. :)

  14. Minor problem – – when you mix vinegar and baking soda OR vinegar and washing soda, the two chemicals react (which is why you see the bubbles) and break down into sodium acetate. Otherwise known as salt

    1. I suspect that maybe something else is going on even if salt is produced because I can vouch that these clean better than salt water.

        1. I agree. I have been cleaning with vinegar and water and when there are stuck on or hard to clean things I sprinkle some baking soda around and spray it with the vinegar water and the chemical reaction is what helps clean the area. I would advise leaving that our and combining the baking soda and cleaner on the surface you want to clean.

  15. We make most of our own cleaners as well. Our basic cleaner is just vinegar & water (works great on mirrors) with essential oils added from time to time. Making our own laundry detergent now costs us only fractions of a cent (I actually did the math!!) per ounce!!
    We've been making our own toilet bowl cleaner which works great too. I couldn't find the exact recipe but it contains borax, water, & lemon juice – we keep it in an old Dr. Bronner's bottle (mid-size?), shake well to blend before use, squirt in, scrub, & let sit for a couple of hours. Lemon juice is a nice substitute for vinegar.

  16. I love this post! Thank you so much Nick! I have both of those books on hold for me at the library to pick up tomorrow. Also, Dr. Bronner's is THE BEST SOAP EVER!!! Seriously, the best! We use the mint kind b/c it's all nice and tingly. We use it as soap/shampoo, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, soak liquid for stained clothes and it does wonders for taking bath crayon off the shower walls!

    Also, I didn't know that Kroger was in CO! I thought it was a midwest thing! Very cool!

      1. Kroger owns City Market/King Soopers (in CO/WY), Ralph's, Smith's, Dillon's, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry's, Baker's, Jay C Food Stores, and Gerbe's
        So you will find Kroger products in all of those branches.

  17. I've been making my own soap since November, and I love it. You can buy essential oils (lavender, tea tree, etc.) from a GNC store — the bottle are 1 oz., and are not as expensive as at other stores, and you can have them delivered to your home, if you prefer. An ounce of oil goes a LONG way. I like the idea of making my own cleansers, and I think I'll try this! Thanks.
    My recent post Silent Noon

  18. Good information there! I was in the home cleaning business for over a decade and very rarely used commercial cleaners. IF I felt I had to, I always diluted them with water as much as possible. Their use is unnecessary, expensive, and bad for humans, pets and the planet. One can easily replace these toxic cleaning products and disinfectants with a common-sense approach by investing some thought into an efficient system, some money into excellent and long-lasting tools, some time into making a few non-toxic products, and throwing in some good old-fashioned elbow grease and a bit of sweat.

    For floors, 99% of the time all you need is a cup or so of regular white vinegar in your bucket of hot mop water – it works great on all floor surfaces. If you feel you need a bit more disinfecting power, use H2O2 – I was actually surprised no-one on the blog mentioned hydrogen peroxide, as it works very well straight from the bottle and is safe on your kitchen surfaces and food, too.

    In fact, for killing bacteria BETTER than bleach, using both vinegar and H2O2 is the way to go – according to published research by Susan Sumner (food scientist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University) these two products used together are more effective than chlorine bleach or any commercially available kitchen cleaners and will kill virtually all Shigella, Salmonella, or E.coli bacteria on heavily contaminated surfaces (even wooden cutting boards!) as well as food.

    But do NOT mix the two liquids together in one container; this will create something called "peracetic acid", which can be harmful and has different properties than either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide on their own. What you do is get a couple of new spray bottles and put full-strength (5%) plain white vinegar in one and full strength 3% hydrogen peroxide (agua oxigenada, available at farmacia Rey for under 2 bucks for 480ml) in the other. Spray these on the surface or produce item to be cleaned (doesn't matter in which order), let sit for a few seconds and wipe or rinse off. That's it!

    Nicole

    1. Do not store peroxide in a clear bottle as it will lose it’s effectiveness. That’s why it is sold in a dark brown bottle.

  19. As far as essential oils, there are many that have desirable properties for cleaning but some smell better than others:

    basil (ocimum basilicum) – antiviral, antibacterial;
    bay laural bay leaf (laurus nobilis) – antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal;
    bergamot (citrus bergamia) – antibacterial;
    black pepper (piper nigrum) – antifungal;
    blue cypress (callitris intratropica) – antiviral;
    cajeput (melaleuca leucadendra) from the tea tree family – antibacterial;
    carrot seed (duacus carota) – antiseptic;
    cassia (cinnamomum cassia) – antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral;
    cedarwood (cedrus atlantica) – antibacterial;
    celery seed (apium graveolens) – antibacterial;
    cinnamon bark (cinnamomum verum) – antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral;
    cistus (cistus ladanife aka labdanum) – antiviral, antibacterial;
    citronella (cymbopogon nardus) – antibacterial, antifungal;
    clove (syzygium aromaticum) – antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral;
    cumin (cuminum cyminum) – antiseptic;
    dill (anethum graveolens) – antibacterial;
    douglas fir (pseudotsuga menziessi) – antifungal;
    elemi (canarium luzonicum) – antimicrobial, antiseptic;
    eucalyptus (eucalyptus ericifolia) – antifungal, antibacterial;
    eucalyptus citirodora (eucalyptus citirodora) – antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial;
    eucalyptus dives (eucalyptus dives) – antibacterial;
    eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus globulus) – antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial;
    eucalyptus polybrachtea (eucalyptus polybrachtea) – antimicrobial, antiviral;
    eucalyptus radiata (eucalyptus radiata) – antibacterial, antiviral;
    fennel (foenicum vulare) – antiseptic;
    galbanum (ferula gummosa) – antiseptic;
    geranium (pelargonium graveolens) – antibacterial, antifungal;
    grapefruit (citrus paradisi) – disinfectant, dissolves fat;
    helichrysum (helichrysum italicum) -antiviral;
    hyssop (hyssopus officinalis) – antibacterial, antiviral;
    jasmine absolute (jasminum officinale) – antibacterial;
    juniper (juniperus osteosperma) – antiseptic;
    juniper (juniperus scopulorum) – antiseptic;
    lavandin (lavandula x hybrida) – antibacterial, antifungal;
    lavender (lavandula augustifolia) – antiseptic, antifungal,
    lemon (citrus limon) – antiseptic;
    lemongrass (cymbopogon flexuosus) – antifungal;
    lime (citrus aurantifolia) – antiviral, antibacterial;
    mandarin (citrus reticulata) antifungal;
    marjoram (origanum vulgare) – antiseptic;
    melissa (melissa officinalis) antiviral;
    mountain savory 9 satureja montana) – antibacterial,antifungal, antiviral;
    mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) – antifungal, antibacterial;
    myrrh (commiphora myrrha) – antimicrobial, antibacterial;
    niaouli (melaleuca quinquenervia) – antiviral, antibacterial;
    nutmeg (myristica fragrans) – antiseptic;
    oregano 9 origanum compactum) – antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal;
    palmarosa (cymbopogon martinii) – antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal;
    peppermint (mentha piperita) – antifungal, antibacterial;
    pine (pinus sylvestris) – antiseptic);
    ravensara (ravensara aromatica) – antiviral, antibacterial;
    red thyme (thymus vulgaris) – antiviral, antimicrobial, antibacterial;
    rosalina (melaleuca ericifolia) – antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral;
    rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) – antibacterial, antifungal;
    rosewood (aniba rosaeodora) – antibacterial;
    sage (salvia officinalis) – antiviral, antifungal;
    sandalwood (santalum album) – antiviral;
    spearmint (mentha spica) – antiseptic;
    spikenard (nardostachis jatamansi) – antibacterial, antifungal;
    spruce (picea mariana) – antiseptic;
    tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) – antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic;
    thyme (thymus vulgaris) – antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral;
    vetiver (vetiveria zizanioides) – antiseptic;
    western red cedar (aka canadian red cedar, thuja plicata) – antibacterial, antifungal.
    (Excerpted from the book Essential Oils Desk Reference compiled by Essential Science Publishing.)

    Of course these plants have other (i.e. medicinal) properties as well, but for the purposes of cleaning these are the properties we want. Hope this list helps your readers find one that they enjoy smelling around your house :-)

    Some are easier to find than others; if there are specific ones that are wanted, any on this list can be purchased from a Young Living Essential Oils rep in your area; but be prepared… the oils this company produces are not inexpensive – but they are the very best in quality.

    Hope it helps make your life safer and simpler :-)
    Nicole

  20. Does the general cleaner smell like vinegar? I've been trying to use vinegar and water lately, but my husband hates the smell of vinegar? I love these ideas though, I definitely want to try the toilet cleaner.
    My recent post Applesauce &amp Granola

    1. I haven't noticed that it does. You could probably add a drop of oil to it if you were worried about it. It's a pretty small amount of vinegar.

    2. I put a few drops of artificial vanilla flavoring and some ginger peel (that I would have otherwise discarded) into the spray bottle with the vinegar. Both together seem to almost completely mitigate the smell of vinegar, and there's no sticky residue from the vanilla.

  21. Home made cleaners are great — economical yes ~ but watch out. A couple of years ago I started mixing my own laundry detergent however it tended to congeal into globs I tried and tried toeradicate this w/o much success from batch to batch — well it got so bad that my clothes washer became clogged and in the end had to toss the machine.

    So my point is there a lots of good DIY recipes out there be careful and learn from my experience — sometimes it's just a bad recipe – just like cooking :)

    1. Hi Kevin, What did you use in your laundry detergent? I just made some a month ago and I’m wondering if I used the same ingredients. Thanks!

  22. This looks to be the same post that a different website posted. TheSimpleDollar.com. I only know because I read both. Are Nick and Trent one and the same, or did I miss a reference from one or the other's websites as to who the post belongs to? :)

    1. Hmm, I believe I take that back, I'm looking through the other website and I'm guessing it actually was yours I was at at the time. My bad :)
      Love your website, you got me into making risotto!

    2. Ha. I actually read TSD also, but I didn't get this from him. I got the recipes from the book I referenced in the post. Maybe Trent has the same book??

  23. I asked a pharmacy student about the problem that Sherri points out and he said that in the ratio that they are usually combined they would not completely cancel each other, you would still end up with a PH other than that of water. But it was also my understanding that it's more effective to mix those two on-site. Otherwise, why not just use one or the other and not waste the effectiveness?

  24. I bought all the ingredients, but where did you get the spray bottles? I've looked at Home Depot, Lowes, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I either find really small ones, or really large ones…and I figure if I'm going to have a few of them I should get them in a medium size.

    Can't wait to try them out!! :o)

    1. I would recommend looking for glass bottles as essential oils can eat away at plastic. What I have done is empty out a glass water bottle and then buy a plastic spray bottle from the dollar store to use the nozzle. I had to try a few different glass bottles before I found one that fit the nozzle, but now I know what kind to buy every time I need a new bottle.

  25. If you've seen the January/February Whole Foods ad, they have a coupon for $1 off Organic Castile soap. I'm going to pick up some next time I'm there and start making it myself.

  26. Great idea – I love the labeled bottles, I think I'll use something like these so they're RED and easy to distinguish. http://www.missionrs.com/1603W.html

    Have you been able to tell if the cleaners weaken over time? Like if you made larger batches at a time for convenience?

  27. Great recipes! I'm always looking for ways to save money or maybe make a little extra too. I think I'll find these ingredients and test a few of these out. Thanks!

  28. I've been making my own laundry soap for a year. 12 total for a box of borax and a box of washing soda. I use Ivory bar soap (I'm in Canada and I don't think we have Fels Naptha here). For 12 bucks, I'll have laundry soap for YEARS as it only takes a half cup of one and a 1/4 cup of the other to make 10 gallons of detergent.

    Also, I now use vinegar instead of fabric softener – again, pennies a load and there's no chemical coating on my clothing now and they're softer than ever. The vinegar also cleans the tubes of the washing machine. :)

    1. Hi! Really want to try this! When do you put the vinegar in? Does it cause bubbling because of the soda?
      Thanks!

  29. What could you use instead of vinegar or lemon juice? I have natural stone counters in kitchen and bathrooms and the acid in the vinegar or lemon juice is not supposed to be good for the stone.

    1. Hmm… I'm not sure on that one Jennifer. You really need an acid to cut the dirt and stuff. I've never heard that about stone counters. The acid is pretty dilluted. I can't imagine that it would hurt them, but I don't want to be responsible for messing up your counters. ;)

    2. I use rubbing alcohol, a touch of dish soap and water in a spray bottle as my general cleaner for my granite, bathroom counters and windows. Oh and a few drops of essential oil.

  30. Could you describe castile soap? I cant translate that to swedish, but I think it`s possible to get here under a differrent name,

  31. Ok, it looks like your bath & tile cleaner is separating like mine? You said it would be thick, so I have it in a squirt bottle, but it separates into three layers. I shake it up and it is still liquid. Help! I want it to work and don't want to waste the materials put into it.

    1. I just went and looked at ours now and they do separate. If you shake it up and use it right away though it shouldn't matter. It's doesnt really need to be a consistent texture to work effectively. We've been using it for months and months now.

  32. I made the bath, sink and tile cleaner but I think I may have done something wrong. I thought I followed the recipe exactly though. Right now it is about 3/4 in. of watery liquid and the rest of my container is all bubbly and fizzy. It isn't thick at all. Could I have mixed it wrong or in the wrong order? I thought maybe if I let it settle for a while it would eventually turn to just liquid but it's been sitting a few hours and still looks the same. Please help!

  33. This goes to show that maintaining a spotless household or kitchen does not have to take much of your time or money because you can make your green cleaning products on your own. For homes or restaurants that use cooking oil most of the time, collected oil or grease can be difficult to properly dispose or clean. There are grease collection Texas service providers for example to assist you in disposing them as they can be re-purposed or recycled for other useful purposes. This only proves that we can have a clean living space at the same time help out with the conservation of our natural resources.

  34. I use many of these products as well (with slightly differant formulas) and too was surprised at how much nicer they were than even the store bought green cleaners! I will say with any formula with castile soap – if you add that absolutly last and don't shake the bottle you get A LOT less bubble problems. :-) Thanks for sharing!

  35. I will have to try these. The recipe we use to make our all purpose cleaner is 84oz of water, 42oz of vinegar, 2 tsp of biodegradable soap (we use Dawn), and 2 tsp of essential oil – this will make 1 gallon. We make it in a large container and pour it as needed into a spray bottle for easier use. For our floors we use 50% water & 50% apple cider vinegar. We love the results of both cleaners.

      1. My family uses warm water/apple cider vinegar on our hard wood floors and have never had a problem. We fill up a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with warm water, and pour some vinegar into it and then get to mopping! Great as a floor cleaner.

        1. we also use water and vinegar on our hardwood floors and really like the results. to be extra safe with the water and hardwood, i have a couple of my kids follow behind me and dry. this also makes for a great finish with no water spots or streaks.

    1. Dawn isn’t really a good, natural soap. Plus, they don’t have environmentally friendly practices. I use Dr Bronners. It’s amazing!

  36. Awesome post, thank you! Where did you find your bottles? I’ve looked but can’t seem to find any!

    1. And also the labels. Obviously, you wouldn’t want the regular shove in the printer type because as soon as they get wet, eww nasty.

      1. spray the labels with polyurethane and let dry. I do this for my husband’s homemade beer

          1. I found my spray bottles at Dollar Tree and got a bunch to make all of the cleaners. Can;t wait to try them all. Making them as I use up my store bought stuff.

      2. You can put a piece of clear packing tape over the labels and keep them completely waterproof that way. There are also waterproof labels you can buy at online label stores. I just use the tape; it’s cost effective and easy. :)

    2. I think my wife just picked them up at Target honestly. The printer paper is from a label maker but it’s just a normal sticker really. If you were worried about it getting wet you could put some plastic tape over it. Good luck!

  37. Thoughts on lavender and tea tree oil as endocrine disrupters? I have since stopped using them, and switched to grapefruit seed extract, lemon oil and oregano oil. Just food for thought.

    1. Check out the NIH website on Tea tree oil :http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/113.html The endocrine disruption was found in young boys after repeated topical application of lavender and tea tree oil containing products (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa064725). I find it interesting that a fraternal twin in the study given the same potions did not have any symptoms suggesting that there may be a range of responses to the oils within the population. Also, this response has only been documented in pre-pubescent boys.

      Since these homemade cleaning solutions are not intended for use on the body, and given the very small quantities of oils used they are very unlikely to cause a problem. I would avoid inhaling them though, since ingestion of essential oils is not good for you.

    2. Sorry to kee coming back to this but you peaked my interest (hi! I’m a scientist!).

      Further research on pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18255254
      would indicate that the bioavailable compounds in tea tree oil, those which can be absorbed through the skin, are not estrogenic. Extrapolating from cell culture studies to actual events in vivo is extremely difficult, believe me, I study breast cancer in this way and struggle every time I do an experiment in a dish to see what possible bearing it has on the disease.

  38. I just wanted you to know I just made up my first
    batch of all purpose spray. I used the peppermint oil
    and peppermint Castile soap. I’m amazed how clean it gets
    everything. I’m loven it. Which one would you recommend
    to use on the floors?

  39. I read on Dr. Bronner’s Grandaughter’s Blog that combining vinegar and castille soap is not good. The solution leaves behind a film. It’s better to clean with a soap solution, then rinse with vinegar. Has anyone had experience with this???

    1. I have read the same thing… several people ran across the same problem. said when they mixed the ingredients -in any combination they ended up with oil blobs throughout their spray bottle. a big mess.

      1. That’s because you need an emulsifier to get the oil and water to blend together, otherwise they stay separated. It would be dangerous to not use an emulsifier if you were using a water/essential oil blend as a body spray for example, as you would get blobs of essential oil on your skin in greater amounts than are safe. Polysorbate 20 is a safe emulsifier for such use that you can get at any soap supplies company. Just shaking the bottle to incorporate the essential oil and water isn’t good enough. Using it as a room spray could cause damage to fabric and some flooring. Essential oils are very volatile and should be used with care.

    2. Vinegar is an acid & castile soap a base; they essentially cancel each other out. It is not harmful to mix them, but you are defeating the purpose by mixing them.

  40. I have made my own laundry soap and other cleaners but have had the HARDEST time finding essential oils to sent them with. Where has anyone found them at?

    1. Hey Natalie,

      You can find them at health food stores normally like Whole Foods or also Amazon has a huge selection online. Just search on amazon for whichever oil you want.

      Like here’s Tea Tree Oil for example. They are pricy, but you don’t use very much. They last for a really long time.

      1. Tea tree oil can be found at Wal-Mart in the pharmacy section near the vitamins. The Wal-Mart I was at had the vitamins/minerals/etc in alphabetical order so the Tea Tree oil was easy to find. The bottle cost $8, but will last a long time because it is a 2 oz bottle. I had to buy Dr Bronner’s castile soap and lavender oil online. I bought mine at http://www.puritan.com. I just received it today, and the lavender oil was buy one get one free.

    2. Natalie-
      Store bought essential oils can’t be quite pricey. Places like Hobby Lobby and Michaels sells them for about $6 for 1/4 of an oz. However buying them from a soap maker’s website is soooo much cheaper. I made homemade lye soap and buy all my essential oils from http://www.brambleberry.com They have an amazing selection and its about $5 for 2 oz. And that goes a LONG way with recipes that only require a tsp.

      Amanda

    3. The best place for pure very high quaility essential oils is http://www.mountainroseherbs.com . Please be careful in buying the cheap ones. They are most of the time not made of high quality things and will stains and a film behind. Found out the hard way. :( I love the fair prices and high standards at mountain rose herbs.

  41. You can also find them at craft stores in the soap and candle making aisles. They are still pure essential oils, but usually a bit cheaper than the health food stores.

  42. In our own way we can be able to make cleaning solutions that are really environmental friendly for we do not need to buy anymore strong chemicals that are being sold in the market. With these tips we can be able to apply in our place and can be able to see its end result that would surely be a great surprise for everyone.

  43. I tried both the lavender water and the tub & tile cleaner. They both worked really well. I used Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in the tub & tile cleaner and a few drops of tea tree oil. If you are trying the tub & tile cleaner and having a hard time getting it all off so that there is no residue, I would suggest filling a mop bucket a 1/4 full of warm water and then dipping in a hand towel (or a medium sized piece of an old towel), whiping a small section, dunking it in the bucket, ringing out and repeating. You may need to dump and refill the water once or twice. I find the towel whipes the cleaner off way better than a scrubby or J-cloth. Thanks for the great ideas for cleaners.

  44. A dear friend (RIP) gave me this window wash recipe years ago.

    2 Tablespoons Prell Shampoo
    2 cups Rubbing Alchohal
    Put in 1 gallon container & fill with distilled water. Pour into spray bottles.
    Use newspaper to clean.

  45. Mixing the vinegar (acid) with baking soda or washing powder (bases) lessens the efficiency of both ingredients. The foaming reaction is the interaction of the acid and base, leaving a solution that is weaker than the ingredients. You are in essence watering down effective cleaners into something less.

    If these ingredients are to be used together, they should be mixed at the time of use as when cleaning/unclogging drains. You can also sprinkle baking soda on your counter and then spray it with vinegar before wiping it off.

  46. Our household also makes our own laundry detergent powder. We got the recipe from the same book it looks like you used (Homemade: How to make…). It’s just borax, soap flakes, washing powder, and baking soda. We wash in cold water and have no complaints so far!

  47. Thank you for sharing these! I’ve been using them all for several months and just realized I needed to come back and leave feedback. They all clean wonderfully–I especially love the tub and tile cleaner. It’s just awesome! Thanks!

  48. Thanks so much. Found this on Pinterist. Made my first batches today & love them. Was amazed at how well they clean. I did not have any film, but did re wipe everything w/ the antibacterial spray. I chose to use an orange oil for that. My youngest son breaks out w/ hives w/ lavender products. read that citrus should be as effective.
    Thanks again. My & my kids’ skin thank thank you as well.

  49. I found this wonderful site on Pinterest. However, I’ve bought different 2 different bottles to try and find one that will work for the bathroom cleaner. Any suggestions? I know it says squirt bottle but I can’t find that at Target or Kroger.

    1. Try looking in the area where they have water bottles. A lot f them have squirt tops on them. Also in convenience stores in the coolers are all kinds of bottled water, again they too have lots of them with squirt type lids.

    2. squirt bottles are often found in the health and beauty aids section with the travel size stuff.

    3. Glad you like the site Jessica! Thanks for swinging by. As a few others have said, check out health and beauty sections of stores. I’m almost positive that my wife found these at target.

    4. Jessica, most dollar stores have squirt bottles in the kitchen section. If you don’t mind red or yellow, you can pick them up cheap there.

  50. Thank you so much I am going to try these this weekend. Jessica R. Maybe a recycled dish soap bottle would work?

  51. My hubby and I make our own laundry soap, and I would love to try this. We have saved so much already with our own soap, I’m sure this would be even more!!!!

  52. I have made all of these cleaners and they work fantastically…..as for mixing the Castille and vinegar, I have no blobs or globs and everything is coming out shiny and clean. The detergent is great also….no complaints so far. I have a daycare in my home and if I can expose the little ones here to a few less chemicals I am all for it!

  53. Thank you so much for sharing these! I made all four, and I love them! I recently dismantled the refrigerator in a house I just started renting because it always smelled funny, and found a horror – very old, caked on, mystery items. I sprayed my all purpose cleaner on, let it sit, scrubbed, and it came off pretty easily. The fridge smelled wonderful after the massive cleaning. :)

    I have found that the de-greaser is great for my Foreman Grill. I spray it on, and the grease and bits slide right off. I don’t have to scrub and worry about damaging the non-stick surface.

  54. I also make all my own cleaners and it’s such a wonderful feeling to know that you’re contributing to a healthier lifestyle for your family, as well as helping the environment! Only problem I see with a few of these cleaners is the use of baking soda with vinegar. An acid (vinegar) and an alkali (baking soda) mixed together negates the effectiveness of both substances. Mixing them creates carbonic acid, which is unstable and immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide and water. That’s why, if you scrub your sink/tub/what-have-you with baking soda or a baking soda paste, it dissolves perfectly by rinsing with vinegar.

  55. Where can u buy the Castile Soap at? Any retail stores? Where abouts in store is it at?
    thanks!

    1. Paula, I think I’ve seen it at target. The brand I like is Dr. Bronners. It’s usually with all the other cleaning supplies. You can also use the store locator on their website to find where it’s sold in your area.

      http://www.drbronner.com/

    2. Fred Meyers here in Idaho carries liquid Castile Soap, Dr. Bronners. It’s in the natural foods section. They also carry Essential Oils.

  56. Thank you so much for these recipies! I am going to try them tonight, i use a libman freedom mop and i cant wait to put the all purpose cleaner in it!

  57. I buy Castille soap at Trader Joe’s, I find it is cheaper there. However, they only seem to sell one fragrance at a time, (ex: lavendar or peppermint) but not at the same time.

  58. Thanks for these recipes. FYI: My “Cleaning Bible” is called “Salt, Lemons, Vinegar, and Baking Soda” by Shea Zukowski. I find it is full of extremely useful tips.

    1. I think so! They are pretty mild and all-natural. There’s no harsh corrosives or anything, but I can’t say that it’s 100% okay because I’ve never personally tried it.

      1. I have my own cleaning business and only use home made, eco-friendly, cruelty free products. You shouldn’t use anything with vinegar on marble, granite or natural stone as it will seep in the pores and pit the surface. I am going to try these recipes!

  59. Is there any other oil that can be subbed for the lavender oil? Not really a fan of that scent. I know, weird huh? It only smells like hot weeds to me.

  60. How long is the shelf life on these? Do you make them everyday? Or use them for weeks at time?!

    I am excited to try these! Thanks for posting!

  61. Can Eucalyptus be used instead of the lavander? Will it work the same? thank you.I am planning on trying this tomorrow and i am not exactly fond of the lavendar smell.

      1. Thank you! Also, what are some things you use the antibacterial spray for? I have a 18 months old and a newborn and we are trying to get all the chemical stuff out of our house! :)

      2. I am, by no means, an expert, but I would be careful about using eucalyptus on any surfaces you plan on eating off of. While it is an anti-bacterial, it’s poisonous if ingested. I wouldn’t imagine that there’s enough in the cleansers to actually poison someone, but it’s better safe than sorry. We had a scare last year with our chihuahua who was poisoned by traces of eucalyptus left behind in the bathtub we were bathing her in. She’s fine, but we definitely got a fright.

        1. Essential oils are dangerous to pets who assimilate them differently than humans do. Essential oils are deadly to cats!!

  62. I’ve tried the grease cutter and the anti-bacterial cleaner … love them both! I was especially impressed with how well the grease cutter worked. I cleaned the under-side of my range hood (where the fan is) of my kitchen stove and it took off the grease amazingly. One question, though ….. I found the cleaner had quite a strong smell. Is this normal?

  63. You know, I have a strange compunction for reading these types of articles. I never actually ever get round to making any of the great items described – I guess it’s just the thought that I could if I wanted to – It would be fun, and healthy and cheaper. But this site could make me. Great post.

  64. My mom is extremely allergic to household chemicals AND neat-freak doesn’t even come close to how she is about cleaning. So, I made a gift basket of MYO (Make Your Own) cleaning products for Christmas. She loves them! Her house smells nice and everything is “cleaner then when she used that other shtuff that makes her sick”. Coming from my mom…you couldn’t get a bigger compliment.

    There was a study done that tested 14 essence oils (http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/5/565.full#cited-by) and their anti-bacterial affect on some pretty nasty bacteria including E.Coli. I was pretty impressed by the findings (and luckily I have a medical background so I was able to get the gist of the article).

    So if you want to change up the scent you can also use cinnamon, thyme, coriander, perilla and a few others. Just make sure to follow any safety recommendations as some essence oils should not be ingested even if the herb in it’s natural state can.

  65. Thank you for the recipes! Love them. I found the industrial size spray bottles at Doller Tree, they are so much better than the small, junky ones you find in the HBA isle of Target or Walmart. How do you keep your chrome clean with the bathroom cleaner? It looks terrible….

    1. How do you know what my chrome looks like?! Just kidding. :)

      Honestly, when someone involves a lot of scrubbing, we use barkeeper’s friend on it.

      1. Super funny! Haha. Just guessing your chrome looked nice. ;). I figured it out, just rinsed it off, was being lazy I guess since I’ve never “rinsed” before, hate the gritty cleaners like comet. You are right, this stuff IS thick, clogged my industrial cleaner bottle right away. I switched to a squeeze bottle like a red or yellow ketchup or mustard refillable bottle. Works awesome!!!!!!!

  66. I make my own basic cleaner, but was under the impression that you needed much more vinegar… I started with a 1 cup Vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/4 hydrogen peroxide, and a few squirts of dish soap mixture. This mixture cleans everything but glass, it really makes a mess on glass… I feel better using this around the grand kids as there is nothing toxic in it and it really cleans. Can’t wait to try your mixtures, maybe my husband won’t wrinkle his nose when he walks in after a long day of my cleaning… he really hates the smell of vinegar… I clean my drains with baking soda and vinegar, Kind of like a science experiment… love it!

      1. Here is the recipe I like best for dishwasher soap
        1 cup borax
        1 cup washing soda
        1/2 cup citric acid
        1/2 cup kosher salt
        *double the citric acid for hard water
        *can be easily doubled
        *it won’t clump if you reuse the silica packages you’ve been saving

        *use white vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser cup

        1. I love this article, and will be trying some of these recipes, soon. I have used the liquid castile soap for a long time (confession: sometimes I use castile soap in my ancient cast iron pans, rather than detergent – I feel a need to get the flavor of garlic and onions out of the pan sometimes when I am making something which doesn’t call for them, but the castile soap is very gentle, and I rinse it thoroughly, and re-oil the pan).

          Baking soda, all by itself is a very useful cleaner – you can use it as a scouring powder, or with soap, to scrub sinks and tubs.

          Vinegar is similarly useful – perfect for soaking a vase with water deposits, or a coffee carafe.

          I tried several homemade dishwasher detergent recipes a year ago, and after three or so, (very similar to the recipe above), finally gave up – even with the vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser, they all left a dreadful film on my dishes. My husband thought all of our glasses were suddenly wearing out! I wish they worked better, but we had terrible luck with them.

          I imagine the success with the home made dishwasher detergent may depend on your local water supply.

  67. Love these, I too use many homemade cleaners. But remember that vinegar is acidic and baking soda is alkaline and so when mixed, they basically turn neutral and lose the ability to clean/disinfect effectively. Also, hydrogen peroxide will lose effectiveness unless stored tightly in a dark bottle–as one person remarked using hydrogen peroxide in their mixture.
    Good luck and love those bottles.
    If you find a dishwasher detergent that works for you, please post it! ;)

  68. Does the all purpose cleaner kill all food borne germs on the kitchen counter? I just made it and love how it cleans, but not sure if it is killing everything.

  69. I have heard about this before, but I jsut thought it would be too much effort. thanks for explaining it simply, I will definately give it a go. Much Better for the environment too.

  70. I have a dog and a cat and was wondering if these recepies are safe for animals? I read a post above that said essential oils are toxic to cats.

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