Cooking With Confidence
homemade cleaners
by Nick

Four Homemade Cleaners

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.


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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427 comments on “Four Homemade Cleaners

  1. Thanks Nick. Are you still putting the vinegar and Castile soap together ? Seems to be a split opinion on this . I’m so excited about doing this, wanted to do it for so long, and recently plunged into whole ethical shopping mission too, although so much research means not much housework getting done !!

    1. yea… we do it. If it separates or whatever we just shake it up and still use it. Works fine for us but I know it’s not technically advised…

    2. Did u have success with regular tap water?? I was under the impression that it should be distiller so bacteria doesn’t form. Thank you!!!

  2. The all-purpose is done with hot water. Does it work when it gets cold? For how long they last or they have to be done in the moment you are going to use them, a the rest throw it away??


    1. Hi Carolina, we make it with hot water but don’t reheat it and use it for a month or two before re-mixing it. Good luck!

      1. Since it’s made with hot water, should you mix it in a metal bowl first then transfer to a plastic bottle? Would it melt the bottle?

        1. Not unless you use really hot water! It just needs to be hot enough to dissolve all the stuff… not boiling or anything. :)

    1. Hi Debbie, it’s usually in the cleaning section of most grocery stores. Definitely stores like target or walmart would carry it. Good luck!

      1. Thank you for all the recipes! I’m on a mission to make all of them for my daughter who has a new baby. I’m from SoCal and I went to 6 stores including Target and no one carries the washing soda. Planning to go to Walmart but I checked it out online first and they are out of stock. Any idea why it’s so hard to find? And can I substitute the regular baking soda instead? Thsnks much!!!

        1. I have a question. What’s the difference between washing soda and baking soda. The ingredients are the same. I live in the South Bay in So Cal and you can find washing soda at Walmart and some Targey stores.

          1. Thank you so much I will chec it out!!! I have another question, I was melting Washing Soda, Borax and Dawn to make my own laundry detergent. I love it it works great but sometimes it crystallizes what can I do to prevent that???

    2. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) can be made from BIcarbonate sodium, AKA baking soda. You just have to get “rid” of 1 carbonate. Put the baking soda on a shallow pan and bake it for about half hour at 400 F (or 200 C). This is how I make it and it works great!

  3. I have been cleaning this way for 20 years now and I would never go back to buying cleaning products,I also make my own washing powder and toiletries,the one mistake you have made is mixing vinegar and soap,I`ve done some research on the chemical properties of all these products and you use vinegar to remove soap,mixing them neutralizes the soap.

    1. About the problem with using vinegar and soap together: Does it make a difference if the soap is castile rather than detergent? I have had no problem adding 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of castile to my vinegar/water cleaner for my all purpose kitchen cleaner. Seems to give it a little more oomph.
      I use 1/4 tsp castile with vinegar/alcohol/water for the floors. (I’m using 24 oz bottles).

  4. Nick, how does the all purpose cleaner do on wood? I’m thinking about our kitchen table and had read that the washing soda can strip the finish. Thanks for the great info!

    1. Hey Sara,
      I would probably just use something more mild on wood. On my table I just use warm water honestly because I’m so worried about ruining the finish!

    2. I have always used just the Castille soap diluted in warm water (same approx. formula strength as your all purpose cleaner) to clean table tops. Use on a damp soft cloth rag to wipe/rub on, rinse with another damp soft rag, & follow immediately with a soft dry cloth to remove any residual moisture. Works just as well as any fancy “made for wood” soap cleaners like Murphy’s Oil Soap, etc.

  5. I added some lavender oil (is this ok?) to the all purpose cleaner to make it an anti-bacterial all purpose cleaner! It smells wonderful and my granite countertops look as good as they do with the expensive granite cleaner I used from Home Depot!
    Thank you

  6. I attempted to use the tub cleaner and it clogged up my heavy duty spray bottle. I think i will go back to my dawn and vinegar shower cleaning mixture.

  7. This is absolutely fantastic. Sounds goofy to say, but the truth is that you’ve changed my cleaning routine. I’m so thankful you posted this, and that I found it on Pinterest. Thank you, Nick.

  8. I’ve started making my own dishwasher detergent: 1 part baking soda, one part washing soda, one part sea salt. It’s pennies a load (one tablespoon) and works amazing! Also white vinegar in lieu of rinse aid. Love it!

    1. You can get Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap at Whole Goods or other nice natural markets, but I’ve ordered large amounts of non-Dr. Bonner’s online for much less money and I don’t see a difference :) Try Amazon.

    2. Some Walmarts carry it, but Trader Joes probably has the best price. Target usually has it too but it’s expensive there.. If all else fails.. Amazon! Lol

    3. They also carry it at the Costco here. It’s the peppermint one and is the large bottle, it’s only $10!

  9. Do you use this same cleaner after handling raw meat? With the small toddlers, I am concerned that it isn’t going to kill all of the bacteria.

    1. Vinegar is a very good antibacterial. I’m not sure how effective at what dilution rate, though. You could always have a bottle of vinegar solution at a higher ratio for those times that you clean after working with raw meat but if it’s considered antibacterial I would say it is strong enough to kill most bacteria.

    2. My mom has always just wiped her glass cutting board with hot water and a dish rag after cutting raw meats on it. Never had any infections or anything from that. You should never cut raw meat on porous surfaces like wooden cutting boards. The key is the nonporous surface. This is what was always done, and what I was taught, and works fine.

  10. A great way to clean glass and mirrors!..

    Newspaper and a bottle of water with about 20-25 drops of lemongrass essential oil. =>

    The Lemongrass is very uplift too and has numerous benefits.

  11. Can use thieves oil in your mixture for antibacterial cleaner, etc. available from Young Living . It is extremely antibacterial!

  12. I have noticed that the spray bottles get cloged when using baking soda because it doesn’t disolve, any advise?

    1. I use hot water to dissolve. But the bath and tub cleaner needs a squirt bottle. That’s a thick mix!

  13. I feel that I am ready to try the natural cleaners! As a general I am skeptical about everything and this doesn’t make a difference. I have few girlfriends who are using vinegar and soda for cleaning purposes and they say that it works. The last time I was cleaning the bathroom with a toxic product the smell of chemicals drove me crazy! It stayed for days and was very unpleasant. Thanks for the post! The recipes seem great!

    1. I am skeptical also but I have to say I have slowly been going towards greener cleaning and so far I’ve been impressed with the results. Try it you can always tweek the recipes or just don’t use that one – find something you like better.

  14. Thank you. Ive recently gotten into this making my own laundry soap. The savings are awesome on top of the fact is not harmful to us. Now onto finding a final recipe or 2 for body wash and shampoo and skin cream. Have a wonderful day….God Blesss.

  15. Can I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds in place of Castile soap? I read that Castile soap does not work well in hard water. Should I use distilled water for every mix?

    Also what about the mixtures mentioned above about vinegar & soap?

  16. Thank you for recipes. I use hydrogen peroxide for around base of toilet. Yuck. white vinegar and good bit of baking soda boils up crusty residue from baked meat residue in minutes no scrubbing necessary

  17. I recently moved to Ecuador and I am looking for homemade cleaners that don’t use baking soda. Baking soda was banned here because it is used in cocaine production, you might be able to buy it with a prescription and for crazy prices.
    If know any I would really apreciated. All cleaners sold here are perfumed and full of chemicals.

  18. When castille soap and vinigar (acid and base)are mixed, they neutralize each other. Have you witnessed the white curdling? That’s the vinegar “unsaponifing” the castile soap, taking it back to its original oils.

  19. …..basically when the two neutralize each other it is like cleaning with water. The PH becomes neutral and the cleaner is no longer a cleaner….sorry everyone!

  20. I’ve been using your recipes for all purpose cleaner and tub/sink cleaner for a couple years now. They’re awesome. When I moved out of our old house, I got some chemical cleaner at the store just because I thought I needed a really deep clean… not only did I feel sick when I was using them, they did not clean as well as your tub and tile cleaner. Thanks!!

  21. Washing soda is made by arm & hammer …laundry booster, super washing soda…I use this alot…all stores carry it just have to know the real name to find it in laundry, cleaning area…good luck…hope this helps some of you on your search

  22. For some reason, it’s a bit difficult to find but Dr. Bronner makes a castile soap that is unscented. Publix grocery stores in my area carry it. It’s more versatile than any of the scented versions. Even I, the Lavender Lady, like a change from time to time.

  23. Do you remember when people were making their own baby wipes. Do you think this would work for the antibacterial spray? Making them like the Clorox wipes?

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