Skip the Store: 8 Homemade Cleaners to Keep Your Home Clean and Safe

A woman wipes down her kitchen counters with a dish rag.
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A clean home is a healthy home, right? But a lot of store-bought cleaners are filled with harsh chemicals, and they are often expensive. While those ready-made cleaners may be convenient, there are alternatives..

You don’t need the fancy name brands to have safe, effective cleaners to use in your home. Take matters into your own hands by making your own do-it-yourself cleaning supplies.

As a bonus, you’ll know exactly what you are using in your home — and you’ll save money, too.

Basic Supplies for Homemade Cleaners

There are a few tried-but-true ingredients you’ll want to keep around the house. Most of these are inexpensive and readily available. Here are some of the essentials.

White Vinegar

Cost: $2.69 for 128 oz. bottle

White vinegar is a versatile cleaning product and is the base for a lot of DIY cleaners.

Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 91%

Cost: $2.59 for 32 oz. bottle

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol works not only as a cleaner but also as a disinfectant. The higher the alcohol content, the more effective it will be.

Baking Soda

Cost: $2.19 for a 3.5 lb. bag.

This is another product with myriad uses. Baking soda can help you clean a lot of different types of messes. It’s a must-have for the DIY cleaner.

Hydrogen Peroxide (3% to 6%)

Cost: 95 cents for a 32 oz bottle

Hydrogen Peroxide is a common household disinfectant. It can also be used as a bleach in a pinch. Note that it comes in a dark, solid, colored bottle. That’s because it decomposes when exposed to light.

Liquid Castile Soap

Cost: $13.99 for a 32 oz bottle. 

Liquid castile soap is made from natural plant ingredients (frequently hemp), and it has a lot of handy uses. It’s a bit more expensive than most of the other items on this list.

Essential Oils

Cost: $15.99 for a variety pack of four 2.5 oz bottles

Essential oils may not be essential for your DIY cleaners, but they can add a lot in the way of fragrance. Let’s face it, not all of the other products listed here smell great, so a touch of lavender or sweet orange won’t hurt.

Bleach

Cost: $3.99 for a 77 oz. bottle.

Bleach can be a little harsh, but it doesn’t take much to make an effective cleaner and disinfectant. Plus, it’s always pretty cheap.

Spray Bottles

Cost: $3.00 for one 16 oz bottle

Go for “heavy-duty” options if you can, as some of these cleaning products can be hard on plastics.

8 Recipes for Homemade Cleaners

Now that you know what to keep on hand, let’s get to the cleaners. Here are recipes to keep your whole house sparkling and safe.

1. Disinfectant Wipes

With bleach, you can make your own reusable disinfectant wipes to keep your countertops, door knobs and other surfaces clean and free of bacteria and viruses. Here is a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

You’ll need:

  • At least 70% rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towels or cloths
  • Airtight containers that are not used for food or beverages (make sure they are large enough to fit the cloths)

Label the containers appropriately so they don’t get confused with other liquids. Pour the rubbing alcohol into the containers. Let the cloths soak for at least five minutes. Add some drops of essential oils for a better aroma.

2. Glass Cleaner

Two girls clean their sliding glass door.
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Keep those windows and mirrors spotless with this homemade formula from Good Housekeeping.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup white or cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup rubbing alcohol (70% concentration or higher)
  • 1 or 2 drops of orange essential oil (optional)
  • Spray bottle

Add all the ingredients to the spray bottle. When it’s time to clean windows and mirrors, simply spray the mixture on a soft cloth or paper towel and wipe down the glass.

3. Grease Cleaner

This heavy-duty formula will help get the gunk out of oven hoods, grills and more.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup sudsy ammonia (available commercially or make your own)
  • One-gallon container
  • Water

Put the sudsy ammonia into the one-gallon container. Add enough water to fill it. It’s that easy — this solution is ready to use. Just dip in a mop or sponge, soak up some solution and use it to wipe down oven hoods or other greasy items. Then, rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Be sure to fully rinse and dry your sponge or mop before reusing them. You should use gloves when preparing and using this solution. Also, be sure not to inhale any fumes.

4. All-Purpose Cleaner and Deodorizer

Scrub down kitchen counters, appliances and even the refrigerator with this simple solution made from basic kitchen ingredients.

You’ll need:

  • 4 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 quart warm water
  • Container to mix them in

Mix the baking soda and water together in a container. Then, moisten a sponge or cloth with the mixture and use it to clean.

5. Everyday Toilet Cleaner

A man cleans his toilet with his child leaning on him.
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This solution uses the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil to disinfect your toilet.

You’ll need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon tea tree essential oil

First, get a spray bottle and add the vinegar and tea tree oil. Spray this mixture all over the toilet, including the seat, lid, handle and bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle the baking soda in the toilet bowl and scrub with a toilet brush. Use a cloth to wipe the vinegar and tea tree mixture off of the seat, lid and handle.

6. Deep-Cleaning Toilet Cleaner

If your toilet is stained and needs a deeper clean, use this mixture.

You’ll need:

  • ¾ cup borax
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil

Mix all ingredients together. Flush the toilet to get the inside wet and then pour the mixture into the toilet bowl. Let it sit for several hours or, better yet, overnight. Do not use the toilet during this time. After the mixture has been in the bowl for several hours, scrub down the toilet bowl and flush again to rinse

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

7. Dish Soap

If you don’t have a dishwasher, hand-washing is not just a daily chore — it’s also a test of your efficiency and cleaning skills.

There are probably 1,000 ways to mix your own dish soap, but let’s start with a simple recipe. This formula from the Fulfilled Homemaking blog uses vegetable-based Castile soap (it’s biodegradable!).

  • 1 cup liquid Castile soap
  • A few drops of essential oil
  • 1/4 cup water

This recipe isn’t as effective on heavily soiled dishes as your regular dish soap, but it can do in a pinch.

8. Wet Floor Wipes

Here’s a great one from Live Simply. Who doesn’t love doing quick spot cleanups with a sweeper stick? But the wet versions of cleaning cloths are expensive, and you can burn through them quickly. This recipe makes for easy, reusable wipes so you can always do a quick floor touch-up.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
  • A few drops of essential oil

All you need to do is roll up (or don’t) your washcloths and put them into a jar. Create your vinegar mixture, stirring it together and pour it into the jar. Mash those washcloths down into the mixture as well as you can. Let them soak and pull one out as needed.

Tyler Omoth is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Contributor Kristen Pope, former staff writer Lisa Rowan and former editor Dana Sitar also contributed to this post.


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