Why choose homemade cleaning products over commercial ones? Personally for me, they check four very important boxes.
First, homemade cleaners do the same job as commercial products and only lack fancy packaging and, thankfully, much higher prices.
Second, they are much safer. You are in control of the ingredients and unless you are some mad genius will keep those hard-to-spell chemicals at bay. As of now, commercial companies are not mandated to disclose the ingredients! So it’s advisable to ignore companies that don’t do this.
Third, commercial products may contain ingredients that are not easily removed by wastewater treatment plants. These chemicals stay in the environment and are particularly toxic to aquatic life.
Lastly, DIY eco friendly cleaning products are just fun to make and rather easy too. Most ingredients are right there in your home and it takes a few to come up with a wide variety of products that can clean every room in your house.
The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it.
Let’s look at some easy recipes for homemade cleaning products.
All-purpose cleaner (with just two ingredients)
1 tsp Sal Suds
1 liter distilled water
Swirl the ingredients in a spray bottle to combine them.
This all-purpose cleaner is good to use on cabinets, counter tops, floors, glass, granite marble, solid surface sinks, stainless steel, tile, and wood.
Simple and easy, eh?
While the all-purpose cleaner works well on wood, sometimes I just like to use the good old dust wipe.
All-natural and reusable dust wipes
Old cotton shirt cut into 4 pieces/4 microfiber cloths
1 cup warm water
1 tsp cooking oil (olive or sunflower oil works best)
1 tbsp vinegar
5 drops lavender essential oil
A few lemon or orange rinds (optional)
Step 1: Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2: Dip the cloth pieces in the mixture taking them out only when they have been fully soaked.
Step 3: Squeeze the excess liquid out and place them in a glass jar with lemon and orange rinds.
They should feel slightly oily without being greasy. You can store the wipes in a refrigerator for maximum freshness.
After a week of use, wash them in hot water and a mild detergent and dry.
Repeat the process to make dust wipes again.
Cotton shirts and microfiber cloths are both are good from a green perspective. Microfiber is long lasting and can be used up to 2–3 years.
Yet, there are some water stains that are beyond the cleaning capacity of the two products we’ve already covered. For such stubborn obstacles, we would need this natural homemade cleaning product…
Homemade acidic cleaner for hard water stains
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
Juice from one lemon
12 drops of lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a bottle spray.
There was a time when we used newspapers to clean our windows and throw them into the compost bin. Now that we’ve pretty much stopped newspapers, this one is a great alternative for cleaning glass.
This cleaner also works great on limescale and mineral buildup that comes from hard water deposits. A word of caution – don’t use it on granite or marble as vinegar can damage natural stone surfaces.
If you don’t like the smell of vinegar (the smell disappears after 10–15 minutes of application) you can infuse the mixture with citrus peels (grapefruit, lemon, orange, pomelo, tangerine) and store it away in a cool place for 3–4 days. You can use this infused vinegar to clean your glass windows and doors and polish them with a newspaper or soft cloth when nearly dry. Works like a charm.
Here’s a powerful homemade cleaning product for those stubborn stains in the bathroom.
A bathroom needs a cleaner that can remove soap scum, molds, mildew, mineral and lime buildup from hard water deposits.
Homemade bathroom cleaner
2 tsp borax
1.5 tsp washing soda
1.5 tsp Sal Suds
15 drops peppermint essential oil
1 cup hot water
1 cup normal temperature water
Step 1: Pour the borax and the soda into a spray bottle.
Step 2: Add the hot water and shake well till the powder fully dissolves.
Step 3: To this combination, add the Sal Suds and essential oils.
Step 4: Finally add the room temperature water.
Step 5: Combine this mixture well by swirling it gently.
This potent cleaner works best on acidic grime that is common in bathrooms, like urine stains.
You can spray this solution on affected areas and wait for a few minutes before cleaning. This allows the ingredients time to kill pathogens. For those extra stubborn areas, leave the spray for 10-15 minutes and use a scrubbing brush to clean them.
Washing soda and borax tend to leave white dregs so make sure you rinse the surface thoroughly with water.
Cleaning silver and glass decanters
If your silver cutlery becomes stained a quick dip in water where potatoes have been cooked removes the stains.
Regularly rubbing them with olive is also a good way to keep silvery cutlery stain-free.
Glass decanters tend to smell when not used for a long time. There is an old and trusted American and English solution for this. Rinse them in a combination of warm soapy water, salt and vinegar, or crushed egg shells. Shake this mixture well before use.
Why these ingredients?
Oil shines, protects and nourishes wood. Any cooking oil will work, though olive oil, sunflower oil and fractionated coconut oil are the best options.
Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that contains acetic acid which works well depending on the surface. It is great on laminate and stainless steel but not on aluminum, cast iron, grout and natural stone.
When it comes to cleaning stubborn marks and stains, vinegar may not be enough. Borax, on the other hand…
Borax (sodium tetraborate or sodium borate) is a powerful natural bathroom cleaner. Even though it occurs naturally, it doesn’t mean it is completely safe. It is as safe as any other cleaning product but you will still need to take precautions, especially around kids and food. Avoid ingestion or direct contact with skin. It is a powerful base that can cut through gross buildups and is also a temporary water softener.
Lemon juice is an excellent natural cleaner due to its low pH and degreasing antibacterial properties. The citric acid combats alkaline hard water deposits. It is safe and eco-friendly but since it’s a natural fruit juice, keep it refrigerated so that it does not go rancid. Don’t use on natural stone and wooden surfaces.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a powerful, inexpensive, non-toxic cleaning agent that can remove oil stains, grease and grime. Its abrasive nature gives it the capacity to dislodge stubborn particles. Baking soda is also very good at absorbing odors instead of just masking them. (We’ve also used it as one of the ways to get rid of closet odor naturally and in creating a green laundry routine.) Rinse it clean after use as it can leave a residue.
Washing soda (sodium carbonate) also known as soda ash is a highly alkaline compound. The high pH makes it an excellent natural cleanser capable of softening hard water, cutting through grease, removing stubborn mildew from bathrooms, and it can also used to clean silver. Since it is more abrasive than baking soda, it might be able to clean stubborn areas that baking soda can’t. Use judiciously as it can fade colors and eat away at cloth surfaces. Do not use washing soda on aluminum, fiber glass, leather, silk, and treated wood surfaces. (Note: Washing soda and baking soda are not the same thing.)
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds is made wholly of plant-based surfactants. It does not contain dyes or preservatives. It is super concentrated and works brilliantly on hard surfaces. Sal Suds is a versatile, multi-purpose cleaner capable of cleaning floors, countertops and cars to dishes and clothes. Don’t let the size of the bottle fool you – a little goes a long way.
These essential oils for homemade products have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-bug properties: cardamom, cinnamon, citronella, clove, eucalyptus, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, orange, oregano, palmarosa, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme.
For more information on essential oils you might want to check out this comprehensive guide.
NOTE: Just remember while making your homemade cleaning products that acids (e.g.: vinegar, lemon) and bases (e.g.: baking soda, borax) cancel each other out and you’ll be left with just salt and water.
A germicidal potpourri on the room’s windowsill is a terrific option to keep the environment pleasant and smelling good. Just ensure to spray the potpourri regularly with a plant-mister or pressure sprayer filled with water and 10 drops of anti-bacterial, insect repellant tea-tree oil.
Diluted lavender oil is a tried and tested repellant to keep insects away from raw meat.
Cloves, dried mint, cayenne powder and chillies deter ants and mice.
Bunches of elder leaves and tansy are best for flies and bluebottles. Strip the stems of tansy leaves and hang up bunches of the yellow flowers.
Flies on dinner table a problem? Try this anti-fly potpourri recipe…
4 cups lavender flowers
2 cups dried lemon verbena leaves
2 cups sweet Joe Pye leaves/dried mint leaves
1/2 cup cloves
1/2 cup orris root powder
6-7 drops citronella oil
Crush the leaves occasionally and refresh the bowl every few months.
NOTE: Odor fades quicker in hotter weather so refresh accordingly. )
Whether you live in a tiny apartment or a six-bedroom house, you can always use homemade cleaning recipes for a healthier and environmentally-sound existence. Do you have any favorite recipe you’d like to share?