It’s a new year, and alongside the rest of your sustainability goals, you may be looking at ways to fix up your cleaning act. Commercially manufactured household cleaners are loaded with questionable ingredients. While there are times you’ll need to haul in the big guns to remove stains, typical everyday cleaning can be accomplished with some very basic household items, saving you the cost of buying cleaners and erasing the cloud of doubt about what you’re actually spraying all over your home. 

What are the benefits of DIY natural cleaners?

Although many bottles on the store shelf claim to be all-natural, as a fairly unregulated industry, most of it is just marketing. Look at the actual ingredients and you’ll likely have a hard time pronouncing many of them. Plus, water is usually the first ingredient. Making your own cleaners means you know exactly what’s in it. In addition, you’ll save a lot of money.

Related: Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

Perhaps the biggest benefit, however, is eliminating unnecessary and potentially dangerous chemicals from your home. Consider that each time you spray down a countertop, you could potentially be ingesting that cleaner at some point. Plus, those toxins find their way into the water supply through drainage and wastewater. Eliminate the chemicals with these effective natural cleaner recipes. 

The ingredients and recipes

Nearly every homemade household cleaner relies on one or more very basic ingredients.


Vinegar is nature’s cleaner. It can be used straight or combined with water on nearly every surface. It is great as a versatile cleaner for everything from countertops, to windows, to floors. White vinegar is safe for the environment and offers a disinfecting clean. Many recipes tone down the somewhat offensive smell with essential oils or citrus. Note that vinegar is not as effective against bacteria and virus germs as cleaners with 99.9% effectiveness, such as bleach. However, for most daily cleaning, it’s more than adequate. 

To make a vinegar mixture, use half vinegar and half water. Use warm water if you plan to use it right away. The heat will help lift sticky spills. If you plan to store the mixture, use distilled water instead. 

Note: white vinegar is a fantastic choice for cleaning hard water stains off of faucets and shower heads. Simply spray it on and wipe it off or soak the fixture in a vinegar solution and watch the crusty buildup dissolve. 

A lemon cut in half and laid on a yellow backdrop


Lemon juice has natural antibacterial and antifungal qualities. Plus, it offers a delightful smell that many insects avoid so it makes an effective insect deterrent too. Although many store-bought products have a lemon scent to make it appear to have these qualities, including it in your own cleaners gives you assurance that it’s the real thing.

To make a citrus cleaner, you can actually use any citrus you have on hand. Try limes, grapefruit, oranges or any combination of the above. If you don’t have enough rinds all at once, save them up in a jar in the fridge until you do. Alternately, you can cover the rinds with white vinegar and continuously add to the jar. With this technique, you don’t have to refrigerate it. There are no miracle measurements required here. Simply stuff a pitcher or jar with citrus rinds submerged in vinegar. Allow the mixture to steep for one to three weeks. You can also add lavender, rosemary, mint or other herbs for additional scent. 

After a few weeks, strain the mixture and use the liquid as your daily spray for counters, sinks, vinyl floors, doorknobs, light switches, showers, toilets and more. Since this cleaner is quite acidic, avoid using it on natural stone surfaces such as granite and marble. Also find an alternative for wood floors. One option is to add one-half cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. Then add a few drops of lemon essential oil. Use the cleaner on wood floors, but remember not to oversaturate them as you mop. 

Baking Soda

Another ingredient found in many cleaning recipes, baking soda offers superior odor neutralization and has impressive stain-fighting capabilities. 

Try a recipe of one cup water to ¼ cup baking soda. Warm the mixture slightly in a pot or the microwave to help the ingredients combine. Then put it in a spray bottle and use it on shower and sink surfaces. Allow the cleaner to sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean. 

Liquid Castile Soap

Castile soap is a plant-based product that has been used for generations in different forms. Dr. Brommer’s is a commonly-used brand that you might recognize. It is naturally sourced from vegetable fat so it is non-toxic and biodegradable, meaning that it’s good for the environment too.

Real Simple recommends a recipe by Becky Rapinchuk with directions to infuse two cups of baking soda with 20 drops of your favorite essential oils. They suggest 10 drops of clove and 10 drops of lemon. Keep the mixture in an airtight container. When ready to use, sprinkle it on the surface of the sink or other area. Then apply a squirt of Dr. Brommer’s and enough water to work the mixture around the surface. 

You can also try this Castile Soap All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • – 2 cups distilled or boiled water
  • – 2-4 Tbs. Castile Soap 

Via Keeper of the Home

Images via Pexels

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