Conventional household cleaners from brands like Clorox, Lysol and Mr. Clean promise sparkling results, but often contain potent chemical ingredients like bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances and more that can be quite toxic. These harsh chemicals get released into the air we breathe and often trigger allergies, headaches and other issues. They also get washed down drains polluting waterways. Luckily, with just a few simple, natural ingredients and recipes, you can easily make your own non-toxic DIY cleaners that are just as effective at cleaning yet far safer for your family and the environment.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of homemade cleaners, provide over a dozen recipes to make your own natural cleaning solutions for every room and surface, plus tips for green cleaning your entire home using only natural ingredients. Ditch the chemicals and create a safer, cleaner home.
Why Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners?
There are many excellent reasons to make your own DIY natural cleaners rather than purchasing conventional cleaners:
1. Safer Ingredients
Store-bought cleaners contain concerning chemicals like:
- Bleach – sodium hypochlorite is highly corrosive and can irritate eyes, skin and respiratory tracts
- Ammonia – releases toxic fumes that are dangerous when inhaled
- Formaldehyde – known carcinogen
- Synthetic fragrances – can trigger asthma, allergies and headaches
- Surfactants – harm fish and aquatic life
Homemade cleaners use gentle, non-toxic ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, castile soap, essential oils and other plant-based compounds. These naturally derived ingredients get the job done without negative health effects.
2. Avoid Toxic Indoor Air Pollution
The chemical fumes released by conventional cleaners have been associated with:
- Asthma attacks
- Wheezing, coughing and other respiratory issues
- Sinus problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Skin irritation
Natural cleaners made with plant extracts and mild acids don’t degrade indoor air quality or release the harsh lingering odors and eye-burning fumes associated with products containing ammonia, bleach and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
3. Significant Cost Savings
Homemade cleaners cost just a fraction compared to purchasing commercial cleaners. White vinegar, lemons, baking soda and other base ingredients are very cheap when purchased in bulk quantities. A $2 bottle of vinegar makes gallons of cleaner. The savings add up quickly.
4. Reduce Plastic Waste and Chemical Runoff
Store bought cleaners come packaged in single use disposable plastic bottles, containers and cleaning pads that end up clogging landfills and litter waterways and beaches. Homemade cleaners utilize reusable containers like glass spray bottles, reducing waste. Also, their natural ingredients are far less environmentally damaging than chemicals if washed down drains and into water systems.
5. Customizable with Your Preferred Scents
With homemade cleaners, you can pick and choose your own natural essential oil scents for a light pleasant aroma as you clean. Common oils include lavender, citrus, pine, tea tree and more. Commercial cleaner scents tend to be overpoweringly harsh and synthetic.
6. Safer for Children and Pets
Kids and pets can get into things! Essential oils and plant-based soaps are far safer if accidentally ingested compared to corrosive industrial chemicals. You don’t have to panic with natural cleaners.
Ready to reap these benefits? Let’s look at some easy homemade cleaner recipes utilizing common natural ingredients.
Helpful Equipment & Base Ingredients
You can make a wide range of effective natural cleaners using just a few base ingredients commonly found in your pantry and some basic supplies:
- Spray bottles to dispense cleaners
- Label stickers & permanent markers to label bottles
- Microfiber cloths absorb grime and don’t leave lint
- Scrub brushes for tougher jobs
- Measuring cups & spoons
- White vinegar – cuts grease, dissolves hard water deposits, disinfects
- Baking soda – deodorizes and whitens, gentle abrasive for scrubbing
- Lemon juice – bleaches, cuts grease, and brightens
- Hydrogen peroxide – disinfects and bleaches
- Essential oils – add natural scents based on benefit
- Castile liquid soap – makes soapy solutions that clean
Let’s look at some recipes to make all-purpose cleaners, mirror and window solutions, tub and tile scrubbers and more specialized solutions using these ingredients.
All-Purpose Home Cleaning Spray
This simple recipe makes an all-purpose DIY cleaner you can use on most surfaces around your home:
- 2 cups water
- 1⁄4 cup white vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
- Optional: 5-10 drops essential oil like lavender for scent
- Combine the above ingredients in a reusable spray bottle
- Shake gently to thoroughly mix solution
- Spray directly onto surfaces around your home and wipe clean with a cloth
The acetic and citric acids in the vinegar and lemon juice help cut through grease and grime while providing antimicrobial sanitizing properties. Scents like lavender also have calming aromatherapy benefits.
Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner Spray
Powerfully disinfect sinks, showers, toilets and other bathroom surfaces with this simple homemade formula:
- 2 cups water
- 1⁄4 cup hydrogen peroxide (antimicrobial)
- 1 teaspoon castile liquid soap
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil
- Measure out ingredients into reusable spray bottle
- Shake vigorously to fully mix solution
- Spray directly onto bathroom fixtures, tiles, counters
- Let solution sit 2-3 minutes to allow disinfecting
- Wipe clean with a reusable microfiber cloth
The hydrogen peroxide serves as a natural bleaching agent to both brighten surfaces as it kills germs. Tea tree oil adds an extra antimicrobial boost.
DIY Deodorizing Carpet Freshener Powder
Easily freshen carpets and eliminate odors using common pantry staples:
- 1 cup baking soda
- 5-10 drops essential oil of your choice, like lemon, lavender or peppermint
- Mix baking soda and several drops of your preferred essential oil fragrance in a container until well incorporated
- Sprinkle liberally over carpets, let sit for approx. 30 minutes
- Vacuum up using brush attachment to lift powder
- Repeat as needed to maintain freshness
The baking soda absorbs funky odors from carpet fibers, pets, shoes and more, while the essential oil lends a light pleasant aroma. This is gentler and safer than chemically laden carpet powders and sprays.
Tub & Tile Scrubbing Cleanser
For scrubbing soap scum off showers, tubs and tiles, this abrasive paste does the trick:
- 1⁄2 cup baking soda
- Water as needed
- In a small bowl, mix baking soda with just enough water to form a thick spreadable paste
- Using a damp cloth or scrub brush, apply paste to tub/tile and scrub into grime
- Let the paste sit 2-3 minutes to further break up the residue
- Rinse surfaces thoroughly with clean water
The fine yet abrasive grains of the baking soda paste loosen soap scum, dirt, mildew and hard water stains without scratching surfaces.
Streak-Free DIY Glass & Window Cleaner Spray
Get crystal clear windows and mirrors using this simple homemade recipe:
- 2 cups water
- 1⁄4 cup white vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp castile liquid soap
- Add ingredients to spray bottle and shake vigorously to fully mix
- Mist glass surface with spray and use crumpled newspaper or microfiber cloth to polish clean
- For lint-free results, follow with a squeegee
The acetic acid in vinegar cuts through grease and grime. The small amount of soap boosts the solution’s cleaning power leaving surfaces spotless.
Fresh Scent Homemade Laundry Detergent
Your laundry can shine without harsh chemicals too. Whip up this plant-based laundry soap:
- 1 bar castile or other vegetable oil soap
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 cup borax powder
- Water as needed
- Essential oil for scent (optional)
Grate the soap bar and mix with washing soda, borax and just enough water to make a liquid paste. Add a few drops of essential oil if desired. Use 2-3 tablespoons per wash load.
Tips for Green Cleaning Your Entire Home
Once you’ve made your own natural cleaners, use them throughout your home:
- Use all-purpose vinegar spray on most surfaces – counters, cabinets, floors, walls, etc.
- Scrub kitchen and bathrooms with baking soda paste as needed
- Disinfect sinks and toilets with hydrogen peroxide bathroom spray
- Freshen carpets and rooms with essential oil baking soda powder
- Clean windows and mirrors using vinegar spray for streak-free shine
- Launder clothes and linens in natural plant-based detergent
- Check out our guide on how to create a sustainable kitchen for more green cleaning tips. Consider reusable microfiber cloths over paper towels to reduce waste.
With just a few simple natural ingredients and recipes, you can easily make non-toxic cleaners that get your entire home sparkling clean without using harsh chemicals that pollute and endanger your family’s health. Further, homemade cleaners are cheaper and better for the environment. What natural cleaner will you whip up first to replace commercial brands?