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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Make Your Own Homemade Cleaners {Week 5}

At the beginning of every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

One of the easiest ways to cut your spending is to stop buying stuff you usually buy.

Let that brilliant {ahem!} remark sink in for a moment.

While it might seem like it’s the most basic of basic statements — and it is! — we sometimes forget to apply it. Or, as is often the case, we don’t even consider an alternative to paying for what we normally buy.

Homemade cleaners are one such example. None of us wants to live in a dirty home (or, at least I certainly hope none of us do!). Because of this, we buy cleaners because, well, that’s what everyone else does.

Here’s the thing: commercial cleaners are often pricey. And the manufacturers are smart. They play on our desire to have clean homes in the most efficient manner so they create products for every single cleaning project known to man.

Whenever possible, they make super slick gadgets that require refills so that you have to constantly be spending even more money to purchasing refills so you can keep cleaning your house. Before you know it, you are literally washing hundreds of dollars down the drain each and every year.

This is why I’m a fan of homemade cleaners. Unless I can get some amazingly sweet deal on a cleaner by paring a coupon code with a sale, I just plain don’t buy commercial cleaners. In fact, after making many of my own cleaners, I’ve come to believe that almost every commercial cleaner on the market is a rip-off.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Are Your Best Friend

Instead of spending tens of dollars each month on special cleaners that are designed for one specific job, go to the dollar store or Aldi and buy some vinegar, baking soda, and spray bottles. These are just about all you’ll need to clean almost every item in your home. Seriously.

You can get a little fancier and make actual homemade cleaner recipes if you’d like. But you don’t have to. You can just spray on vinegar and water and wipe off or scrub most tough stains with a little baking soda and elbow grease.

Earth Easy has a long list of how to clean your house using just baking soda, vinegar, soap, borax, washing soda, alcohol, and cornstarch. You might have to make a trip to Walmart to pick up a box of washing soda or borax, but I bet you already have all of the other items on hand already.

How Much Can You Really Save By Making Homemade Cleaners?

How much you can save by making your own cleaners is going to vary widely, depending upon which cleaners you make, how much you usually spend on cleaners, and how many people you are cleaning up after!

But let’s say you have an initial upfront investment of $30 to purchase the supplies listed above and let’s estimate that these supplies last you for 12 months. That’s like paying around $2.50 per month for all of your cleaners. If you only use baking soda and vinegar, it’s going to be significantly less than this.

If you typically buy commercial cleaners on sale, I’d say there’s a good chance you are purchasing an average of 4 cleaners of some sort each month, at around $2-3 per cleaner. At this rate, you could easily save $100+ per year.

Now obviously, your situation might be completely different. If you’re typically only buying cleaners for pennies each by pairing coupons with sales, it might not save you any money at all to make your own cleaners. However, you will for sure be using fewer chemicals in your home and you will also not have to worry about chasing down deals and pairing them with sales.

But Doesn’t It Take a Lot Of Time to Make Homemade Cleaners?

Actually, most homemade cleaners can be made in less than a minute. And if they save you $1-$2 per minute of time invested to make them, that’s like making an hourly wage of $60 to $120 — and it’s tax-free money.

In my book, that’s definitely worth the return on investment. And some cleaners don’t even require that much time because you just spray the vinegar on or dump some baking soda on and scrub. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Where To Find Good Recipes

I’ve linked to a number of homemade cleaner recipes below, but the internet is truly a goldmine of homemade cleaner recipes. Honestly, you can find a recipe for just about any and every cleaner you usually use.

Just Google it or type it into the search engine on Pinterest. Now, I can’t guarantee that the first recipe you try will be a home run success. But if you keep experimenting, I bet you’ll find a good homemade recipe to replace just about every one of your favorite cleaners — all for pennies on the dollar!

Recipes: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Here are links to homemade cleaning recipes I have tried or want to try. My honest reviews are alongside those I’ve tried. Not all homemade cleaners are all they are supposedly cracked up to be, so I hope to save you some effort by letting you know which ones I didn’t find to work well.

If you have amazing recipes for some of the ones I found to be “meh”, I’d love to have you link them in the comments!

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner — This looks like it would work well!

Homemade Window Cleaner — This one works really well.

Homemade Soft Scrub Cleaner — This works great for cleaning tubs, tiles, sinks, and toilets!

Homemade Shower Cleaner — I’ve heard rave reviews on this one and hope to try it soon.

Homemade Scrubbing Bubbles — I found out after I made this that the two ingredients cancel each other out so it wasn’t really effective at all.

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent — This was was okay. Not stellar. Just okay.

Homemade Laundry Soap — This one worked decently, though I found that I had to wash my clothes in hot water for them to get clean and, even then, some of the stains didn’t come out.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap — This is the easiest recipe ever and works SO well!

Homemade Oxiclean — This one worked alright but didn’t work quite as well as Shout.

Homemade Miracle Kitchen Cleaner — I can’t wait to try this!

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner — This one is simple to whip up and worked pretty well!

Homemade All Purpose Lemon Powder Cleaner — This one worked fairy well but had a very strong lemon scent.

Have you made your own homemade cleaners before? What are your favorite recipes? Share the links or details in the comments.

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  • Lana says:

    That toilet cleaner recipe does not work if you have hard well water. I have tried and it did nothing for my toilet. I do not know about other kinds of water.

    The thing that I keep on hand and use for many cleaning jobs is Shaklee Basic H. You can do everything from clean produce to use it for windshield washer fluid in your car. I have been using one bottle for 10 years or more and it has many more years left.

  • Amy says:

    I found my ‘homemade’ dishwashing detergent works ok. I JUST did a borax/baking soda mix. I did a dash of Dawn dish liquid and a sprinkle of LemiShine…. perfect

    • Dianna says:

      I have a hard time with homemade dishwasher detergent. It seems to work the first couple of times, but after five or so times it starts leaving a film on my dishes. I’ve tried about five different recipes and this always happens to me!

      • Amy says:

        I have tried more than once. Honestly – this time is was because I was out and home w a sick kid. Going on a month now? DO have to rinse. So far – so good..

      • Sharen says:

        A good solution for the residue left on your dishes is to fill the rinse aid with vinegar. It works for me!

  • jennifer says:

    I love this laundry stain remover and we even have a newborn in cloth diapers . We use the Duggar Family’s liquid laundry soap recipe and think it’s great. We made a big container of dishwasher detergent but found it left our glasses cloudy so now we use it as a sink, toilet, tub cleaner. For everything else, there is vinegar/baking soda and a good scrub.

    • Sharen says:

      Vingar in the rinse aid helps with the cloudiness.

    • Catrina says:

      Thank you for posting. i have been trying everything to get my newborns cloths clean but even traditional cleaners are not getting the stains out. any other laundry tips you have for cleaning baby cloths please share

  • I don’t actually make any homemade cleaner because I’ve found that vinegar and baking soda clean just about everything. I have a spray bottle of vinegar/water mix that I spray on just about anything. I have a shaker bottle of baking soda that I shake on top of the vinegar. Just let it foam up and wipe it off.

    Also, buying the baking soda and vinegar in bulk from warehouse stores saves even more money.

    • Debbie says:

      I too use vinegar and baking soda for all my cleaning. I could never go back to commercial cleaning products. Not sure if you know that after foaming reaction of the 2 combining, it’s broken down into carbon dioxide and water. Yep, it’s as useless as cleaning with plain water when you combine them. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base. They counteract each other chemically. Best to use them separate unless unclogging a drain and can use that chemical reaction to possibly put things in motion.

  • Amy says:

    OH – and window cleaner:

    1/4 c vinegar, 2 c water, 1T cornstarch – shake well… works perfect. Fav recipe.

  • Yes! I love vinegar and baking soda. I always have them on hand for cleaning.

    I have made my own glass cleaner…just rubbing alcohol and water…and it’s great. I’ve also tried homemade grout cleaner, but I need to play with that one a little.

    I just had great success making homemade jewelry cleaner too. So easy and much better for your jewelry and skin than the chemical cleaners. I posted the instructions

    Also, I was wondering if anyone has had experience using Norwex products? I’m starting to hear about them more, and it seems that the initial investment would pay for itself when you can sanitize surfaces using only water. I’m really curious if anyone has feedback about their products 🙂

    • Lana says:

      Norwex products really work and worth the investment. They sanitize but also they clean things that you don’t think you can get clean.

  • Rebecca says:

    I will say that there is a chance I spend more with my homemade cleaners, simply because I clean SO MUCH more. I can easily go through a few .99 cent bottles of Aldi vinegar a month. However, because of that, my dishes sparkle, my coffee maker is in tip-top shape, my clothes smell fresh, my pots and pans are free of stuck-on food and my bathroom is disinfected. Lysol, though it could end up being near free with a coupon, wouldn’t do all that for me 🙂

  • What a great post! These are so much greener too! You can save 80-90 percent off the cost of other store brand cleaners doing it this way. So much better for all of us! Thanks a lot.

  • Meredith says:

    Yeah, I pretty much clean everything with vinegar and water too. I keep a bottle of bleach on hands for emergencies but it hardly ever used (it was on markers that wouldn’t come off of the play table this past weekend) I saw on the Prudent Homemaker how she added grapefruit rinds to hers vinegar/water to make the cleaner scented. I did that with oranges and it can be used soon! The only thing I don’t care for is the laundry detergent. For me as well, it only worked in hot water and some of the stains were still there. Plus, if you watch the sales and use coupons, it’s not that much more to buy it, if at all.

    • An art gum ereaser (the light brown kind that look like the sole of your shoe) work great on ink/marker/etc on most surfaces and also take shoe heel marks off of hard floors. Hair spray or rubbing alcohol do the same thing for carpet (even colored!). No need for bleach!


      • Meredith says:

        Thanks! I will try the eraser. It’s on her big table from ikea that gets me. It has some film on it and NOTHING but bleach gets the stains out. Nothing! I’ve tried more concoctions on that darned table!

  • Emily says:

    I guess I don’t understand the need for all those different cleaners. I use a antibacterial spray, some toilet bowl cleaner, and window cleaner.

    I got a few bottles of anti-bac cleaner for next-to-nothing over a year ago and am not even close to running out. Up & Up toilet bowl cleaner is reasonable and lasts a long time. And I’ve had the same Windex bottle for 3+ years now.

    I clean our bathrooms (2 of them) once a week, so it’s not like I never clean. But I have found that one all-purpose cleaner can cover just about everything (I also dilute it in water for mopping). Sometimes I think people get caught up in having a separate cleaner for everything – and it can’t be any cheaper to make all of those separately.

    And I’ve hardly ever read good reviews on homemade laundry detergent, dish soap or dishwasher detergent.

    I’m interested to read others’ opinions!

    • Kristin says:

      I agree. I was thinking the same thing. When I moved in to my house 6 years ago we purchased cleaning supplies at Sam’s Club and empty spray bottles. I still have tons of the Windex left. I also use Simple Green for a lot of my cleaning which is multi-purpose and can be used to clean almost anything. You dilute it so I am able to control the amount I am using at a time.

      When I have coupons I buy Method cleaning products from Target for pennies on the dollar and love that as well 🙂

    • I use a vinegar-water mix (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) in place of my all-purpose and my window cleaner. I use baking soda sprinkled on top for anything “stubborn”. The vinegar water was actually the only thing recommended for my tile grout sealant by the installer! So I only have 3 supplies in my cleaning shelf – toilet bowl cleaner, a spray bottle with the vinegar-water and a box of baking soda (I use the one that I took out of the fridge when it no longer held the odor that way it doesn’t go to waste).

      At the church I grew up in we had a cleaning day each spring and people would come and volunteer. They were always told to bring cleaners. My mom always showed up with her spray bottle of vinegar-water and the baking soda and a stack of newspapers (if she washed windows). One year she was put to work washing half of the huge clear glass windows that ran down each side of the sanctuary. On Sunday everyone who was there cleaning asked her to come back on Monday and please wash the other half – they were so cloudy you could see the difference! The person cleaning them had used 5 (yes, 5!) different cleaners on them. After that my Mom was always on window duty!


    • Meredith says:

      I use vinegar and water for about everything. However, if I can get deals that beat out the price of vinegar, I pick them up. I can get some cleaning supplies at target for pennies and they last for a long time.

      I do agree on the washing detergent. I just didn’t feel that it got my clothes clean. I can get the generic brand at Cvs or something with a coupon and it seems to always work much better!

    • Billene says:

      I agree one this one, I also have found stores brand cleaners at very reasonable prices and found they work well. The homemade is probably ok but, by the time you spend money for what it takes to make them you probably have not really saved anything. I do realize that some may not have they money to purchase store brands and have to make their own which is very understandable.

    • Debbie says:

      In a pinch, we have used a squirt of castile soap and about a cup of baking soda to do laundry. I was shocked at how fresh smelling and clean everything came out – just as if I had used my expensive laundry soap!

  • Meghan says:

    Anyone know what I can clean my pergola floors with?

    • Tamara says:

      I use a vinegar and water solution on my laminate floors. I took an old Swiffer bottle and refilled it with the vinegar solution. Works wonders and I think my floors look cleaner. You can look online for easy ways to open those “locked” bottles. Soak the top in very, very hot water, twist the lid really hard. Presto..the lid comes off and it can be refilled. I also use old t-shirts and clothe baby diapers for the pads. 🙂

      • Angela says:

        I just spray the cleaner on the floor with a spray bottle and then use the swiffer mop with it (rather than try to reuse one of the swiffer bottle.) I find that a mix of amonia and water works better than the swiffer solution anyway. I just love the ease of the swiffer mop and the disposable pad rather than a mop and bucket.

  • Melinda says:

    I’ve been making my own all purpose cleaner for years now. It works for most everything and if I get a hard spot on my ceramic cooktop, I just add a bit of baking soda and scrub! Recipe is equal parts vinegar, alchohol, water + just a couple of drops of dawn dish soap. It cleans everything even my mirrors and laminate floors. I use it to clean the toilets too, but if they really need a good scrubbing I’ll add some soft scrub….I do have to admit I will still by soft scrub and comet because they get out the hard stains in my tub. We have well water here.

  • I am going to refer to this post OFTEN. So much great info here. Thank you!

  • Dianna says:

    I love using homemade cleaners! I enjoy making homemade foaming soap as you have demonstrated. Here are several other recipes/methods I have tried and liked:

    Wood polish (this is a miracle worker!)

    Rubbing alcohol (a list of the things it will clean)

    Toilet bowl

    Using baking soda to cut nasty sticky grease

    The best ever glass cleaner

    Laundry and dishwasher soap

    Tub and shower cleaner (this works super well!)

    Cleaner for getting scorched food off pans

    • denise says:

      is your cleaner for pots/pans safe for non-stick pans?

      • Dianna says:

        Good question! I’ve never tried it on anything but shiny stainless steel. My guess is that it would work just fine on non-stick, but I would never use it on cast iron because it would probably remove the seasoning. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes if you try it.

        • denise says:

          right now I use BarKeepers Friend powder to clean mine but I might have to try just straight baking soda! Though I do love how clean BKF gets them so I may just stick with that. sometimes saving money isn’t worth stressing myself out over trying new things!

    • I’m going to check some of these! Thanks! Wood cleaner sounds interesting!

    • Dianna says:

      Ooh, I want to try that! I’ve been looking for a good all-purpose cleaner.

    • WilliamB says:

      Same here. I have good recipes for produce wash, laundry detergent, and window cleaner. All I’m lacking is all-purpose/Fantastik.

      • Lydia says:

        I tend to use this for a lot of things! Very practical!

      • Emily says:

        Would you mind sharing your recipe for produce wash?

        • WilliamB says:

          Produce Wash:
          3 parts water
          1 part distilled vinegar
          Spray on, rinse off.

          Got it from Consumer Reports, which reports it works just as well as the purchased stuff. Others report that, sprayed on and not rinsed off, it keeps delicate produce such as berries fresh for longer. I can’t comment on that, berries never last long in my house.

          • Emily says:

            Thanks. Berries don’t last more than the hour after I bring them home from the store in my house…..I’ll probably never get to experiment with that either.

  • Monica says:

    I tried the powdered laundry detergent with mediocre results but then I did it again and made the homemade liquid laundry detergent and used castille soap instead of Ivory and it was a million times better! My whites are even whiter just from the soap alone.

    • WilliamB says:

      This recipe for liquid laundry detergent passed muster with my extremely picky roommate and works in cold, warm, or hot water. It costs 10% of what regular laundry detergent costs me – that’s right, I save 90% with this stuff. One thing to note is that commercial detergent has one thing impossible to add to homemade: optical brighteners. Maybe one day we’ll be able to buy these enzymes but till then, I’d prefer to save 90%.

      Credit where credit is due – I got the basics from I have no idea why the elaborate procedure. Some day I may either one, experiment to see if it’s necessary or two, get an answer from a chemist.

      3 c. hot water
      1/4 bar soap, preferably all-natural
      oatmeal soap (not chunky oatmeal) makes clothes softer
      1/4 c. washing soda (*not* baking soda)
      1/2 c. Borax
      2 c. hot water
      2 qts water
      3 c. hot water
      5 gal bucket for storage
      whisk for dedicated stirring

      Heat 2-3 qts water.
      Grate soap into bucket.
      Add 3 c. hot water, stir to dissolve.
      Add Borax and washing soda, stir to dissolve.
      Add 2 c. hot water, stir to mix.
      Add 2 qts cold water, stir to mix.
      Add 3 c. hot water, stir to mix.
      Let sit 12-24 hrs to gel.

      Use 1/4 c. per HE load, 1/2 c. per regular load.

  • Nanette says:

    I recentlly had to have my dryer repaired. The man asked if I used dryer sheets. I said, “Not normally. I use liquid fabric softener”. He said both are not good for your dryer and being on septic you need to watch what you put down your drains. He said to try vinegar as a fabric softener. Use just like fabric softener. He said there’s no smell, makes your clothes soft, cleans your washing machine and is septic safe. I have yet to try this but I did google it and there were rave reviews about it.

    • denise says:

      I have heard the same but I tried it and my nose is so sensitive to smells that all I could smell on our clothes was the vinegar 🙁 I was really bummed because it would be so much cheaper!

      Am I the only one that still smells the vinegar?

      • Rachael says:

        try using less vinegar. I use about 1 tbsp in each load, in the fabric softener slot. I use it with clothes and diapers and it will even get the detergent smell out. If your clothes smell like vinegar, I think you’re just using too much.

        • denise says:

          thanks for the tip! I had been told to use a lot more than that so what you are saying makes sense! appreciate the advice!

    • Amy R says:

      I stopped using fabric softener more than a year ago now because of my sensitive skinned daughter. Vinegar does a fantastic job! Vinegar’s scent dissipates when it dries. Another added bonus…vinegar has whitening properties too!

  • Kim says:

    I have heard amazing things about the Homemade Shower Cleaner you have listed. Switching to that after I finish my last can of Scrubbing Bubbles 🙂 Can’t bring myself to waste it.

    I have used a different homemade laundry soap and loved it.

    • Angel G. says:

      What is the recipie for the laundry soap?

      • Kim says:

        My mistake. It is actually almost identical. Not sure what I must have been thinking of. 🙁


        1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
        1 c. Arm & Hammer super washing soda
        1/2 c. borax

        Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For a light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy load or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. (Yields: 3 cups detergent for approx. 40 loads)

        We have a front load washer and I still found it to be very good.

    • I’m using up my Scrubbing Bubbles in the toilet. 😉

  • Amanda says:

    -1 part Dawn Dishwashing Liquid (the original blue kind)
    -2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide
    -Mix together and pour directly on the stain.

    Gets out carpet stains. EVEN OLD ONES!!! IT’S CRAZY HOW WELL IT WORKS!

  • Angel G. says:

    I use equal parts vinegar and water on almost everything if it is tough to get off I sprinkle baking powder on it and then spray.

    I also make clorox anywhere spray for sanitizing. It is 23 oz water and 1.5 tsp. clorox. It is great for sanitizing a church nursery!!

    • Christine Reed says:

      I don’t buy cleaner often, but I do buy cleaner in a big jug from Sam’s Club. I dilute it with water and use it in spray bottles. I use bleach and water for cleaning up kitchen surfaces when I work with chicken, or for cleaning toilets. I use vingar for cleaning the coffee machine and for getting stains off the inside of stainless steel pans. I’ve never made my own cleaner, though. I would like to try the vinegar and baking soda mix.

  • Amy R says:

    Carpet refresher

    1 small box of baking soda
    20 drops of your favorite essential oil

    Mix it together. (I keep mine in an old parmesan cheese container)
    Sprinkle on carpets and let sit for 30 minutes or more
    Vacuum as normal.

    This really freshens up musty carpets and just leaves a room smelling clean and not like your trying to cover up stink with air freshener.

  • Tammy says:

    I’ve been making my own cleaners for almost 3 years now–no turning back for me! 🙂 When I first started, I used several recipes that included borax, but I’ve since learned that borax, while natural, is still toxic. So, besides my laundry detergent, I no longer use borax in my cleaners. My go-to cleaner is to pour half vinegar, half water, and a squirt of dish soap into a spray bottle. It is great for pretty much anything I need.

    Another thing I did recently was to use my Christmas money to buy a steam mop. Now I don’t have to use anything but water on my floors, and they look great!

  • Theres says:

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a home made solution to cleaning wood floors?
    I have tried vinegar & water and it leaves a residue.

    I use vinegar & water and baking soda concoctions on just about everything else…thoroughly enjoyed this post!


  • Luba says:

    Except for dish soap, I use all home made cleaners and absolutely love them. After a room is cleaned, it smells great instead of like chemicals! By the way, rubbing alcohol is a great de-greaser (put some on a *dry* rag or paper towel, and scrub away). Thank you so much for this series, Crystal. 🙂

  • Shauna says:

    I’m interested to know how you clean your whole house by just using vinegar and baking soda. Can you elaborate on that with another post?

    • Debbie says:

      I’m not the poster but I’ll share what I do. Glass, mirrors, countertops (NOT stone), and other surfaces that you would normally clean with either a glass cleaner or an all-purpose cleaner get cleaned with vinegar. For stone countertops, I would use high proof grain alcohol mixed with enough water to produce the ~70% alcohol percentage required to kill bacteria. Using a higher percentage is actually less effective because the alcohol will evaporate before the bacteria are killed. Please note I do not have wood floors so I do not know how to clean them. Sinks, tubs, toilets, and anything that needs to be scrubbed gets cleaned with baking soda. I do buy USDA certified organic laundry liquid and dishwasher liquid. I also buy castile soap which I use to hand wash dishes and wash cars. I cannot use powders and haven’t really found an effective or frugal enough liquid recipe for me to bother with making it, so I just buy it. I figure I save enough money in other areas to justify the purchase. Hope that helps!

  • Joven Agno says:

    Thanks Crystal for this post and now we can save more money for my cleaners. Instead of buying expensive cleaners on the market me and my wife have made our own cleaner. Hope the hear more from you.

  • Monica says:

    I love using vinegar and water. I use it to wipe down kitchen cabinets and counters, to clean windows…

  • I love this homemade all purpose cleaner. I use it on anything and everything. I always have the ingredients on hand and takes me 1 minute to mix together. So easy and works great.

  • Ann says:

    We have a rental, and the ring in the bathtub is usually horrible. I’ve tried every imaginable cleaner, but what works best is…BAKING SODA! Wet the tub, sprinkle it on liberally, rub and rinse, and voila! Clean tub!

    It’s also awesome for getting off the black grime on handles, stains on pots and pans, you name it! And at 50 cents a box, doesn’t get better than that!!

  • Diana says:

    Shower cleaner- I started using that recipe a little over a year ago, and LOVE it! I’ve found that you don’t necessarily have to use Dawn, heating it is not necessary, and that it works a little better at 1/3 dish soap and 2/3 vinegar. (Too much soap makes a lot of bubbles which can be time consuming to rinse.) I use this everyday as a Bed & Breakfast owner!

  • Amy says:

    This may be a silly question but does vinegar kill the germs and viruses?

    • Lori says:

      Maybe some types, but if you ever have the nori virus you must use bleach to clean the germs.

    • Shannon says:

      Yes. I’ve seen studies that show it disinfects and kills germs as well as bleach. I use it in my laundry all the time and it helps get rid of the odors too.

    • TR says:

      Definitely not a silly question. I tend to get sick easily, so I have considered this question before switching to vinegar.

      Basically, vinegar is most effective at killing food-borne pathogens. It is more effective with time and concentration. (The stronger the acid and the longer it sits, the more it kills.) So if you are cleaning kitchen counters or sinks, you may want to spray the vinegar, leave it for a little, then wipe it. (I spray down the whole bathroom, go do something else, then come back in a few minutes.)

      For the general day-to-day cleaning, it is acceptable and should decrease the “garden variety germs” in your house. (I use it all the time with no problems.) If someone has the flu or is really sick, you will probably want to pull out your can of Lysol or use bleach.

      You’ll still save money using the vinegar options regularly, even if you have to buy one can of Lysol or one bottle of bleach per year.

      If you want to read scientific studies from the National Institute of Health, check out:
      There are many related links within the studies if you are REALLY interested.

      Happy cleaning! =)

  • Courtney says:

    My favorite recipe for homemade laundry detergent is this one:

    It is sooo easy because it uses liquid dish soap – no grating of soap required! It does a great job getting clothes clean. I use Seventh Generation Lemongrass & Clementine dish soap and it smells so good!

  • I use homemade shower spray and it works great!! I would encourage anyone to switch to it. I have the link on my blog.

  • carrie says:

    I do not find vinegar to be effective as a cleaner. I clean most everything with a squirt of Dr Bronner’s soap in a spray bottle of water.

  • How about something for urine in carpet? Don’t ask….. 🙁

    • Amber says:

      It’s not a homemade cleaner, but we have found that Kids N Pets (I buy it at Wal-Mart) has been the best for getting out urine smells. We’ve had two potty training children with LOTS of accidents on our current carpet, and has worked great.

      • Thanks, Amber. How does it work? We have already shampooed the carpets but it still stinks. Is it something I can just spray on after the cleaning has been done? Or is it something I need to scrub in and remove with water? Thanks for your help!

        • Amber says:

          Super late reply back…but you scrub up the urine with a towel, pour the Kids N Pets on, wait 10 or so minutes, scrub that & let it dry. I don’t know how it would work on things that have already been well cleaned though. Good luck to you!

  • Jettsmom says:

    I was out of cornstarch, and another recipe very similar called for a few drops of dawn dish soap. So I mixed it without the cornstarch. Still works really well. My husband is a building manager and asked the window washers what the best window cleaner was….hot water with a little bit of dawn. Professionals even use these recipes!

    • Jettsmom says:

      I also use the dawn and vinegar for my shower. I started using it 6 months ago and I don’t have the mold growing on my grout anymore. My shower stays cleaner longer. I also use it to clean my stove and it just sparkles. Who knew, and to think all the money I’ve been wasting all these years.

  • Nancy says:

    My only comment is this…vinegar doesn’t mix well with soap, baking soda or washing soda. So you can save time by picking one of these cleaners, ie baking soda, and then rinsing with vinegar if you need to.

  • Lori says:

    One of my favorite homemade cleaners is homemade cleaning wipes. I can’t remember where I got the recipe I’ve had it for so long now. You take about 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of vinegar, and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix it together and pour it on top of a stack of old cut up material, I actually bought dishrags for $3.00. I keep it in an old baby wipes container and then I always have my own cleaning wipes, which was the one thing I missed having in my kitchen when I was trying to switch from regular cleaning supplies to more natural ones after my daughter was born 3 years ago.

    • I love vinegar, but my husband hates the smell. Now I just clean a lot of things with diluted hydrogen peroxide. I don’t know if someone mentioned this already, but hydrogen peroxide works really well on tile grout. I definitely save money making cleaners because the only cleaners I would buy would be non toxic and they are expensive! I find the powdered. Laundry detergent works better if you add white vinegar to the fabric softener ball( we have an old school washer with a ball thing). A very good resource for any kind of homemade cleaner is the Reader’s digest book “Homemade”. The only cleaner I have yet to make is dish soap.
      Also, I clean my hardwoods with a gallon of water mixed with a shot glass of white vinegar. Works like a charm and the hardwoods installer told me that’s the best way to cleans

  • Tiffani says:

    Soap Scum Remover

    I stumbled across the best way to remove nasty, gooey soap scum from our bathtubs. I use baking soda and a mesh bag that your onions come in (or apples or avocados etc…).
    In a wet tub sprinkle generous amounts of baking soda and wipe with mesh bag, rinsing the bag as often as needed. I was shocked! And I can’t believe I’d never read this somewhere. I’d been fighting soap scum for years! I clean my sinks and faucets using this method too!

    • Christina says:

      I actually do basically the same thing but use one of those shower “poofs” for shower gel. I sprinkle baking soda and then scrub with the poof–works wonders for getting soap scum off!

  • I make homemade LIQUID DISHWASHER SOAP! Have used this recipe for a long time and it works well.

    • Cathy says:

      Another Basic H user here…it’s cheap, works great, and best of all, no vinegar smell, lol. I’ve tried homemade cleaners but despise the smell of vinegar, so this is a great compromise for me. I also occasionally buy a scented bottle of Method cleaner as a treat and we purchase commercial toilet bowl cleaner. I use Ajax laundry detergent which works great for the price, but make homemade to use on darks and linens.

  • Susan says:

    The thing I have found with homemade cleaners that is the problem is spray bottles. I have bought cheap ones, only worked a few times, expensive ones, worked for a few months. I went back to just buying cleaners on sale!

    • Mary says:

      This is my problem, too. I recently googled the topic to try to find a solution, and found a recommendation for a “chemical spray bottle.” Have you tried this? I was planning to look for one at home improvement store. If you’ve spent the money on one, though, and it didn’t last very long, I’d be interested in hearing about it. If anyone has any advice on spray bottles that will last with homemade cleaners, could you please pass it on?

    • Debbie says:

      I had this same problem until I stumbled upon the Rubbermaid heavy duty spray bottle I found at Target a while back. It was around $6 so I hesitated buying it but I haven’t had to buy a replacement since!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I was doing some reading where people doing use vinegar and baking soda together because of the reaction though I always do and if it’s something I want to soak well then I add just a bit of dawn dish soap. I’ve always had it work wonderfully but now I will have to experiment and see if it’s the baking soda or the vinegar that does the work or if it takes both like I’ve always done.
    Side note while myself and my girl friends were trying to come up with a liquid dishwasher soap and they decided to go experimenting I decided to test washing soda vs baking soda against vinegar to see if there was a reaction. Even though the reaction is smaller washing soda and vinegar do react to each other.
    Which our recipe was a bit bogus for our experiment so back to the drawing board. Everyone’s used to such thick gels that the companies obtain by using polymers (which I’m not complaining it means my job in a polymer plant is secure) that when they try to make their own liquid they are thrown off by how thin it is. I’m still getting a foggy look to my glass though that I’ve read a lot of problems about so I’ve taken the suggestion of a couple drops of dawn along with it. Not a lot mind you otherwise you’ll damage your dishwasher and have a huge mess but just a few drops to help clear things up. Using vinegar as the rinse agent also helps.
    Looking forward to seeing all the recipes and ideas come out of this.

    • Debbie says:

      You might want to try some citric acid + water as your rinse agent to see if that works better than the vinegar. You can also run a cycle (no dishes) with a larger amount of citric acid or lemonade kool-aid to clean out your dishwasher.

  • Thanks for the post!
    We use a dish sponge scrubber for cleaning the shower on a regular basis (easier than cleaning a nasty shower every once in awhile). We fill the dish scrubber with half Dawn, half vinegar. Works great!

  • Amy says:

    I have been making my own cleaners for years, but I never use vinegar and baking soda. My husband does not like me to clean with vinegar. Even after it has dried, he says he can smell it.
    I have not seen anyone mention this yet, but I use a solution of Grapefruit Seed Extract and water. I will then add some essential oils depending on what the cleaner is for. Tea tree usually, and maybe orange or lavendar. One has to purchase the essential oils first, but it only takes a couple of drops per bottle. The GSE lasts forever. I think I have had to spend maybe $10 on the GSE in the last ten years. It has other uses, too.
    My parents were skeptics, but then my dad, who is a clean freak, used it on my very dirty stove and saw how well it cleaned and became a believer.

  • I use that shower cleaner, and I won’t go back! Before the shower cleaner, my tub portion would get nasty no matter what I used. I’d use everything from bleach to cleaners and NOTHING! Then a friend gave me a tip to use a Mr. Clean magic eraser on the tub. Voila! It was like a new tub! After using this shower cleaner, I haven’t really had to use the magic eraser. 😉

  • Jennifer M. says:

    I use homemade laundry detergent and it works great! It is a liquid detergent, that includes borax, Super Washing Bakind Soda, Fels Napa soap bar, and water. I got the recipe from the Duggar family website. It is great. Sometimes I will add a little powder oxy powder to help loosen stains or just do my regular routine of soaking the stained outfit overnight in oxy powder/water. It saves us so much more and is better for my son who has kidney disease.

  • Alison S. says:

    Any suggestions for cleaning granite? I know that viengar will eat away at any kind of natural stone so I’ve avoided using it.

  • Sandy says:

    I’ve used diluted windshield solvent for years instead of Windex. I can buy a gallon of windshield solvent for around $2 and diluting it half and half gives me 2 gallons for $2. Not sure if the homemade recipe is less expensive than what I use but, I do like the idea of a non-chemical alternative.

  • Hollie says:

    We love our home-made laundry detergent. I just do about equal parts washing soda, baking soda, and borax. Works great, I like the smell and I can use it on our cloth diapers too 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      You’re not finding you’re having any repelling issues with the homemade detergent? How long have you been using it and what type of diapers are you using?


  • I can’t wait to try all of these!! I am so excited about the potential savings!

  • Jen says:

    Wow, I guess I need to clean more. I buy cleaners (on sale with a coupon) but there’s no way I’m buying 4 per month!! So not sure if this is going to be big savings for me unless I turn into a crazy cleaning woman!

    • Crystal says:

      For some families, that would include laundry soap & dish soap & hand soap, if you’re making all of those yourself… so it could basically cover all cleaners you’d use in any shape in your home.

  • M says:

    Everybody raves about vinegar and seems to think it cleans everything. I’m a little skeptical. My husband volunteered for a science fair a few years ago and one student experimented with several different cleaners. He divided some counter space into several sections using tape and rubbed a chicken breast all over it. Then he tried different cleaners and had a way to test how much bacteria was left on each one. Guess what? The section where he used vinegar had more bacteria than it started with. And it makes sense considering how they make vinegar. I really think we need to look into this more. I think for me, even if it was an effective cleaner, I would only save a dollar or two per year making my own.

  • Traci says:

    The liquid laundry detergent I made actually cleans better than tide and costs about $2 for a 3 month supply and requires no effort to make

  • Jeanine says:

    Crystal, what do you use to clean your kitchen after you have handled raw meat (especially chicken)? The only thing that is stopping me from making my own cleaners is the fear of not cleaning well enough after working with raw chicken.

    • Debbie says:

      You can use vinegar or high proof grain alcohol to kill the bacteria left behind from raw meat. If you have stone countertops such as granite, do NOT use vinegar. It will etch the countertop surface.

  • Jill says:

    I use vinegar, baking soda, HomeSoap ( similar to castile soap ) and thieves oil to clean and disinfect our home. Simple ingredients that are cheap, clean great and disinfect at the same time! The only cleaner I buy is Barkeepers Friend to clean my stainless steel pots and pans when they need a good shining. If you need to clean and shine copper pots, sprinkle the surface with kosher salt, then pour vinegar on it and scrub gently. All dirt and residue will be gone and your copper will shine! Love it!!!

  • Wynn Przybycien says:

    I love your blog, it’s one of my favorites. I wanted to share the recipe I use for laundry. We have hard water, very high iron content and I have 3 kids; 6, 4 and 2 1/2 yrs old (messy ones 😉 ) This has been working great and it’s affordable. I didn’t use fabric softener in mine (allergies) and I used 3 bars of Fels Naptha; it cost $20 total. We’ve been using it since December and the big bucket is still more than 2/3 full. I do about 15 loads of wash a week. I have been washing stuffed toys and they look new again. I still add oxiclean to things that have large food stains but everything seem cleaner than before. Keep up the awesome help and advice. Thank you!

  • crystal says:

    I need to share experience with the homemade laundry soap. We used this for 2 years and loved it. About 2 months into it in started to develop red itchy bumps on my back. The itch was so bad at times I ripped them off with my finger nails. More and more came until I had a cluster of 5 of them. One doctor diagnosed me with shingles and I took their awful medicine (later causing me to have a hysterectomy), and I was later told, since the bumps were still there, that it was never shingles. Seeing a dermatologist, I was informed of having a reaction to something and needed to start weeding through my soap products. By chance, I ran out of my laundry soap and the stuff to make it, so in just used a cheap store version I had on hand. Within a week, the bumps were going away. It has been six months and they are completely gone. And very recently found an article about Borax. It is a pesticide!!! And has been known to cause cancer – including in children. I used this on my children’s laundry for two years!!!! I will post a link to the article. Reading it made my blood run cold….. just be careful and do research on these products….

  • Debbie says:

    Love this post! Other than vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap, the only manufactured cleaning products I buy are laundry liquid and dishwasher liquid. I have used soap nuts in the past, but I am not confident in the amount of soap they contain after 1 use, so now I just buy soap nuts-based laundry & dishwasher liquid for those 2 machines. They are a bit spendy but I save so much money not buying all those other separate cleaners by just using vinegar and baking soda that I am still spending less on everything combined.

    My tip for glass and mirrors: Spray straight white vinegar onto the surface then wet and wring out 1 paper towel and use that to clean the surface. Now take 1 dry paper towel and wipe the surface until completely dry. At some point you’ll see the surface start to cloud up and the paper towel will drag. Keep going because in a few seconds all will be crystal clear!

  • Kelli says:

    Hi Crystal, great post! I read your post on the homemade Oxy-clean and I was wondering if you have used it in your dishwasher to clean the dishwasher OR if you have a great tip for getting glasses sparkling in the dishwasher. It seems no matter what I’ve used either commercial (lemi-shine or any other sheeting action product) or homemade (ie a cup of vinegar in the top rack ) , my glasses still have a cloudy look to them. Any ideas?


  • Dana says:

    I’ve been using this recipe as a scouring powder for years when I found that baking soda alone just wasn’t cutting it. It works great on tubs, toilets, and sinks, plus it’s so easy! Just mix equal parts of baking soda, salt, and borax. Sprinkle on your surface and scrub as usual. Happy scrubbing!

  • Amanda says:

    Homemade laminate wood floor cleaner:

    1/3 water
    1/3 rubbing alcohol
    1/3 white vinegar
    3 drops dish soap

    I use this in my Rubbermaid spray mop with the washable microfiber pads. It dries quickly, sanitizes and makes the floor shine

  • Mer says:

    I’ve made the shower cleaner before and it works really well. In fact, I actually use it to clean a lot more than the shower!! It does really get the hard water and soap scum off the shower doors. Also cleans the chrome really well too.

  • crystal says:

    Borax is a pesticide and should not be used to wash clothes!!

    The material safety data sheet on borax indicates it should not come into contact with your skin, that all contaminated clothing should be washed before wearing again.

  • Julie says:

    So appreciate your website by the way. I’ve never commented on any of your posts, but they are very helpful, encouraging and practical. Just wanted to say a warm thank-you for all the time and energy you put into this website for the benefit of others!!! I know me and my family have benefited greatly!!!! THANKS!!!

    I’ve gotten a bunch of homemade cleaning recipes from Andrea Fabry’s website- Mom’s Aware. She has a bunch of how to videos and recipes. Most of them are simple and very safe (non-toxic). I’ve listed the link to the bathroom cleaners, but she has tabs for cleaners for the kitchen, etc. This website if wonderful!

  • Isa says:

    I’ve made my own cleaning products before – must start doing that again, it was great! Baking soda and / or vinegar seems to clean most things.

    Never had much luck with DIY dishwasher powder though, despite trying a few different recipe combinations.

    Not a house cleaning product, but we do make our own shampoo bars which saves loads of money (as well as avoids plastic). I got so obsessed I started a website to collect recipes.

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