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Guest Post: Making Your Own Household Cleaners


Guest Post by Michelle from Leaving Excess

When I first started making my own household cleaners, I was
looking to save money. And did I! Making your own cleaners does involve a
small upfront investment for ingredients and containers, but over time, you
will enjoy a tremendous savings over continuing to purchase commercial cleaners.

In addition to saving money, I have discovered that there
are other benefits to making my own cleaners:

::My kids can help me clean and I don’t have to
worry about them being around toxic chemicals.

::Our house is free of chemical cleaners; my allergies
have improved greatly since I cut own commercial cleaners.

::Making my own cleaners simplifies my life. I don’t
need to put the cleaner on a list, get to the store, bag it, unpack it and so
on. I just take out a few simple ingredients and make it myself when it is
convenient for me.

::Making cleaners is much better for the environment. No
more chemicals going into the water supply, no more empty containers being


The basic ingredients for making your own cleansers are
baking soda and white vinegar. Both can be purchased in bulk at discount
stores like Target and Wal-Mart, as well as wholesale clubs such as Costco and
Sam’s Club. If you just want to give a cleaner recipe a try, odds are
pretty good that you have enough on hand to make one or two cleaners.

key ingredients will be soap (either dish soap or liquid castile soap–found in
health food stores), olive oil, club soda, glycerin (look in pharmacies or
health food stores for vegetable glycerin), and sometimes borax (a powder
laundry aid found in the laundry aisle of your local store).

I prefer cleaner recipes that use essential oils. Tea tree
oil has antiseptic properties, scents like lemon, eucalyptus and lavender add a
lovely, clean scent and disguise the smell of the vinegar. You can add oils to
any cleaner recipe; the general rule is about 10 drops for a 16 ounce bottle,
but feel free to experiment. You can even mix scents. 

Purchasing essential oils will be the
bulk of your initial investment. These are available at health food stores and
some natural/health sections of large grocery stores for about $5 a bottle. The bottles are small, but you use only a few drops per recipe, so a little
goes a very long way, I promise! I have been making my own cleaners since 2000
and have only replaced three bottles of essential oils.

The book that I turn to again and again for cleaner recipes
is Clean House, Clean Planet:  Clean your house the safe, nontoxic way for
pennies a day
by Karen Logan. Check your library or PaperBackSwap for this book. It has over 100 recipes for just about any
cleaner you could need, including pest control. You can also find a lot of
recipes online by searching for  ‘homemade cleaners’ or ‘nontoxic
cleaner recipes’ on your favorite search engine. also has come great cleaner recipes
and cleaning tips.

Once you have the basic ingredients, it is time to find
containers to store your cleaning supplies. I used basic Spray Co bottles
found in the gardening section of Wal-Mart. I have also heard that stores such
as Fleet Farm or Home Depot have spray bottles as well.

I like the 16-ounce
bottles, as these are the most comfortable size for me to use and my kids can
use these as well. I mix my recipes right in the containers. No mess, no
fuss! For the first few years I just tried to get the ingredients into the bottle
from the measuring instruments, but I have found that using a funnel is easier.

Here are three of my favorite cleaner recipes, all are from the
book Clean House, Clean Planet

Club Clean Glass Cleaner–This is one of the easiest recipes around! To make glass cleaner, simply pour club soda into a spray bottle and put the
lid back on. Yes, it is that easy! I use this cleaner on windows, TVs,
computers, the washer and dryer tops, etc. You can wipe it off with a paper
towel or a microfiber cloth. 

Go Spot Go! Laundry Stain Remover–This cleaner smells so good! To
make it, simply put ¼ cup liquid dish detergent into a spray bottle. Add in ¼ cup vegetable glycerin and 1½ cups water and shake well before each

Diaper Pail Deodorizer–Just put some baking soda into a container, add about 3
drops of an essential oil, and stir with a fork or shake. Sprinkle this into
the diaper pail when you change the baby (especially after a really messy
diaper) to keep the smell from taking over.

To find more cleaner recipes and more cleaning tips, you can check out these other posts on my blog on bathroom
, kitchen
, carpet
and polishing
your furniture

Once you start making your own cleaners, you will realize
how useful the main ingredients to these cleaners really are and how much you
can use them to make a lot of household and personal hygiene solutions for
yourself. I hope that you will give making your own cleaners a try soon!

Michelle is a CPA turned stay-at-home mom to four. She challenges the excesses that society tells us
we need and experiments with living a simple, uncluttered life on her daily blog,
Leaving Excess

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  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been taking “baby steps” to going green, trying to get in the habit of doing one thing before I add something else, and I was considering making my own cleaners as one of my next steps. This is helpful!

  • Carrie says:

    I’m assuming that the club soda doesn’t have to still be fizzy, right? We drink club soda and often pour out as much as half a bottle when it’s not fizzy anymore. I tried using some fizzless soda on clothing stains and it worked ok but not as good as commercial stain remover.

    I wonder if i could add some coloring (and fragrance) to club soda to fool the cleaning lady. She’s not into using vinegar and baking soda.

  • Petra says:

    I was wondering if anyone had a good recipe for “homemade” dishwasher-detergent? I have been trying all kinds of different things, like Borax mixed with Washing Soda and Vinegar for the rinse, but its still like there is some kind of film on my dishes. Any suggestions, since Dishwasher detergent really cuts into our budget?
    Thanks in advance!!

  • Good post. This is how I clean. Cheap and Green! It’s safe around my kids, so I am all for it. Besides, baking soda cleans things better than any chemical ridden cleaner I’ve tried.

  • Ruth says:

    I really like the idea of home-made cleaners, particularly if they are less expensive and non-toxic, but I always wonder if they’re actually able to kill germs and sanitize properly?

    Would love to hear any thoughts or experiences others have!

  • Trixie says:

    Hi Michelle!

    Thanks for the great homemade cleaner tips. I can’t wait to make an all purpose counter cleaner that has lemon or lavender scent. So much better to smell nature’s scent than chemicals.

    Can’t wait to stop by your blog for a visit.



  • Captivated says:

    Very timely. Everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and this will definitely help. I especially love that you added recipes. I often see posts that suggest making your own cleaners but no instructions on how to follow. Thank you for breaking it down so clearly.

  • Amy says:

    A very helpful post. I’ve been trying to replace my chemical cleaners with “greener cleaners” as they run out. Thank you!

  • LANA says:

    Great recipes…also try this website for do-it-yourself stain removers…

  • Jaycie says:

    What perfect timing! I just got rid of all of my chemical cleaners and was going to do an online search for homemade cleaners. It was on my to-do list! You just saved me so much time! And I’m glad to know these do work. I’m going to have to invest in the spray bottles!! I have a little one that’s exploring and I don’t want any harmful chemicals in the house now! Thanks for the great posting!

  • Karen says:

    also check out the book: naturally clean home
    has great recipes for cleaning everything.

    Yes the homemade cleaners can kill germs. The different essential oils can kill them. They all have different properties…

  • Michelle says:

    Carrie: The club soda does not have to be fizzy. Scents would be fine to add. I have never tried coloring, though!

    Ruth: Add tea tree oil to your cleaners, it has antiseptic properties. Try about 10 drops per 16 ounces of liquid.

    Thanks to everyone for your comments – I sure appreciate it!

  • Michele says:

    Hello Michelle,

    I was reading your blog about making your own cleaning supplies. I must say that I have never thought of this before. However it is brilliant! I hate buying cleaning supplies because they are so darn expensive, but you have to get them. I will check out the book you suggested to see all the different types.
    I just recently reached a point where my finances are in jeopardy and I am in desperate need of cutting corners and spending wisely. Maybe you might have some help ideas for me to follow.
    I am a student and fulltime career person – I attend online school at Rasmussen Univeristy and just recently started blogging to tell my life as a student/working women. I just posted a blog about money cut backs and I would love if you checked out my blogs…This is all new to me and would love your feed back.
    Thanks Michele

  • Honey says:

    A few months ago there was a post on here about things you can make yourself and laundry detergent was on the list. I tried it and love it! Its so easy! I make the powdered kind-all you do is grate a bar of soap and mix two other powders with it. A couple of us at my house must use dye free/fragrance free detergent or we itch all night!!! These tend to be even more expensive than the already ridiculously expensive detergents. Now I only buy detergent when it is $1-$2 (like this week at Walgreens).

  • sherrill says:

    If you spray vinegar and then hydrogen peroxide on counters or cutting board, it will kill the germs. I read this on It is a very interesting healthy living site ran by a M.D.

  • Very cool…I will give some of these a try!

  • Lee Scott says:

    I have also been cutting out my cleaners as they have been running out. Target also carries those bottles to mix cleaners in and they have different colored lids. I feel that this is a big step for us with a house full of skin allergies this will be so helpful!

  • I have been using a vinegar/water/lemon juice combo the last few months. It cleans real well, but even with the lemon juice it just smells so horrible that I have to air the room out for quite a while. Any suggestions?

    I have to admit though that I bought all those FREEBIE cleaners at Walgreens this past week, so looks like it will be Windex for a while. HaHa

  • Saver Queen says:

    This is a great post! My only “natural” cleaner so far has more or less consisted of vinegar, so these are some great suggestions. You don’t have to buy new spritz bottles either, if you save and reuse the ones you have from other products. My suggestion is to make sure to label the bottles so you don’t mix up your products! I do have one question: where do you buy vegetable glycerine? Thanks again 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    A Frugal Friend: Try using lemon essential oil – if you use lemon juice, the mixture needs to be refrigerated. The smell may not be as powerful as the essential oil, that may be your issue. Try about 15 drops for a 16 ounce bottle.

    Saver Queen: I purchase vegetable glycerine at the health food store or our local co-op.

  • cassie says:

    i am going to try this. thanks for posting! 🙂

  • Jenna says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing.

  • Katherine says:

    One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to begin using green cleaners and everything I’ve tried so far has worked as well as or better than commercial varieties. I just refill my commercial cleaner bottles with a similar variety of green cleaner, ie.409 with a multi-purpose green cleaner etc.

  • Connie S says:

    I’ve been cleaning w/ vinegar for a couple months now and overall i’m very happy with it. However, a couple weeks ago my toilet bowl brush turned bright orange dispite pouring straight vinegar on it to “disinfect” it. I never had this problem when using conventional cleaners so i’m wondering if the straight vinegar isn’t a good disinfectant for the toilet. It was so bad I had to replace the bowl brush! Has anyone else had this problem? The outside of the toilet (and the inside as of this week) and cleaning up after raw meat and eggs are the only times I can’t bring myself to use vinegar anymore.

  • Brandi says:

    Loveeee your blog! I actually had found some similar “green cleaning” ideas on Martha Stuart and was gonna put them up on my site soon, but looks like you`ve done it for me. Great list, you even had some additional ones I wasn`t aware of 🙂

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