How to Make Green Household Cleaners

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green natural household cleaners

Take a look under your kitchen sink and how many bottles, boxes, and sprays of cleaning “stuff” do you have down there?

Three? Five? Ten? Just for the fun of it, I actually did this last year when I finally decided to get serious about using greene household cleaners.

I counted 9 different products under my sink! Everything from Windex and Clorox Wipes to Comet and Lysol; and that’s without me looking under our bathroom sink! Pretty much your typical collection of go-to cleaners for whatever crazy mess I may ever imagine to encounter in our home. :)

When I began finding green, frugal alternatives for cleaning and disinfecting our home, those nasty, toxic cleaners started disappearing, one by one. Would you believe it if I told you that you could replace everything under your sink with just a few non-toxic, cheap household products? Check out our green household cleaners below:

Green Household Cleaners

Vinegar, Baking Soda, Peroxide, Alcohol (not pictured), Borax, Washing Soda, Essential Oils


 

All-Purpose Cleaner & Disinfectant

A spray bottle with 50/50 solution of water and vinegar + a few drops of essential oil (tea tree or lavender)

Uses: counter-tops, stove-tops, floors, sinks, anywhere that could use a good wipe-down

Replaced: Clorox Wipes, Lysol, Swiffer Wet
NOTE: Don’t use this on marble/granite as the vinegar will eat away at it and may permanently etch the surface. See granite countertop cleaner below!

EDIT: I have also begun using my new and improved All-Purpose Cleaner 2.0! It’s great on laminate floors, windows, and stainless steel appliances! For the complete recipe, follow this link: Homemade Floor (And All-Purpose) Cleaner

Granite Countertop Cleaner

Though it’s tempting to use the all-purpose cleaner on your granite countertops, it should NOT be used since it contains vinegar, which can cause etching on the surface over time (lemon juice is also a no-no). So here’s what has worked for me:
Just fill a spray bottle with alcohol and a few drops of dish soap, then top off with water. For the complete recipe, follow this link: Homemade Granite Cleaner

Uses: granite counter-tops

All-Natural Anti-Bacterial Spray

homemade natural antibacterial sprayA spray bottle with some water and a few drops of essential oils. For the complete recipe, follow this link: All-Natural Anti-Bacterial Spray. I just spray this on surfaces after I’ve cleaned them for extra disinfecting action. Mostly on bathroom surfaces – just spray and let air-dry.

Uses: kitchen and bathroom surfaces in need of extra disinfecting action

Replaced: Lysol Disinfecting Spray

Scouring Scrub

Spray with All-Purpose Cleaner, sprinkle with baking soda, and a squirt or two of soap, then scrub with a sponge/brush, and rinse clean.

Uses: sinks, bath tubs, toilet bowls, stove-tops, anything that could use some scrubbing action.

Replaced: Comet, Scrubbing Bubbles 

Glass Cleaner

A spray bottle filled with 50/50 solution of water and vinegar, or
A spray bottle filled with 3 parts water and 1 part alcohol, or
My All-Purpose Cleaner 2.0 which includes water, alcohol, vinegar, and a couple drops of dish soap

Replaced: Windex

NOTE: I just spray it on the glass/mirrors/windows, then wipe up with a microfiber cloth – and never get streaks!

Fruit/Vegetable Wash

homemade vegetable wash

One of two options:

For one or two items, I spray them with a 50/50 solution of vinegar/water, let them sit for a few minutes, rub them very well, then rinse with water.

For a bigger batch, fill a bowl with water and add 1/4 cup vinegar or peroxide + 2 tablespoons salt. Soak for 5-10 minutes then rinse very well

NOTE: Try to only wash what you will use immediately, otherwise, any remaining bacteria could start growing again.

Are you washing grapes? Check out my post on how to wash grapes the right way!

Just look at all the nasty stuff that will float to the top of the water:

Cutting Board Disinfectant/Deodorizer

After cleaning with soap/water, sprinkle with baking soda, then spray with undiluted vinegar. Let it foam and bubble for 5-10 minutes, then rinse with cold water. If you’re in a hurry, you can just wash it with some peroxide to quickly disinfect it. Finish it off with a nice scent by either rubbing it with half a lemon or using a spray bottle filled with water and 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil (natural disinfectant) – just spray it on and let it air dry.

Drain Cleaner

Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1 cup vinegar down the drain. When the bubbling stops, flush it with hot water. After about 5 minutes, flush again with cold water.

Replaced: Drain-O/Liquid Plumber

Floor Cleaner

natural homemade floor cleanerTo clean your laminate wood (and tile!) floors with a streak-free shine, make up a solution of water, vinegar, alcohol, a few drops of dish soap and essential oils. View the full post here for the complete recipe: Homemade Floor (And All-Purpose) Cleaner. This also works great for stainless steel appliances and glass/windows!

Replaced: Pine-Sol & Stainless Steel cleaner

Carpet Cleaner

Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum. For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.

Replaced: Resolve Carpet Cleaner

Dishwasher Detergent & Rinse Aid

Mix 1 cup each of borax and washing soda and 1/4 cup each of citric acid and kosher salt. Use 1-2 tablespoons in the detergent compartment.  To give your dishes a spotless shine, add some vinegar to the rinse aid compartment.

Replaced: Cascade detergent & Finish rinse aid


Well, that’s my list of green household cleaners, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to it! So, who’s ready to kick out at least one commercial cleaner from under the sink and replace it with something on this list? Do you have any other recipes to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you :)

Where can you buy washing soda?

Washing is not the same as baking soda. Here are some places you can find it:
  • in the laundry aisle
  • in the pool cleaner aisle at Walmart, brand name is AquaChem. Just make sure the only ingredient listed is sodium carbonate!
  • call this phone number 1-800-524-1328 and have the UPC code 33200-03020. The service will ask for your zip code and then tell you places in your area that sell the item.
  • you can make your own by cooking baking soda in the oven until it becomes washing soda!

Where to Buy Essential Oils

My absolute favorite place to purchase essential oils is through Mountain Rose Herbs. They’re very high quality oils and very affordable. I’ve also purchased them locally at my nearest health foods store, or online at Amazon. Just make sure that whatever you buy is labeled as essential oils, and NOT fragrance oils.  *NOTE: Essential oils are very potent and should be used with caution. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have any health issues, please consult your health care provider prior to using essential oils. If possible, seek the professional help of a licensed aromatherapist.

 Image: lusi

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Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, , began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Comments

  1. Michelle says

    What can I clean my granite countertops with? I am glad you told me about the vinegar. That is what I was using!

    • Sarah says

      Hi Michelle, I just did a quick search for you, and it looks like alcohol works well. Just fill a quart-size spray bottle with 1/4 cup alcohol and a few drops of dish soap, swirl to combine, then top off with water. You may want to add some essential oils to help mask the alcohol smell.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if it works (since I don’t have granite to test it on), and I’ll add this new info to the post! :)

      • Michelle says

        Works like a charm!! Thanks soooooo much! I really don’t mind the smell as the alcohol evaporates really fast and doesn’t last long.

    • Sarah says

      Hi Jamie, no washing soda is not the same as baking soda, and they cannot be interchanged. Washing soda is sodium carbonate (whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate). You can usually find washing soda in the laundry aisle of your grocery store, and more likely than not, it will be from Arm-n-Hammer. If you can’t find it in a store near you, you can call the company and they’ll tell you the nearest place to your location. Call this phone number 1-800-524-1328 and have the UPC code 33200-03020. The service will ask for your zip code and then tell you places in your area that sell the item.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Mimi says

    For those who can’t find the washing soda in your area, google how to make washing soda from baking soda. I came across the info several months ago. It actually works, my only suggestion is make sure you have your oven vent fan on when you do it and to do it in small batches :)

  3. Julia says

    Where can you find lavendar oil? I’m with you that I can’t handle too much vinegar smell, but I don’t know where to look for the oils you meniton.

    • Sarah says

      I’ve just added this to the end of the post, but you can find essential oils at any health food store that sells organic or natural products. If you can’t find a store near you, you can always purchase them online. Mountain Rose Herbs has really good quality oils. Hope that helps!

      • Rev Jess Tatz says

        Please be careful with essential oils. I’ve studied them intensely and still am studying them. By law (U.S. law) essential oils are labeled as if they are perfumes so the manufacturer can say they’re 100% pure when actually only 20% is pure … so weird. Anyway, don’t use it if you can’t ingest it or use it on your skin READ THE LABELS and fine print. Young Living is the only brand I trust for the full line of oils they carry. Other brands are good as well but some of their oils in the line they carry might be adulterated.
        Thanks Sarah for this wonderful work you’re doing!

  4. says

    I tried the vinegar/salt mixture to clean pet urine stains from the carpet. It did not work and my room smelled worse than ever. Stains actually looked darker too. I did not try the borax in the mixture yet. Where do get Borax from? Also, if anyone has suggestions on how to remove pet urine stains from carpets I would be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL!!!

      • Casie says

        Hello Farrah, my mother had great success with a product called “FOLEX Instant Carpet Spot Remover”. She tried it on a cream colored area rug with an old cat urine stain. The smell and color are completely gone and there was no damage to the rug! The spray is safe enough for you to use your finger to rub in! My mom found it at a local Food Lion grocery store and here is the website: http://www.folex.net. Hope this helps.

    • Amanda says

      mix 1 bottle peroxide with 1 cup of baking soda and 1 tbsp of dish soap….. thoroughly saturate the stain, scrub it in and wait till it dried and vacuum up the soda….. OR if the accident is fresh (ie still wet) sprinkle baking soda, and spray with vinegar, cover the area with an old plate or something similar (to protect it) and let it sit over night, vacuum up yellowed soda in the morning

    • Sarah says

      Thanks for sharing your link, Kendra! I do love castile soap and all it’s versatile uses. Some folks have mentioned making a citrus enzyme mix by steeping orange peels in vinegar for a couple weeks and shaking the jar every once in a while – it’s supposed to help with the vinegar smell. I’m going to try it and test it out some time.

  5. Sheri says

    Do you know what I can use to clean an acrylic tub? I have to be careful of what I use because it scratches easy. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Sarah says

      Hi Sheri! I believe borax (or plain old baking sofa) would be a safe scouring agent that won’t scratch the surface. Maybe adding a little to some warm water and scrubbing with a soft sponge. You could even add some vinegar to the mix for extra mold/mildew removal power. If using borax, I would advise wearing gloves to protect your hands. Also, I would test out a small spot just to be sure before doing the rest of the tub. Hope that helps and let us know how it worked out!

  6. Ashley says

    Is there anything I should not use this all purpose cleaner on? I read it wouldn’t be good for granite and marble counters. Is this true?

    • Sarah says

      Hey Ashley, I thought I included this on the post but guess not. Yes, you can’t use anything acidic (like vinegar or lemon juice) on granite because it will eat away at the finish and cause etching overtime.

      I made a granite cleaner for my mom a couple weeks back and will post it soon, but it’s basically 1 cup water + 1/4 cup alcohol + few drops dish soap + few drops essential oil.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Mrs Martinez says

    I made dishwasher soap. Unfortunately, it didn’t clean as good as my old Cascade. Well, back to Cascade. As soon I will finish my Jet dry in dishwasher I will try to use vinegar instead.
    All purpose cleaner and dry laundry soap are working perfect. Thank you.

  8. Rachel says

    Fabulous! I have extreme sensitivity to chemicals, and most commercial cleaners will put me into a severe asthma attack. I can’t wait to try these recipes.

  9. Marie says

    I use your dishwasher detergent. And it does not work, it leaves a film over all my dishes. Am I doing something wrong?

  10. Charlene says

    This is a great post! Thanks so much for your time and effort.
    Here’s one I use when cleaning the outside of my windows.
    It is safe for plants and they can even benefit b/c some ingredients add minerals back; the plants also benefit because it is a mild pesticide. It is safe because it is diluted in water & diluted again when you rinse with a hose.
    Dissolve 1/4 C Epsom salts and 1/3 C borax in 2 gal warm water. Stir in 1 tsp Dawn dish detergent, 3/4 C rubbing alcohol and 1/4 C ammonia (ammonia can be replaced with vinegar–but vinegar is a known to kill all vegetation it comes in contact with).
    I use a fluffy telescoping car washing brush dunk in the bucket, wash 1 window and rinse immediately.

    I especially like ingredients that have lots of applications for different cleaners/detergents & many times health needs. All these ingredients do that.

  11. says

    Thank you for sharing your vegetable/fruit cleaner! I am wondering what to do when there are lots of apples to wash, but they keep floating in the sink/bowl/whatever. I tried turning them over, but it seemed they all preferred that same side to be facing up. Also they seemed to still be waxy all over after I pulled them from their “bath”. (I used a sink of water with I think a cup of vinegar…this was before I found this blog.) I would love to be able to have a bowl of apples on the table for the kids to get into whenever they wanted without freaking out about what might be on them. Please help! Thank you!

    • says

      Hmm, good question…I never wash that many apples at one time, but the few that I do wash, I take a potato scrubber to them because they’re so darn waxy! I also swish them around in the soaking water a few times as well.

  12. Sharon says

    re: Dishwasher detergent

    I tried this recipe; however it seems to clump terribly. any ideas what I’m doing wrong? I do store it under the sink if the moisture there is causing it.

    Thanks,

    • says

      You may need to add one of those silica packets to your container to absorb the moisture, You know those little white packets with round beads that come with a new pair of shoes or a new purse? Another option is to just keep out the citric acid from the original recipe, then add it in (1 tsp.) with each load. Otherwise, you can try add some rice wrapped in a cheesecloth, but I’ve found that doesn’t work as well. You also want to store it in the driest possible place.

  13. Amit says

    Hello,

    i have a laminate parquet floor and my cleaner used washing powder with water to mop it. The floor now looks very dirty. we have tried mopping the floor with water several times but in vain. can you please suggest a solution.

    Thanks,

  14. Stephanie says

    Great post! Thank you! I was wondering what water hardness you have in your area for the dishwashing powder, as we have very hard water here (100) so I don’t know if this will alter the effectiveness/ratio for salt & citric acid?

    • says

      Ooh, I really don’t know. I never really had it tested. I would just start with the base recipe and kind of adjust from there – that’s kind of what we have to do for a lot of homemade products. :-) Good luck!

  15. Mac says

    Regarding the dishwasher detergent. Why citric acid? Can I leave it out. I’m not all that comfortable with it . Lots of controversy…GMO, etc.
    Thanks.

    • says

      The citric acid is added to help cut grease and reduce clouding on dishes. You can certainly leave it out and see how it goes – depending on your water type, you may not even need it!

  16. Stephanie says

    Hi! Interested in making the cleaner for the granite counter tops. I’ve been using vinegar/water for awhile now, not even realizing it will be harmful :( so thanks for pointing that out!
    You mention alcohol… and also mention it in your picture of your 9 common ingredients but it is not shown. Just wanting to clarify is this rubbing alcohol?
    Just bought a big pack of Finish that’s going to last well over a year. Bookmarking this for when it’s all done!

  17. julie j. says

    Thanks for posting! Where do you get the Citric Acid, online at Amazon for a 5lb its expensive. What and Where to look for??

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