8 Amazing Homemade Cleaners

Whip up your own homemade cleaners that are easy on your wallet and on the earth. Get our recipes for homemade air freshener, laundry detergent, laundry rinse aid, upholstery-freshening spray, all-purpose cleaner, and window and glass cleaner.

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    Must-Have Essentials

    Stock your natural-cleaning pantry with these staples:

    Baking soda works best on proteins, grease, and animal messes, and because it's only slightly abrasive, it can scour surfaces without fear of scratching. It's also a natural deodorizer and less expensive than commercial scrubbing powders.

    Distilled white vinegar works on alkaline substances by dissolving scale, inhibiting mold, and cutting soap scum. A mild acid, it's terrific for removing coffee, rust, and tea stains. It's typically sold at a 5 percent concentration, but it's more effective at higher concentrations, so pay attention to the fine print.

    Hydrogen peroxide is simply water with an extra oxygen molecule (H₂O₂). It breaks down into harmless oxygen and water, so it's a more eco-friendly alternative to chlorine bleach.

    Borax is an alkali that's good for cutting grease, oil, and dirt.

    Essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and lemongrass enhance a cleaner's scent. Tea tree oil is also naturally antibacterial.

    Castile soap is available in liquid or bar form and helps rinse dirt away. It's made with an olive oil or a vegetable base and is available unscented or scented.





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    Must-Know Homemade Cleaner Tricks

    Containers: Use clean containers for storing homemade products. Never use bottles that once held chemicals. Label concoctions when you make them to keep your family safe, and ensure you use the right solution for the application.

    Test It: Before you spray a cleaner on any surface, test first in a hidden area. Never use vinegar solutions on stone surfaces such as granite or marble, cast iron, aluminum, or waxed surfaces. The acid in the vinegar can etch, pit, and strip finishes or otherwise damage these surfaces.

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    Must-Try Homemade Cleaners

    Ditch the chemicals! These homemade cleaning solutions will help you achieve a sparkling space with ingredients you already own.

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    Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

    Wiping nonporous kitchen and bathroom counters with this effective spray won't feel like a chore. Plus, it reduces germs and leaves the whole room smelling fresh and clean.

    What You Need:

    3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide

    1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

    1 teaspoon unscented liquid Castile soap

    10 drops tea tree oil

    20 drops lavender essential oil

    2 cups water

    Instructions: Add all ingredients to a 24-ounce spray bottle; shake before use. Use for general cleaning needs. For an extra boost when removing mildew and soap buildup, spray first, then sprinkle on baking soda and scrub with a sponge. 

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    Homemade Air Freshener

    Simmering a pot of ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen is a simple way to make the whole house smell divine. Vary the citrus and herbs to create new scents, such as orange-basil, lemon-rosemary, or lime-lavender.

    What You Need: 

    2-3 oranges, lemons, and/or limes, sliced

    Handful fresh herbs such as basil, rosemary, or lavender

    2-4 cinnamon sticks

    1 teaspoon whole cloves

    Instructions: Place ingredients in a medium saucepan. Fill about three-fourths full with water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer to infuse the house with a naturally fresh aroma. (Do not leave unattended.) The mixture can be stored once overnight: Place it in an airtight jar or container and refrigerate, then boil and simmer again the next day.

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    Homemade Laundry Detergent and Rinse Aid

    Skip expensive detergents and save money with this simple recipe.

    What You Need:

    1 bar laundry soap (We like brands such as FelsNaptha, Pink Zote, and Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap.)

    1 cup borax

    1 cup washing soda (Look for it in the laundry aisle.)

    1 cup oxygen bleach  

    Instructions: Grate bar of laundry soap; you should have about 2 cups grated soap. (Or look for soap flakes online.) Mix all ingredients in a large container. Store in a lidded jar. Use 2 tablespoons for a light load and 4 tablespoons for a large or dirty load. Wash as normal. 

    Homemade Rinse Aid:

    What You Need:

    1 gallon distilled white vinegar

    25-30 drops essential oil (optional)

    Instructions: Add the drops to the container of vinegar. Use 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle.

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    Homemade Grout Cleaner

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    Homemade Upholstery-Freshening Spray

    Banish stenches from upholstery with this spray. Baking soda absorbs unpleasant odors while essential oils refresh the air. Customize the strength of the scent by varying the type and amount of essential oils used.

    What You Need:

    1/4 cup baking soda

    10 drops essential oil, such as lavender

    1-1/2 cups water

    Instructions: Use a funnel to add the baking soda to a 12-ounce spray bottle. Add the essential oil. Fill the bottle with water and shake gently to combine. Test on a small, inconspicuous area of upholstery (such as on the back or under a cushion) to ensure it won't leave a mark. Spray over upholstery whenever it needs freshening.

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    Homemade Spray Air Freshener

    Skip the store-bought sprays, which can be irritating to people who are sensitive to smells or chemicals, and make a natural version at home with just three ingredients. 

    What You Need:

    3 cups water

    1 cup vodka

    10-20 drops essential oil

    Instructions: Add all ingredients to a 32-ounce spray bottle and mist into the air as needed.

    Trick: Vodka contains ethyl alcohol, a main ingredient in many store-bought air fresheners. Any kind of vodka will work, so there's no need to spring for a top-shelf bottle.

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    Homemade Window and Glass Cleaner

    Get a streak-free sparkle with this simple cleaner, and enjoy a better view through your windows. Invest in a small stack of soft cotton or microfiber cloths for best results. 

    What You Need:

    2 cups water

    1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

    1/2 teaspoon dish soap

    Instructions: Add all ingredients to a 24-ounce spray bottle. Shake to combine. Use on windows or glass fronts of appliances.


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