Homemade Cleaners You Can Make with Ingredients from Your Pantry

ingredients for laundry detergent
Photo: Steven McDonald

Some of the best household cleaners come from ingredients you already have in your pantry. Whip up your own homemade cleaners that are easy on your wallet and on the earth. Get our natural cleaning recipes for homemade air freshener, window and glass cleaner, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and more.

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Must-Have Natural Cleaning Essentials

shelf of cleaning supplies
Steven McDonald

Stock your cleaning caddy with these household ingredients. Many of these natural cleaning ingredients can be used on their own or in any number of DIY natural cleaning products.

  • Baking sodaworks 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 stains from coffee, rust, and tea. It's typically sold at a 5% 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 olive oil or a vegetable base and is available unscented or scented.
02 of 13

Homemade Cleaner Tricks

natural cleaning ingredients
Steven McDonald

In addition to having the right homemade cleaning ingredients, a few tricks can make it easier to clean your home the green way:

  • Clean containers: Store homemade cleaning products in unused, clean containers. Never use bottles that once held chemicals. To keep your family safe, label homemade cleaners when you make them, 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 to ensure the cleaner doesn't damage or mar the material.
  • When to skip vinegar: 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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Carpet Deodorizer

baking soda corn starch oil mix
Jacob Fox

Mix together a homemade carpet deodorizer to freshen up area rugs and floors. This DIY natural cleaning recipe works with any essential oil, so choose one that smells best to you.

What You Need:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 5 drops of any essential oil

Combine the baking soda and cornstarch in a medium bowl, then add 5 drops of your favorite essential oil ($7, Target). Stir to combine the ingredients, and pour the mixture into a Mason jar using a funnel. Using a hammer and nail, punch small holes into the jar's lid. Sprinkle the homemade deodorizer onto carpets as needed. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before vacuuming up.

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Must-Try Homemade Cleaners

Ditch the chemicals! These homemade cleaning solutions will help you achieve a sparkling space with ingredients from around the house. Water becomes a powerhouse when paired with microfiber cloths and our technique, lemon is a saving grace for gunky pans—and more! Baking soda and vinegar can also tackle any number of jobs.

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Homemade Air Freshener

citrus, herbs and cinnamon
Steven McDonald

Make your home smell amazing naturally! 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 in this natural cleaning recipe 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

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

ingredients for laundry detergent
Steven McDonald

Skip expensive detergents and save money with these simple laundry recipes.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:

  • 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 ($4, Walmart)
  • 1 cup oxygen bleach

Grate bar of laundry soap; you should have about 2 cups of 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:

  • 1 gallon distilled white vinegar
  • 25-30 drops essential oil (optional)

Add the drops to the container of vinegar. Use ¼ cup in the rinse cycle.

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Homemade Grout Cleaner

Don't miss these tips on how to easily clean grout and prolong the life of your tile. Although you'll find plenty of commercial grout cleaners, you can also use baking soda to give your grout a good natural cleaning. Watch and see more ways to get grout looking new again.

08 of 13

Homemade Upholstery-Freshening Spray

upholstery spray natural ingredients
Steven McDonald

Eliminate odors from upholstery with this DIY natural cleaning product. Baking soda absorbs unpleasant smells 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:

  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 10 drops essential oil, such as lavender
  • 1½ cups water

Use a funnel to add the baking soda to a 12-ounce spray bottle ($12, The Container Store). 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

vodka and essential oil air freshener
Steven McDonald

Skip the store-bought sprays, which can be irritating to people who are sensitive to smells or chemicals. Instead, try this DIY natural cleaning product, which requires just three ingredients.

What You Need:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 10-20 drops essential oil

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

Note: Vodka is a favorite for homemade cleaners. It 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

homemade glass cleaner
Steven McDonald

Get a streak-free sparkle with this simple homemade 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
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dish soap

Add all ingredients to a 24-ounce spray bottle. Shake to combine. Use on windows or glass fronts of appliances. Beyond this basic recipe, you can also call on rubbing alcohol and even dish soap for alternative homemade window cleaners.

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Homemade Natural Floor Cleaner

mopping tile floor
Jason Donnelly

Vinegar is the go-to ingredient to clean floors the natural way. Use it as a natural cleaning product to get floors spic and span.

What You Need:

  • 1 gallon distilled water
  • ½ cup vinegar

Mix together distilled water and vinegar in a bucket and use to mop your floors.

Note: Vinegar and other acidic cleaners should not be used on stone floors.

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Homemade Carpet Stain Remover

organized homemade cleaning supplies on shelf

BHG / Laura Wheatley

Carpets are soft and fluffy underfoot, but unfortunately, the material is absorbent and prone to staining. However, natural carpet stain removing products, such as club soda and hydrogen peroxide, can come to the rescue. It's important to match the type of stain to the kind of cleaner you use. For example, this carpet stain remover recipe is effective on protein-based stains like blood, bodily fluids, dairy products, baby formula, eggs, and baby food.

What You Need:

Mix ingredients into a paste and apply to the stained area. Let it dry for 24 hours and vacuum. The paste kills bacteria and acts as a deodorizer as it removes the stain. After vacuuming, clean the area with water to remove residue. Blot well with a clean, dry cloth. Always test in an inconspicuous spot first.

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Homemade Dusting Spray

woman using lemon cleaning spray
Hero Images/Getty Images

Easily wipe away dust with a DIY spray from green cleaning specialist Leslie Reichert.

What You Need:

  • 3 cups of water
  • Two tea bags
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Boil the water, add the tea bags, and let the mix cool. Put the mixture into a spray bottle with a teaspoon of lemon juice. To use, lightly spray the mixture on a microfiber cloth and dust.

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