Make Your Own DIY Household Cleaners For Pennies

I don’t love cleaning. OK, I kind of despise it.  But what I always hated more was the idea that I was using chemicals in my home that were possibly damaging to my family and/or the environment.  And the fumes just give me a headache.

So, years ago, I swapped out some of the cleaners I regularly bought for natural ones I mixed up at home.  I used ingredients that could often be bought for a dollar or less… and were already in my cabinets anyway.  Since then, there has been an explosion of natural cleaning brands on the market.  Some are great, but they tend to be pricey.  I find that my homemade cleaners work as well, if not better, than many of them.

I will admit that when I go too long between cleanings, sometimes there’s nothing like some strong chemicals to do the job.  But if I keep on schedule, my homemade cleaners are fantastic!  And I don’t feel guilty cleaning with my toddler around.

Here are a few recipes you can whip up for, literally, pennies.

household cleanersA couple of caveats: Test a small area first to make sure your surfaces won’t be discolored or damaged.  Also, if you start experimenting with cleaners at home, NEVER mix ammonia and bleach — the fumes that result can be lethal.

All-Purpose Cleaner
I use this for counters and other non-porous surfaces.  I also use it as a spot remover on my linoleum kitchen floor.
3 parts water
1 part vinegar
a squirt of hand dishwashing liquid
(optional) a few drops of lemon juice, tea tree oil, or other essential oil

Shake ingredients together well in a spray bottle Spray surfaces and wipe off.  On tough spots, let sit for a couple of minutes before wiping.

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Linoleum or Tile Floor Cleaner
2 gallons hot water
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup vinegar
a squirt or two of hand dishwashing liquid
(optional) a few drops of pine oil or lemon juice
Mix well and mop.  No need to rinse.

Pot Scrubbers
These methods were especially helpful when I left veggies to cook in a steamer pot, not realizing that all the water had boiled off.  When I saw what I had done to the bottom of the pot, I was sure it was going to have to be thrown away.  It was really bad.  But after much scrubbing and these methods, I saved my pot and it looks just like new!
1) Make a thick paste of baking soda, salt, and water.  Coat the burnt surface.  Let sit overnight and scrub, scrub, again!
2) Boil a solution of 2 tbsp baking soda per quart of water in the pot or pan for several minutes.
Let stand until particles start to loosen and scrub.

Carpet Deodorizer
3/4 cup baking soda
2 tbsp corn starch
Mix and sprinkle into your carpet.  Let it sit overnight and vacuum up the next day.

Toilet Cleaner
Sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl.  Add vinegar.  Scour with a toilet
I also find castille soap (try Dr. Brommer’s) works really well — makes it nice and sparkly clean — and some varieties smell great, too!

Drain Cleaner
Tip: Pour boiling water down your drains as often as you can to keep them clear of residue.
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
Boiling water

Pour baking soda down the drain.  Add white vinegar.  After five minutes, pour boiling water down the drain.  Don’t use this method if you’ve already used other chemicals to clear the drain.

Fabric Softener
1/2 cup vinegar
Add to last rinse cycle of your wash in a top-loading machine.  In a front loader, start with a few tablespoons and work your way up.

Clothing Stain Remover
(for stubborn stains on whites)
Wet stain with water or lemon juice and hang in direct sunlight.
Yes, this actually works!  This was the only way I was able to get tough diaper blowout stains out of my son’s clothes when he was a baby.

Are you sensing a pattern here? Vinegar –disinfects and cleans.  Baking Soda— deoderizes, cleans, and works as an abrasive.  Together, they react and work wonders.  Salt, lemon, essential oils, castille soap, hot water, sunlight…they’re all traditional cleaning methods.  Experiment with these super cheap (or free) ingredients for all your cleaning needs!

What DIY home cleaners have you used?

About Olive

Olive is a mom "living the dream" in the Pacific Northwest. She blogs occasionally at Veganized.

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  1. My husband and I did the drain cleaner recipe… Oy! Remember those volcano science projects that were done in school? Well with the drain, my husband had to use many strength to keep the lid on top of the drain opening. But the stuff works better than ANY commercial drain cleaner out there. And it was only pennies to make the stuff.

    Works especially well for those women with long hair…

  2. Great tips. I’ve also heard to freeze ice cubes of vinegar and run them through the garbage disposal to give that a scrubbing. Never tried it though.

  3. Another way to get stuff of the bottom of a pot is to boil water and a squirt of dish soap in it. Obviously only works on stovetop-safe things, but it’s awesome.