Everything you need to make your own cleaning products

Lemons make a great disinfectant.
Photo by Tirza van Dijk on Unsplash

Have you been staring at empty space on the shelves where your favorite degreaser should be? This year has most of us cleaning more frequently, and sometimes that means demand outstrips supply where we like to shop.

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Learning to be a bit more self-sufficient never hurt anyone, right? Besides, you can make better and safer cleaning products at home than you can find in the store.

How can you make household cleaners at home?

We tend to think manufacturing processes are inaccessible to us, but they’re not.

With just a few basic ingredients, most of which you probably already have, you can make cleaning products for any surface in your home. They’re eco-friendly and just as effective at killing germs as any commercial chemical cleaner.

And it’s so cheap and easy to make them. You don’t need to pay consumer prices for cleaning products if you keep a few common items around.

Ingredients you need to make household cleaners

Baking soda. It’s a masked crusader against unpleasant odors and works well on proteins and grease.

Washing soda. Completely different from baking soda. Nature’s Nurture tells you how to make it if you can’t find it at the store.

Hydrogen peroxide. It breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen, so there’s no guilt involved in taking advantage of its oxygenating powers.

Lemons. Ever get lemon juice in your eye? Imagine how bacteria feel swimming naked in it.

Salt. Salt is a desiccant that kills microorganisms that can make you sick. It’s also abrasive enough to sand dried food off of metal surfaces (like cast iron) but not hard enough to scratch them.

Borax. While everyone agrees Borax is natural, they don’t agree that it’s entirely safe. According to Healthline, Borax can be used safely.

Essential oils. There are so many to choose from, and they make your homemade cleaners smell fantastic in a clean way, not in a harsh or cloying synthetic fragrancey way. Even better, some essential oils like oregano and tea tree have antimicrobial properties and are great to use when you’re making a disinfectant.

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. This is one of the most popular products for killing viruses, bacteria, and mold.

Distilled white vinegar. For most surfaces. And to dissolve stubborn calcium and lime build-up, like the unsightly crust around your faucets.

Castile soap. Dr. Bronner’s is a popular example of this gentle soap made from all-natural ingredients. It’s so mild you can use it to clean anything. Use it on surfaces like stone that are damaged by the acid in vinegar.

That’s it!

Save money, reduce your exposure to caustic chemicals, and keep plastic bottles out of the ocean. Sounds great, right? But you need recipes, so I’ve grabbed three for you.

Bonus: Recipes for three essential cleaners you won’t want to do without

1. All-purpose cleaner

One part white vinegar (or Castile soap) to one part water. Add a few drops of antimicrobial essential oils like oregano or tea tree for extra disinfectant power or just to give your concoction a pleasant aroma. If you grow herbs, throw in a sprig of rosemary or some basil to infuse the mixture with their oils.

Note that this cleaner won’t be safe for marble or granite surfaces if you make it with vinegar.

2. Streak-free glass cleaner

$4 will get you ounces of commercial glass cleaner.

It’ll also get you 32 ounces of isopropyl alcohol. I don’t want to call the water company to ask how much 32 ounces of water from the tap would be, so let’s say it’s free. You can get 64 ounces of white vinegar for $1.50.

The recipe is simple:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup isopropyl alcohol
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

That works out to be 104 oz for about $6. And you get to stop 

3. Metal and stone cleaners

To clean stainless steel: Just make a paste with baking soda and water, like you would for a bee sting. Apply it with a damp cloth and gently wipe along the grain. The wipe with a clean damp cloth.

To clean stone surfaces: Add half a teaspoon or so of Castile soap to 2 cups of water. Stir gently to avoid frothing. Remember to wipe down with a damp cloth afterward, and they’ll dry residue-free.

Notes

For recipes that list white vinegar, you can substitute Castile soap. Vinegar is perfectly safe and effective, but it can damage marble or granite countertops. And it makes your house smell like a salt and vinegar potato chip factory.

If you clean with any recipes containing Castile soap, remember to wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth afterward, so there’s no residue.

Make sure to label your cleaners. I cleaned our entire kitchen with something that smelled lightly lemony and found out later it was homemade furniture polish. And even though they’re natural, keep them safely stored as you would bleach and ammonia.

Do you have any recipes of your own to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

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