Good news: Store-bought cleaners aren’t the only effective way to clean your home.

Whether your goal is to eliminate potentially harmful chemicals, cut costs, go eco-friendly, or a combination of all three, making your own homemade cleaners is a snap.

Plus, most homemade cleaners can be made in the amount of time it would take to go to the store with stuff you already have on hand.

From the planet to making the most of your paycheck, there are plenty of reasons to go homemade when it comes to cleaners.

They’re health and eco-friendly

DIY cleaners are more environmentally-friendly than most cleaning products, especially those in plastic containers. Some cleaners contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to your health and to the planet.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution ranks among the top environmental dangers, much of which comes from everyday cleaning products.

The EPA notes that health effects associated with indoor air pollutants include:

Despite the effects of exposure to indoor air pollutants, the safety of cleaning products isn’t regulated or assessed. The EPA only regulates cleaners that contain registered pesticides.

A 2021 study of 50 Latina women demonstrated that choosing cleaning products that are marketed as green may reduce exposure to several carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

In an older 2014 study, up to 75 percent of professional cleaning products tested contained irritating, harmful, and corrosive substances. Hazards to eyes, skin, and ingestion were reported most.

The study found that especially hazardous substances in cleaning products include:

Substances that posed less of a hazard but were still harmful included:

Exposure to these cleaning agents was found to result in skin disorders and diseases affecting the lungs, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

They’ll help you save money

Some manufacturers dilute their products with water, which means you have to use more to get the same level of effectiveness.

Even with products that aren’t diluted, you’ll often get more bang for your buck by buying basic ingredients like vinegar and baking soda in bulk. You may already have many of these ingredients in your pantry!

Buying multiple cleaning products in little plastic bottles can add up: Think tile cleaner, window cleaner, toilet cleaner…you get it!

They’re just as effective as commercial cleaners

Homemade cleaners can pack an equally powerful cleaning punch to most commercially-made cleaners.

For instance, a 2020 study found that a 10 percent concentration of acetic acid—a main component of vinegar—had antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects when used for cleaning, especially when combined with 1.5 percent citric acid.

Another 2020 study noted that hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate solutions have been widely used as bleach and in medicine as antiseptic and disinfectants for more than 100 years.

An older 2015 study noted that many commercial cleaners “contribute to indoor air

pollution, are poisonous if ingested, and can be harmful if inhaled or touched” and that “some cleaners are among the most toxic products found in the home.”

The study also noted that a few safe, simple ingredients can take care of most household cleaning needs, including:

  • soap
  • water
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • lemon juice

Another older 2015 study found that environmentally preferable products were an effective alternative to bleach. The study also found that do-it-yourself products including distilled white vinegar, club soda, and tea tree oil were effective against E. coli, but had to be prepared freshly each day to maintain their potency.

An older 2014 study found that acetic acid (vinegar) efficiently kills M. tuberculosis after 30 minutes of exposure to a 6 percent solution.


If you want to DIY, you’ll want to stock your home with these commonly-used household cleaner ingredients:

Baking soda

Baking soda works well on grease, proteins, and animal messes. It’s an excellent deodorizer and less expensive than store-bought scrubbing powders. You can even use baking soda in litter boxes and garbage cans.

Distilled white vinegar

Vinegar is a DIY cleaning staple. Due to its acidic nature, it works very well on alkaline substances. It’s more effective at higher concentrations. Acetic acid is a main component of apple cider vinegar too.

Hydrogen peroxide

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

Lemon juice

Lemon juice not only smells fantastic, but it also cuts through grease, kills mildew and mold, and makes surfaces shine.

Cleaning cloths

You can use microfiber cloths, old cotton t-shirts, or other reusable rags to reduce waste.

Nice to have

While not essential to make your own cleaning products, many of these natural cleaning ingredients work wonders on their own or in any number of DIY combos.


Borax is an alkali that’s good for cutting grease, oil, and dirt. Just be careful with this one as it is more controversial than other items on this list. Borax can act as a skin and eye irritant and can disrupt hormones.

Essential oils

Essential oils aren’t ‘essential’ for cleaning, but tea tree oil smells lovely and is a natural antibacterial. Other popular scents include eucalyptus, any citrus, lemongrass, and lavender.

Essential oil safety

While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil and dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil, and ensure essential oils you use for cleaning are safe for children, pets, and pregnant people.

Castile soap

Castile soap can act as a laundry detergent, floor cleaner, dish soap, and even a shampoo. It’s made with olive oil or a vegetable base and can be found scented or unscented. It’s available in bar form, but the liquid is all you need for cleaning recipes.

Glass bottles. You can recycle your old cleaning bottles or get a set of glass bottles to store your suds in. You may never have to rebuy again!

Despite the effects of exposure to indoor air pollutants, the safety of cleaning products isn’t regulated or assessed. The EPA only regulates cleaners that contain registered pesticides.

That doesn’t mean that “natural” automatically means harmless. All household cleaners, whether store-bought or homemade, should be used cautiously.

Important cleaning product safety considerations
  • Never use bottles that once held chemicals. Label homemade cleaners when making them, and ensure you use the right solution for the application. Always label bottles with all the ingredients inside. In an emergency, it’s essential to know what the mixture contains.
  • Don’t mix bleach with vinegar, ammonia, or rubbing alcohol. In fact, it’s best to not mix bleach with anything other than water. This can create toxic fumes.
  • Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar. This can also create toxic fumes.

As a general rule, always wear gloves and use proper ventilation.

Finally, there are important things to know so you don’t damage your home or belongings too.

Vinegar is generally household-friendly, but there are a few circumstances when you should avoid it, including:

  • stone surfaces, like granite or marble
  • cast iron
  • aluminum
  • waxed surfaces

The acidity can strip finishes or otherwise damage these surfaces.

Although it isn’t unsafe, mixing vinegar or lemon juice with castile soap neutralize both ingredients, since castile soap is high on the pH scale and vinegar and lemons are acidic.

Before spraying a cleaner on any surface, it’s a good idea to test it on a hidden area to ensure it doesn’t damage the material.

The following recipes are meant to help you on your way to making homemade cleaners. In case you’re in a pinch, you’ll find a few product suggestions too.

These all came from the Environmental Working Group’s list of the best household cleaning products. EWG’s staff scientists created this list after evaluating over 2,000 household cleaning products.

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1. All-purpose cleaner

All-purpose cleaners are what they sound like. You can use them on almost any surface to deodorize and clean.

You can use this citrus-infused vinegar all-purpose cleaner on most surfaces except natural stone, cast iron, aluminum, or wax. Shake before use, spray generously, and wipe clean with a cloth.


  • white distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp unscented liquid castile soap
  • citrus peels
  • quart-sized mason jar
  • glass or plastic spray bottle


  1. Pack a quart-sized mason jar with leftover citrus peels, like orange, lemon, or grapefruit.
  2. Fill the jar to the top with white vinegar and screw on the lid on
  3. Let infuse for two weeks or more, ideally in a sunny spot.
  4. Strain the vinegar and compost or discard the citrus peels.
  5. Pour ½ cup of the citrus-infused vinegar into a spray bottle.
  6. Add 1 cup of water.
  7. Add 1 tsp of castile soap.
  8. Shake well.

Need to buy instead? Try Method All-Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner.

2. Vinegar-free all-purpose cleaner

Vinegar may be a cleaning wunderkind, but there are times when you just don’t want or can use it. Vinegar can’t be used on granite, marble, or other stone surfaces. A lot of people also don’t like the smell of vinegar either.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp liquid castile soap
  • glass or plastic spray bottle


  1. Fill your spray bottle with water.
  2. Add castile soap.
  3. Shake well.

Need to buy instead? TryAttitude Multipurpose Spray Cleaner.

3. Machine-safe laundry detergent

There are plenty of DIY laundry detergent recipes with Borax. However, this one works well if you’re trying to avoid Borax.


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unscented liquid castile soap
  • 30-40 drops essential oil
  • Clean jug or large jar


  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Add liquid castile soap.
  3. Add essential oils (optional).

Need to buy instead? Try Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap or Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Detergent Booster.

4. Laundry detergent for delicates

It’s best to hand wash delicates using a mild castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s.

5. Kitchen cleaner

This recipe works well if you’re looking for a good DIY way to sanitize surfaces. It must be made fresh. Even within 24 hours, its effectiveness decreases.


  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil
  • glass or plastic spray bottle


  1. Combine all ingredients in spray bottle.
  2. Shake.
  3. Spray and wipe clean.

6. Dish detergent

Easy DIY methods are available for washing dishes by hand or in the dishwasher. Use the below instructions for your dishwasher.

For handwashing, combine 1 cup of liquid castile soap and 3 tbsp of water, shake well, and use dish soap as you usually would.


  • 1 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • jug or jar


  1. Combine ingredients.
  2. Add to the detergent compartment of the dishwasher.
  3. Fill the other second compartment with white vinegar.

Need to buy it? TryEcover Rinse Aid or Seventh Generation Natural Automatic Dishwasher Powder.

7. Grease cleaner

Grease is stubborn, but that doesn’t mean you need an expensive product full of chemicals to cut through it. A DIY grease cleaner can be just as effective.

Spray the cleaner onto the greasy surface and wipe clean with a sponge. Wipe over the cleaned surface with a clean cloth that’s been run under warm water.


  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp castile soap
  • warm water
  • a few drops of essential oil (optional)


  1. Add vinegar and castile soap to a spray bottle.
  2. Fill the rest of the bottle with warm water.
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil (optional).
  4. Shake to combine ingredients.

Need to buy it instead? Try Fit Organic Cleaner and Degreaser.

8. Bathroom cleaner

DIY bathroom cleaners only require two ingredients. If you need to do intense disinfecting, it may be best to consider an EPA-approved cleaner like bleach or the bleach-alternative recipe below.

You can use this cleanser on just about any bathroom surface—just spray and wipe! If you have stubborn soap scum, spray and let it sit on the surface for several hours or overnight.


  • 12 oz white vinegar
  • 12 oz Dawn dish soap
  • glass or plastic spray bottle


  1. Mix ingredients in spray bottle.
  2. Spray and wipe.

Need to buy it instead? Try Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

9. Sanitizer

As an alternative to bleach, use this DIY disinfectant.


  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp castile soap
  • ½ tsp hydrogen peroxide


  1. Combine ingredients.
  2. Apply to a wet surface with a cloth and scrub.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.

Need to buy it instead? Try Seventh Generation Disinfectant Spray or Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Wipes.

10. Grout cleaner

This DIY grout cleaner will have your shower gleaming.

Pro-tip: Use an old toothbrush to help get those small nooks and crannies.


  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tsp dish soap


  1. Combine ingredients.
  2. Apply and wait 5-10 minutes before scrubbing.
  3. Wipe up the excess baking soda and rinse.

11. Stainless steel cleaner

Stainless steel is nice to look at until it’s covered in smudges. To get it looking flawless again, wipe a cloth with olive oil over the streaks. Then dampen a section of the cloth with vinegar and wipe over again until clean.

12. Brass cleaner

If brass fixtures need a bit of cleaning, you just need a few simple ingredients and steps to have them look new again.


  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt


  1. Dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice.
  2. Sprinkle on a bit of salt.
  3. Gently rub over the surface.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Dry immediately with a clean, soft cloth.

13. Wood cleaner

Olive oil is excellent for wooden surfaces, keeping them shiny and nourished.


  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Combine ingredients.
  2. Use a soft cloth to apply the mixture to wood surfaces.

Need to buy it instead? Try ECOS Furniture Polish & Cleaner.

14. Floor cleaner

This simple recipe works well for hardwood and linoleum floors.


  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 gallon hot water


  • Combine ingredients.
  • Mop as usual.

This recipe is suitable for non-wax floors.


  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup washing soda
  • 1 tbsp liquid castile soap
  • 2 gallons hot water
  • bucket


  1. Combine ingredients in bucket.
  2. Mop as usual.

Need to buy it instead? TryAunt Fannie’s Floor Cleaner Vinegar Wash or Aunt Fannie’s Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

15. Carpet deodorizer

A carpet deodorizer works well to freshen up area rugs and floors. You can even use it to deodorize shoes!


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


  1. Combine baking soda and cornstarch.
  2. Add 5 drops of your favorite essential oil.
  3. Stir and pour into a mason jar with a lid.
  4. Punch holes into the jar’s lid.
  5. Sprinkle mixture onto carpets.
  6. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum.

Need to buy it instead? Try Aunt Fannie’s Carpet Refresher.

16. Laundry/linen spray

A linen spray will help sheets and other fabrics stay clean and crisp. You can use any type of essential oil. For example, a calming scent like lavender is perfect right before bed.


  • 3 ounces rubbing alcohol (or unflavored Vodka)
  • 20 drops essential oil of your choice (rose, lavender, jasmine, and sandalwood are popular choices)
  • 1 ½ cups water


  1. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well before use.
  3. Lightly spritz fabric.

17. Air freshener simmer pot

This DIY air freshener is fun because it doesn’t require any cleaning. Change your ingredients to try out new scents depending on your preference or the time of year.


  • 2-3 citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and/or limes), sliced
  • A handful of fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, or lavender)
  • 2-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • water


  • Place ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  • Fill ¾ full with water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer.
  • Can be stored overnight in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

18. Toilet cleaner

This heavy-duty scrub deodorizes and cleans your toilet bowl.


  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar


  • Pour baking soda and essential oil directly into the toilet bowl.
  • Let sit for best effect.
  • Add vinegar and scrub while the mixture fizzes.
  • Flush.

Need to buy it instead? TrySeventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

Transitioning from commercial cleaners to DIY household cleaning products can be simple, cost-effective, and even fun.

You may even have many of the items you need for homemade cleaners in your pantry or bathroom cabinet.

With a few stimple steps, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, thriftier, more environmentally-friendly home.

Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website