Your home is your family’s haven, and you do your best to keep it that way. The last thing you want to worry about after a long day of cleaning is the effect harsh chemicals can have on you, your kids and your pets.
The truth is, many manufactured cleaning products contain chemicals that aren’t good for your health. Making your own natural cleaners keeps your home fresh and safe. Plus, homemade cleaners can be more cost-effective, if you do it right.
From the kitchen to the bathroom—and everywhere in between—these homemade natural cleaner recipes will keep your house looking, smelling and feeling like home.
Core Ingredients for Homemade Natural Cleaners
To begin, there are a few main ingredients that make up most homemade natural cleaners recipes; you can find these at your local grocery store.
Keeping a stock of the following items will be a great start to taking the natural cleaning route.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice provides much more than an uplifting scent. The acidity of the citrus is great for cutting through grease and sticky messes.
- Borax: Borax makes for a great scrub, plus its absorbent nature is great for tough stains.
- Vinegar: Vinegar has natural anti-bacterial elements and is great for cleaning high-traffic areas that collect bacteria, like sinks and toilets.
- Baking soda: Baking soda has odor-killing properties, and it’s a perfect scrub for cleaning things ordinary soap can’t handle.
- Salt: Salt makes for a great “mixer” to add to many other ingredients in your homemade natural cleaners. It absorbs stains and is good for scrubs.
- Essential oils: A clean home that doesn’t smell fresh isn’t completely clean. Adding a few drops of essential oils to your homemade cleaners is a natural way to get fresh and soothing scents.
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Many all-purpose cleaners you find at the store contain harmful chemicals that the skin can easily absorb, including diethanolamine, triethanolamine, ammonia and butryl cellosolve—all of which can irritate the throat, skin, eyes and nose.
This all-natural homemade cleaner works best for basic surface touch-ups, dusting and as a natural disinfectant. Mix the ingredients to a spray bottle and spray on surfaces before wiping away with a cloth, sponge or rag.
- 3 parts water
- 1 part cup rubbing alcohol
- Citrus essential oil (try lemon, sweet orange or lime, or make a blend)
- 1 squirt all natural dish soap
Quick tip: Do not use this solution on glass, as it will cause streaking.
Store-bought degreasers are generally harsher than other cleaning solutions, and they present a danger to your skin and lungs.
Replace yours with this all-natural degreasing solution, and keep it handy in the kitchen and garage to cut through any tough spills. Combine everything in a spray bottle, mix, and attack grease with a few spritzes and a cloth.
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon all-natural liquid castile soap
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
Quick tip: This solution could cause discoloration if you use it on wood.
Glass and Mirror Cleaner
Many glass and mirror cleaners contain ammonia, which can irritate the skin, nose and eyes. And when mixed with other cleaners containing ammonia, it releases toxic chloramine gases in your home.
An all-natural cleaner is easy to make: Throw the three following ingredients in a spray bottle and make the glass and mirrors in your home shine.
- 1 part white distilled vinegar
- 4 parts water
- A couple tablespoons of lemon juice
Heavy-Duty Surface Spray
This all-natural, heavy-duty spray is great for areas of your home with a gradual grime build-up and heavy spills.
- 1 part all-natural dish soap
- 1 part white distilled vinegar
Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan on low heat until it becomes bathwater warm. Pour into spray bottle, then add the dish soap. When you spray it on a surface, let it sit for a half hour before you scrub with sponge. Rinse and wipe with a clean cloth.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Many store-bought toilet cleaners contain bleach and other harsh elements that kill more than just germs—they also harm living cells. This solution is safe on the skin, free of harmful fumes, and proven to be effective at disinfecting.
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon tea tree essential oil
Combine tea tree oil and vinegar in a small bottle, and spray the inside of the toilet bowl. Let soak for ten minutes, then sprinkle baking soda over the solution and scrub away with a toilet brush.
Some laundry detergents were found to contain 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a human carcinogen. Too much exposure to this chemical could cause vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia, and damage to the liver and kidneys. That’s a long list of hazards—from just one ingredient.
Keep your laundry detergent pure and effective by replacing your normal powder detergent with an all-natural alternative.
- 1 bar castile soap, grated
- 2 cups washing soda
- 2 cups borax
Combine castile soap, washing soda and borax in a large bowl, creating a light-colored powder. Mix thoroughly, and store in a quarter- or half-gallon mason jar. Use two tablespoons powder for light loads, and 1/4 cup for larger, more heavy-duty ones.
Clothing Stain Remover
Like laundry detergent, many clothing stain removers have an ingredient list that takes a scientist to understand—with many of the harmful effects of other store-bought cleaners.
This cleaning solution has no invasive smells and won’t cause skin irritation. It works especially great for coffee, blood, dirt and makeup stains.
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup all-natural liquid castile soap
- ¼ cup vegetable glycerin
Combine everything in a spray bottle, and spray a generous amount onto the stain, scrubbing gently with fingertip. Then wash your clothing as you would normally.
Carpet Stain Remover
Store-bought carpet stain removers often contain perchlorethylene and ammonium hydroxide, both of which have been found to had adverse effects on your health. Ammonium hydroxide is an irritating corrosive, while perchlorethylene damages the liver, kidneys and nervous system.
Use this all-natural carpet stain remover immediately after the spill to prevent and lift stains with its ability to both cleanse and absorb.
- 2 tablespoons borax
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ cup white distilled vinegar
Mix ingredients in a clean bowl or bottle and pour liberally on stain to the point of saturation. Let dry, then vacuum.
Store-bought dish soap is harmful to the body, and it often contains triclosan, which disrupts the body’s natural thyroid and endocrine systems. Plus, the added fragrances are ridden with harmful chemicals—and these can end up on your silverware, drinkware and other kitchenware you use to eat. And that doesn’t even mention the potential for 1,4-dioxane contamination.
- 1 ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon borax
- 1 tablespoon all-natural castile bar soap, grated
- 15 drops essential oil of your choice: a citrus blend, like lemon and grapefruit, offer an uplifting scent, while oils like lavender and basil are more soothing
Boil water and pour into a large bowl. Slowly add borax and grated soap to the bowl of boiling water. Whisk until soap is melted, then let cool for six to eight hours. Once it reaches a thick consistency, store in a container at room temperature.
To use, pour a dime-sized amount onto a sponge and scrub.
Dish detergents contain many of the same harmful ingredients as dish soap, but perhaps one of the most concerning is formaldehyde. This chemical has been linked to cancer, and not in a good way.
- 1 cup borax
- 1 cup washing soda
- ½ cup citric acid
- ½ cup kosher salt
Use one tablespoon of the mixture per load. Throw in some white distilled vinegar in lieu of a rinsing agent, and you’ll have dishes that are clean and safe to eat from.
Homemade natural cleaners not only keep your home naturally clean and fresh, but they’re also friendly to your wallet and the environment. Cleaning may have gotten just a little bit better, but remember to take a weekend off now and then!