It is commonly known that conventional cleaners have a number of chemicals that can worsen asthma, COPD, and irritate your eyes and throats if used too heavily. A 2020 study, from Norway, determined that people who have a job cleaning, or clean at home, have a higher chance of long-term respiratory impairment not seen in those that do not clean often with commercial cleaners. As well, there are some people who do not have a high tolerance for fragrance laden cleaners, often found in stores, causing them to have headaches or migraines.

By making your own eco-friendly cleaning supplies, you’ll know exactly what goes into the cleaners and often it only takes a couple ingredients. Below are eight DIY cleaners you can make at home.

Take note: when making your own (or even using a mix of commercial cleaning supplies), it is important to be aware of what you are mixing. There are many combinations of chemicals that can be harmful or even deadly to you, your family, and any pets in the residence. For example, never mix bleach with ammonia or vinegar as that releases toxic gas. 

Making your own cleaning supplies can be daunting, but there are so many good resources out there for any questions you may have.  If you want to take an extra step, invest in some glass spray bottles for these recipes or just use old spray bottles that you’ve cleaned. The following recipes have been tried and tested, and I use them in my own home as well.

We will start with the basics that can be used anywhere in your home:

1. All-purpose cleaner: made with just three ingredients, this spray can be used on any surface.

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp dish soap
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil

Note: when adding essential oils to your cleaners try to use ones with antibacterial properties. These include lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermit, organe, and clove essential oils.

2. Bleach alternatives: use either a bottle or spray bottle depending on what you plan to use it for. It’s better to use a dark opaque container as the ingredients will start to break down when exposed to heat and light. The following recipe is for a gallon container but can be changed accordingly to the correct size.

  • 12 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

3. Non-toxic window cleaner

  • 1 part distilled white vinegar
  • 1 part water (filtered if possible)
  • Optional: 2-10 drops essential oil

4. Bath scrub:

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup dish soap

Directions: use a funnel and mix these ingredients into a spray bottle, microwave for 30 seconds, shake then spray. Microwaving the ingredients allows for better mixture.

Note: do not use on natural stone tile or surfaces, this mixture is abrasive.

5. Toilet fizzies: 

  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 25 drops of lemon or orange essential oil
  • 1 to 2 tbps water
  • Optional: 1 orange or lemon, zested

Directions: mix dry ingredients. Add essential oil and water. Press into a mold of choice or shape into balls and place in the freezer (inside an air-tight container), until it hardens. It is important to use an air-tight container (like a mason jar) to keep product in a cool, dry place once they’ve hardened.

To use: just toss one or two fizzies into the toilet and let sit for 5 minutes, or until completly dissolved, then flush.

6. Swiffer refills: instead of buing new refills for you Swiffer wet jet, or if you want a good floor cleaning recipe, this is a good place to start. The cap on a WetJet takes some work to get off as it has a locking mechanism. To take it off, place the cap into hot water for a minute or two then twist off using a rag as a barrier. If you still can’t get it by hand, try using a pair of pliers. Once you get it off just clip off the locking mechanism with scissors or nail clippers. Personally, I’ve noticed that mine leaks slightly when I store it on the WetJet itself, so I take it off and set it upright between uses.

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part vinegar
  • 2-3 drops dish soap

7. Stainless steel cleaner:

  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 part water

Mix into a spray bottle using a funnel, shake well, then use. Wipe with a microfiber cloth.

Tip: use mineral oil on a microfiber rag to polish. 

8. Microwave cleaner: 

  • Slice a lemon and place in a microwave safe bowl filled with warm water
  • Microwave on high for four minutes and let sit for two minutes
  • Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean, everything should come right off!

Note: you can use the leftover lemon as a zest for other cleaning recipes!

Laura Casne

AmeriCorps Conservation Director