My Favorite DIY Cleaners

posted by Andrea | 05/15/2019

This is an updated repost from 2015, with affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy

While I am far from an “all-natural” person, I do gravitate towards “simple” and “frugal” — and for the most part DIY cleaners are simple and frugal. I love that I never need to add them to my grocery list or keep a cabinet stocked full of back up cleaners, because if I run out… I just make more!

That said, I will admit to using Seventh Generation Disinfecting Wipes on a very regular basis… because kids are gross and messy! 

If you’d like to try a few DIY cleaners but don’t know where to start, I hope this post is just what you’re looking for!

All the cleaners listed below use simple ingredients you most likely already have in your house… and as you’ll see by my unimpressive pictures, it is completely unnecessary to put your DIY cleaners in pretty bottles with fancy labels! They work just as well in dollar store spray bottles! πŸ™‚

Also, I wanted to add a quick comment about essential oils… you can most definitely add essential oils to many of these cleaners — I’ve just never hopped on that bandwagon yet so it’s not something I have in the house to add. That said, feel free to add whatever essential oils you feel work for you and your home! 

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1. All-Purpose Cleaner

This one-ingredient all-purpose cleaner couldn’t be simpler… and it’s extremely frugal too.

It’s the cleaner I use for almost everything — tables, high chairs, toys, bathrooms, wood floors, tile floors, and almost any other hard surface. I have one bottle mixed up under our kitchen sink and then another one mixed up in our Bathroom Cleaning Bucket.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Create a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar in any spray bottle
  • Use to clean and wipe down almost any hard surface.

NOTE: The vinegar smell goes away in less than 5 minutes, so it’s really not that bad. However, if you just can’t stand the smell, I’d suggest looking into  4 Monks cleaning vinegar!

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2. Window/Glass Cleaner

More often than not, I use the MysticMaid window cleaning cloth whenever I’m cleaning windows, mirrors, or any type of glass. I literally just get it wet, wring it out well, and wipe down the mirrors — no cleaning solution of any type necessary.

I’ve been using the same cloth since I got married — so it was a good investment!

However, if you’re looking for some type of window-cleaning spray, I would recommend the one below. After trying a few recipes for homemade glass and window cleaners, I wasn’t satisfied because all of them left streaks. I finally found this recipe many years ago and have never looked back!

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Mix 1 c. water, 2 T. vinegar, 2 T. rubbing alcohol, and 1.5 t. cornstarch in a small spray bottle.
  • Shake well
  • Spray on windows, mirrors, or any other glass surface
  • Wipe with a soft cloth or paper towel

Read more details about this cleaning method here..

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3. Shower Cleaner

I was skeptical about this shower cleaner, but it really does work well for me. I’ve had some people tell me it doesn’t work for them, but I’ve had nothing but great results with this cleaner.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Pour about 1 c. of white vinegar into a plastic spray bottle.
  • Heat it up in the microwave until very warm (I don’t know why this step is necessary, but I assume it’s to help the vinegar combine with the dish soap).
  • Pour 1 T. of Dawn dish soap into the spray bottle.
  • Put the top of the spray bottle on and gently shake until they are combined.

Read more details about this cleaning method here.

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4. Chrome Cleaner

Seriously, this “cleaner” works miracles on my chrome shower fixtures — and it takes me all of 3 minutes to complete. Simply cut open a lemon and rub it on your chrome. Done!

Read more details about this cleaning method here.

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5. Granite Counter Cleaner

When we had granite counters installed in our new kitchen, we were told we shouldn’t use a vinegar based DIY cleaner as the vinegar could eat away at the granite. So I set out to find another homemade cleaner that would be suitable for my new counters. It didn’t take long for me to find one that worked really well. I’ve been faithfully using this recipe ever since.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Mix 1/4 c. rubbing alcohol and 3-4 drops of dish soap in a 16 oz. spray bottle
  • Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water
  • Use to clean any granite surface. 

Read more details about this cleaning method here.

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6. Stainless Steel Cleaner

Along with our granite counters, we also installed all stainless steel appliances in our kitchen. I was originally hesitant to get stainless steel because I hate all the fingerprints. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how low maintenance our appliances are. That said, I still need to clean them sometimes — but I’m happy to say I found 4 super simple DIY cleaners for our stainless steel.

One of my favorite methods is just using water and a microfiber cloth. You can also use the 50/50 vinegar/water mixture I referred to in my all-purpose cleaner above.

Read more about my favorite stainless steel cleaners here.

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7. Drain Cleaner

I’ve been using this method of cleaning my drains for years and years — even before I had my own house. It’s so fast and effective, and really really frugal compared to the expensive (and super smelly) drain cleaners you can buy in the stores.

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Pour 1/2 c. of baking soda and 1/2 c. salt into the drain
  • Pour 1 c. of vinegar into the drain (it will bubble and foam up)
  • Slowly pour an entire kettle of boiling water into the drain
  • Use a plunger to push water through if necessary

Read more details about this cleaning method here.

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8. Garbage Disposal Cleaner

If you’re looking for a great way to clean your garbage disposal, sharpen the blades, and put some of your citrus rinds to good use, I’ve got JUST the recipe for you!

Here’s the basic recipe:

  • chop citrus peels (or whole citrus fruits) into small chunks
  • place chunks into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins
  • pour vinegar over peels until compartments are full
  • place trays in the freezer until completely frozen
  • store tabs in trays or in a zip-top bag in freezer until you’re ready to use

Read more about this simple way to clean and freshen your disposal.

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9. Fabric Softener

We installed a full-house humidifier on our furnace a few years ago, but even still, our house tends to get dry in the winter months — which means more static cling on our clothing! 

I’ve been using wool dryer balls for YEARS (which I know isn’t DIY, but it is frugal, non-chemical, and easy)… however, if you’re looking for more DIY methods, I’ve got plenty of those for you too! 

Read my 10 DIY methods of reducing static cling here.

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10. Laundry Detergent

I never ever thought I would make my own laundry detergent — there was no way I was going to boil soap and store a gloppy mess of liquid in 5 gallon buckets in my tiny little laundry room. I was satisfied to find good deals on laundry detergent at the stores.

But then I came across a recipe for powdered DIY laundry detergent that makes 230 loads worth of detergent for a few bucks. I used this detergent for years and felt it worked well for our clothing.

However, for the last 2 years, I haven’t been using any laundry detergent at all! Yes, you read that right! I’ve been using these eco-friend laundry balls which seem to work really well for us! (read more about them here). 

If you’d like to try making your own detergent, I’ve included the recipe (and link to my original post) below!

Here’s the basic recipe for the powdered detergent

  • one 76 oz. box Borax powder
  • one 55 oz. box Washing Soda
  • one 16 oz. box Baking Soda
  • 3 pounds OxiClean (the only reason I bought 2 smaller containers is because I had 2 coupons so it was cheaper this way)
  • one 28 oz. container Purex Crystals (optional)
  • three bars Fels-Naptha soap; grated
  • large, clean bucket or other container with a lid

Directions:

  • Dump all powder/crystal ingredients into a large bucket (I used a 5 gallon bucket with a lid)
  • Grate the Fels-Napths soap bars over the bucket (I used a microplane fine grater so the particles we really small)
  • Place lid on bucket and shake (or mix with a large spoon)
  • Store in the covered bucket or in smaller containers with lids (I put some of mine right back in the OxyClean and Purex containers)

Read more about this DIY detergent here.

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11. Foaming Hand Soap

If you have little children, foaming hand soap makes it SO much easier for them to wash their hands without getting globs of soap stuck to the bottom of your sink. Plus, it’s a lot more fun for them to “play” with the foam!

We’ve been exclusively using foaming hand soap for years now — I highly recommend it for small children! 

With just a few squirts of regular soap and a bunch of water, you can refill your foaming hand soap pumps again and again for pennies!

Read my simple tutorial here.

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12. Makeup Brush Cleaner

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes, it’s probably time to do it again! Luckily, the process I use is super quick and easy, and it just uses 2 ingredients!

Here’s the basic recipe

  • In a large bowl or small sink, mix hot water and vinegar (baby shampoo also works really well)
  • Swirl brushes around in the mixture until they come clean
  • Gently squeeze out excess water
  • Reshape brushes and let dry on a clean towel

Read more about this simple cleaning tip here.

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I realize there are tons of DIY cleaning products out there today — but in my opinion, some of them are WAY too much work when you look at how little money is saved. I’ve also tried a few that just don’t clean well at all (and who wants to clean with products that don’t work?)

All the DIY cleaners referenced above are ones I’ve personally used and would recommend. They are simple, frugal, quick to mix up, and they really do work!

A few more cleaning resources:

These are my FAVORITE microfiber cleaning cloths, and they are SO inexpensive (only $10.95 for 5 cloths). We’ve been using them for 4 years now and I just order a bunch at a time to save on shipping.

For those of you who don’t want to spend money on rags — try my DIY t-shirt rags. They’re super soft, they’re free, and they don’t leave any lint behind! I often use these for really grubby jobs, and then toss the rags when I’m finished.

Here’s the link to ALL my cleaning posts from the beginning of my blog!

I mentioned that I loved using vinegar to clean… so if you’re looking for more uses for vinegar, here are 101 different ideas!

After you simplify your cleaning cabinet, read this post on 8 tips to simplify my weekly cleaning routine. Who knows, you might actually even enjoy cleaning once you have a simple routine and homemade cleaning products! πŸ™‚

Or maybe not! 

What are your favorite DIY cleaners?

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Filed under: HomeCleaning

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33 comments

  1. Roisin

    05/18/2019

    Andrea I have Been reading your blog for many years now and love it

    This might be a silly question when I make these DIY cleaners how long are they good for? Just the one time or can the keep under the sink and for how long?
    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Roisin!
    These cleaners should last a while — several months for sure! Happy Cleaning!

    [Reply]

  2. Margaret

    05/15/2019

    I use Clean Mama’s recipe for laminate floors–equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and distilled water in a spray bottle, and use a flat-headed microfiber mop. It’s fast and does a decent job.
    For when the yard (and the dogs’s feet) are really muddy I still use a bucket of hot water and either vinegar or Shaklee Basic H with a microfiber cloth and a deck scrubber to push it around. These arthritic knees don’t do hands-and-knees scrubbing.

    [Reply]

  3. Diana

    05/15/2019

    Dish soap plus baking soda makes a super scrubber for nearly anything I’ve tried to scrub.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes!! especially Dawn dish soap!

    [Reply]

  4. Barb

    05/15/2019

    Andrea, I’ve been using your vinegar and water solution for years now for basic cleaning and love it. But it caused the skin and some of my fingers to dry out and crack. So I tried mixing one part vinegar in three parts water and it works just as well! No cracked fingers and work and more economical !

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — thanks for sharing Barb! Glad you figured out a solution to your dry hands!

    [Reply]

  5. Chris

    05/15/2019

    My mom bought me a knock-off Norwex brand of cloth for mirrors and windows similar to what you mentioned. I absolutely love it! All I need is water.

    I also recently found out that you can use just a little Dawn dish soap (not too much or you’ll have suds) in the laundry. 1 tsp. for small loads, 2 tsp. for medium loads, and 3 tsp. for large loads.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hmmm… Dawn can do everything!!

    [Reply]

  6. Stacey

    05/10/2016

    One other trick for the Fels-Naptha soap in the homemade laundry detergent – instead of grating, I microwave one bar at a time for around a minute and a half until it’s all “puffed up.” Let it cool completely and you can just crumble it with your hands – down to almost a powder if you want. I found this to be easier than using the grater.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stacey, a few others have shared this tip and I did actually try it the last time! It worked great!!

    [Reply]

  7. Lee Cockrum

    05/09/2016

    For some reason this post has not come up in Bloglovin today
    Just figured I would let you know in case you have made any changes b

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for letting me know! I was actually just noticing that there was very little traffic to my post today — I wonder if something is messed up or not working properly?? I just sent an email to my tech people now.

    Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  8. Katie

    05/09/2016

    I use 1/2c. vinegar, 1/2c. rubbing alcohol and 1c. water in a spray bottle to clean almost any hard surface; including mirrors and stainless steel. Also works on finished wood. The rubbing alcohol helps it dry quickly. I notice it is very similar to your window cleaner.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! Vinegar and rubbing alcohol is a great combo for so many things!

    [Reply]

  9. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    05/09/2016

    My multi purpose cleaner is about half vinegar, half water with a few drops of dish soap and a few drops of lemon essential oils so our house smells super good when the vinegar smell goes away.

    [Reply]

  10. Lydia Senn

    05/09/2016

    I made your granite cleaner last week and it’s like a dream. NO MORE STREAKS!!! Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay! Glad it’s working well for you!

    [Reply]

  11. Evie Dawson @ Defense Soap

    08/04/2014

    The good news is that adding just few drops of natural remedies are best (Tea tree oil) to prevent and treat common skin infections.. Thanks for sharing

    [Reply]

  12. Brenda

    05/09/2014

    Hi, Does anyone have anything that works good for dirt/grass stains? My sons play baseball and all their white pants have stains from the brown sand/dirt they use in the infield. I have tried lots of different store bought stain removers, soaking in bleach, and scrubbing with my homemade laundry soap double strength- all with little success.

    Also, chocolate, the boys love it and all their shirts have stains.

    Help! :~)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Brenda,
    I’m personally a fan of Oxi Clean — but I know that’s not “homemade”. I posted your question on my Facebook wall and you can read any responses here πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Christina Reply:

    I would suggest brown shirts!!! πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  13. Julia K

    05/09/2014

    I have been using the following all purpose cleaner for years. I mix it up in an empty 2 or 3 litre milk bottle and then decant into a spray bottle as needed.

    40ml dishwashing liquid
    40ml eucalyptus oil
    2 dessertspoons washing soda
    200ml vinegar
    1 litre water

    I put this in a spray bottle to use for all those “spray and wipe” situations – countertops, marks on walls, toilets etc. I pour a splash into a bucket of super hot water and use to mop floors etc. I hope you can buy Eucalyptus Oil there in the US – but it is a great natural disinfectant and cuts through the vinegar smell.
    Another thing I do to save dollars is that I use the “two bucket” method when mopping floors. I fill one bucket with hot water and my home made cleaner – the second bucket with plain hot water only. After I mop a stretch, I rinse the mop in the clean water bucket before dipping in the cleaning solution bucket to mop the next stretch. This keeps the cleaning solution water a bit cleaner. If I am doing loads of mopping, I can empty and refill the rinse bucket several times saving the need to tip out my cleaning solution water all the time.
    Every little bit helps.
    Cloudy Ammonia is another gem – it is a brilliant grease cutter. Great for cleaning ovens and when my husband wore greasy overalls (coveralls in the US ?) I used to add a cup of Cloudy Ammonia to the wash and ran the machine on the soak cycle – saved a fortune compared to all those expensive spray pre-washes.

    [Reply]

  14. Shantel

    05/08/2014

    Does anyone have a great place to find spray bottles? Sounds like a silly question, but Walmart and Target have ones that are HUGE and (1) seem top heavy if they weren’t completely full I would be knocking them over all the time, and (2) the trigger is too wide for my hands to comfortably grab. I bought some smaller ones (only 8 oz) from the travel section but they are breaking on me after about a month – not good! Thanks for any help!

    [Reply]

    Rebecca Reply:

    There are several choices of spray bottles on Amazon.com.

    [Reply]

  15. Karen @ Abundance on a Dime

    05/08/2014

    Andrea, I love using vinegar for cleaning, too! To make it smell more pleasant I make citrus vinegar, which involves nothing more than throwing your lemon rinds in vinegar and letting them steep for a while – more detailed instructions here: http://abundanceonadime.blogspot.ca/2012/09/a-re-use-it-project-citrus-vinegar.html Since I would have just pitched the lemon rinds in the compost bucket, it doesn’t cost any more and smells a lot nicer πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like pretty simple solution!

    For some reason, I dont’ mind the smell at all so I’ve never bothered with essential oils or any other scents. I know, I’m weird!

    [Reply]

  16. lyss

    05/08/2014

    So…silly questions about your shower cleaner. Do you rinse the cleaner off?
    And, does it work on preventing and/or removing mildew? I hate tile for that reason. I can’t get the black mildew off of white grout, and I refuse to use tilex.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, rinse it off — I usually spray it on before I get in the shower, then scrub and rinse while I’m in the shower. It works well for us, but I do have to scrub the grout πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

  17. Jen

    05/08/2014

    I have switched almost my entire cleaning arsenal to DIY / natural products and haven’t looked back. I use the vinegar and water mix that you mentioned to clean just about everything. To clean our toilets, I just sprinkle baking soda around the bowl and spray it down with white vinegar. LEt it sit for a few minutes and then scrub with a toilet brush. Works great and it’s very cost effective!

    [Reply]

  18. ShellyL

    05/08/2014

    Awesome! Love this one. I used to use natural cleaners but when I got into couponing, I began using coupons to get the chemical stuff again. After reading this, I think I may switch back. Even with coupons, this must be cheaper or at least equally cheap. Also, I like the idea of non-toxic healthy cleaner. Thanks for these recipes!

    [Reply]

  19. Jen

    05/08/2014

    I use a vinegar and water mixture for my all-purpose cleaner, too. I also add 20-30 drops each of lemon and tea tree essential oils, which are both antiseptic. But we have laminate counter tops, so I can use it on them. I use the same spray for mirrors, our dining table, and the bathroom sinks, too.

    [Reply]

  20. Lydia @ Five4FiveMeals

    05/08/2014

    Love it! I really like using homemade cleaners because when you have little ones that put EVERYTHING in their mouths you don’t want cleaners “harmful to humans and domestic animals.”

    I have used your degreaser cleaner for years, but I cannot get over the vinegar smell. I still gag. But at least my counter tops are clean.

    [Reply]