Homemade Cleaners Toolkit: 5 Essentials to Make Your Own

Last week, I was helping my brother clean out his apartment when he complained about the prices of eco-friendly cleaners. Always looking for converts, I recommended he start making household cleaners himself — it takes very little time and all you need are these five essentials.

You can use these five basics to clean almost everything in your home, from fixtures to floors to laundry to the bathroom. Making household cleaners is one of the easiest DIY projects around and it will make an enormous difference in your home. In addition to being eco-friendly and inexpensive, it also reduces indoor air pollution.

The Five Essentials:


  1. Vinegar: This is the natural-cleaning powerhouse. It does so many things around the house that it has merited its own post time and time again. Vinegar cleans, adds shine, disinfects, and gets rid of of bad smells, mildew, and other household funk.

  2. Baking Soda: Mixed with vinegar, it makes sinks and toilet sparkle. Mixed with a bit of water, it works great on bathtubs and gets rid of the stuck-on food on your stovetop. A good, basic scouring tool.

  3. Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oil: A few drops will make any cleaner antibacterial.

  4. Liquid Castile Soap: A little castile soap, like Dr. Bronner's, goes a long, long (long) way. Mix it with water to clean your countertops (vinegar can ruin marble and granite). Also good for dishes, floors, and anywhere else that needs basic, gentle cleaning.

  5. Rags: Make 2012 the year you reduce your paper towel usage! I color code mine for different uses: blue for my kitchen counters, green for the bathroom, and pink for dusting.

Five Cleaning Recipes to get You Started:


  1. Glass Cleaner: Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of lemon or tea tree oil.

  2. Toilet: Pour in one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of vinegar. Clean with toilet brush as usual and flush.

  3. All Purpose Cleaner/Kitchen Cleaner: Pour 1/4 cup Dr. Bronners into a one quart bottle and fill to the top with water. Add 2-3 drops of essential oil. Spray and wipe off with a damp cloth.

  4. Linoleum Flooring: Mop with half a tablespoon of Dr. Bronners mixed into a half gallon of hot water. You can also add a few drops of essential oil.

  5. Dishwashing Soap: Fill squirt bottle with one cup of castile soap, 3-4 tablespoons of water, and 5 drops of lemon (or other citrus) essential oil.

MORE CLEANING POSTS ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
10 Ways to Clean with Vinegar
101 Uses for Baking Soda
How to Make Scented Vinegar Rinses: Home Hacks
How to Make Scented Linen Powders: Home Hacks
Make Your Own Dr. Bronner's Laundry Soap

Image: Shutterstock

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Homekeeping, Cleaning Tools

Kathleen is a freelance editor who lives in Chicago. She loves eclectic rooms, traveling with her family, and feeding anyone who steps foot in her house. She theoretically hates clutter, but can’t stop buying books and craft supplies.

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