Spring cleaning gets all the glory.
But I’d argue that fall is when most of us really do a deep clean—in every sense. Maybe it’s the start of the school year that cues a craving for a fresh start, or just the fact that summer is over and all the bathing suits, shorts, and flip-flops get packed away. Whatever the underlying reason, it always feels so good—healthy, even—to spend time organizing and tidying up at home.
Tempting as it might be to wipe down every surface with a disinfecting wipe and douse your laundry in bleach, you’re better off ditching those nasty chemical cleaners. According to the Environmental Working Group, indoor pollution is one of the most dangerous environmental hazards to health—and cleaning products are a major contributor.
Strong chemical-based cleansers have can even have immediately apparent side effects like eye, skin, and respiratory irritation; headaches; dizziness; fatigue; and nausea. The potential long-term effects are even worse—we’re talking respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer.
Contrary to popular belief, you can get your home clean without using supplies that might give you a migraine. In fact, the DIY versions of popular products are not only just as effective, they’re inexpensive, too!
All you need to buy are six potent ingredients, plus a few spray bottles and sponges, to get started making your own cache of organic cleaning products. We’ll tell you what to buy and exactly how to make everything you need to make your home healthier—and cleaner than ever!
The great thing about making your own cleaning products is that it’s really simple—most of the recipes use much of the same ingredients in different ratios. So once you invest in the items below, you’ll be able to make a bunch of different solutions to use in every room of the house. Talk about getting more bang for your buck! Here are some of the most popular all-natural cleaning ingredients:
What can’t you use vinegar for?! We’re already borderline-obsessed with apple cider vinegar, but white vinegar is also a staple cleaning ingredient. Because it’s so acidic, it easily cuts through grease and grime. It’s also gentle enough to use on skin, so you don’t need to worry about irritation if you get some on your hands.
Scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a pantry staple that has proven virus-killing abilities. It also has the ability to absorb odors, which is why it’s often used as an air-freshener. If you recall fourth-grade science class, you’ll remember that adding an acid (like vinegar) to a base (like baking soda) is what you need to make a paper-mache volcano “erupt.” That same principle is what makes baking soda–and–vinegar such an effective combo for cleaning, especially in extra scummy areas.
Baking soda also has a whitening effect, which is why it’s often used in DIY detergent and toothpaste recipes.
Stock up: Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda
Naturally derived from plants, essential oils like tea tree, lavender, clove, lemon, and peppermint are used in aromatherapy, but many are naturally antibacterial or antiviral (or both!). Adding a few drops into DIY cleaning products boosts their effectiveness, but also make any concoction smell good. Only use oils in recipes that call for them—otherwise they can negate the benefits of your cleaning supplies.
Stock up: NOW Foods Essential Oils
No, it’s not for drinking (at least not right now). Vodka is about 40 percent alcohol—and alcohol is a disinfectant. Plus, it’s odorless, colorless, and dries quickly without leaving behind residue. Vodka is commonly added to multipurpose DIY spray cleaners, but it can also be used as a quick fabric refresher.
It doesn’t get more organic than this. Lemon juice is naturally antibacterial and antifungal—and it smells pretty great, too. Because it’s fairly acidic, it’s not ideal for softer surfaces like marble, but it works really well on tile and metal.
A style of soap that’s made completely from plant oils, castile soap doesn’t have any detergents or hormone-disrupting chemicals. That means is just as safe to use on skin as it is for cleaning your kitchen floor. Dr. Bronner’s unscented version is our go-to for DIY cleaning products.
Stock up: Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
Now that you have all the ingredients, you’ll need to some storage containers and cleaning tools. Here’s what to buy before you start making your natural cleaning products:
It’s surprisingly how many cleaning products you can make with just a few key ingredients. Many of these recipes will work on multiple surfaces (if it cleans the toilet bowl, it’ll work on the kitchen sink, too), so don’t feel pigeonholed into using them in only one room or area!
One note to remember: These are natural products, meaning they don’t contain chemicals or preservatives, so they do lose their potency after a period of time. While most can last up to four weeks when properly stored, it’s best to make just enough for the task at hand. Most of these recipes will make more than enough to do a full cleaning.
For quick clean-ups, this is safe to use on everything from counters to stovetops—but avoid spraying on glass (it’ll leave streaks).
Pour all ingredients into a large spray bottle. Shake well, and spray onto surface and wipe with a flannel rag (which is a little more sturdy than cotton).
For a slightly obsessively clean person, there’s nothing worse than lifting up the grate on stovetop burners and finding caked-on gunk (OK, maybe there are some things that are worse, but still. It’s pretty bad.) This scrub is just what you need to get things squeaky, shiny clean.
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Apply to stained surface with bristle brush or scrubbing side of a sponge. Scrub, wipe up residue with a wet cloth.
Honestly, it’s probably one of the dirtiest places in your kitchen—mostly because it’s just so hard to access! This three-ingredient DIY is so easy; all you need to do is mix together ACV and lemon peels, sprinkle some baking soda, give it a little scrub, and your oven will be squeaky clean.
Whether it’s a minor splatter or a major explosion, a microwave mess is inevitable at some point. And food can get particularly caked on if it goes through a few cooking cycles. Instead of standing on your tiptoes to scrub at old spaghetti stains, use the power of steam to melt away greasy messes. Bonus: It smells lemony-fresh!
Pour water in a microwavable bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water, then add the lemon halves to the bowl. Microwave on high for three to five minutes, then let the mixture sit and steam up the insides of the microwave for the next 30 minutes. Use a damp sponge to wipe clean.
Whipping out the disinfectant isn’t always mandatory, but after particularly germy tasks (like dealing with raw meat) it’s always a good idea. This all-natural version does the trick.
Add all ingredients to spray bottle. Shake to combine, then spray surfaces and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a cloth or paper towel.
Whether you’re buying organic produce or not, it’s imperative to give fruits and veggies a good scrub down before preparation. This solution removes pesticides, dirt, and waxy residue.
Add all ingredients to a spray bottle. Shake to combine, then spray liberally over produce. Rinse in cool water, and prepare as usual.
The fridge can get surprisingly nasty—think leaking leftovers and spilled meat juices (yuck!). And if it starts to smell in there, you know you’re in trouble. Give yours a thorough cleaning every six months; and take everything out first, which makes it much easier to get into all the corners and crevices.
Mix all ingredients together in a bucket until dissolved. Using a clean cloth, wipe down the shelves and walls of the fridge, rinsing and wringing the cloth out as needed.
It happens to the best of us. Somehow, a stench develops. If it’s not coming from the fridge, or the oven, or the trash, it’s probably the disposal. Food gets stuck on the blades or trapped in the corners, and grows mold and mildew. So gross. This sneaky trick cleans the blades and disinfects for a one-two punch!
Pour vinegar into ice cube trays, adding a pinch of lemon peel to each cube. Freeze. To use, run cold water and turn on disposal. Add 2 to 3 frozen vinegar cubes and let allow the disposal to run until dissolved. Repeat if necessary.
It might not be at the top of your priority list (and it’s not exactly enjoyable) but cleaning the bathroom is a necessary evil. When you ditch the bleach and toxic cleaning products, though, it’s actually not so bad. Essential oils double as disinfectants and aromatherapy—cleanliness and calm? We’ll take it.
Perfect for the porcelain throne. Use whichever essential oils you’d like, but we’re fans of lavender and eucalyptus for a soothing, botanical scent.
Add all ingredients to spray bottle, and shake to combine. Spray surface, let sit for 10 minutes, and wipe clean with a cloth or sponge.
Even those who are super dedicated to using green cleaning supplies might be tempted to use a conventional glass cleaner in order to get non-streaky mirrors and windows. Don’t worry—we’ve got your answer right here! No. More. Streaks.
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray windows and mirrors, wipe with a microfiber cloth, admire your beauty!
Discolored grout is straight up yucky. This recipe will both disinfect and whiten light-colored grout.
In a small bowl, mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (it might bubble or fizz a little) until it forms a thick paste. Stir in lemon juice to thin the mixture to desired consistency. With a small cleaning brush, apply the paste to grungy grout and scrub.
This concoction will make everyone’s favorite part of cleaning a little easier.
Add ingredients to the toilet bowl. It’ll fizz a little—don’t panic. Let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes, then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.
If you’ve got an older shower, or just have a lot of hair, your tub can be slow to drain. It’s seriously annoying—use this recipe to unclog those pipes.
Use a hair snare to clear anything trapped in the drain. Add a few drops of essential oil down the drain before you start (sometimes cleaning a drain can get a little stinky). Pour baking soda down the drain, and follow up with apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes, then pour hot water down the drain. Run cold water to see if the drain is cleared. Repeat if necessary.
This spray is safe for vinyl or tile floors, and leaving them clean without any stickiness.
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray on floor and mop up with a rag.
No time to DIY? We’ve got you covered. Here are the safest, cleanest picks for every room in your home.
Here’s everything you need to keep your kitchen clean and fresh!
These products help you get the job done, fast. No dangerous chemicals required.
Making your own non-toxic products can make the entire cleaning process a little more fun! When you know exactly what goes into what you’re using, you can rest assured that it’s safe for you and your family.
Photo credit: Kaboompics
Download the app for easy shopping on the go
By providing your mobile number, you agree to receive marketing text messages from Thrive Market. Consent not a condition to purchase. Msg & data rates apply. Msg frequency varies. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel.