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!
6 organic ingredients you need to make DIY cleaning products
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
Other tools needed for natural cleaning products
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:
- A spray bottle
- Small mason jars
- Large mason jars
- Natural sponge
- Natural bristle brush for dishes
- 100 percent recycled paper towels or
- Old cotton or flannel rags (that have been washed)
DIY recipes for all-natural home 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.
All-purpose surface cleaner
For quick clean-ups, this is safe to use on everything from counters to stovetops—but avoid spraying on glass (it’ll leave streaks).
- ¾ cup of water
- ¼ cup rubbing alcohol or vodka
- 5-10 drops tea tree, peppermint, orange, or lemon essential oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid castile soap
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.
- ¼ cup castile soap
- ¼ cup baking soda
- 5 drops clove oil (or essential oil of your choice)
- A few drops of water
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!
- 4 cups water
- 1 lemon
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.
Tea tree and lemon disinfecting cleanser
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.
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops lemon essential oil
- 2 cups boiled and slightly cooled water
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.
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup water
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.
- 1 gallon warm water
- 1 tablespoon castile soap
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
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.
Garbage disposal freshener
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!
- 16 ounces white or apple cider vinegar
- Peel of 1 lemon, coarsely grated
- Ice cube tray
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.
Essential oil disinfecting bathroom spray
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.
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup vodka
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 1 ½ boiled and slightly cooled water
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.
Mirror and window cleaner
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.
- 2 cups distilled water, boiled and cooled
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray windows and mirrors, wipe with a microfiber cloth, admire your beauty!
Lemon whitening grout cleaner
Discolored grout is straight up yucky. This recipe will both disinfect and whiten light-colored grout.
- ½ cup baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Half a lemon, juiced
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.
Toilet bowl cleaner
This concoction will make everyone’s favorite part of cleaning a little easier.
- ½ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 10 drops tea tree oil
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.
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup distilled apple cider vinegar
- 3 drops lemon or peppermint essential oil
- 32 ounces boiling water
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.
Floor cleaning spray
This spray is safe for vinyl or tile floors, and leaving them clean without any stickiness.
- 5 ounces boiled and cooled water
- 5 ounces white vinegar
- 5 ounces rubbing alcohol
- 3 drops lemon essential oil
- 2 drops orange essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray on floor and mop up with a rag.
Natural cleaning products you can buy
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!
- Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner: For tabletops, stovetops, and everything in between.
- Bon Ami: Perfect for scrubbing and cleaning those tough, caked-on messes.
- Mrs, Meyer’s Lemon Verbena Multi-Surface Concentrate: Use this bright, citrus-scented soap concentrate for pretty much anything. We like it for dishwashing and mopping dirty floors.
These products help you get the job done, fast. No dangerous chemicals required.
- Drainbo: This formula contains seven strains of bacteria, which basically act like probiotics for your bathroom’s pipes! The idea is the bacteria eats away at the waste and mildew that clogs drains, but point is, this stuff works.
- Ecover Pine Fresh Toilet Cleaner: Made with renewable, plant-based ingredients, this biodegradable formula is septic tank–safe.
- Green Shield Organic Glass Cleaner: Works just as well as sprays that promise streak-free shine—just without the toxic, nasty chemicals.
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