Click to see a collection of frugal DIY household cleaning recipes

I originally posted this last year, but recently got into a discussion with some friends about making your own household cleaners. I was surprised at how many of my friends made their cleaners from scratch.


I know we can often find cleaners for cheap or even free, but they all contain chemicals that are so harsh! And if any of you have a sensitive-skinned child like I do, finding a gentle alternative is important.  Here are our NEW >>>> recipes for homemade cleaners  <<<< that work like a charm. As a bonus, these cleaners are also environmentally friendly!

All-purpose Cleaner

Mix equal parts water & white vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix well.

Why This Works

The acetic acid in vinegar kills viruses, germs, bacteria and mold. It also dissolves tough mineral deposits and stains like those found in sinks, toilets and tubs. This mixture can also be used as a cleaning solution in steam cleaners for carpets.


1. Do not use on marble
2. Test on a small area before using on finished wood surfaces or tile

Scented All-purpose Cleaner

1/4 cup of dish washing soap
1/4 cup of white vinegar
2 tsp of Borax
3 1/2 cups of hot water
Lemon or citrus essential oil (5-6 drops or more)

This can be used in every room of the house!

Homemade Spot Remover

Mix white vinegar and baking soda together to form a paste. Then, work the paste into the carpet stain with an old toothbrush, or something similar. Allow the paste to dry; then vacuum up the baking soda, and the stain should be gone.

You can also sprinkle baking soda directly on carpet, let sit for 15 minutes and vacuum up to eliminate carpet odors.

Note: Some stains may need to be treated more than once.


1. Test on a small area before using on the entire carpet
2. As with any cleaner, you should avoid all contact with the eyes and prolonged contact with the skin

Furniture Polish Recipe

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice


1. Combine olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl or spray bottle.
2. Use a clean cloth to rub a small amount of the polish into your furniture.
3. Wipe dry with another cloth.

Tips and Warnings

1. Do not reuse spray bottles that have contained other chemicals
2. Shake before each use to recombine ingredients
3. Cheap olive oil works just as well as more expensive grades
4. Smaller batches can be made, if you prefer to use fresh polish each time you dust – just maintain the ratio found in the recipes

All-natural Bleach

Replace that bulky bleach jug with something better: a lemon.

To Whiten Clothes:

Add a cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle to boost the whitening action of your laundry detergent.

To Remove Stains From Clothing:

Pour lemon juice over the stain. Then, rub the area with salt; and place the garment out in the sun for several hours. Wash as usual.

To Remove Stains From Countertops and Other Hard Surfaces:

Create a paste of lemon juice and baking soda. Then, apply the mixture to the stain, and allow it to sit for several hours. Wipe clean, and the stain should be gone.

Note: Some stains may require a second treatment.

To Sanitize:

Rub half of a lemon over the surface that needs to be sanitized, or apply lemon juice straight from the bottle. Then, rinse with water.

Tips and Warnings:

1. Do not clean marble surfaces with lemon. This can lead to etching.

2. Use a paste of lemon juice and baking soda to remove stains from plastic storage containers.

Thanks about.com!

We have some FAB NEW recipes for homemade cleaners. Do you have any that pack an all-natural punch?


  • Lynda

    I’m sorry your girl was sick. I’d love to the recipes for the cleaners you posted. You mentioned you used a whole bottle of carpet cleaner. Did you use the all-purpose cleaner for that or a commercial brand? I saw the carpet spot removal recipe but it doesn’t come in a bottle. Anyway-I just want to make sure I use the right one for the same kind of sick messes we’ll eventually get at our house too. Thanks!

  • Jen

    Great post! I just cleaned an entire bathroom with vinegar & water… you can do the same with hydrogen peroxide & water too 🙂

  • Sara

    Dish soap is about the best de-greaser out there. I’ve been making my own kitchen spray for years, using water, a few tablespoons of dish soap, and essential oils. I sometimes use vinegar as a disinfectant, but don’t relish the smell. There are many essential oils that carry anti-bacterial properties, so I tend to use them. It’s wonderful!!! And CHEAP! And safe for your health.

  • Martha

    I second that about adding essential oils. I love mine!!! And they are so great to add for their antibacterial and immunity boosting properties.

  • Heather Jones

    Vinegar is also an all natural way to kill weeds to maintain an organic garden/yard. It will kill your grass, so be careful to apply directly to the weed. It works amazingly on those pesky dandelions. It is MUCH cheaper than Round Up or Weed Be Gone, and is safe for the kids and animals immediately afterwards.

    • Sophie

      I never knew this! I was going to go buy some round up this weekend, but I will try this! Thanks for the tip.

  • Alexis

    Thanks! When you spray w/the vinegar spray, doesn’t it make everything smell vinegar-ey afterward?

  • Tiffany

    I’ve used baking soda many a time on puke spots…ugh, sorry….but you know when you are holding you baby in your bed or on the couch and it just happens and gets everywhere 🙁 I clean up as much as possible and then sprinkle baking soda all over and leave it – sometimes for a good 24 hrs – then clean off with warm soapy water…and the smell is gone.

    Sorry your little girl is sick, hope she gets better soon!

    Oh- I just discoverd the trick of using fabric sheets (after you’ve used them in the dryer) to get soap scum off the shower – not perfect but does a good job! Maybe it would be perfect if I didnt let mine build up so much, haha!

  • me and my gang

    Please more posts on natural cleaners. Please, Please!
    If you find any more ideas on cleaners with out vinegar, I agree with Alexis everything smells vinegar-ey. It can give me a headache.
    I would also like more information on my favorite thrifty blog about these essential oils, Where do you get them? How do you use them? My favorite part of cleaning is the way it smells when you are done, clean and fresh!

    • Martha

      Me and my gang:

      I’m sure there are a lot of opinions about essential oils out there, but I LOVE the ones I use. You can buy them in a lot of places locally, but the ones I use I’ve found out of Utah and i order them online. They are 100% pure theraputic grade and I can use any of them for anything (cleaning, healing, nutrition, etc.). My family has benefited from them GREATLY! There are actual cleaning products you can buy that are made of essential oils, or you can buy the bottles of essential oil and use a few drops to make your own. If you are just looking for something that provides a good smell, you can probably go with anything that is cheap and inexpensive. If you are wanting something with some health benefit in addition to smelling good, let me know and I can share what i know about them. The company is Young Living if you want to check them out.

  • Paige

    This isn’t really a cleaning suggestion but I used dryer sheets to keep bees away last summer and it worked amazingly well. We had a bees’ nest near our patio and were eating outside with the kids. I stuck a few in the umbrella of our patio table and didn’t see a bee all afternoon (they had been swarming all over previously). I used unused ones but this was to treat a very severe bee issue. I bet if it was just a handful around used ones would work great.

    • Tiffany

      oooh, I am going to try this…who knew those little fabric softener sheets could be so useful!

    • Michele

      My nephew is really allergic to bees…so she wipes him down with dryer sheets when they’re camping. It has worked great for them!

    • tascha

      You can also use your used dryer sheets to clean all of the lint out of your lint trap… the fresh ones will also keep mosquitos away, camping keep it in your pocket lol

  • emilee

    One thrifty cleaning tip I have is washing your plastice shower curtain in your washing machine with your towels, laudry soap and 1 cup of vingear. It will come out looking like new. Just hang it back up to dry. I have had the same shower curtain for 3 years by doing this. I do spend a little more money getting one (like the $7 ones at Target) but it lasts me for years.

  • Brandi

    I would also like to see more of these tips! I just cleaned my bathtub the other day and felt like I had inhaled toxic chemicals all day! I hate feeling like I need to leave the house after cleaning from all the chemicals! Any suggestions for bathtubs and hard water would be great!!!

  • Nanci

    Here’s an easy recipe to make your own dishwasher soap

    and another to make your own laundry soap (liquid) http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm

  • Erica

    I save my citrus peels and then put them in a glass jar and fill it with white vinegar and let it sit for about a month and give it a good shake every couple of days. Then I strain it twice and mix it with water, 1 part to 4 parts water but if you don’t want it as strong you could mix it with up to 7 parts water. I use it to clean just about everything in the kitchen and bath, walls and that kind of thing. I spray it in the bathtub and then sprinkle baking soda all over and wipe it down, it works great! and I don’t have to worry about it hurting my little ones if they get into it. I used to make my own laundry soap too but it didn’t work so great on kids dirt. You can use vinegar instead of fabric softener too.

  • kimberly

    I tried making my own windex this week it worked very badly. dose anyone have a good one they use?

    On carpet stains I used a paste with oxy clean and water. I worked it into the stain and then when it dried vacummed it up. It worked well.

  • Carpet Cleaning State College

    A white vinegar solution will work on some stains but not on others. Some spots will respond better with a detergent solution, and others with an ammonia solution. There is a nice carpet spotting guide on the website of the Carpet and Rug Institute which lists numerous types of spots and the best home spotting solution to use. Depending on the type of carpet, using the wrong product can actually set a stain, making it permanent, so be careful. Homemade solutions are fine, but make sure you use the right one for the type of spot you have. If in doubt, seek professional help.

  • Deserae

    A half and half mix of peroxide and water in a spray bottle works great for stains on things like mattresses. It “bleaches” away the stain very easily. Peroxide looses it’s effectiveness after time so only make a small batcha nd use right away.

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