Making your own cleaning products is a good way to save money and control the use of chemicals in your home. Most of the following recipes are made from nontoxic ingredients, but there are some chemicals as well. If you store any of these, be sure to label them so you know what is in the container —and keep these and any household cleaners out of the reach of children and pets!

Here are some simple recipes for the most common household chores.

Window cleaner

  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar in a quart of warm water
  • Spray bottle with club soda
Put in a spray bottle

Consumer Reports' tried-and-true window cleaner: 

  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup soapy ammonia
Mix well, put in spray bottles and label


  • 20-30 drops of tea tree extract
  • 3 tablespoons castile soap
  • White vinegar
Mix in a 16-ounce sprayer and top with water

All-purpose cleaner

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • Club soda
Mix in a spray bottle

Non-abrasive cleaner

Shake baking soda on surface or damp sponge and scrub

  • 1 part baking soda
  • 1 part lemon juice
Make a paste and use a sponge to clean

Toilet bowl cleaner

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
Flush the toilet, sprinkle in the baking soda, spray with vinegar and scrub

Bath tile mold prevention

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part bleach
Spray and wipe off with a warm, damp sponge

Grout mold cleaner

  • 1 part hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 parts water
Combine in spray bottle. Spray, let sit for an hour, wipe with a damp sponge

Drain cleaner (not for full clogs)

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup of baking soda
Pour baking soda then vinegar down drain. Let sit for 10 minutes and flush with boiling water followed by warm tap water until drain clears.

Use a plunger

Partially fill sink/tub with water. Plunge for 20 seconds and pull the plunger quickly from the drain

Furniture polish

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
Mix and polish with soft cloth

Air freshener

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda (add an essential oil or cologne for fragrance if you want)

Mix in spray bottle

Carpet cleaner/deodorizer

Sprinkle carpet with baking soda. Let it sit for a half-hour and vacuum

All-purpose floor cleaner

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 gallon water
Mix and mop (Note: Vinegar should not be used on grout or marble)

Wood floor cleaner

  • Few drops of dish soap
  • 1 gallon of warm water
Mix and damp mop

Dishwasher liquid

  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 drops tea tree extract
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
Stir water and soap together. Add rest of ingredients and stir until blended. Put in squeeze bottle. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

(From "Natural Cleaning for Your Home: 95 Pure and Simple Recipes," by Casey Keller)

Dishwashing rinse

  • White vinegar
Pour vinegar into the compartment

Garbage disposal freshener

Grind orange and lemon peels in the disposal.

Laundry detergent

  • 1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory, Fels-Naptha or Zote)
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
Stir together until combined well and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavy soils). This is low-suds and should work well for front-loading laundry machines.

Fabric softener

Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to rinse cycle

These ideas should save you money and put your mind at ease about using too many chemicals. Please feel free to comment with your own recipes or share the results if you've tried any of these.

Anne Burkley originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.

Related green cleaning stories on MNN: