Homemade House Cleaners That Are Safe

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DIY Cleaning Solutions

Christine Halvorson and Kenneth M. Sheldon
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Using ingredients you probably already have, here are 12 homemade house cleaners, including an all-purpose cleaner, drain cleaner, jewelry cleaner, and more! These safe DIY cleaning solutions will do the trick for almost every household cleaning job.

Mix up your own cleaners using some common household items! Not only does this save money, but you can often whip up these cleaners on the spot. Plus, you’ll know what’s inside your household cleaners. You don’t have to use toxic chemicals to get your home clean. 

In general, you can rely on the staples such as:

  • Lemon juice: The acidity removes mineral deposits and wax or grease buildup
  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate): Cleans and deodorizes
  • Mild liquid soap (castile, olive oil soap)
  • White vinegar: Removes wax or grease build-up
  • Vegetable oil: Natural polisher
  • Borax (sodium borate): Removes mildew

WARNING: Never mix cleaning products containing bleach and ammonia, as dangerous fumes will result.

1. General-Purpose Cleaner

1 teaspoon borax
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
2 cups hot water

Combine all the ingredients. If you don’t have washing soda (generally found in the laundry section of supermarkets), use 1 teaspoon baking soda instead. For a more pleasant smell, use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Be sure to label the bottle accordingly.

2. Oven Cleaner

2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
2 teaspoons borax
1/4 cup ammonia
1–1/2 cups warm water

Mix the ingredients together, apply to oven spills, and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Scrub with an abrasive nylon-backed sponge and rinse well.

3. Easy Scrub

3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup borax
dishwashing liquid

Combine the baking soda and borax. Mix in enough dishwashing liquid to make a smooth paste. If you prefer a pleasant smell, add 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice to the paste.

4. Jewelry Cleaner

1/4 cup ammonia
1/4 cup dishwashing liquid
3/4 cup water

Mix all the ingredients well, then soak your jewelry in the solution for a few minutes. Clean around the stones and designs with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Buff dry. (Caution: Don’t use this with gold-plated jewelry; with soft stones such as pearls, opals, or jade; or with costume jewelry, because it could ruin the plastics or loosen the glue.)

5. Wood Floor Polish

1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients well, rub on the floor, and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

6. Rug Cleaner

1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap
1 cup lukewarm water

Combine the ingredients. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution over a large area, or use the solution to spot-clean non-greasy stains. (Do not use laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent in place of liquid dish soap, as they may contain additives that can affect the rug’s color.)

7. Toilet Cleaner

1 cup borax
1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice

Combine the ingredients to make a paste. Apply it to the inside of the toilet bowl, let sit for 1 to 2 hours, and scrub.

8. Mildew Remover

1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent
1 quart chlorine bleach
2 quarts water

Combine all the ingredients in a pail. Wearing rubber gloves, wash off the mildew.

9. Floor Wax Remover

1 cup laundry detergent
3/4 cup ammonia
1 gallon warm water

Mix all the ingredients together and apply to a small area of the floor. Let the solution sit long enough for it to loosen the old wax, at least 5 to 10 minutes. Mop up the old wax (or scrape it up, if there’s a lot of it, using a squeegee and a dustpan). Rinse thoroughly with 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon water and let dry before applying a new finish.

10. Furniture Polish

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon boiled linseed oil
1 tablespoon turpentine

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until blended. Dampen a cloth with cold water and wring it out until it’s as dry as you can get it. Saturate the cloth with the mixture and apply sparingly to a small area at a time. Let dry for about 30 minutes, then polish with a soft cloth. Note that this mixture gets gummy as it sits, so make just enough for one day’s work.

11. Glass Cleaner

2 tablespoons ammonia
1/2 cup alcohol
1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
a few drops blue food coloring

Combine the ammonia, alcohol, dishwashing liquid, and food coloring, then add enough water to make 1 quart. If you prefer a non-ammoniated cleaner, substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.

12. Carpet Freshener

1 cup crushed dried herbs (such as rosemary, artemisia, or lavender)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda

Combine all the ingredients in a large jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend. Sprinkle some of the mixture on your carpet, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum it up. It will give the room a pleasant smell and neutralize carpet odors.

Are we missing any cleaning solutions that you’d like to have on hand? Please let us know in the comments below.

See our article on natural cleaning and the 6 ingredients that get the job done.

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Under the guiding hand of its first editor, Robert B. Thomas, the premiere issue of The Old Farmer’s Almanac was published in 1792. Read More from The Editors

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