Make Your Own Cleaners

By Christine Halvorson and Kenneth M. Sheldon
June 15, 2009

Make your own cleaning products. Homemade cleaners are simple and a great way to save money.

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

Oven Cleaner

2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
2 teaspoons borax
¼ cup ammonia
1–½ 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.

Easy Scrub

¾ cup baking soda
¼ 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 ¼ teaspoon lemon juice to the paste.

Jewelry Cleaner

¼ cup ammonia
¼ cup dishwashing liquid
¾ 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.)

Heavy-Duty Disinfectant Cleaner

¼ cup powdered laundry detergent
1 tablespoon borax
¾ cup hot water
¼ cup pine oil, or pine-based cleaner

Slowly stir the detergent and borax into the water to dissolve. Add the pine oil (available at hardware stores and supermarkets) and mix well. For bathroom cleaning, use the mixture full strength. In the kitchen, dilute it with water.

Wood Floor Polish

½ cup vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil

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

Rug Cleaner

¼ teaspoon dishwashing liquid
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 nongreasy stains. (Don't use laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent in place of dishwashing liquid, as they may contain additives that can affect the rug's color.)

Toilet Cleaner

1 cup borax
¼ 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.

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.

Floor Wax Remover

1 cup laundry detergent
¾ 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.

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.

Glass Cleaner

2 tablespoons ammonia
½ cup alcohol
¼ 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 nonammoniated cleaner, substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.

Carpet Freshener

1 cup crushed dried herbs (such as rosemary, southernwood, 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.

Scrubbing hand General-Purpose Cleaner

1 teaspoon borax
½ teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons vinegar
¼ 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.


The 1999 Old Farmer's Almanac Home Library Series

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Floor wax

Someone got in my car with commercial floor was on his hand and foot. It's on the inside handle and carpet. How can I remove this without damage?

can you share the recipe

can you share the recipe .Please

Is there a homemade recipe to

Is there a homemade recipe to clean larger silver items even brass items. Any suggestions beside store bought stuff?

By "store bought stuff" we

The Editors's picture

By "store bought stuff" we assume you mean chemicals. Brass can be cleaned using ketchup. Rub a small amount over brass using a soft rag and then wash and rinse the it.
For silver, line the bottom of non-aluminum dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. In the dish, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a quart of hot water. Soak the silver item for a half hour (the time may vary depending on degree of tarnish). Buff with clean, dry cloth.

Fabric softeners and

Fabric softeners and commercial disinfectants as components of DIY cleaners? Isn't that the stuff we're trying to avoid?

I got olive oil or butter

I got olive oil or butter dripped on Ultrasuede slipper and can't get it out. I used Dawn dish washing soap, spray oxy clean and laundry detergent rubbed in before putting them into the laundry. None of these worked. It was good to learn that they went through the washing machine very well.

Oil stains on suede need to

The Editors's picture

Oil stains on suede need to be treated immediately, usually by a liberal application of baking soda or cornstarch to soak up the oil. At this point you can try moistening a cloth with vinegar and brushing it onto the spot. Do not allow the vinegar to soak the slipper. Apply with a light hand.

Hi. How long do your

Hi. How long do your cleansers keep?I'd
Like to make them once or twice per month I'd possible, but not sure if the ingredients keep well. The all purpose hand cleaner looks like oit would work as a scrub for the tub? Would it t? Thanks so much

The shelf-life of homemade

The Editors's picture

The shelf-life of homemade cleaners vary. Cleaners containing herbs will lose their effectiveness after a few weeks, so use those up quickly. If the cleaner contains lemon juice, it is best to use it up within a few days. If the acidic component is vinegar, it will last years. And always remember to carefully label homemade cleaners.



|I have pets but of course

|I have pets but of course want a neat looking lawn without the weeds and without toxic weed killers! A great weed killer that is harmless to my pets is one that I heard of on a radio home improvement show. 1 gallon of vinegar, one cup of salt and dishwashing liquid. Heat the vinegar slightly and add the cup of salt and 8 drops of dishwashing liquid. Stir till it is well mixed then pour into spray bottles. Will get rid of pretty well any weed, but will also kill grass, so be careful if using it for spot treatment of weeds. Harmless to my pets, so I use it whenever I need it.

My husband had a lung removed

My husband had a lung removed in the latter part of 2009, we spent 4 months in the hospital. I worried about how to keep things clean and sanitized so I asked the girl that was cleaning the rooms. She told me the crap they use at the hospital wasn't any good for home use, it would do more harm then good. So I read a bottle of hand sanitizer and bought the ingredeance made my own cleaners, out of alcohol & aloe, for sanitize the bathroom and the kitchen. While I was looking for something to wash the clothing in I found baking soda & vinegar cleans and whitens as well as softens. I hope this help someone out there. None of this has a harsh smell either :) As for an oven cleaner I use a paste made up of poroxcide and baking soda,aply a good amount let set of a while and when I go back to wipe it off it looks like new:) I hope all of these little things may help some one out the reading this.

I just wanted you to know

I just wanted you to know that I have linked your site to my blog "Frugal for Everyone". My blog deals with cutting the cost of groceries but since April is spring cleaning time along with Earth month it made sense to combine being frugal with being environmentally smart. Using natural clean-ing products accomplishes this.

A friend shared what has

A friend shared what has become my favorite 'all purpose' spray cleaner. 1 part each of alcohol, vinegar, and water (I use 2 parts water and still works great!). We hated the vinegary smell so put the alcohol in a quart canning jar and added peels of 5-6 lemons and limes. Let it sit for about 10 days, strained and refrigerated. Now we use that alcohol in the recipe and it works and smells wonderful.

I never use fabric softner,

I never use fabric softner, instead 1/2 cup vinegar. No vinegar smell on clothes, if you want add some essential oils to vinegar. If static is a issue wad up some aluminum foil into a ball and put in the dryer. I also make a all purpose cleaner by soaking lemon peel in vinegar for about 10 days the straining, works great as a daily shower cleaner no scrubing.

Hello, This is somewhat

This is somewhat embarrassing. I have a son with autism and he rocks back and forth all day and the room smells of sweat. Furthermore, he smokes. I cannot stand the smell in my living room and I will not even have visitors over. I have tried vinegar in bowls but it does not work. Does anyone know of a POWERFUL room deodorizer? I would appreciate any help!!!!

Josephine, Because your child

The Editors's picture

Josephine, Because your child has autism, he may be very sensitive to perfumes and chemicals. We'd suggest consulting with your doctor or You may find this autism Facebook community a great place to start: This is another wonderful community: We wish you all the best. Kind regards, TOFA

Hi Elyzabeth! A great way to

Hi Elyzabeth!
A great way to get rid of smells around the house without overpowering perfumes is 3 cups HOT water, 3 heaping tablespoons of baking soda, and 1/8 cup fabric softener. Mix all 3 ingredients together in a spray bottle until the baking soda is dissolved and you're good to go. If the smell is REALLY tough you can add 1-2 tablespoons of white vinegar. I find it usually does the trick without having to use vinegar though. Hope this works well for you!!

For deodorizer

Have you tried boiling lemons or cinnamon sticks. I have done the cinnamon sticks for the fall and then added some lemon slice see it's wonderful

Homemade Stain Remover

Homemade Stain Remover (Shout)

2/3 cups Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
(I had Palmolive on hand, so that's what I used)
2/3 cups ammonia
6 Tblsp baking soda
2 cups warm water

Mix everything together and pour into a spray bottle. I got this one at Wal-Mart for about a buck. (I actually got SEVERAL of them for the array of natural/homemade cleaners I have started using. My inventory continues to expand!)

Before you go to use it...if it's been sitting for awhile...give it a good shake. As you can see in this does tend to separate a bit. But after a quick shake it's good to go. To use: spray on stains as you normally would. I usually let mine "soak in" for a few minutes at least. Then launder as usual.

In this case, since the chocolate stain posed a bit more of a challenge...I took a few extra seconds (literally, that's all it took) and rubbed the fabric together where I'd sprayed and when I was finished was somewhat shocked to see the stain was practically already GONE! It's still there....but barely visible. My old bottle of "real" Shout never did that!

Yes Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

Yes Dawn Dishwashing Liquid is a great stain remover. My sister use to go to a Chili Cook Off and the cooks there use Dawn on their chef coats to remove the grease and stains. I guess if anyone should know what to use on kitchen messes on clothing it would be professional cooks. My sister uses it to pre-treat all her dirty clothes before throwing them in the washer. Once I ran out of my regular cold water wash for my delicates and ended up using Dawn instead. It must have a water softener as well as a degreaser in it because my white delicates came out a bright white. They were whiter than white. I also am a dedicated user of Dawn now.

I agree. Dawn has to be one

I agree. Dawn has to be one of the best oil/grease removers. They use it on animals that are rescued from oil and chemical spills because it's gentle and really works.

I am trying to remember where

I am trying to remember where I read how to get mustard out of clothing. I thought I had read on here to use alchol.Help will be muchly appreciated.

Always get the stain right

Always get the stain right when it happens. Do spot washes and rinses with vinegar and cold water. Don't put articles in the dryer until you know the stain is completely out.

Hydrogen peroxide...diluted

Hydrogen peroxide...diluted with water if necessary but spray spot and set out in sun until stain disappears

My Home Made Laundry Soap is

My Home Made Laundry Soap is < not sure exactly how much it makes , I use an old 27 lbs kitty litter container to hold it , 2 boxes of 20 Mule Borax < 2.49 per box > 2 boxes of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda < 1.79 per box > 2 bars of Phels Naptha Soap grated < 0.99 per bar > mix all this together well and out in an air tight container > 1/4 tblspn for a normal load 1/2 tblspn for dirtier loads. this lasts me about 12 months so for $10.50 you get a years worth.. Hope this helps

Is this safe for front load

Is this safe for front load HE washers?

Yes! I moved over to a

Yes! I moved over to a version of this 3 years ago. The only difference is that I add the Fels Naptha to 4 c boiling water dissolving it and then add the washing soda and borax. After it cools down I blend it in the blender to make a mayonnaise like paste which dissolves in warm and cold water really well. The one thing I would add is that over time there is a slight build up and I now use 1/4 c vinegar in the softener section. Borax/washing soda/fels naptha work great on most stains. Vinegar works on the rest and softens as well. I own a Whirlpool Duet HE machine. I also have hard water and a tsp of sea salt has also helped tremendously.

in addition to cleaners i

in addition to cleaners i make my own laundry detergent for the past year. cost about 2.00 for 200 large washes , no suds, clothes smell fresh and great for the new low suds machines .i will never use sore laudry detergent again.

Wow that is great, can you

Wow that is great, can you share your recipe? and can it be used in HE washers?