11 Homemade Natural Cleaning Products – DIY Recipes & Uses
The household cleaning aisle at your local big box retailer can be a dizzying place – and not just because of the overwhelming number of options. The cost of housecleaning products is equally as staggering. However, rather than spend a huge portion of your paycheck on cleaning product, you can simply use a few common items that you may already have around your house to create your own solutions.
There are a number of recurring items in household cleaning solutions. Here are several common, versatile items and what you can expect to pay for them:
- Baking Soda. Baking soda is a hardworking cleaning item that is both versatile and very inexpensive. Baking soda on Amazon.com costs slightly more than $1 per pound ($17 for a 13.5-pound bag).
- Distilled White Vinegar. Like baking soda, distilled white vinegar is both versatile and inexpensive, and it can be used as a nontoxic disinfecting agent. Anytime “vinegar” is referred to throughout these tips, it’s safe to assume that I’m referring to distilled white vinegar unless otherwise specified. You can buy a one-and-one-third-gallon jug of distilled white vinegar at Costco for $3.29.
- Hydrogen Peroxide. You might already have this in antiseptic solution in your medicine cabinet. If not, swing by the local drug store. Walgreens sells 16-ounce bottles of hydrogen peroxide for just $1.09.
- Cotton Balls. Supermarkets, drugstores, and dollar stores all carry large packs of cotton balls. If you’re paying more than three or four pennies per cotton ball, you’re probably paying too much.
- Liquid Dish Soap. You probably already have liquid dish soap, but you might want to stock up on a bit more if you’re using it for multipurpose cleaning solutions. There’s no need to buy a fancy brand. You can get a 24-ounce bottle of Target’s private label liquid dish soap for $2.
- Salt. Chances are, you don’t keep salt with your cleaning supplies. However, you might want to start doing so. Any table salt will do, though a coarser salt (like sea salt) is a good option. Amazon.com sells a three-pound box of coarse kosher saltfor $7.
- Lemon. Pick up a lemon the next time you’re at a grocery store, typically for less than a dollar. You can always use part of it as a garnish in your cocktail.
- Cheap Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol. If you’re over the age of 21, consider purchasing a bottle of inexpensive vodka to keep with your cleaning supplies (and out of reach of children, just like with the rest of your cleaning supplies). You can purchase a one-liter bottle of vodka for $7. If you’re under 21 or aren’t comfortable having vodka in your home, rubbing alcohol is a great substitute. Both CVS and Walgreens sell a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol for around $2.27.
- Corn Starch. A tablespoon of corn starch can be used in a glass cleaning solution. Expect to pay around $3 for a 16-ounce container.
- Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil has microbial properties that make it an effective cleaner. You can buy four ounces for approximately $10, which sounds expensive until you realize that you only need a few drops at a time. If that still sounds like too much money, skip it – you can create great cleaning solutions without it.
You also need some basic cleaning supplies:
- Nylon Scrub Brush. A brush costs between $4 and $7 but can be disinfected (with vinegar or alcohol) and reused over and over.
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. Paper towels are a smaller financial investment up front, but the cost adds up quickly. Consider investing in one or two microfiber cleaning cloths, which can be washed and reused. You can expect to pay less than $2 per cloth.
- Spray Mop. An inexpensive spray mop can be found at a big box retailer or online for around $25. For an even less expensive alternative, skip the mop and use a bucket and cloth instead.
- Spray Bottles. Cheap spray bottles and containers can be bought at big box retailers or via Amazon.com for less than $2 per bottle. You can reuse these bottles indefinitely – just remember to keep refilling it with the same solution. You don’t want to accidentally mix a new solution with residue that was previously in the bottle and risk creating a toxic blend.
- Pumice Stone. Pumice stones are used to help break down and remove tough mineral deposits and stains. You may also recognize them from the nail salon if you get pedicures. While not a “must-have” item, a pumice stone can help with stubborn stains, particularly in your bathroom. Expect to pay between $2 and $3 for one stone.
You’re also going to need a bucket and towel, as well as some water. The only other investment you need to make is time – and then you can get to work on the following tasks.
1. Removing Stains From Carpets
My husband and I inherited a rug that had two disconcerting pink stains, and they were clearly set in. We each tackled one of the spots – my husband used a name-brand commercial cleaner, and I used the homemade recipe below. My version won by a mile in terms of effectiveness, and it’s also eco-friendly and cheap.
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Nylon (or similar) scrub brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Douse With Baking Soda. Cover the entire stain with a thorough coating of baking soda.
- Mix Your Solution. In a spray bottle, combine a half-and-half blend of white vinegar and water.
- Spray the Stain. While leaving the baking soda on the carpet, thoroughly spray the stained area with your vinegar and water blend. You’ll get to watch the baking soda foam up like in seventh grade science class. (Don’t worry, it’s harmless.)
- Wait for the Solution to Set. Let the mixture sit on the stain for at least three hours.
- Scrub. Using your nylon brush, gently work the cleaning solutions into the stain. Be careful not to rub too hard or you risk disturbing the fibers of your carpet.
- Wait for the Solution to Dry. Let the carpet dry overnight.
- Vacuum. By the next day, the vinegar and water solution should be dry, leaving a chalky baking soda residue. Clean this with a vacuum cleaner, and if any residue remains, gently scrub with a clean cloth.
2. Tackling Yellowing Underarms on White T-Shirts
White shirts tend to attract yellow underarm stains. Don’t blame sweat – it’s usually a reaction from the ingredients in your deodorant. To combat these stubborn and unsightly stains, all you need are several items that you probably have lying around your house already.
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Smaller bowl or container
- Soak the Shirt. In the bucket, combine one cup of vinegar and two cups of warm water. Add your shirt and allow it to soak for about half an hour.
- Mix the Solution. In the smaller container, combine a half-cup of baking soda, one tablespoon of salt, and one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Using a spoon, mix it together until it forms a paste.
- Coat Stains and Allow the Solution to Set. Lay out the towel and place the shirt on top, exposing the stains. Thoroughly coat the stains with the paste, and allow it to sit for another half-hour or so.
- Wash. Run a load of laundry, washing your shirt as you normally would. Check the shirt before throwing it in the dryer – the stains should be gone, but if they’re still present, do not put it in the dryer, as the stains will set in further. Instead, repeat the process and launder the shirt again.
3. Cleaning Tile and Wood Floors
If you’re convinced that you need specialized cleaners for every surface in your house, it’s time to rethink. Sealed wood floors and any non-porous tile (such as porcelain) can be thoroughly cleaned to a sparkling shine with a little vinegar and water.
- White vinegar
- Spray mop, or bucket and cloth
Vinegar does have a distinctive smell, so you may want to work in a well-ventilated area if possible (proper ventilation is important for any scenario in which you’re using cleaning materials, though ventilation is less critical when using nontoxic recipes such as the ones in this list). If the smell bothers you, consider adding a drop or two of essential oil. Citrus scents, such as orange and lemon, are especially pleasant in the kitchen and evoke a sense of “cleanness” for many people. Others prefer lavender, vanilla, or eucalyptus.
- Mix Your Solution. Combine approximately one cup of white vinegar with one gallon of warm (not hot) water. You can use a fraction of the solution if you’re only working on a small area, but the solution stores just fine for later, so don’t be afraid to make the whole batch. If desired, add a drop or two of essential oil.
- Spray and Wipe Your Floors. If you’re using a spray mop, fill the mop’s reservoir with your homemade solution. Spray and wipe your floors, being careful not to over-saturate wood floors. Everything should be left scrubbed and gleaming – not soggy. Wring out your cloth each time after dipping it in the water. If necessary, wipe everything with a clean, dry cloth. Be careful – newly cleaned floors can be very slippery.