We’re bringing you a list of our favorite green cleaning products you can make at home. But before we get started, let’s take a minute to talk about why you should bother making your own green cleaning products when stores are loaded with options – even ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ ones.
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Good Housekeeping’s editors is spouting the virtue of DIY green cleaning products for house cleaning. They offer up their favorite homemade cleaners – but why?
Every year, the list of chemicals that aren’t safe grows, and the number of products on the market that meet every health recommendation you’ve read shrinks. That’s good motivation for turning to the kitchen cupboard for solutions. The green cleaning products you can make at home often cost a fraction of the price you pay for comparable store-bought cleaning products, especially if you buy the earth friendly options. They are also surprisingly easy to make, effective and safe for the kids.
DIY Bleach Alternative
Bleach is a big no-no in green cleaning. It’s a toxic chemical, dangerous for kids and adults, and can cause damage to wildlife, too. More than ¼ of the calls to the poison hotline each year are bleach related, and a fair number of them involve young children. When combined with ammonia, bleach produces a toxic gas – breathing it is potentially fatal.
I don’t love bleach, but I do love this DIY bleach alternative from The Hippy Homemaker:
A DIY Alternative with All of Bleach’s Cleaning Power, and None of Its Dangers
- 1 1/2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. of citric acid (this is an optional ingredient. It naturally whitens clothes and helps to soften water. If you’ve got hard water, try it.)
- Slightly less than 1 gallon of distilled water
- 10-30 drops of lemon essential oil or another essential oil of your choice
- Pour all ingredients except water into a gallon jug. Swirl until citric acid is dissolved.
- Add distilled water to fill the jug.
- Use in place of bleach around the home and in the laundry room.
This homemade green cleaning product is perfect for softening clothes, tackling tough stains, and using almost any way you would regular bleach.
NOTE: Test a little on any fabric before using for stain removal – just like regular bleach, this is a powerful cleaning agent and germ killer. Don’t use it on anything you wouldn’t normally bleach.
DIY Oven Cleaner
Stubborn stains in your oven? I know the feeling. Anytime you cook something delicious – like cookies, pies, or a holiday feast, splatter is inevitable. Caramelized sugar, gravy drippings, and all manner of ick bake and broil their way into stains and getting them off without cleaners with more warnings on their labels than instructions can be a challenge.
Don’t sweat it. Put away the hazmat suit your old store-bought oven surface cleaner required, and rest assured that this recipe and guide will get your oven clean without leaving a toxic mess in the place you prep your food:
A Sparkling Clean Oven with No Tough Scrubbing
- 1 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1/2 cup of sea salt
- 1/2 cup of washing soda
- Enough filtered or distilled water to make a thin paste
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar
- 10 drops of lemon essential oil
- 10 drops Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil
- Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature setting. Turn it off once it reaches temperature.
- Mix baking soda, sea salt, and washing soda in a small bowl.
- Add your essential oils and vinegar to the baking soda mix (the mixture will fizz a little bit – remember grade school vinegar and baking soda volcanoes?)
- Slowly add water until the mixture forms a thin paste. Make sure the mix is thin enough to spread on your oven walls, and doesn’t clump.
- Spread the oven cleaner paste inside your oven, and make sure not to miss any parts of your oven walls.
- Let the mixture work overnight, and wipe off with warm water in the morning.
NOTE: Do NOT apply the cleaner to the electric heating elements in your electric oven.
DIY Carpet Cleaner and Stain Remover
When I first saw this tip from Courtenay at The Creek Line House, I was skeptical. Once I tried it, I was hooked. If you’ve got mystery stains on your carpet, this DIY green cleaning solution is the perfect remedy.
Five Minutes To Stain-Free Fully Carpets
Ingredients and Supplies:
- An Iron
- A clean,light-colored cleaning rag
- A small bucket or cup
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 3-5 drops of dishwashing liquid
- Mix your vinegar, water, and dishwashing liquid in the bucket or cup
- Soak your rag in the liquid, and wring out.
- Place the damp rag on your mystery stain and iron it for 5-10 seconds.
- Lift the cloth to see if your stain is gone. If there’s still more residue in your carpet, iron again, using a clean portion of the cloth.
NOTE: The stain will transfer to the rag, so don’t use one you care about – just in case. Do NOT use this method to remove stains from red wine, berry juice, or permanent marker.
DIY Glass Cleaner
If you’re tired of toothpaste mess on your windows and willing to spend 3 minutes making a really cheap, highly effective alternative, check out this recipe from Crunchy Betty. She tested three homemade glass cleaners and eventually created this recipe, which outdid the others by far.
Streak-free Mirrors for a Fraction of the Price
- ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol (optional – this ups the effectiveness of the formula, but if you hate the idea, skip it)
- ¼ cup of white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch
- 2 cups of warm water
- Mix all the ingredients in a plastic spray bottle until evenly dissolved.
- Shake before using, and spray as you would regular glass cleaner.
NOTE: Do NOT forget to shake this cleaner before use. If the corn starch settles on the bottom and you don’t shake it before using, it might plug the spray nozzle.
There’s a bit of debate about borax in natural cleaning products. Although it’s a naturally-occurring substance, it can be an irritant if overused. While I respect the choice not to use it, I’ve yet to find something as effective as borax for those really tough-to-get-clean messes. Wellness Mama shared this recipe on her blog, and it’s the best DIY multisurface cleaner I’ve found.
When You Need To Clean Everything, Make This
- 2 cups of distilled water
- 1 tsp. of borax
- ½ tsp. of washing soda
- 1 tsp. of liquid Castile soap
- A few drops of your favorite essential oils
- Mix all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle. Cover, and shake well.
- Spray where you need it, and wipe clean with a dry rag.
If you’ve got toys to clean, a kitchen in need of some elbow grease, a dirty bathroom, or floors that need pre-treated, this is the answer to your cleaning woes. Also try it on countertops and plastic kid’s furniture.
Robin on Thank Your Body has a great alternative to chemically-fragranced air freshener sprays. This mix will leave your home smelling beautiful, without the toxins, and while it’s not exactly a green cleaning product, everyone loves the air quality and clean smell a good air freshener provides.
A Natural Solution to Those Unexplained Odors
- 8 oz. of distilled water
- 1 Tbsp. of baking soda
- 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil
- Mix baking soda and essential oil thoroughly in a small dish.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and add water. Shake thoroughly until baking soda dissolves.
- Use in the air, on upholstered furniture, in stinky shoes, or even on your carpets.
NOTE: Do NOT spray on electronics.
Over on DIY Natural, Betsy Jabs offers a great alternative to Lysol and Clorox disposable cleaning wipes, and her reasons for creating it. The reusable option she provides is a green cleaning product that’s powerful, affordable, and free of the myriad toxic chemicals found in commercial brands.
Skip The Lysol Wipes But Get The Same Powerful Clean
Ingredients and Cleaning Supplies
- 1 wide-mouth quart-size mason jar
- 15-20 10” x 10” rags cut from old T-shirts or other scrap fabric
- ¾ cup filtered or distilled water
- ¾ cup white distilled vinegar
- 15 drops lemon essential oil
- 8 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops bergamot essential oil
- Mix the essential oils, water, and vinegar together in your mason jar.
- Add your pre-cut cloths and press them firmly into the liquid.
- Secure the lid and tip your jar upside-down or shake to make sure that all wipes are completely damp.
- Store your wipes in a cool, dark cupboard or closet in order to preserve the essential oils.
NOTE: You can use these wipes almost anywhere. Just make sure to wash them after use – don’t toss a used wipe back into the container with your clean wipes…you’ll contaminate the whole batch if you do.
Bathrooms can be…nasty. If you’ve got a lot of cleaning to do, and the germs are intimidating, turn to this reliable DIY green cleaner for help. Thanks to blogger Kristin on Live Simply for creating this great recipe!
A DIY Green Cleaning Product That Disinfects, Cleans, and Leaves Your Bathroom Feeling Fresh
- 2 cups of distilled water
- 1 Tbsp. of baking soda
- 3 Tbsps. of liquid castile soap
- 30 drops tea tree essential oil
- 30 drops orange essential oil
- Pour the water, baking soda, castile soap, and essential oils into a plastic spray bottle.
- Cover and thoroughly shake the ingredients together until dissolved.
- Spray where needed – the toilet bowl, tub, sink, floor, and even the shower walls.
If you couldn’t get your carpet stains out with the method we mentioned above, give them a go with this spray. Kristin swears by this method.
NOTE: For serious mold, mildew, or soap scum, spray your tub and shower down with a mixture of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water, scrub, and then clean with the recipe above. Sometimes, a water + laundry detergent also does the trick.
If you’re looking for a simple alternative to wood polish that takes seconds to make and leaves your furniture looking beautiful, the recipes on Nourishing Joy are perfect for you. I’m a fan of the simpler version she lists – it’s cheaper, and just as effective.
Effortlessly Beautiful Wood Furniture in Minutes
- 3/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar
- 30-40 drops of your favorite essential oil
- Mix your ingredients in a large spray bottle and shake well.
- Apply the spray directly to your furniture and polish with a dry, clean cloth.
NOTE: Be careful not to overspray.
If you love the smell of Pine Sol (I do!), but hate the idea of harsh chemicals in your floor cleaners, check out this recipe from One Green Planet. Not only is it great on floors, it also makes a wonderful polish for wood furniture.
Get that Pine Sol Scent, Without the Toxins
- 1 Tbsp. of unscented liquid castile soap
- 4 cups of warm water
- 10 to 15 drops of pine essential oil
- 1 sprig of rosemary (optional)
- Combine all of your ingredients in a jar or bottle.
- Shake thoroughly. Leave the whole sprig of rosemary in the solution – it will keep adding fragrance to the blend as time passes.
- Use as you would any other floor cleaner, or apply as a polish to your wood furniture.
DIY Garbage Disposal Cleaner
If you’ve scrubbed your kitchen until it shines and a smell still lingers, your garbage disposal is likely to blame. There’s a quick and easy fix to this problem, and I’m glad Amy at the Saving with Shellie blog shared it – the other alternative (grinding up key limes or lemons) can be a bit more costly.
An Answer to That Lingering Odor in the Kitchen
Ingredients and Supplies:
- Ice cube tray
- White vinegar
- 1 tbsp of dried rosemary (substitute 2-3 fresh sprigs if you don’t have dried rosemary on hand)
- Lemon and orange peels (the more you use, the stronger the citrus scent will be.)
- Fill your ice cube tray about ¾ of the way to the top with white vinegar.
- Slice citrus peels (oranges, limes, grapefruit, or lemons – whatever was destined for the compost bin) into thin slices, then cut in half again to make small chunks.
- Place the peel into the ice tray.
- Sprinkle a little rosemary into each cube as well.
- Place your ice cube tray in the freezer and allow it to set for about 2 hours, or until just frozen.
- Toss 2-4 ice cubes in your garbage disposal and turn it on. The vinegar cuts through grime while the citrus helps to clean and all three ingredients work to disinfect. The refreshing and clean smell is an added bonus!
Ready to Get Started Making Your Own Green Cleaning Products?
Now you’re ready to get started green living by making your own green cleaning products. From oven cleaner to a homemade Pine Sol alternative, you’ve got what you need to get your house sparkling.
From carcinogens to mild irritants and allergens to noxious chemicals no one should use and environmentally hazardous chemicals, store-bought cleaners can cause a world of problems. But the impact they have on your health isn’t the only reason you should consider DIY green cleaners.
If you’re thrifty, look through the options we list in this article, and do the math yourself. Figure out what your yield per batch will be and what it will cost you to make your own vs. buy in the store. The numbers speak for themselves.
DIY natural products are effective, too. I once had to remove a stain from a glass stove top and it just wasn’t budging. I tried every store-bought product you can imagine. In the end, nothing worked. And then I tried the simplest recipe – baking soda and water. 3 minutes later, the stain that had cost me hours of frustration was gone.
Let me know how these DIY green cleaning products work for you. I’m happy to share pictures and stories of your experiences here on the blog, too. And remember – sharing is caring. Help your family members and friends get a greener clean by sharing this guide with them!