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 products, 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 salt for $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

cleaning a carpet stain

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
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Nylon (or similar) scrub brush
  • Vacuum cleaner


  1. Douse With Baking Soda. Cover the entire stain with a thorough coating of baking soda.
  2. Mix Your Solution. In a spray bottle, combine a half-and-half blend of white vinegar and water.
  3. 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.)
  4. Wait for the Solution to Set. Let the mixture sit on the stain for at least three hours.
  5. 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.
  6. Wait for the Solution to Dry. Let the carpet dry overnight.
  7. 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.


  • Bucket
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Smaller bowl or container
  • Spoon


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  • Water
  • 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.

4. Cleaning the Garbage Disposal and Kitchen Sink Drain

Your garbage disposal can get awfully stinky over time – and even if it hasn’t started to smell, it’s important to prevent disgusting build-up and keep everything running smoothly. The solution described below both cleans and disinfects your drain and disposal.


  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Salt
  • One whole lemon


  1. Make it Fizz. With the drain catch removed, pour a half-cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down your drain. You should hear the mixture fizz.
  2. Boil Water. While the baking soda and vinegar solution is doing its job, boil several cups of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the drain after the baking soda and vinegar solution has had a few minutes to work.
  3. Add Ice. Fill your drain with ice and add up to one cup of salt over the top. While running the faucet with cold water, turn on your garbage disposal and run it until all the ice and salt are gone.
  4. Add Lemon. Finally, cut the lemon into two halves and add them, one half at a time, to the garbage disposal (with the faucet still running). If you know your garbage disposal is finicky about size, you may have to cut the lemon into smaller pieces.

5. Removing Stuck-On Grease and Gunk From Pots and Pans

greasy pan after cooking

It’s frustrating to spend time cooking a homemade meal, only to be left with a pile of pots and pans with stuck-on grease and gunk that even the toughest sponge can’t remove. Save your arm strength and let the solution below do the heavy work for you.


  • Dryer sheets
  • Water
  • Spatula
  • Baking soda (optional)


  1. Fill Pots. Fill the offending pots and pans with hot water. In each filled pan, place an unused dryer sheet, taking care not to burn your hands.
  2. Wait for the Solution to Take Effect. Let the pots and pans sit overnight in a safe place where no one can knock them over.
  3. Scrape. In the morning, remove the dryer sheets and scrape off any remaining gunk with a hard, flat-edged spatula.
  4. Be Ready With a Back-Up. While the dryer sheet is a powerful solution, some exceptionally stubborn gunk needs an extra layer of help. If need be, dump out the water and coat the gunk with baking soda. Let it sit for a couple of hours and try again with the spatula.

6. Removing Stuck-On Food From Your Oven

A simple baking soda solution can work for your entire oven, removing stuck-on gunk from the surface, as well as the burned-on bits from the interior.


  • Baking soda
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Non-scratching sponge or hard-edged spatula


  1. Make a Paste. Pour baking soda into a bowl and add water until it forms a paste. How much you need depends on the size of the area you have to clean.
  2. Apply the Solution. Rub the baking soda paste onto all areas that need to be cleaned.
  3. Wait for the Solution to Set. Allow the solution to set overnight.
  4. Loosen and Remove the Stuck-On Material. In the morning, use a non-scratching sponge to loosen and remove the gunk. I recommend sticking with a non-scratching sponge for both the inside and outside of your stove to be on the safe side, but you could also test a harsher sponge in an inconspicuous area on the inside of your stove to see if it leaves marks. If the food residue is really stuck, you may need to use a hard-edged spatula – but again, first make sure it won’t scratch the surface of your oven.

7. Removing Mildew and Soap Scum From Your Tub and Shower

A shower is supposed to make you feel clean, but it’s hard to feel clean when your tub and shower are full of grime, mildew, and soap scum. Fortunately, there’s an affordable, effective solution.


  • Liquid dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth or other cleaning cloth
  • Water
  • Funnel or measuring cup


  1. Heat the Vinegar. In a microwave-safe dish (ideally a measuring cup with a spout), heat a quarter-cup of vinegar until it is extremely hot. Be very careful not to burn yourself.
  2. Mix Your Solution. Carefully add the vinegar to a spray bottle. If you weren’t able to use a measuring cup with a spout, use a funnel so you don’t burn yourself. Add in a quarter-cup of liquid dish soap and carefully swirl or shake it to mix. You can adjust the recipe depending on your needs – however, it can’t be stored (due to requiring hot vinegar), so it’s a good idea to start small and add more if necessary.
  3. Spray the Solution. Thoroughly spray all affected surfaces. They should be completely coated, and the solution should not be runny.
  4. Wait for Solution to Set. Allow the solution to sit for at least 30 to 45 minutes, or overnight if possible.
  5. Rinse. Using a cloth and water, rinse the solution. If your shower has a detachable head, this would be a great time to use it.

8. Deep-Cleaning and Deodorizing Your Toilet

man cleaning a toilet

By cleaning your toilet with a homemade solution, you avoid the harsh chemicals common to many commercial toilet cleaners: Hydrochloric acid is corrosive and can be harmful to the nose, throat, and respiratory tract, and chlorine bleach, another common ingredient, is not very skin- or lung-friendly either.


  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Toilet brush
  • Paper towels or cloth
  • Pumice stone (optional)


  1. Mix Your Solution. Combine one cup of vinegar and a half-teaspoon of essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray it over your toilet seat, lid, base, and in the bowl. If you don’t want to use essential oil, you can skip it and just stick with the vinegar.
  2. Add Baking Soda. Sprinkle a half-cup of baking soda around the toilet bowl and scrub with a toilet brush.
  3. Use the Pumice Stone. For stubborn mineral deposits and stains, scrub with a pumice stone. As always, test it in an inconspicuous area to make sure the stone won’t scratch the surface of your toilet.
  4. Wipe. Use paper towels or a cloth to clean the seat, lid, and anywhere else outside the bowl that you sprayed with the vinegar solution.

9. Cleaning Stone Countertops

Stone countertops look great if they’re regularly wiped down. But unfortunately, many commercial cleaners are too harsh for stone countertops, especially if they are not “sealed” countertops. (If you’re not sure if your countertops are sealed, it’s safest to operate with the assumption that they’re not.) Porous materials absorb everything that lands on them – including stains and chemical cleaners that can eat away at the material.

Granite and marble are two of the most popular countertops on the market today, and they’re both porous materials. I use vinegar to clean many surfaces in my home, but vinegar is a no-no for granite and marble countertops, as it can cause etching. Fortunately, there’s a cheap, easy solution.


  • Cheap vodka (if you don’t have any, rubbing alcohol can do the trick)
  • Water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth or other cleaning cloth
  • Essential oil (optional)


  • Mix Your Solution. Measure and combine two cups of water and a half-cup of either cheap vodka or rubbing alcohol. Add approximately six drops of dish soap. If you like your cleaning products to smell nice, you can add a drop or two of essential oil.
  • Spray and Wipe. Spray the surfaces you wish to clean and thoroughly wipe with a cloth. If the surface had sticky residue or there is any concern about bacteria, allow the solution to set for at least 10 minutes before wiping it away.

10. Removing Pen Ink Stains

If a ballpoint pen exploded in your pocket, or your toddler used a couch cushion as a canvas, you need to get this tough stain out quickly.


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton ball or old toothbrush

You might also need the following:

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Mineral spirits
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Washcloth


  1. Stop the Spread. If the stain is spreading, apply petroleum jelly around the perimeter of the stain to stop the spread.
  2. Select Your Tool. If the stain is on a sturdy fabric, such as a cotton shirt, you can use a toothbrush. If it’s on a more delicate fabric, such as your couch, start with a cotton ball. Soak the cotton ball or toothbrush in rubbing alcohol and gently blot or rub the stain until it is no longer visible.
  3. Add Mineral Spirits If Necessary. If the stain is stubborn, you may want to apply mineral spirits after the rubbing alcohol. Use a cotton ball for this. On some fabrics, mineral spirits can remove color natural to the fabric, so be sure to test in an inconspicuous area.
  4. Rinse. If you only used rubbing alcohol on the stain, it is likely to evaporate on its own and you won’t need to apply a rinsing solution. However, if you also used petroleum jelly or mineral spirits, dilute a few drops of dish soap in water and gently rinse the stain with a clean washcloth. Then, rinse again with just water.

11. Cleaning Glass and Shiny Surfaces

cleaning a bathroom mirror

Nothing spoils an otherwise clean bathroom like spots on the mirror or fixtures. To remedy this, follow this simple recipe, suitable for all glass and shiny surfaces.


  • Rubbing alcohol
  • White vinegar
  • Corn starch
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber cloth or newspaper
  • Spray bottle


  1. Mix Your Solution. In a spray bottle, combine a quarter-cup of vinegar, a quarter-cup of rubbing alcohol, one tablespoon of corn starch, and two cups of warm water. Shake it all thoroughly to mix. You’ll need to re-shake it every time you use it.
  2. Spray the Surface. Thoroughly spray the mixture onto the glass, mirror, or shiny surface you wish to clean.
  3. Wipe Clean. Wipe away the mixture with a microfiber cloth. You can also use newspaper, which is an old trick that seems to work well on windows and mirrors, though it may be too difficult to crumple sufficiently to be effective on chrome or shiny fixtures, such as faucets and handles.

Safety Considerations

The following tips are critical to ensure that your homemade solutions are both safe and effective:

  • Test First. It’s critical that you test all of these solutions in an inconspicuous place first to make sure that you won’t damage the surface you’re working on. Not all fabrics, countertop materials, flooring, and fixtures react the same way.
  • Don’t Experiment. Never experiment with untested combinations of cleaners, as some (such as bleach and ammonia) are toxic in combination.
  • Avoid Irritations. Always work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Label Everything. If you are mixing a solution that you won’t use up entirely on the first try, it’s critical to properly label the container.
  • Store Properly. Always keep cleaning products in a safe area, out of the sun, where they aren’t accessible by kids or pets.

Final Word

Cleaning, deodorizing, disinfecting, and removing stains doesn’t have to be an expensive, arduous process. With a few household items and a bit of elbow grease, you can clean just about anything in your home for a fraction of the cost of commercially available household cleaners. Plus, it’s a eco-friendly choice for green living.

What are your favorite recipes for low-cost cleaning solutions?