Save money and ditch unnecessary chemicals by making your own cleaning products at home.

Joy Manning
July 24, 2020
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When her toddler picked up a spray bottle of household cleaner and spritzed it all over herself like a perfume, Becky Rapinchuk's life changed. "I turned the bottle over and saw all those poison control warnings," she recalls. Her child was fine after following the advice from poison control, but it changed the way she looked at cleaning her home.

"I started really researching what's actually in these products, and I didn't like what I was learning," she says. She started making her own cleaning supplies and blogging about cleaning at her website, Clean Mama. She's written a series of books on DIY cleaning products, including Clean Mama's Guide to a Healthy Home.

Getty / Peter Dazeley

"Really, the same things our grandmothers used for cleaning still work today," says Rapinchuk. And it's much easier than you might think to make safe, effective cleaning products yourself. In the process, you'll be saving money and becoming more eco-friendly at the same time. Here are eight cleaning products you should stop buying and DIY instead.

Window and Glass Cleaner

If you've never made a cleaning product yourself, start here. "It's the gateway cleaner," says Rapinchuk. To make it, you start with 2 cups of water and add 2 tablespoons each of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. That's it! You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you like. Most people find it works better than the blue stuff, according to Rapinchuk. For easy spraying, stock up on a few glass bottles from Amazon ($20 for two bottles).

Disinfectant

"The easy DIY disinfectant is to put a spray top on your bottle of hydrogen peroxide," says Rapinchuk. It's great for killing germs and ideal for making white sinks, tile and toilets bright white. You want to use it on nonporous surfaces only, though. Just as hydrogen peroxide can bleach your hair, it can discolor other things around the house.

Another way to make a sanitizing solution at home is to mix bleach and water in a spray bottle (check out our tutorial here). The CDC says it can help kill viruses, which is super helpful for sanitizing surfaces in your home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sink Scrub

The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in your home, according to Rapinchuk. "If you don't believe me, wipe it with a paper towel and take a look," she says. That's why she scrubs down hers every night with a homemade scrub. It's nothing more than a cup of baking soda mixed with 10 drops of an essential oil, like lemon ($8, Amazon). To use it, she sprinkles it all over the sink, adds a drop of dish soap or Castile soap, and scrubs until everything sparkles. Pro tip: Buy baking soda in bulk to cut down on cost ($40 for six, 5-pound bags on Amazon).

All-Purpose Cleaner

These versatile products are expensive at the store, especially if you are opting for one of the popular green brands. But making your own is so inexpensive, it's practically free. You'll need to combine 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol, 1½ cups water, and a mere 1/4 teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Now clean everything!

Fabric Softener

"Laundry products are a great thing to start making because you have those chemicals on your clothes next to your body and in your bedding," says Rapinchuk. The absolute easiest of all DIY cleaning products is fabric softener. There's nothing to it—just add ¼ cup of white vinegar to your fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine and prepare for soft, fluffy towels and sheets that don't even have a whiff of pickles. "The smell completely dissipates," says Rapinchuk.

Floor Cleaner

A hardwood floor cleaner is another product it's dead simple to mix up yourself. On floor-mopping day, pour a gallon of hot water into a bucket and add 1/2 cup of white vinegar plus a few drops of lemon essential oil. (We also love using eucalyptus essential oil for a spa-like scent. This one is just $7 on Amazon). This solution gets your floors just as clean and fresh as the commercial stuff, with no toxic chemicals. Remember: Use it on sealed wood floors only, and test a small area to make sure you can clean up without damaging your wood.

Daily Shower Spray

Everyone wants to maintain a fresh shower in between more vigorous cleanings. That's why those commercial daily shower sprays are so popular! You don't need to buy one, though, if you have vodka and water handy. Just combine ½ cup of vodka with 1 cup of water and a few drops of an essential oil that will help you relax in the shower. Lavender or peppermint essential oil would be nice.

Fabric Freshener

It's convenient to have a great-smelling spray to freshen up textiles around your home, like pillows and throw rugs. But many store-bought kinds contain chemicals you may not want your family breathing in every time they're relaxing on the sofa. To make a completely nontoxic version, mix up a solution that's two parts water to one part vodka and add a dash of your favorite essential oil. Spray away!