7 all-natural cleaning products you can make at home

For less than the cost of dinner

Published October 28, 2021 3:27PM (EDT)

 (Mark Weinberg / Food52)
(Mark Weinberg / Food52)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

We know that you, our community, are all for natural cleaning products. We know this because each time we publish a story on how to clean something, we get lots of comments about new, alternate, and effective methods for how you clean things in your own homes. 

Here at Home52, we're also always looking to our pantries and fridges for the best (and safest!) ways to get things done. Whether you have kids, pets, or just want to reduce the number of unpronounceable chemicals in your home for yourself, we're here to help. Or, maybe you just want to cut down on the number of plastic bottles kicking around under your kitchen sink. Either way, there are plenty of ways to tackle every mess in your home, just by turning to ingredients you probably already have. 

What you'll need:

Fresh lemons or lemon juice: Fresh lemons are great, lemon juice is a good backup. 

Natural soap (like Dr. Bronner's Castille Soap): Castille soap is derived from olive oil, meaning it's plant-based but effective. 

Washing soda: Though not the same as baking soda, this similar compound is used to remove stubborn stains from laundry, as well as cut through grease in the kitchen and even help natural dye adhere to fabric. 

Club soda: Not too far off from regular water, but with a little extra bubble and acid, which can help break down stains. 

Baking soda: Baking soda is a miracle worker, quite frankly. It's a natural deodorizer, froths up when mixed with vinegar, and is slightly abrasive, so it has excellent scrubbing power. 

Distilled white vinegar: Vinegar is hailed as one of the best things to have on hand as a cleaning product, because, as a mild acid, can remove stains, break down rust, dissolve scale and soap scum, and leave a streak-free shine on glass and stainless steel. 

Borax: Borax can remove stains, dissolve mildew and mold, whiten clothing, and kill insects such as ants. 

Tea tree oil: Essential oils are great for adding to a cleanser to enhance the scent without an artificial fragrance

1. Basic Wood Cleaner

1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon natural liquid soap or detergent (I used Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castille Soap, aka the only soap you ever need.)
A few drops of olive oil 

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Saturate a sponge fully with the mixture, squeeze out excess, and wash surfaces.

You can use either vinegar or lemon juice in this recipe. A vinegar solution will keep between uses in an airtight jar, but if you use lemon, like I did, you'll want to make only as much as you need for one cleaning. You can also add 3 to 5 drops of essential oil for fragrance (if you choose to, peppermint and eucalyptus play nicely with lemon).

2. Super-Duper Grimy-Window Cleaner

1/4 teaspoon washing soda
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups club soda

Dissolve the washing soda in the hot water, then pour into spray bottle. Add the liquid soap and club soda (which is also touted as an excellent cleaning agent by itself for stainless steel countertops and porcelain sinks). Shake to combine, then spray and wipe clean.  

3. Toilet Bowl Sizzler

1/2 cup baking soda 
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

Pour the ingredients into the toilet. Let sizzle, then scrub. Flush.

First of all, how do you not love that name? Remember those volcanoes you used to make in elementary school? Imagine that chemical reaction plus extreme cleaning power! 

On the subject of baking soda, here are other best uses for it, aka, why your pantry should never be without it.

4. Mildew-Removing Soft Scrubber

Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a paste with a frosting-like consistency
A few drops tea tree oil

Place the borax in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of a frosting. Add the oil and stir to combine. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, scrub the surface, and rinse. 

Bond has a recipe for a basic soft scrubber, too, but you might need extra power in the bathroom if you're not using bleach. Borax, which you can find in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store, is surprisingly mighty for a natural ingredient.

5. All-Purpose Alkaline Cleaner

1/2 teaspoon washing soda (or baking soda if you want something a little gentler)
2 teaspoon borax
1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
2 cups hot water

Combine the washing soda, borax, and soap in a spray bottle. Pour in the hot water (it will dissolve the minerals), screw on the lid, and shake to completely blend and dissolve. Spritz every 6 inches of the surface once or twice, wiping off the cleanser with a rag as you go. For stains, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off. Shake the bottle before each use.

Olive Oil
Very soft or microfiber cloth

Spray the surface liberally with vinegar. Using a soft cloth, rub in the direction of the grain to clean. Polish by dipping the cloth in olive oil and rubbing again in the direction of the grain. 

7. Laundry Stripping Solution

1/4 cup borax 
1/4 cup washing soda 
1/2 cup of your preferred laundry detergeent 

Start by filling up your bathtub or wash bin with hot water — not just warm, but as hot as you can! Once the container is full, pour in the ingredients and stir them around to dissolve.Next, submerge the items you want to strip into the water and give 'em a good swish. Many people use the handle of a broom as a stirring rod for this! You should see the water get cloudy and brown as the dirt starts to come out of your laundry. Allow your laundry to soak until the water is completely cool, stirring it around every 30 minutes or so for a couple of hours. From here, you can remove the clothing and run it through the washing machine on a rinse cycle. Oh, and don't forget to snap a photo of your disgusting bathwater to send to your friends.

And while on the subject of vinegar, here are 8 of our favorite ways to clean with vinegar.

By Sarah Engler

MORE FROM Sarah Engler

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