All Natural Cleaning Supplies made with ingredients you already have at home.
One of the first steps people take to creating a toxin-free home is to make their own cleaning products. It is a cheap and simple way to rid your home of harsh chemicals.
Why should I stop using conventional cleaning products?
First of all, I want to define conventional cleaning products as those with heavy toxic chemicals that you can buy off the shelves of any big box or grocery store (think big names like Tide, Windex, Lysol, Clorox bleach, and many more). I feel like it is becoming common knowledge that conventional cleaning products are not the healthiest for us.
There is a plethora of information on how cleaning products with heavy chemicals and irritate lungs, eyes, and skin. In recent years, more studies are pointing to the endocrine and hormone disruptors in these products, hindering reproductive health and even causing birth defects.
I truly don’t share this to scare you. I am far from a conspiracy theorist. But I am a firm believer in the phrase “know better, do better.” I am learning new information everyday, and always looking for small ways to make my home a safer, healthier, and happier environment for my family. Since I now know that these products could potentially cause health problems down the road, I decided they are no longer welcome in my home.
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Can’t I just buy eco-friendly cleaning products from the store?
Moving from regular chemical cleaners to natural “green cleaning products” at the store (like Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, or Puracy) is a great next step to creating a toxic-free home. I am not knocking these at all. It is the first step I made when transforming my own homestead. These products are easily accessible, and do not cost any more than the toxic stuff. To read more about my journey toward a more sustainable life, check out my about page.
However, some of these products can be “green-washed,” meaning that they might not be as eco-friendly as you think. Always read the ingredient labels and know what you are bringing into your home. In order to help decide on the best products, the Environmental Working Group has created “EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning,” where you can search any product to learn if it’s right for you.
According to the site,
“EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning gives you practical solutions to protect yourself and your family from everyday exposures to potentially harmful chemicals. U.S. law allows manufacturers of cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish, including known carcinogens and substances that can harm fetal and infant development. And the government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. To fill those gaps, EWG’s staff scientists compared the ingredients listed on cleaning product labels, websites and worker safety documents with the information available in the top government, industry and academic toxicity databases and the scientific literature on health and environmental problems tied to cleaning products. They used that information to create EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which provides you with easy-to-navigate hazard ratings for a wide range of cleaners and ingredients.”
If you are looking to reduce your environmental impact even more, these simple homemade cleaner recipes might be for you! By making your own DIY cleaners, you are bypassing packaging and all of the energy and resources used in manufacturing and transporting the cleaning products.
Making cleaning supplies is also the cheapest method. These recipes use common pantry staples along with food scraps.
Pantry Staples for Homemade Cleaning Products
If you always have these items on hand, you can clean your house.
- White Vinegar
- Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Bonus: Castile Soap. Use any brand of castile soap. I just use Dr. Bronner’s because it is the most accessible (they even sell it at Target) and comes in a ton of different scents. For these recipes, I used the lemon scent. Another favorite is the Hemp Eucalyptus if you’re into hippie scents.
A Note on Essential Oils
I firmly believe that essential oils are a great alternative to conventional cleaners, but I do believe they are commonly used in excess. Essential oils are made from plants found in nature, but they are no longer in their natural, whole plant form. You would never find a plant’s properties in such a high concentration in nature.
I urge you to do your own research and use caution when using essential oils (and never ingest them).
You also need to determine which essential oils are safe for your home. Common essential oils such as tea tree oil and eucalyptus are not deemed safe for kids and pets, while lavender essential oil is often seen as acceptable for all. Use any brand essential oil so long as it is pure and comes from a sustainable, fair trade source. I have a mix between Young Living (No, I do not recommend MLMs, I just happen to have these), the NOW brand, and the generic brand from Whole Foods.
In any of the recipes below, you can simply skip the essential oils if you feel they are not right for your household. You can always swap an oil for its whole plant form (use real lemon juice instead of lemon essential oil, cloves instead of clove essential oil, etc…). Just note that this may decrease the shelf life of the product.
3 Natural Cleaning Recipes:
Natural All Purpose Cleaner
This All Purpose cleaner is the perfect solution to clean 90% off your home’s surfaces. I decided to make a warmer autumn/winter scent by using clove, cinnamon, and ginger essential oils, but you can use any scent you’d like. Lemon or eucalyptus would be great is you prefer a clean scent.
Natural All Purpose Cleaner Ingredients
- 2 cups orange peels
- 3 cups vinegar
- Rosemary sprigs
Optional: Clove, orange, ginger, eucalyptus, ginger, or cinnamon essential oil
Natural All Purpose Cleaner Instructions
- Place peels and sprigs into jar and cover with vinegar
- If using metal lid, cover with parchment first to prevent corrosion
- Let sit for 1-2 weeks
- Strain completely and store in airtight container
- This is a concentrate- to use, mix 1:1 with filtered water in glass spray bottle
I let mine sit for at least three weeks, because #momlife. Use a glass spray bottle for these. As much as I would love to tell you to reuse a plastic bottle you already have, essential oils will eat away at the plastic, thus leaching more chemicals onto your countertops. This mixture is almost exactly like the Thieves cleaner from Young Living in my opinion (just smells a little bit more like vinegar), and it is a whole lot cheaper.
Gentle Surface Scrub
This gentle scrub is perfect for extra grimy messes and can replace oven cleaners and products like Barkeepers Friend. Do not use on porous surfaces like wood or natural stone. This is best for the oven or sink.
Gentle Surface Scrub Ingredients
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 4 tsp liquid castile soap
- 1 tsp hydrogen peroxide
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
Gentle Surface Scrub Instructions
- combine in bowl to make paste
- if it’s too dry, add more peroxide
- store in airtight container (will keep for a few months)
- let paste sit for 10 minutes then scrub away.
You can choose to make it in bulk, but I honestly think it is easier to whip some up to use right away when you plan to do a deep clean. It stores okay, but can get a little messy.
Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
You might notice this toilet bowl cleaner is similar to the surface scrub. That is the glory of making your own cleaning products. With just a few simple ingredients, you can clean almost everything in your house!
Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner Ingredients
- 2 cups distilled water
- 1 1/3 cup baking soda
- 1/3 cup liquid castile soap
- 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide
- 15 drops of essential oil
Always make this one as you plan to clean. I tried store mine in a spray bottle, and the baking soda make it erupt out of the bottle. This does not store well.
All Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner Instructions
- combine in large bowl or jar
- add essential oils if desired
- pour into toilet and let sit for 5 minutes
- scrub away with a reusable toilet brush
Pro tip: you don’t need to kill all of the germs by bleaching everything all the time. You’ll be fine. In fact, killing all of the germs also kills the good ones, causing our immune systems to weaken. Let’s keep some of those germs around!
Natural Cleaning Tips for Beginners
- No microfiber. Microfiber leaches microplastics into the water each time you put it through your washing machine. Opt for cotton. I know, this first tip might hurt some feelings. But it is hard for me to tell you to give up plastics, then use a plastic cloth to clean. I know people love their Norwex cloths. I have a few old microfiber cloths chillin’ in my stash too. But I won’t buy new ones. Each time you wash those cloths, tiny microfibers are being drained with your dirty water, right into the water supply. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. There is a filter you can get to filter out these plastics from your laundry (like this one), but I have not tried it yet. If anyone has tried these, let me know in the comments!
- Even natural products can be abrasive. Vinegar is very abrasive. Don’t use on porous surfaces like wood, granite surfaces, or marble
- Food scraps can make cleaners! Make cleaning supplies using food scraps to reduce waste and to save money.
- Use glass bottles. Don’t reuse plastic spray bottles from old cleaners because essential oils can eat away at the plastic.
- Use what you have. You can’t screw these recipes up! use what you have on hand in your pantry.
Overall, as long as you have a few simple ingredients on hand, you can pretty much make any basic cleaner you need on a regular basis.
What’s the next step?
If you are looking to make more ways to create a greener home, check out my list of Sustainable Swaps for any homesteader! Preview: If you made all these new cleaning products, it’s probably time to ditch the paper towel, too.
Are you looking for a wood cleaner? Check out my post on cleaning a wood table naturally!
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About the Author:
I’m Brittany, totally modern and mainstream turned crunchy mama!
Read more here about how I went from a totally incompetent cook and hyper-consumer to striving to live a more meaningful life from scratch.
I can’t wait to share my modern homesteading journey with you and I hope I inspire you to join along!