Homemade Cleaning Products

For the past year, I've been making my own homemade cleaners with various success.  This is so much cheaper than other cleaning products, even with coupons. I bought a ton of Borax, washing soda, (stronger than baking soda), vinegar, essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, lemons, Oxyclean, and plain white soap.  And I've just been using the containers of my old cleaners to make them.

My favorite is by far the laundry detergent.

However, I did not have success with ANY recipe I used for dishwasher detergent.  It just did not take the stuck-on food off.  We cook a lot in this house, and working full-time doesn't leave you a lot of extra time.  I just can't sacrifice the time needed to hand wash every single dish ahead of time, or worse, rewash the dishes once they've been in the dishwasher.

I'm the kind of person who tosses dishes into the dishwasher without rinsing them off first.  And I will forever remain that kind of person.  If someone has a recipe that does THAT, then I'll switch back to natural cleaning products.

I also tried the baking soda/apple cider vinegar method for my hair - the "'poo-free" method that eco-bloggers keep raving about.  That was a complete and total disaster.  It worked great for a few days, but then my hair got greasy and nasty and never felt clean.

This blogger claims there is a transition period where your scalp "detoxes" from the chemicals, but after nearly three weeks of faithful baking soda and apple cider vinegar - and all variations of every poo-free recipe I could find on the entire internet - I couldn't deal with it.  I'm willing to give it another try, but I simply cannot go to work with stringy nasty hair for an entire month.  I only have two cute hats and I'm not a creative enough of a hair stylist to "fix" it.

However, I LOVE the oil cleansing method for my face. It makes my skin look and feel great.  I use 20% castor oil to 80% olive oil, but I'm going to remake the recipe with sunflower seed oil once I can afford to splurge on some.

If you want my green cleaning recipes, look after the jump!

Drain cleaner: 
1/2 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of vinegar

Pour baking soda down the drain, and follow it with the vinegar.  Let it stand for fifteen minutes or longer for tough clogs, then follow with about 2-3 cups (I just use a kettle) of boiling water.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5 - if you have a severe hair clog, you're probably still going to have to get an old, unraveled wire hanger and pull it out first.  But for the typical food-based or minor hair clogs, it works perfectly.

Scouring paste:
Baking soda, as much as you need

Sprinkle baking powder over the bottom of your pans, let sit a few hours, and scrub away with a scouring pad and water.  For extra effectiveness, use a tablespoon of vinegar.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5 - admittedly, I never used Comet too often, but this seems to work well to get baked-on (... or burned-on) food off of my pots and pans.

Laundry detergent:
1 bar of Ivory or mild/natural soap, or 1 cup of soap flakes
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Oxyclean

Grate a bar of soap with a cheese grater or food processor and let the shavings dry out overnight.  Combine the soap shavings with the other ingredients in a big tub (we use an old giant-sized Oxyclean bucket).  Use 1 tablespoons in HE machines or for small loads, 2 tablespoons for large loads.  For tough stains, let clothes soak in pure Oxyclean first.  Don't use on cloth diapers - cloth diaper detergent should not have soap in it.

Effectiveness: 5.5 out of 5 - if I'm ever super rich and people can do my laundry for me, I'm still going to use this detergent recipe.  It's amazing, it doesn't break my skin out, we can use it with Donovan's clothes.  It's both use and cost effective.

Fabric softener:
Put vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in your washer, or during the rinse cycle.  We also use these Whitmor Dryer Balls in the dryer for added effectiveness.

Effectiveness: 4.5 out of 5 - Okay, okay, it softens fine and beautifully and it even seems to make fabric last longer.  But I really LOVE the smell of good old-fashioned chemical-laden fabric softener.  You can add a few drops of essential oil to your detergent, of course, but it's not really the same.

Wood floor polish: 
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup of vinegar
10 drops essential oil, preferably orange

Mix ingredients together in a spray bottle (you may need to shake vigorously) and spray over floor.  Wipe clean with a cloth.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5 - very effective.  Takes good care of wood or laminate.  But the floor is slippery!  Poor Donovan slipped and busted his lip after we used this mix on our floors. :(

Oven cleaner: 
Baking soda

Remove your oven racks.  Spread a baking soda paste over the black, burned on spots in your oven.  Leave a few hours, then turn on the self-cleaning oven function.  If you don't have a self-cleaning oven, turn your oven on as high as it will go and leave it on for four hours.  Make sure your oven is locked.  After four hours, let oven cool, and then use a scouring pad to remove the black spots.  (it will look like it snowed inside your oven!) It should come right off.  Wipe out the leftover dust from the bottom of your oven, and then use a moist cloth to get rid of any leftover baking soda residue.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5.  Sure worked better than the self-cleaning option alone.

All Purpose Cleaner:
1 cup water
1 tbsp. citric acid
1 tsp. Oxyclean
5 drops essential orange oil

Shake together in spray bottle to combine.  Spray over any kitchen counter messes or any hard surface.  Also works on porcelain tiles.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5 - bleach and ammonia mixtures still get the 1up for germ-killing, but my kitchen smells delicious after I use this stuff, and the messes come up perfectly.

Glass cleaner:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water

Shake together in spray bottle to combine.  Spray over mirrors and windows and other glass - and wipe clean with a newspaper.  I don't know why, but it works.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5.  Works better than Windex.

Mop mix: 
1/2 cup of vinegar
1 gallon HOT water

This is what I use to clean my kitchen floors about once a week.  I just mix it together in a bucket and mop.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5.  Works fine, but I do miss the clean floor smell.

Shower cleaner:
3/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup water

I just combine this in my old Tilex bottle, keep it in the shower, and spray after each shower.  I haven't had to clean my shower curtain in a long time.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5.  Great formula.

I'm still using chemicals (oh noez!  The horror) to clean my dishes in my dishwasher, my toilet, and the inside of my bathtub.  Kaboom Foamtastic cleaner is just too much fun.  And I do not believe any homemade dishwasher detergent out there is as effective as its manufactured counterpart.  I welcome you to leave your homemade dishwasher detergent recipes here to prove me wrong.

Do you have any other natural homemade beauty product recipes or any eco-friendly cleaning recipes?  Leave them here!


  1. Wow, MM! This is seriously impressive! Congrats on such an accomplishment! How do you have time for all this?

    Thanks for stopping by over at my blog. So, Donovan is like a month and a half younger than Maura - awesome!! Isn't it so fun!!?? I would definitely recommend trying to make it feel more like home for him when sleeping over. I know everyone doesn't have the room or money to go out and buy another crib, but I even cart a lot of her stuff back and forth every time (her video monitor and camera, her FP aquarium that she turns on when she can't sleep, her humidifier/sound machine) we go so that as much of her sleeping situation can be the same as at home as possible. I figure its good for her, plus I am spoiled at like my sleep and break time while she's napping:) Good luck!

  2. Great post, Jennifer! Love it! I need to print these out! Janie