8 DIY Cleaning Product Recipes That Really Work

Updated: Apr. 18, 2024

Ditch harmful chemicals and save money with these green-and-easy recipes for cleaning windows, furniture, stoves and more.

High Angle Eco Friendly Cleaning Brushes And Spray Bottle With Vinegar Lemon And SodaPETRA OLTEANU/GETTY IMAGES

Make Your Own Cleaning Products

I’m in the midst of a home cleaning makeover. The more I learn about all the harmful ingredients in many traditional cleaners — and the more I watch their price tags rise — the more I strive for only green cleaning for my family.

To help with my transition, I’ve learned from two women who devoted their careers to healthy cleaning: authors Tonya Harris and Leslie Reichert.

“Taking the toxins out of cleaning products can help with all different types of health issues, from breathing difficulties all the way to cancer,” says Reichert. “And usually if a product is safe for an individual, it’s safe for the environment too.”

Better yet, Harris says you probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard. “And many cleaners can be made for under $1,” she says.

Here’s how to turn some of those ingredients into a sparkling clean home, with recipes provided and tested thoroughly by Harris and Reichert.

What cleaning products shouldn’t I mix?

  • Vinegar and bleach: When combined, they form chlorine gas. So never mix them in the same container or use them together, especially in a small space with no windows, like a bathroom. Note: Many toilet bowl cleaners, like Soft Scrub, contain bleach.
  • Ammonia and bleach: Ammonia is found in many window cleaners. Mixing these two creates toxic chloramine gas, which can irritate the nose, eyes and throat and lead to coughing and chest congestion.
  • Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide: If mixed in the same container, they can create peracetic acid. That can be irritating to eyes, the respiratory tract and skin.

Do cleaning products expire?

Yes and no.

After the expiration date, they may be less effective. And opened products, especially those exposed to heat and light, don’t last as long as unopened ones.

“Opened bleach is one of the faster cleaners to break down,” says Harris. “Once it’s opened, it only lasts about six months.” A change in color, smell or texture also indicates a product has gone bad.

What makes cleaning products “all natural?”

All natural is a subjective term, but generally speaking, healthier cleaners do not contain synthetic chemicals, including fragrances. Instead, they’re made from simple ingredients — vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice (citric acid), distilled water, salt, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol and Castile soap.

For a comprehensive list of natural cleaning recipes, try Reichert’s book, The Joy of Green Cleaning or Harris’s book, The Slightly Greener Method.

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Woman Cleaning Furniture With Cleanser And Rag
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DIY Dusting and Wood Cleaner

Definitely ditch the artificial fragrances when cleaning furniture and freshening air, because many of those ingredients are concerning. Instead, here’s an easy DIY from Harris. It left our window sills sparkling despite living in a dusty agricultural valley.


  • 3/4-cup olive oil;
  • 1/4-cup white distilled vinegar;
  • 1 tsp lemon juice;
  • Spray bottle.

The white vinegar cuts through grime and film on furniture, while olive oil softens the wood surface. Lemon leaves behind a nice scent and also boosts cleaning.

Make it: Pour ingredients into a spray bottle using a small funnel. Don’t use more olive oil than the recipe calls for, or this cleaner will leave a sticky residue that holds dust.

Use it: Lightly shake the bottle before each use. Spray a small amount on furniture. Wipe away with a damp, lint-free cloth.

Store it: Keep it away from heat and light to protect the oil.

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Mayonnaise Olive Oil And Lemon
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DIY Furniture Restorer

If you have a little more time, this recipe from Reichert will protect your furniture and give it new luster. She recommends using it every six months.


  • 1/4-cup mayonnaise (regular, not fat-free);
  • 1/4-cup olive oil;
  • Three tablespoons lemon juice.

Make it: Mix mayonnaise and olive oil in a small bowl, then add lemon juice.

Use it: Apply with a small sponge, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with a soft, clean cloth.

Store it: Long-term storage is not recommended.

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DIY Window Cleaner

Again, this simple mixture from Harris worked well in our dusty valley on windows, mirrors and other glass surfaces.


  • Two cups distilled water;
  • Two cups white vinegar;
  • Lemon juice or citrus essential oil (optional).

Acidic vinegar breaks down dirt and film on the glass, while the water dilutes the acidity so it doesn’t damage the surface. Distilled water leaves no mineral deposit marks behind.

Make it: Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and shake gently. Add 10 to 12 drops of lemon juice, citrus or essential oil, for extra scent and to boost its dirt- and grime-fighting power.

Use it: Shake the bottle before each use. Spray the surface, then wipe away the spray. Note: Conventional glass cleaners might have left a wax film over time, which will cause this to streak. If this happens, spray the glass with rubbing alcohol first, then use this window cleaner.

Store it: Simply keep it in a spray bottle, but use a glass one if you’ve added essential oils.

Reichert also recommends using a cup of alcohol in a spray bottle for mirrors, or two tablespoons white vinegar, one-half cup corn starch and a two liter bottle of club soda for glass and mirrors. Use a high-grade microfiber cloth and hot water to prevent streaks.

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Diy Stovetop Cleaner, distilled vinegar bottle and Baking soda on Kitchen Countertop
Tonya Harris/Courtesy Karuna Eberl

DIY Stovetop Cleaner

This make-as-you-need-it paste from Harris looks different than what you’re probably used to. But it’s just as tough on holiday party stove splatter, without the harsh fumes. Proven on Sunday fun-day hash brown and bacon debacles, too!


  • Baking soda;
  • White vinegar.

The vinegar causes the baking soda to fizzle and foam, which lifts dirt, grime and greasy spills.

Make it: Make one batch at a time. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the dirty area, then spray enough vinegar over it so the baking soda foams. Do not combine ahead of time or you’ll lose your fizzle.

Use it: Watch the stain or grease lift off the surface, then wipe away with a soft sponge. If there’s a white film left behind, spray the vinegar again. For more difficult grime and debris on the stovetop, pre-treat it with a paste of two tablespoons baking soda, one teaspoon water and a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil.

Precaution: Use a soft sponge or soft cloth and scrub gently to avoid scratching the stovetop surface. On induction and glass stovetops, scrub lightly; too much pressure may crack them.

Store it: Keep each ingredient in its original container.

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Baking soda and Diy No Wax Floor Cleaner on Carpet Flooring
Tonya Harris/Courtesy Karuna Eberl

DIY No-Wax Floor Cleaner

This recipe from Reichert works great on our laminate flooring and tile. And because it doesn’t require a bucket, it saves cleaner and water.


  • 1/4-cup lemon juice;
  • Eight drops dish soap;
  • Three tablespoons skim or dry powdered milk;
  • Sixteen ounces warm water.

Make it: Mix everything together in a spray bottle.

Use it: Spray directly onto the floor and use a wet cloth to clean. Rinse if needed.

Store it: Best to make this each time you need it.

For hardwood floors: Mix one teaspoon dish soap, 1/8-cup white vinegar and 32 ounces of hot water in a spray bottle. Vacuum the floor, spray with cleaner, then mop it dry with a dry microfiber mop.

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Cleaning The Head Of Shower With A Foamy Liquid With The Help Of A Cleaning Spray
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DIY Shower Cleaner

Cleaning the shower is one of my least favorite tasks, because it leaves me engulfed in the smell of the cleaner. With Reichert’s shower cleaner, I feel much less icky after the task.


  • One cup white vinegar;
  • Eight drops tea tree oil;
  • Six drops essential oil, for scent (optional).

Make it: Combine ingredients in a spray bottle.

Use it: Spray directly onto your shower stall and shower curtain daily to minimize soap scum, mold and mildew. You can also launder your curtain with it in the washing machine. Add a few towels, which remove soap scum, and run it through the dryer for a few minutes to make it easier to hang.

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Diy All Purpose Cleaner Spray, Liquid Soap Bottle, Spray bottle, distilled water bottle and Plastic Funnel on Kitchen Countertop
Tonya Harris/Courtesy Karuna Eberl

DIY All-Purpose Cleaner Spray

Many DIY cleaners include vinegar, but that’s not great for hardwood floors and delicate surfaces like treated stone and grout. So here’s one from Harris that still packs a punch, without any worry of what you get it on. Castile soap is a good cleaner and de-greaser.


  • One tablespoon unscented liquid Castile soap (Harris recommends Vermont Soap or Dr. Bronner’s);
  • Eight to 10 drops pure essential oil (for scent, lemon or citrus are good options);
  • Distilled water.

Make it: Fill a spray bottle almost to the top with distilled water, then add one tablespoon of liquid unscented Castile soap and essential oils.

Use it: Shake gently before each use, then lightly spray surface and wipe away. It’s safe for just about any water-safe surface.

Store it: Store in a glass spray bottle (because of the essential oils), away from heat and light.

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Diy Cleaning Solution And Anti Bacterial Spray, Spraying Cleaning Mix on Stovetop
Tonya Harris/Courtesy Karuna Eberl

DIY Cleaning Solution and Anti-Bacterial Spray

From meat bacteria on countertops to doorknob germs, here’s a good anti-bacterial solution from Reichert.


  • One cup white vinegar;
  • One cup club soda;
  • 1/4-cup hydrogen peroxide.
  • Eight drops tea tree oil.

Make it: Mix it all together in a spray bottle.

Use it: Spray it like any other spray cleaner. Add a little extra hydrogen peroxide each time you use it because the peroxide can break down, especially when exposed to light.

Use with a microfiber cloth, which picks up bacteria. Then wash the cleaning cloths in hot water. If they’re high-quality, you can place them in the microwave wet for two to three minutes to disinfect.

Store it: Store in a dark glass bottle, in a dark area.