All-Purpose Cleaner Recipes

When you make your own cleaning products, you avoid exposing yourself and your family to hundreds of harsh chemicals. You also protect the environment, and save money, too! The following all-purpose cleaner recipes contain simple, ordinary ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. You probably already have most of these ingredients on hand. If you don't, they are inexpensive and easy-to-find at your local supermarket. Best of all-they really work!


Test First!

With the exception of the laundry detergents, these cleaning recipes should be used immediately (not stored), as some of the ingredients will become inactive after standing for a period a few hours. Although the ingredients are mild, some may stain or scratch certain surfaces, so always test them out before applying them to a large area. Any ingredients known to harm certain materials are marked with an *asterisk.

All-Purpose Household Cleaner

Mix one teaspoon of liquid soap or borax with a gallon of hot water. Lemon juice or vinegar added to the mix will cut grease and leave a fresh scent. Vinegar is a great deodorizer.

In the Kitchen

All-Purpose Fruit and Veggie Wash

In a bowl or spray bottle, mix together 3 cups filtered water, 3 tablespoons of white distilled or apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons baking soda. Spray on veggies, scrub gently, and then rinse them under cold water.


Note: Do not use this solution on mushrooms as they will absorb the flavor.

Cutting Board Sanitizer

  • 1/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 4 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

Apply with a spray bottle, scrub with a sponge, and then rinse clean.

Coffee Maker Cleaner

Pour 1 cup of white distilled vinegar into the water reservoir (use ¼ cup for smaller coffee makers). Fill the rest of the reservoir with water. Turn the coffee maker on, and without adding coffee or a filter, let it run through a cycle. Empty the pot. Run it through another cycle using plain water only to get rid of any remaining vinegar residue. Repeat a third time (water only again) if necessary.

Glass Cleaner

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup water

Mix ingredients together and pour into a clean spray bottle. Once mixed, this solution can be stored for later use, just make sure you label the bottle and keep it out of reach of children.


Oven Cleaner

  • 16 ounces of baking soda
  • enough water to make a paste

Place baking soda in a bowl. Add water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a spreadable paste. Spread the paste evenly over the bottom of the oven and let it sit overnight. If necessary, spritz the paste with water the next morning to dampen it and make it easier to wipe clean. Wipe away the baked on residue using a damp sponge and follow with a damp cloth to remove any remaining baking soda. For really tough baked on spots, try sprinkling the damp sponge with salt for a little extra scouring power.

Pots and Pans Cleaner

Sprinkle two tablespoons of baking soda into dirty pots and pans. Add 2 to 3 inches of hot water and a little squirt of dish soap. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes (preferably on still warm burner) before scrubbing. For extra tough stains, add 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar (it will foam!). Most baked on food can be easily removed from pots and pans if you act quickly.


When you're done cooking, immediately squirt a little hot water and dish soap into the empty pan and leave it site on a warm (turned off) burner. By the time you're finished eating, the dish soap and water will have worked its magic and the stuck on food should come off easily.

Note: Do not use baking soda solutions on non-stick pots and pans, as it may scratch the coating, which may then leach into your food. This solution should also not be used on aluminum pots and pans as it may discolor them.

Porcelain Whitener

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of oxygen bleach powder and baking soda in the porcelain dish (2 teaspoons for a larger dish). Fill the dish with hot water and swirl to dissolve the powders. Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes before scrubbing.

All-Purpose Stainless Steel Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup club soda

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Use a soft damp cloth or non-abrasive sponge to rub the mixture onto the stainless steel surface. Wipe clean (no rinsing necessary) and polish with a soft cloth.


In the Bathroom

All-Purpose Anti-Bacterial Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid detergent or Castile soap
  • 15 to 20 drops of your favorite antibacterial essential oil (e.g. lemon, lavender, tea tree oil).

Using a wooden spoon, mix the baking soda and detergent in a bowl until it is the consistency of frosting. Stir in essential oils. Slather some of the mixture onto a soft sponge and scrub. Rinse well. Use this recipe to clean glass, porcelain, ceramic, and most plastic surfaces. It's abrasive enough to clean without scratching. You can find essential oils at health food store.

Porcelain Tub and Sink Brightener

  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons 3% hydrogen peroxide

Apply to a sponge. Scrub thoroughly and rinse. For stubborn stains, allow to stand for 15 minutes before scrubbing.


Toilet Bowl Cleaner

  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap
  • 2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach powder
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 10 drops of essential oils (optional)

Squirt liquid soap into the toilet bowl, followed by a sprinkle of oxygen bleach powder and baking soda. Add essential oils (optional). Scrub with a toilet brush. For tough stains, let the solution stand for 10 to 15 minutes and scrub a second time. Flush when finished.

Drain Opener

A plumber's drain snake can be used to manually clear a clogged drain. You can find both professional grade and inexpensive plastic versions at most big-box home stores. As a preventative measure, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white distilled vinegar (it will foam!). Do this once every two weeks to help prevent future clogs.

Soap Scum Cleaner

Use the all-purpose cleaner (see above) plus add 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar. It will foam up when the vinegar is added to the baking soda, so don't be alarmed. Use an old toothbrush to clean hard to reach places and rinse with warm water. Soap scum build-up is easy to prevent just by wiping down wet surfaces regularly after bathing.

For Clean Laundry

All-Purpose Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • water
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha® soap, grated
  • 1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 4 1/2 gallons of water
  • 5 gallon bucket with cover

Place the grated soap in a small saucepan and cover with water. Dissolve over low heat. Fill the bucket with water, and add the dissolved soap. Stir in 1 cup of washing soap and mix well. As the solution cools, the liquid should start to thicken up. Store soap in covered bucket. Use 1-2 cups per load. Fels-Naptha® bar soap and washing soda (usually Arm & Hammer® brand) can both be found in the laundry aisle of most supermarkets.

All-Purpose Powdered Laundry Detergent

  • 1 cup grated Fels Naptha® soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax

Combine all ingredients and store in a covered container. Use 1 TBSP for light loads, and 2 TBSPs for large or heavily-soiled loads.

Fabric Softener

Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Stain Remover

Spot-treat stains with a solution of 3 tablespoons borax and 2 cups of room temperature water. Test on a concealed piece of fabric first, before using on a large area.


Use a clothesline and some sunshine as a natural way to bleach!

Floors & Furniture

Tile/linoleum Floor Cleaner

Dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of dishwashing soap in 3 gallons of warm water. Mop the floor with this solution. To rinse, follow with 1 cup of white vinegar in 3 gallons of cool water and dry with towels.

Wood Floor Cleaner

Dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar in 3 gallons of warm water. After mopping, wipe floor dry with a clean towel.

Rug/Carpet Spot Remover

Blot immediately with a soft, dry towel. Sprinkle with baking soda, cornstarch or borax and let dry. Wash with club soda, let dry and vacuum.

Furniture Polish

  • 1 part distilled white vinegar
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 to 2 drop of natural lemon oil (not synthetic)

Test in an inconspicuous area first.

Rust Remover

Sprinkle a small amount of salt on the rusted area. Soak the area with the juice of one lime, saving the rind. Let stand for about three hours. Use the leftover rind to scrub the surface clean.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner Recipes

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 337 Feedbacks
December 7, 20110 found this helpful
Top Comment

I don't know whether these work or not, however, I do know that whenever you mix vinegar and baking soda; one is an acid and the other a base, you will get salt, water, and carbon dioxide. This is why it bubbles. Bubbles, in my experience, are not great cleaners. Neither is salt water.

Vinegar by itself does some jobs. Baking soda by itself does some jobs. But when you mix them, they neutralize each other, and all you have is salt water. Any recipe that contains both can not be more effective than salt water. The floor cleaner, for instance, is nothing more than salt water. It can't work any better than plain water. I'm sorry. It's basic chemistry.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
December 7, 20111 found this helpful

Thsee recipes look great! One question on the powdered laundry detergent-for amount per load is it supposed to be tablespoons?

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 117 Feedbacks
December 7, 20110 found this helpful

These are cool recipes for around-the-house cleaning!

I have used the powdered laundry detergent for a long time now, you can use any soap that is not a glycerin soap. I have used Ivory and Dr. Bronner's castile soap.

For April C. Johnson: Yes, it should be tablespoons. That's what I use.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 107 Feedbacks
December 9, 20111 found this helpful

Here's something that I've used for many years now and it saves me alot of money. Fill a spray bottle 3/4's of the way with Vinegar and the rest with MrClean (the toxic green color). If you have especially hard water like I do it works miracles on soap scum. for example, generously spray your sink, bathtub, shower etc and wait 10 minutes then wipe away following with a rinse.

It's so effective that you can even use a paper towel to clean with and you will be amazed by the results. I will never use anything else to clean my kitchen sink and bathroom. It's also great to clean out the refrigerator. Try it, you just might become a believer :D

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May 18, 20130 found this helpful

Frustrated by reappearing spots even after carpet is professionally cleaned, I tried undiluted hydrogen peroxide.
Caution: try an area of the carpet to determine whether you will lose/change color before using on the spotted area - your carpet will be cleaner and brighter after using the peroxide, but not necessarily removing the carpet color.

Method: Make sure all affected fibers are saturated in order to get to the "guts" of the stain. If you only spray the surface fibers, you will only clean the surface - the deeper hidden spot/soil will surface time after time.
Scrub with a sturdy, stiff brush, and allow the peroxide to work for a period of time - even part of a day.

With a small dry towel/rag, rub briskly over the entire damp/wet area to remove the stain or soil. Use additional clean towels until the towels show clean.
If there is still stain/soil showing on the towel, repeat with peroxide, scrub with brush, and wipe briskly again.

Allow to dry overnight. Place a towel over the wet/damp area to deter additional soil being attracted to the clean spot. Vacuum the area being sure to include immediate surrounding areas.

Check your work in good light. If there appears to be stain/dirt, repeat the process while overlapping to immediate surrounding area with a light spray.
Wipe briskly with dry towel/rag. Vacuum.

I love my clean, bright carpet! Now, I will call the carpet cleaner tomorrow for my routine carpet cleaning.

Source: I remembered my brother-in-law's hint to remove blood from fabric. Hydrogen Peroxide! BTW my recurring spot was probably coffee.

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May 22, 20130 found this helpful

Remember to be cautious when "scrubbing" carpet. Some fibers will not withstand scrubbing very hard, if at all. Some carpet fiber consist of a few strands that are twisted together and when you scrub they will separate and you will have a "fuzzy" mess! You will not be able to fix that problem!

To pull the moisture out, it is best to blot. Try putting a dry towel on the wet spot and stand on it, moving the towel to a dry area each time until the moisture has wicked into the towel and the carpet is dry.

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November 17, 20140 found this helpful

Thank-you. This information is all so well assembled and so thrifty as well. I know of some of these recipes, but not ALL. You have my thanks again, with every good wish,
Arthur Hovey

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