14+ Homemade Cleaners That Get Your Home Sparkling, According to Pros
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You don’t need pricey, store-bought products to clean your home. These DIY solutions are easy to make, affordable, and incredibly effective.
Household cleaning is definitely not a luxury, so why is it that commercially available household cleaning products can be priced like luxury items? And that’s not the only problem with commercial cleaning products these days. Since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in, they have also become—along with all these other items—increasingly harder to find in stock in both brick-and-mortar stores and online. But it turns out that with just a few basic ingredients (think vinegar, baking soda, lemons, rubbing alcohol, and dish detergent, among others), you can make homemade cleaners to tackle every room in your house.
Plus, as an added bonus, not one of these recipes for homemade cleaners uses bleach, which can be an effective cleaner and disinfectant but can also cause some scary chemical reactions when mixed with other household cleaning products, including ammonia. However, just to be safe, here is a more comprehensive list of the cleaning products you should never combine. Also for safety’s sake, please have a waterproof marker ready for labeling your homemade cleaners and the ingredients they contain as soon as you mix them up. (Speaking of which, you’ll also want at least one four-pack of these reusable 32-ounce spray bottles).
Multipurpose cleaning solution
From Carlos Garcia, managing director at the U.K.-based Total Clean cleaning service, comes this DIY multipurpose cleaning solution that can be used for an array of cleaning tasks all around the house. It has three ingredients and is incredibly quick and easy to prepare. Here’s what you’ll need:
Simply pour all three ingredients into a clean, empty spray bottle, and shake well. For a luxurious, personalized touch, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. You can use this homemade cleaner for just about any surface, though, of course, it’s always a good idea to test it out in a small, hard-to-notice spot, just to make sure. However, we also have a homemade multipurpose cleaning solution that is designed specifically for bathrooms (see “Multipurpose bathroom cleaner” below) as well as one for glass and mirrored surfaces (see “Glass and mirror cleaner” below).
Single-ingredient multipurpose cleaner
Even if you only have alcohol or vinegar on hand, you can still whip up an effective multipurpose cleaning solution. Here’s how:
- If all you have is alcohol, use a 70/30 mixture of alcohol and water mix, according to Abe Navas, general manager of Emily’s Maids.
- If all you have is vinegar, use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, suggests Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of ServiceMaster by Zaba, a Chicago-based cleaning and restoration company. “[This] all-purpose spray is very effective at cleaning and sanitizing most surfaces,” Rodriguez-Zaba tells Reader’s Digest. One exception? It should not be used on marble, as it may cause dulling.
Multipurpose bathroom cleaner
Master gardener and home improvement expert Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, gave us this recipe for a homemade multipurpose bathroom cleaner, noting that with this solution, you “don’t have to use chemicals to get your bathroom sparkling clean.”
- 12 ounces of baking soda
- 4 ounces of warm water
- 4 ounces of liquid dish soap (preferably Dawn)
- 1 ounce of distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Start by dissolving the baking soda in the warm water. Then add the dish soap, white vinegar, and lemon juice. To use, simply spray on whatever surface you wish to clean and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before wiping it off. By the way, even if you don’t have lemon juice on hand, you can still use this cleaner, although it won’t be as effective for cutting through the grime that tends to build up on grout, Stark tells Reader’s Digest.
Pro tip: Don’t use this solution on mirrors or glass, as the lemon juice and/or dish soap could cause streaking.
Glass and mirror cleaner
Cleaning expert Natalie Barrett, the quality supervisor at Nifty Cleaning Services, says you can use the following homemade glass cleaner not only for the everyday wiping-down of glass and mirrored surfaces but also for the removal of water deposit stains on other surfaces. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 ounce of distilled white vinegar
- 3 ounces of baking soda
- 16 ounces of water
Even if you don’t have baking soda, you can still make your own homemade glass cleaner by using equal parts vinegar and water. A word of caution, however, care of Finn Pegler, CEO of Indianapolis-based DeluxeMaid: Whatever you do, do not add lemon juice or any other citrus juice to your homemade glass cleaner because that could leave you with streaky glass and mirrors. For a streak-free shine, you’ll also want to use a microfiber cloth.
Mold and mildew remover
Nifty Cleaning Services’ Barrett also gave us this recipe for a quick and easy mold and mildew destroyer:
- 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 2 cups of water
Simply mix the two ingredients in a spray bottle, apply directly to the affected areas, and allow to sit for an hour before wiping clean with a damp cloth.
Soap scum remover
To eliminate soap scum forever, you don’t need chemicals. You just need a piece of fruit you might already have at home, according to Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop. Here is the recipe:
- 1/2 a grapefruit
- Kosher salt
Take half a grapefruit and pour a layer of salt over the cut side. Then rub the salted grapefruit onto the affected areas and you’ll see the soap scum start to lift away. “The grapefruit’s citric acid and the coarseness of the salt work together to power through stubborn scum,” Bowen explains.
To avoid soap scum buildup in the first place, you can spritz this same solution every day after showering. It also helps not to use a shower curtain, according to Bowen, but if you have no choice, she suggests doing your best to keep the area ventilated (by opening a window or, if you don’t have a window, keeping the fan on during and just after bathing).
Toilet clog remover
There are certain toilet problems you can’t escape. However, you’ll never have to sweat over your clogged toilet with a plunger again with this homemade solution from Jake Romano of Ottowa’s John The Plumber. And all you’ll need is dish soap.
Simply pour some dish soap into the clogged toilet, and follow up with a kettle of boiling water. Repeat as many times as needed. (It could take several tries, but hopefully, it won’t!) When the water level stops rising, you can flush.
Drain clog remover
There are plenty of weird facts about Coca-Cola you probably never knew, but this one definitely takes the cake. According to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, the phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola and other cola-style beverages (which makes your cola taste tangy) is highly effective at breaking through drain clogs. And as James points out, Coca-Cola won’t damage your home plumbing.
To use cola to keep your drains running smoothly, start by allowing a two-liter bottle to come to room temperature. Then pour the contents down the drain. For stubborn clogs, allow to sit for as long as 24 hours. Flush with boiling water, and repeat as needed.
Natasha Bes/Getty Images
Regular drain maintenance cleaner
To prevent clogged drains in the first place, never put any of these things down your drain. In addition, every so often, pour Coca-Cola down your drain, as described by Mr. Rooter Plumbing’s James, but let it sit for just an hour or two before rinsing with boiling water. An alternate method for maintaining the smooth flow of your plumbing (one that does not involve soda) comes to us from John the Plumber’s Romano. You’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
Simply pour these two ingredients down the drain you wish to clean, and let sit for an hour before flushing with boiling water.
There are a number of ways you can clean your oven without subjecting yourself to the harsh chemicals that are hiding out in many commercial oven cleaners. But this one is the best, according to Bowen. You’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of water
In a bowl, combine the ingredients into a paste. Wearing rubber gloves (to protect you from grime, not chemicals), remove the removable racks, and wipe out any large debris that you see. Now spread the paste over the interior surfaces of the oven, avoiding the heating elements. Allow to sit overnight, and then wipe down with a damp cloth.
Oven rack cleaner
To clean the racks that you removed from your oven, place them in a sink that is big enough to hold them. Douse them with white distilled vinegar, and sprinkle with baking soda. Allow to sit for an hour before running the hot water and allowing the racks to be submerged overnight. In the morning, simply empty the sink of dirty water, and rinse clean. Now, in case you’re wondering, here’s the trick to cleaning your oven door.
Enzymatic garbage disposal cleaner
To keep your garbage disposal smelling decidedly un-garbagey, DeluxeMaid’s Pegler gave us a recipe for a natural solution involving fermented citrus peels. But bear in mind, you’re going to need patience because after mixing the solution, it takes at least one month to develop its enzymatic cleaning powers. Besides patience, and a kitchen scale that will ensure your proportions are correct, you’ll need:
- 4 parts citrus peels
- 1 part brown sugar
- 10 parts water
Simply toss it all together in a mason jar big enough to hold however much solution you’re preparing, and then set it aside on an out-of-the-way shelf for a month. At that point, simply pour some into your garbage disposal (peels and all), and then let the disposal run until the peels are dissolved.
Here are 15 things you probably didn’t realize you could microwave. That being said, whenever you cook something in your microwave, you’re going to leave some measure of spatter behind, and that can become tough to remove and ultimately leave stains, according to Ron Shimek, president of repair experts at Mr. Appliance. All you need is:
- 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
Mix this solution in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat on high for 30 seconds. Carefully remove the bowl, and then wipe down your microwave oven’s interior. “The leftover food should wipe away with ease and leave a clean, fresh-baked cookie scent.”
Window blinds cleaner
Ever wonder why your horizontal window blinds get so dusty so quickly (like, much more quickly than any other surface in your home)? According to Two Maids & A Mop’s Bowen, the culprit is static electricity, and to combat it, you’ll need:
- 1/2 cup of liquid fabric softener
- 2 cups of water
Combine the two ingredients in a spray bottle, and using a microfiber cloth, wipe down both sides of your blinds. This solution should not only clean your blinds but also help discourage the rapid accumulation of dust attributable to static cling. Just in case homemade cleaners aren’t your cup of tea, here are the commercial cleaning products that the pros swear by. You can also check out this review of The Pink Stuff, which is a total game-changer for your cleaning routine.
- Carlos Garcia, managing director at Total Clean
- Abe Navas, general manager of Emily’s Maids
- Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of ServiceMaster by Zaba
- Jen Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home
- Natalie Barrett, quality supervisor at Nifty Cleaning Services
- Finn Pegler, CEO of DeluxeMaid
- Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop
- Jake Romano of John The Plumber
- Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing
- Ron Shimek, president of repair experts at Mr. Appliance