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Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

Making my own household cleaner is probably something I should have tried a long time ago.

homemade all purpose cleaner in a spray bottle

Not only is it more affordable than most of the “natural” cleaners on the market, it’s also incredibly easy to make!

I’ve always assumed that anything I made at home wouldn’t be as effective as a something I could buy at the store, which is why I’ve hesitated making my own cleaner up to this point. I’ve also dreaded having my house smell like vinegar. Luckily, my sister-in-law is braver than I am, and started making her own all-natural cleaners when she became a mom. To my pleasant surprise, her home doesn’t smell like vinegar, and it’s just as clean– if not cleaner– than it was back when she was using the store-bought stuff.

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This was the proof I needed to try it myself.

The following cleaner uses all-natural ingredients that you may already have in your house. It takes less than 5 minutes to make, and is just as effective as any other cleaner I’ve tried. Don’t be afraid of the vinegar smell, it will dissipate as it dries. Adding tea tree oil to the mix not only improves the overall scent, but it also helps kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Feel free to use it as you would any other multi-surface cleaner!

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
makes 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white vinegar
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon tea tree oil (about 10 drops)*

Optional: 10 drops essential oil, for scent

*Note: 100% pure tea tree oil is toxic, especially to pets. As I understand it, it can be considered safe when diluted properly, using at least a 10:1 ratio of water to essential oil. This recipe errs on the safe side and uses 50 times more water, for a 576:1 ratio. 

Directions:

In a 1-quart spray bottle, combine the vinegar, water and tea tree oil and shake well to combine. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix, if you’d prefer a scented cleaner.

bottle of vinegar, spray bottle, and a bottle of tea tree oil

You can use this cleaner on any hard surface, such as counter tops, sinks, and floors. When used with a microfiber cloth, it will even clean your mirrors and windows without leaving streaks! (It will be streak-free after it dries.)

Happy cleaning!

Reader Feedback: Have you tried making your own household cleaners? Any other all-natural cleaning tips to share? I’ve been using baking soda to scrub my bathroom and kitchen sinks, and I love how shiny and new they look!

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Comments

Suman

i love this! i’ve been using diluted vinegar to clean my glass tabletop and it works like a charm. plus, i can have my kids do the cleaning and not have to worry if they spray it on themselves or the floor 🙂

Michele Sparrow

This is a fantastic idea. So simple and non-toxic! Awesome.

Cadie

I love cleaning with vinegar. It’s amazing how well it works! Is the pink grapefruit essential oil your favorite? What other scents work well with the tea tree oil?

    Megan

    The only other scent I’ve tried was an essential oil blend that I ordered a long time ago for “relaxation.” Both seem to mix really well with the tea tree oil, for an aromatherapy-like scent around the house! I’ve noticed that even with the added essential oils, the scent doesn’t last long after it dries, so you can’t really go wrong. 😉

Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous!

I’ve always been nervous to make my own cleaning products too, but I’ll have to give it a try!

Ingrid King

I use this without the tea tree oil, and it works great on just about everything! For those of you with cats: essential oils are not safe to use around cats.

    Megan

    Thanks, good to know!

    Kevin

    I agree. No herbs or essentials oils when you have pets.

      Felicia

      You can use oils around dogs, they have the same liver enzyme we do that breaks them down. Cats, however, do not. There are oils that can be used around them such as, lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, and rosemary. All others build up in their system and can cause serious health issues. Still not much is known for sure but I have uses these around my cats for years with no problems
      Source: http://essentialoilworld.com/essentialoilreviews/essential-oil-safety-with-cats/

    Nicole

    Thank you Ingrid King. I have two cats and did not know tea tree oils were bad for them. Good thing to know before I make this cleaner.

      Jayne Palmer

      If tea tree oil is bad for pets, why do most pet shampoo contain it

        Jennifer

        I didn’t know oils or essential oils are bad for pets. I really wanted to make this cleaner but I have 3 dogs.

        Cat

        Tea tree oil is actually *get ready for it* toxic to humans and pets. It is “safe” when diluted by like a thousand per cent (thus making this recipe acceptable but still not a great idea, imho). It should never be taken orally – and think about how much your cat or dog (or baby?) puts its paws/hands in its mouth before you go spraying your whole house with the stuff, for goodness’ sakes!

        From PetMD:

        Tea tree oil, or Australian tree tea oil, has become a popular alternative treatment for many skin conditions affecting humans. Its popularity has resulted in some veterinary skin care products that contain small amounts of tea tree oil. In small concentrations (.1% to 1%), tea tree oil is tolerated and safe for cats and dogs.

        Unfortunately, the oil’s popularity has resulted in larger numbers of households with bottles of 100 percent tree tea oil, and accidental ingestion or improper dilutions of this highly concentrated oil can be harmful.

        Tea tree oil is toxic, to both humans and pets, if taken orally. In Australia 100 percent tree tea oil is categorized as a schedule 6 toxin. Packaging there requires child-proof containers and cautionary labeling. Such packaging and labeling are not deemed necessary in the U.S. and Canada. A 10 year long veterinary study of tea tree oil toxicity in pets found that 89 percent of owners who used 100 percent oil assumed that it was safe. The researches felt that the lack of labeling was a major reason for the feeling of safety on the part of American pet owners.

        p.s. When I try to “rate this recipe” it only gives me the option of 4 or 5 stars – LOL. Trying to give it one for total misinformation and lack of research on the dangers of essential oils.

Debbie

Baking soda and white vinegar have been my cleaning staples for years. Baking soda is much gentler on acrylic bath fixtures and leaves them shinny clean. The combo of soda and vinegar with tea tree is a simple, inexpensive toilet bowl cleaner. And I use about 1/3 cup in place of fabric softener in the dispenser in my laundry. It removes any soap residue, which is what makes clothes stiff. Non-toxic cleaning and way less expensive.

Sandy Gluck

Love your ideas. Instead of using an essential oil, could you heat the water along with some herbs such as rosemary or lavender, then steep and strain?

    Krystalynn Manyik

    Essential oils is a specific extraction process of the powerful oils of different plants. While boiling some herbs may give you a nice smelling liquid, it is basically a TEA. While it may contain some germ fighting power, it would be the same as an essential oil. Also, just like tea, it may not keep well.

      Krystalynn Manyik

      ****It would NOT be the same as an essential oil**** sorry for not proof reading first

carrie

The best ‘mostly’ homemade cleaning potion I’ve used is to clean the bathtub. Fill a spray bottle with 50% white vinegar and 50% liquid soap. spray liberally in the bathtub and sink. let sit for 30-60 minutes. Wipe all the soap scum away with no scrubbing and then rinse! I’ve used liquid Castile soap and method dish soap. Both work beautifully. The vinegar smell will go away shortly after you wipe down and rinse the tub.

Alyssa

I’ve been researching homemade natural cleaners for a couple weeks now and then you posted this… great timing! I actually made this mix up last night. Love it so far, and can’t believe how cheap it will be in the long run.

Marbara

Since I started using Norwex microfiber cloths (and subsequently decided to sell them), I haven’t used anything to clean but water 🙂 Washing windows and pretty much everything else = Norwex cloth + water.

Holly

I agree with Marbara, that once you start using Norwex cloths, you eliminate the need for cleaner! Just use water! Although if people don’t know about Norwex, your recipe is so simple and inexpensive!

HCT

Thank you! You saved me money and chemicals. My husband didn’t believe the homemade cleaner would work so well, but he was surprised!

Angela

You can use tea tree oil around cats. It need to be diluted to a 10:1 ratio of carrier to tea tree. This is what a vet told me. I have used this to “discourage” urinating and marking around our house, and it works great. They don’t like the smell, and will leave the area alone. It is the only thing I have found that truely eliminates cat odors.

Denita

Great tips, except you should not use vinegar to clean marble or granite countertops. The acid in the vinegar can harm the natural stone.

    Megan

    Thanks for the tip!

    Clare

    re: no vinegar on marble/granite – do you know what would be ok for these surfaces instead? SO want to get away from the chemicals! thank you!

      Jan

      I was told not to use anything with acid on my granite. You can make a solution of water and a little dish soap in a spray bottle.

Anna

Will this work for surfaces that have had raw meat placed on them? Just wondering how well it disinfects. Thank you!

    Megan

    According to Gina Marino, Good Housekeeping’s microbiologist, vinegar effectively kills 99.9 percent of bacteria. For surfaces contaminated with raw meat, I’d probably use full-strength vinegar just to make sure it kills any possible E.Coli bacteria!

Kim

I am allergic to tea tree oil – what can I use instead?

    stykzorz

    Try lavender essential oil.

    Deb

    If you are allergic to tea tre oil, chances are lavender oil will bother you too. You might try peppermint oil. I’m allergic to most anything plant based and lavender oil is one of the worst for me. I have to be careful with tea tree oil but it’s tolerable in limited quantities. I’ve found peppermint oil to be a great alternative. Good luck!

barb

Perfect! I got a new spray bottle just for this formula. Anyone got any ideas for grout in the bath tiles?

    Krystalynn Manyik

    A paste made from water with baking soda, borax, or washing soda…. or combination of the three.

Henry

Can i use this product to clean leather seats?

Jacqueline

I have been spraying this concoction on the bathroom tiles and grout all week, and it has made a very noticeable difference!!! Thank you for sharing!!! 🙂

Sarah

How long will this cleaner stay “good”? I tried an all purpose cleaner with similar ingredients, but it had fresh lemon juice and it went bad really quickly and gave a foul odor. Thanks!

Tiffiny Stephan

Love the cleaner ingredients! However, I’ve stayed away from using vinegar on my marble & granite countertops because I’ve heard it is harsh on them. They also use to feel “crumbly” to the touch but don’t anymore now that I use a Castille soap with tea tree oil. Any thoughts on natural stone?
Thanks
Tiff

Trisha Nelson

I love this recipe! ! ! I just got some lavender to add! :^)

Angie

Thanks Megan! This recipe is AMAZING! I made it yesterday and added 10 drops of lemongrass oil for scent, and cleaned my kitchen with it. It worked great, and when my husband came home 4 hours later, he said “wow, it smells good in here!” It did smell a bit like Lemon Pledge, but better. So far I’ve only used it on my laminate countertops and tile floor. Do you know if it is safe to use on wood floors & leather upholstery? I want to use this on EVERYTHING!

mary

Do you use just the baking soda in place of the fabric softener or the mixture of all three ingredients??? Thanks, Mary

sarah

Vinegar and essential oil… great idea. I love the idea of non-toxic. When I cleaned a seasonal rental house, I used only baking soda in the kitchen. It cleaned everything great. Scrub, rinse, and you have eliminated all grease and smells. And safe for all surfaces.

Gina

Hi, I just stumbled on your all-purpose cleaner and I plan on making it ASAP. I’ve been “green” cleaning my place for about 4 months now and I’m loving it. Not only does using natural ingredients make my place smell nice and fresh but I’m saving money not having to buy toxic cleaning products. A great plus.

I read some of the comments concerning the use of essential oils around pets. Can tea tree be used to clean around dogs? I plan on doing some cleaning at my daughter’s and she has a dog. Also, can you inform me what other essential oils I can use in my cleaning solutions that will be safe to use around dogs. Thanx for your response and thanx for this vinegar/tea tree recipe. I’ve been seadrching for this exact recipe.

    Megan Gilmore

    100% tea tree oil is not safe for pets; it must be diluted in large amounts of water. As I understand it, the minimum ratio is 10:1, water to oil. And be sure to keep the oil bottle away from kids and pets, as it’s toxic if ingested.

visit website

I love using vinegar hair rinses! I try to use roughly 1 part vinegar to 8 parts of water. This helps to remove soap and shampoo buildup from your hair.Another bonus, and this I learned from being a pre-school teacher, is that using vinegar rinses also discourages lice from setting up residence on your scalp.

Best regards!
Stoke Newington Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

Gina

Well, I made up this mixture and I must say that I LOVE IT!! I used it in the bathroom. For the inside of tub, sink, and toilet, I sprinkled in a some baking soda then sprayed with your homemade mixture. It didn’t require much scrubbing either. I also cleaned the bathroom mirror using newspaper and it cleaned GREAT! Even cleaned the walls! This stuff is AWESOME! I will ALWAYS keep this on hand.

I used tea tree and lemongrass essential oils this time. But I will be using other oils. I could go on and on about this cleaner. It’s No.1 in my book!

Cora Love

It is true that the moment when you become a mom changes everything. I was also hesitating to try home made cleaners for the same reasons like you – didn’t want my house to smell like vinegar and I couldn’t believe that the natural cleaners would be better then the ones from the shop. Everything have changes since the baby and now I am cleaning only with green products and the results are wonderful! I love to browse the Internet for new cleaning recipes! Thanks for sharing this! I would definitely try the recipes that I have never tried! 🙂

Kerry Johnson

Natural homemade cleaners are really great! I am a professional cleaner (http://ovencleaninggreenwich.com/) and I prefer using homemade cleaners because I understand how harmful the toxic cleaners could be, especially when a person is exposed to them everyday, like in my case! The recipe for your all purpose cleaner seems good and I will definitely try it out! Thanks for sharing!

christine

is it safe to used on wooden floors

Jill

Thanks for the recipe! Our 8yr old contracted ringworm and so I will be adding the tea tree to my vinegar spray that I already use for daily upkeep in the shower, I’ve read tea tree is powerful for killing fungi.

Tariq

Hi
Does anyone know if this cleaner would be a good Fungal cleaner for shoes also? Want to use it to spray inside shoes.

    Beth

    For shoes if you add some tea tree oil to a cotton ball and place them.inside the shoes it should help with odor and fungi. I tjink it waa e to 5 drops.

      Beth

      •I think it was 3 to 5 drops!!! Grammer issues….cell phone. Sorry!

Melinda Kraus

I am a school nurse and have been using this mixture for years to clean my office. Excellent!!

Shwan Marsh

I just appreciate these non-toxic ideas and surely I am going to apply some of them as well. Thanks for sharing…

Hal

How sure are you that combining two acids aren’t crating some equally toxic vapour? Have these mixtures undergone some testing other than the ability to clean?

Christina Reiman

I love this cleaner! It works better than anything I have ever purchased in the grocery store!

SHARON SIMPSON

I heartily second this! I had a severe asthmatic reaction to a supposedly “green” non-toxic cleaner this spring that turned out to have lye in it, so now I only use this. Best cleaner I have ever used. My dog is on chemo and prednisone and has had potty failures in my tiled sun room. This completely removes the urine and all odor. And, it does not cause me any discomfort. i’LL NEVER USE ANOTHER RETAIL CLEANER AGAIN.

Mel

Thank you for your cleaning recipe, is it safe for upholster as well?

Missie

I would not use this on granite countertops as the vinegar can be harmful to the surface. I am interested to see how it works on my bathroom surfaces, though.

Misty

I love this. It is so simple to make and no chemicals! I use just a few drops mire of tea tree oil and the smell is wonderful. It also does well to eliminate any odors when my dogs have an accident in the house. Thank you!

Lawrence Barnett

This method works great. I was using the different recipe for all natural cleaner, but this one looks to do a better job cleaner spot. I just tried it in my bathroom. Cleaned tremendous and has a delightful smell to it as well. No vinegar smell.

Monica Cromartie

Is there a cleaner that will clean that sticky feeling on kitchen cabinets and drawers? I have tried baking soda, vinegar, and others, nothing seems to work. It’s not dirty looking just sticky.

    Megan Gilmore

    I would try using an oil on it, like olive oil, then cleaning that off. Oil almost always removes sticky stuff for me.

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