Natural Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

Homemade all purpose cleaner recipe mix from HousewifeHowTos.com

Regular HWHT readers know I’m fanatic about using homemade mixes to replace commercial products whenever possible, so this homemade all-purpose cleaner has become one of the most-used tools in my cleaning arsenal. It costs just pennies to make, and you know the exact ingredients in it — something that can’t be said for the store-bought stuff. Plus, it delivers an amazing clean!

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Now, when I say “all purpose cleaner” I mean it: I use this on just about every surface in my home. For those of you with granite or marble counters, there’s an acid-free formula below, too!

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 5-10 drops lemon essential oil

Directions:
1. In a non-metal bowl, stir the baking soda into the water until it’s completely dissolved.
2. Add the remaining ingredients in order. Stir constantly for 1 minute while foaming subsides.
3. Wait 2-5 minutes then stir again. Once there’s no fizzing, transfer to a spray bottle.
4. Swirl gently before each use.

NOTES:

  1. It’s important you do the steps in the order provided, or the baking soda will react with the acidic ingredients and make a mess.
  2. Do not use the recipe above on granite or marble. Use the one below.

Thanks to the vinegar, the lemon juice will not go bad. The combination of lemon juice and vinegar give this cleaner its germ-killing properties. It also leaves a lovely scent and a nice, streak-free shine. I like to keep a bottle of this stuff under my kitchen counter with a microfiber cloth for quick touch-ups. There’s another one in my guest bathroom where I can pop in to tidy things if company drops in.

This homemade all purpose cleaner is great to use in just about every room of the house. If you’ve been doing my daily house cleaning routine, or any of the other printable cleaning routines, you’ll find it cuts through greasy fingerprints on door jambs and appliance fronts, vanities and light switch plates.

What really surprised me, though, was how clean it left my kitchen table. Then I realized, the recipe for this homemade all purpose cleaner isn’t that different from what I use to remove sticky wax buildup from furniture. See, it really IS all purpose… except for granite. For that, use the following homemade mix.

Homemade Granite-Safe Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol (methylated spirits in the UK)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. liquid dish detergent
  • Essential oils (optional, see note)

Directions:
1. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle.
2. Shake gently before each use.
3. KEEP AWAY FROM FLAME!!!

Note on essential oils: The smell of the rubbing alcohol will fade quickly, but if you’d like to leave behind a fragrance then add 10-15 drops of essential oils. Some combinations I enjoy are: orange and sage; lavender and peppermint; orange and rosemary; or cedar and chamomile.

While this works fine on floors, I’d really recommend using a homemade cleaner for all flooring types instead.


Equipment I Use For This:
   

Comments

  1. Heather says

    Wouldn’t the fresh lemon juice cause the mixture to spoil rather quickly? I think I’d leave that out if I made it.

    • Katie Berry says

      It doesn’t. The other ingredients in the mix preserve the lemon juice, while the lemon’s acidity is needed to make it an effective cleaner.

  2. says

    Some people don’t realize, citrus is a natural preservative. If any homemade products have any citrus in them, you don’t have to worry so much with a preservative, such as vitamin e, grapefruit seed extract, or citric acid :)

    • Katie Berry says

      Citrus is definitely a preservative, in the right form. I think you meant Vitamin C, not E, because E isn’t citrus. But you’re absolutely right: citric acid, in its powdered form, is a great preservative. So is grapefruit seed extract and many citrus-based essential oils (lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine). When it comes straight out of a fruit, like a fresh-squeezed lemon or lime, there are going to be some sugars in there (fructose) so while it’s got highly concentrated citric acid there’s still stuff in there that theoretically COULD go bad. Hence the vinegar in the first recipe: it will counteract those sugars and work with the citric acid in the lemon juice so the stuff doesn’t get moldy. Come to think of it, the bottle of stuff I’ve been using is the same batch I whipped up over a month ago and it’s still mold-free and working well.

      Btw, thank you for commenting and leaving your Facebook link. I’m a new “Like” on your page now!

    • Kelly Rentz Heck says

      I mean that vitamin e actually preserves oils, ..lol…rosemary extract does too…although it is sometimes hard to find, it is not necessary, it is expensive, and rosemary essential oil works just the same :)

    • Katie Berry says

      You can definitely try it, and I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t work. It’s pricier that way, though. Two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice equals the juice of one lemon. Good luck!

  3. Jess says

    I heard that mixing baking soda and vinegar isn’t a good idea because it will cancel out the cleaning properties of both.

    • Katie Berry says

      While they can neutralize each other in the right proportion, here we’re using more vinegar than baking soda. So even once the acetic acid in the vinegar combines with the sodium hydrogen carbonate of the baking soda in this recipe, not all of the acetic acid is neutralized. So we still get a strong cleaning solution with the abrasive power of baking soda.

  4. sandy says

    I have a question. Your receipe for all purpose cleaner with vinegar, does it mean clean the all the counter tops(except stone ones) and also shower and tub and toilet bowls? I am really confused after reading so many blogs saying “all purpose cleaner”

    • says

      “All purpose cleaner” refers to a cleaner that can be used on a variety of hard surfaces for daily, light cleaning. It isn’t necessarily a disinfectant, though both of these recipes will disinfect if allowed to sit on the surface for 5 minutes before wiping.

  5. Linda says

    I have a question. I made the all-purpose cleaner (twice), following the recipe and procedure to the letter, as instructed, both times. I love it – smells great and I don’t feel like I have to wear hazmat gear while using it. However, the first time I made it, I poured it from the bowl to the bottle where the ingredients continued to react with one another, forcing liquid up the tubing and out the nozzle every five minutes in a little stream like an old man spitting tobacco juice. I unscrewed the cap slightly for 24 hours to vent the gases without improvement. I had to leave it stored in the sink overnight so it could relieve itself without causing any damage. The second time I made it, I left it in the bowl for 24 hours before putting it in the bottle – same problem. I’d love to continue using it, but not if it’s going to spit at me. Any suggestions? [Your floor cleaner is AWESOME, by the way. It’s the only thing I’ve tried (including Bona) that doesn’t leave a dulling film on my engineered wood floors.]

    • Katie Berry says

      You’ve got me stumped, Linda. After reading your comment I went and mixed up another batch just to make sure I hadn’t messed up the recipe while writing it — I usually just make it from memory, but I needed a new batch, anyway. I didn’t have the “old man spitting tobacco juice” problem (though I did snort coffee out of my nose when reading that wonderful description).

      I know you said you followed the recipe to the letter, but let’s go over a couple of things:
      1. Are you using a glass bowl? Metal can be reactive. (I’ll fix the entry to mention this.)
      2. Did you stir the baking soda into WARM water until it pretty much stopped foaming?

      One thing: I got distracted and let the bowl of soda water sit for about 5 minutes before adding the other ingredients, then a couple more minutes passed while I hunted for a new spray bottle. Before pouring it into my bottle, I stirred it again to make sure there was no fizzing going on. There wasn’t.

      So give that a try. I do hope it works for you — it’s an awesome cleaner!

      P.S. I’ve edited the entry to add in the things mentioned above.

      • Linda says

        I did dissolve the baking soda in warm water as you described, but I used a metal mixing bowl – maybe that’s the fly in the ointment. I’ll give it another try and let you know how it goes. Thanks for clarifying the recipe.

  6. Linda says

    Hi Katie! I tried it again (twice). This time I carefully followed the modified recipe/procedure. The first time I used a plastic bowl to mix the cleaner, but it never stopped bubbling. I stirred, I waited, I stirred, I waited…but it continued to sparkle like a fine champagne. So I tried it again, this time with a Pyrex glass mixing bowl. Looked promising (at least in the bowl). Interestingly, I noticed that although the mixture didn’t bubble off the glass bowl, bubbles percolated off the plastic mixing spoon resting in it. Anyway – I stirred, I waited, I stirred, I waited. Finally I took the plunge and poured it into the spray bottles (that I bought using your link to Amazon). The three of them are now sitting in my sink squirting all-purpose cleaner every five minutes in the order in which I filled them. It’s kind of sweet, really. Anyway, my sink is clean and lemony.

    • Katie Berry says

      I’m stumped, Linda, though your chorus of squirting spray bottles does sound adorable. Maybe put some googly eyes on them?

      The only other things I can think of are: maybe our baking sodas are different (I used Arm & Hammer) or your vinegar is stronger than mine (I used Heinz in the gallon jug).

      I’m sorry they’re squirting. The bottle I whipped up this morning after your first comment (same kind of bottle, also via Amazon) isn’t squirting at all. Maybe he’s shy?

      • Linda says

        Thanks anyway for your help. Your 30-day plan is great, by the way.

        (Does the floor cleaner work on countertops?)

      • Katie Berry says

        I’m glad you like the 30-Day plan but very sorry the all purpose cleaner hasn’t worked out for you. The 2nd granite-safe option works on non-granite counters, too, and I can’t see any reason the floor cleaner wouldn’t. :)

  7. Linda says

    Hi Katie!
    Good news! It took about 36 hours, but my all-purpose cleaner finally settled down and stopped spitting at me. I’m now quite happily using it all over the house and loving it! I wonder if my fresh lemons were larger than the ones you use and might have contributed too much acidity to the mixture. I’ll experiment with smaller ones (I’ll weigh them before use and see if there’s a happy zone). If I learn anything useful, I’ll let you know. Anyway, even if I have to wait a couple days for the mixture to setting out, it’s worth it. Thanks again.

    • Katie Berry says

      Linda, I am so happy to hear you finally got the fizz under control! I thought about this over and over, and the only thing I came up with is that perhaps your water is harder (or softer) than mine? But many readers with soft water have had no problem with this recipe, so I was still baffled. Maybe you’re right about the lemons? Either way, I’m glad it works and that you like it. Thanks for keeping me updated!

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