Easy Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

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This homemade all-purpose cleaner costs pennies to make and leaves your household surfaces naturally clean.

As an “all-purpose cleaner,” you can use it to remove grime, grease, and dirt from almost every household surface. It’s safe for stainless steel, Formica, laminate, finished wood, even natural stone surfaces like granite and marble.

Homemade Cleaning Spray

Woman wearing rubber gloves and a microfiber cloth while holding a spray bottle of homemade all-purpose cleaner as she wipes a wood countertop

Where to Use Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

An all-purpose cleaner is just that: it cleans pretty much every household surface, except for glass. (For that, check out my no-streak homemade window cleaner.) But it’s important to remember that cleaning is not the same thing as disinfecting.

Cleaning: For most surfaces, you can use a homemade all-purpose cleaner to physically remove grime, food residue, dirt and other debris.

Disinfecting: Some surfaces, like sinks, showers and toilets, as well as food preparation surfaces, need to be disinfected after cleaning to kill lingering germs. (Good news: you can make homemade disinfecting wipes to tackle those spots!)

What the Ingredients Do

Understanding the role of each ingredient helps you decide whether and when to change things to suit your personal preferences.

Soap and Water:

It’s often tempting to reach for potent cleaning products in the belief they’ll do a better job keeping our homes healthy.

According to the CDC, however, soap and water are enough to clean most surfaces. In fact, stronger solutions contribute to indoor air pollution that can irritate allergies and asthma.

So, this homemade all-purpose cleaner puts soap and water to work around the home to help you clean without damage. There is no need for a fancy soap with antibacterial properties or oxygenating action.

I do not recommend substituting with Castile soap, since it is oil-based and may leave a film. If you choose to use it anyway, you might need to rinse surfaces to remove any film left behind.

Baking Soda:

Baking soda (known as bicarbonate to UK readers) is a safe, natural and inexpensive way to deodorize surfaces.

In this homemade cleaning spray, it also provides very mild abrasive properties to help lift sticky messes and crusty spots without damaging household surfaces.

Essential Oils:

The use of essential oils in this homemade cleaner is entirely optional. If you’ll be using it to clean stainless steel, be sure you don’t add more than a few drops to the mix or you’ll leave streaks. If you have a dog or cat, avoid using essential oils that are toxic to pets.

Including certain essential oils like (tea tree or lemon) can add some disinfecting power. Still, their use does not mean you should skip additional disinfection of bathroom or food-preparation surfaces.

I include them because I enjoy the fragrance they provide. Also, since peppermint essential oil helps get rid of household pests, I always use it during warmer months. They are not “essential” to this homemade all-purpose cleaner recipe, though. (Pardon the pun.)

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Katie Berry
A safe, frugal, and effective homemade cleaner for most household surfaces.
Prep Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Course homemade cleaner
Servings 16 ounces


  • Spray bottle


  • 16 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda bicarbonate to UK readers
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap use a mild product, not one that promises oxygenating action
  • 5 drops essential oils optional (see blog post for cautions)


  • Pour water into a spray bottle then add the baking soda (bicarbonate). Swirl gently until the powder is completely dissolved.
  • Add the liquid dish soap. Again, swirl gently. If bubbles form, wait until they subside before continuing.
  • Add essential oils if using. Swirl and wait again if bubbles form.
  • Spray lightly on household surfaces then use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe. For most surfaces, there is no need to rinse. Change cloths as needed, so you are not spreading grime from one surface to another.
  • Store out of the reach of children and pets. Shake well before each use.
Keyword homemade cleaner
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More Helpful How-Tos:

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  1. 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.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. Please do let me know how it goes!

  2. Can’t wait to try this minus the oil though.

  3. Actually your proportions are pretty spot on to neutralize in your recipe. Assuming your using regular vinegar at 5% acidity level at a ph value at around 2 on the acid scale and sodium bicarbonate(baking soda) at a ph value of 9.4 on the alkaline side. But good try….

    1. Katie Berry says:

      1. Baking soda, as used in cooking, has a ph value of 8.1.
      2. Vinegar with a 5% acidity has a ph of 2.4.
      3. Neutral is 7.

      But thanks for dropping by to try and mansplain. Have a nice day.

  4. Monica Cromartie says:

    This recipe works great. I was using another recipe for all natural cleaner but this one seems to do a better job cleaner stains. I just tried it in my bathroom. Cleaned great and has a nice smell to it as well. No vinegar smell.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Glad to hear it!

  5. Can you use Dawn soap?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Absolutely. Dawn is a fantastic soap.

  6. Annette Browne says:

    How long can you store it for?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It stores indefinitely.

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