Easy Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

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

Woman's hand using a spray bottle filled with homemade all-purpose cleaner

An “all-purpose cleaner” is one you can use to remove grime, grease, and dirt from almost every household surface. When switching to homemade cleaning products, it’s important to remember that cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing.

To clean most household surfaces, a mild product like this homemade general cleaning spray is all you need. With germy surfaces, like those in the bathroom, you’ll need a two-step approach to clean and then disinfect. After using this homemade all-purpose spray, you can disinfect with your favorite storebought product or use a homemade bathroom disinfectant.

How to Make Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner Spray

This homemade general cleaning spray is safe for use on painted or finished wood, Formica, metal, stainless steel, plastic, laminate, granite, marble, tile, ceramic, vinyl, and washable fabrics. (For glass surfaces, use this homemade window cleaner.)

Makes 16 oz.

You will need:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mild liquid dish soap
  • 3-5 drops of pet-safe essential oils (optional)


  1. Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and gently swirl together to combine.
  2. Apply directly to household surfaces and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth. For most surfaces, there is no need to rinse.
  3. Store unused cleaner in a cool, dry spot. Discard after 1 week.

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 tempting to reach for potent cleaning products in the belief they’ll do a better job keeping our homes healthy. However, according to the CDC, soap and water are enough to clean most surfaces. 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. Although Castile soap is great for cleaning many things, I do not recommend substituting it in this recipe 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 is known as bicarbonate to UK readers and is a safe, natural, and inexpensive way to deodorize surfaces. Used 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:

Adding essential oils to this homemade cleaner is optional. Including certain essential oils like (tea tree or lemon) can add some disinfecting power but may pose a danger if you have dogs or cats. So, be sure to use essential oils that are safe for pets. And remember, no matter which essential oil you add, you still need additional disinfection for bathroom or food preparation surfaces.

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

  2. 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!

  3. Can you use Dawn soap?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Absolutely. Dawn is a fantastic soap.

  4. I love your one project a day. It is how I used to get things done when I had 5 children around. I am just hoping I do not get behind.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      There’s nothing wrong with taking a day or even a week off if you want to. Life isn’t about cleaning, after all. 🙂

  5. Maureen Plimier says:

    Great cleaner. Why is it good for only one week?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad you like it! The reason for the 1-week limit is that there’s nothing in the recipe to prevent microbial growth. Better safe than sorry.