How to Make your own Cleaners

Every time you turn around it seems that there is a new cleaning product out on the market that promises to clean everything and the kitchen sink.   However, many of these gadgets are not necessary and just take up room in your house.  Most of these gadgets require pricey refills.  On top of that, commercial cleaners contain chemicals that can be harmful to both humans and the environment.  You may have noticed that the so called “green” cleaning products can also be expensive.  If you want to be environmentally responsible and you’re on a budget, it may seem like you’re forced to choose between the two.

The good news is that there are ways that you can save money on cleaning supplies.   Whether you’re trying to lessen your carbon footprint or save money, there is a method for you.   Frugally green cleaning supplies are only as far away as your own cupboard or pantry.

Cleaning Tools

*Instead of throwing away old t-shirts or socks without mates, use them as cleaning rags.  These items can be washed and re-used, unlike paper towels or disposable cleaning cloths, which get thrown out after one use.  Not only are you saving money, you’re keeping chemicals out of the landfill.

*You don’t need to spend a lot of money on special tools with disposable chemical pads. A simple mop and bucket will clean your floor just fine.  The cotton mop head can be washed after each use and doesn’t need to be replaced as often as disposable pads. 

Rubbermaid makes its own version of the Swiffer Wet-Jet.  The Reveal spray mop features a reservoir where you can put in your own cleaning solution and washable microfiber pads.  Unlike the Swiffer Wet Jet, the pad is washable and you can use your own cleaning solution, which saves you money.   The Reveal is available in stores or online and retails for around $30. 

*A basic broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner is sufficient to sweep your floors.  Reusable microfiber pads are another way to clean your floors and save money at the same time.  


Laundry detergent and fabric softener can be expensive.  They also contain chemicals that can irritate the skin, a problem especially for those who have sensitive skin or allergies.   

Do your fluffy towels become rough and less absorbent after repeated washings?  It’s not from wear; it’s from commercial laundry soap.   Commercial detergents contribute to this alkali build up on your clothing and towels. Homemade laundry soap and vinegar fabric softener cost pennies per load and don’t leave that alkali build up on your clothing.

There are many laundry soap recipes on the Internet.  You can make a liquid detergent or a powdered detergent from scratch.  Regardless of the version, the basic ingredients of laundry soap are borax, washing soda, and soap.  Some people use regular bar soap, like Ivory, particularly if there are skin sensitivity issues.  Other people use bar soaps that are specially formulated for laundry such as Fels Naptha, Kirk’s Castille or Zote.

Vinegar makes an excellent liquid fabric softener.  The acidity breaks up the alkali deposits on your clothing. Add it to your washing machine at the beginning of the rinse cycle or to your fabric softener reservoir.  If you are worried about your clothing having a vinegar smell, the vinegar is diluted and leaves little to no scent behind.  You can also add essential oils if you would like your cloths to have a scent.    

You can make your own version of dryer sheets as well.  Commercial dryer sheets contain harsh chemicals and are not environmentally friendly.   All you have to do is take a cotton cloth and add drops of essential oil to it.  You can cut up an old cotton t-shirt that is no longer wearable for this.   Every so often, add more drops of oil to the cloth.

You can also dip a washcloth in fabric softener or vinegar.  Just toss it in the dryer with your wet laundry.    

Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher detergent can be expensive.  With changes in the formula, some people claim that commercial detergents don’t do the job as well as they used to.  Because of this, many people have started making their own versions. 

Recipes vary, but they all call for the same basic ingredients: borax, washing or baking soda, kosher salt, and something containing citric acid.   Some people will use food grade citric acid, packets of lemon flavored drink mix, or a product called Lemi-Shine.  Any of these will work because they contain citric acid, which is necessary to help remove hard water spots.  

It may take some experimentation to get the right proportions of these ingredients to work for you.  Effectiveness also depends on the type of water you have.  If you have hard water, then you may have to adjust amounts. 

Because there are no fillers, you use only a tablespoon of this homemade version in each receptacle. 

Instead of buying rinse agent, use vinegar.  The water in the rinse cycle will dilute the vinegar to avoid leaving smell or taste on your dishes.  A gallon of vinegar itself costs less than a bottle of rinse agent. 

Around the Rest of the House

*Use baking soda to clean your oven.  Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your oven and wet it down with water until it becomes a paste.  Leave this sit overnight.  The next morning, you should be able to just wipe up the paste and all the grime from your oven. Always read and follow your manufacturers instructions before cleaning an oven.

*Wipe out your tub or shower after each use to help making your weekly cleaning easier.  This small act can also help stretch your bathroom cleaner further.  Heat vinegar on the stove and put equal parts vinegar and Dawn dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle, shake to mix, and spray this mixture on your bathtub.  Leave it sit for a half an hour and this will easily remove soap scum. 

*You can make your own glass cleaner.  Recipes vary, but the common component is vinegar.  For pennies, you will have glass cleaner that works as well as the commercial

*By using lemon juice and olive oil, items you already have in your home, you can make your own furniture polish to clean your wood furniture.  The oil conditions the wood.   However, oil can go rancid, so it’s important to make only enough for what you need at that time in order to avoid waste. 

*You can make your own version of Soft Scrub with dishwashing liquid and baking soda.  Put baking soda in a container or bowl and then add enough dishwashing liquid so when you mix them together, they form a paste that is the consistency.

There is no end to the types of cleaners you can make at home.  The internet has a wealth of tips and recipes for frugal cleaning.  The social media site Pinterest is also an excellent place to find these tips and serves as an excellent place to keep them handy.