Homemade Cleaners – Cheap and Non-Toxic

Last night I made my first green homemade cleaning product. I used a recipe from Annie Berthhold-Bond’s book Better Basics for the Home. It worked great!

all purpose homemade cleaner

I couldn’t wait to start writing about all the lovely homemade recipes I have uncovered, so here goes. Last night I made my first totally green homemade cleaning product. I used a recipe from Annie Berthhold-Bond’s book Better Basics for the Home. This book is quickly becoming my green cleaning bible. I like Annie’s scientific approach to cleaning.

Berthold-Bond explains in Better Basics for the Home that there are basically just two categories of cleaning formulas—alkaline and acidic. She explains it on page 47,

“Alkaline minerals and soap are excellent and safe substitutes for harmful, solvent-based all-purpose cleaners. They neutralize odors, dissolve grease, and remove soils and stains . . . Acidic cleansers containing vinegar or lemon juice can be used for sinks and bathrooms to cut soap scum and dissolve the mineral buildup (scale) that comes from hard water.”

Homemade Alkaline Cleaner and Acidic Cleaner are almost All You Need to Clean your Entire House!

Cleaning house now means having only two spray bottles to carry around, or to store in your cabinets, that will take care of almost every house cleaning chore, and clean almost every surface in your home. What a relief it would be to have just two cleaning solutions and that’s it. ! I am happy to report that I mixed up a spray bottle of Alkaline Cleaner and used it on the job today. It worked really well to get my house clean. I am thrilled!

Here is the recipe from Annie Berthold-Bond that I changed to suit me as suggested in the book. Instead of washing soda you could skip it, or replace it with baking soda or Epsom salts.

Alkaline Cleaner

This is the all-purpose cleanser you should reach for first, because it works on most dirt.

½ teaspoon Epsom salts

2 teaspoons Borax

½ teaspoon soap or detergent

2 cups hot water

 Combine the Epsom salts [or baking soda, or washing soda], borax, and soap in the spray bottle. Pour in the hot water (it will dissolve the minerals), screw on the lid, and shake to completely blend and dissolve. Spritz every 6 inches or so of surface once or twice, wiping off the cleanser with a rag as you go. For tough dirt, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off. Shake the bottle each time before using.”

Customize your homemade cleaner with essential oils

I did all of that, and to make it my own, I add essential oil of lemon in Winter and Spring, lavender in Summer and Fall, and Peppermint for the dark holiday season. This homemade cleaning recipe doesn’t smell like anything at all without essential oils, except the fragrance of the detergent or soap. If you prefer fragrance free cleaning products then you could wipe out all fragrance by using Castile baby soap instead of detergent.

I remembered to label my spray bottle by using a sticky back mailing label that I happened to have around the office and a black sharpie. I stuck it on the bottle, and then went over it with a piece of clear packing tape. Always label your spray bottles! Putting the date on the label isn’t a bad idea either.

Acidic homemade cleaner

I’ll share with you the recipe for Acid Cleaner by Annie Berthold-Bond as well,

Acid Cleaner

If you have hard water, pets, young children, or an ill person in your home, this all-purpose cleaner will be useful. The acid will dissolve mineral buildup and neutralize and deodorize many body fluid odors.

¼ cup white distilled vinegar [or lemon juice but that will go bad quickly]

½ teaspoon liquid detergent

¾ cups distilled water

22 drops of essential oil of your choice.  [I like lemon in summer, lavender in fall, peppermint in winter]

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake to blend before use. Spray the problem area generously (three or four spritzes per foot), then wipe with a clean cloth.”

If you use lemon juice in this formula you must store it in the refrigerator and know that it will only last for a few days in there.

I am excited about continuing to make my own homemade cleaners to clean house for my clients and in my own apartment. Read more about inexpensive non-toxic green cleaning ingredients that are safe. Why don’t you give it a try?

Welcome to my website!

Julia has been practicing green cleaning for several years as the owner of As You Like It Home Cleaning and organic gardening for almost 20 years running Julia Houriet Custom Gardening. She studied landscape design at Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge Massachusetts. Her expertise is gleaned from education and years of experience.

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  • Sarah

    I came to this link looking for a solution for a mildewed washing machine gasket, however, I’m interested in green cleaning my house anyway. Looking at these recipes, you list ‘detergent’ but what does that mean specifically? I’ve never seen a product marked simply “detergent”. Any clarification would be helpful.

  • immortelle

    Hi Sarah, thanks for visiting us and leaving your comment. Simply put a detergent is a synthetic, man-made cleaning product that is much like soap but not as mild. It shares similar chemistry with soap. Both detergent and soap are surfactants, meaning they reduce the surface tension of water allowing the cleaning agent to make contact with the dirt and lift it away from the surface on which the dirt lies.

    For tougher jobs we like to cut to the chase and instead of using castile soap in a a cleaning solution, for example, use a product that contains detergent (also called sodium lauryl sulfate). Detergent cleaners that I use a lot are Clorox Greenworks Dishwashing Liquid, Better Life Automagic Magic Ultra Concentrated Natural Dishwasher Gel, and Biokleen Laundry Liquid. Note that these products are called liquid or gel, but not soap. They all claim that their sodium lauryl sulfate is plant derived, not petroleum derived, which is an important distinction.

    So if one of our recipes says use some detergent use either dishwashing liquid, (detergent) when you need an all purpose liquid detergent for a regularly dirty mess. If you are cleaning stubborn gunk in the kitchen use dishwasher detergent, and for nasty stuff in the bathroom use laundry detergent. Works excellently!

    all the best, Julia

  • vano

    I loved the alkaline cleaner! It worked better than store bought on my granite counter tops! I’ll be making the acidic cleaner next.

    • naturallybubbly

      Hi vano, thanks for commenting on that. I’ve never used the alkaline cleaner on granite, but since it is not acidic it should be okay for natural stone. You rinsed it off well, didn’t you?

  • Homemade Alkaline Cleaner and Acidic Cleaner are almost All You Need to Clean your Entire House!

  • We use Homemade Alkaline Cleaner and Acidic Cleaner all the time and does a tip tio job.

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