DIY Non-Toxic & Eco-Friendly Cleaners

by Amanda Hearn · 52 comments

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There are so many good cleaning recipes out there, but I would like to share a few that we use in our home.

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1 3/4 c Water
  • 1 3/4 c Vinegar
  • 1 dropper full of Grapefruit Seed Extract or several drops of Tea Tree Oil
  • Optional: 1 tbs Dish Soap (a small squirt)

Pour the ingredients into a spray bottle and give it a gentle shake.  That’s it!

(If you love soap berries, try my Simple Soap Berry All-Pupose Cleaner Recipe!)

Glass Cleaner

  • 1 1/3 c Water
  • 1 1/3 c Vinegar
  • 1 dropper full of Grapefruit Seed Extract or several drops of Tea Tree Oil
  • 1/3 c Rubbing Alcohol (this will give you a great streak-free shine)
  • Optional: 1 tbs Dish Soap (a small squirt)

Again, mix gently and you can leave out the dish soap and grapefruit seed extract (or TTO) if you need/want to.

All-Purpose Scrub

  • Baking soda!

Add a bit of water to make this a paste and scrub away.  You could also use a bit of dish soap to make it soapy/scrubby.

Tough Water Marks/Soap Scum

  • Apple cider vinegar.

In the bottom of the shower or sink, plug the drain, add hot water and some ACV.  Let it sit for a while and then you should be able to really wipe the scum away.

If you can’t let this sit (it’s on a virtical surface) try using hot water & ACV to scrub with.  Sometimes I’ll add a bit of baking soda too.  Be careful if doing this with hot water/acv as it will foam up quickly.

Fabric Softener

  • Vinegar – use 1/4-1/2 cup per wash during the rinse cycle.

I like to use a Downy Ball to make it easy.

You could also use 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar & baking soda.  Some people like to mix these up beforehand in a large batch.  If you do this, be sure to do it in a large bucket or other basin.  This will fizz up a lot.  Stirring the baking soda in slowly will help with that.  Once you’re done you can put it into a container.  Be sure to give it a gently shake before each use as some of the baking soda may not dissolve completely.

Alternatively you could not use additives at all and simply keep some dryer balls in your dryer.  Read more about that here.

Bulk Clothing Laundry Detergent Recipe

More info &a a smaller batch recipe can be found here

Use 1-2 tablespoons per wash load.

Bulk Cloth Diaper Detergent Recipe

This also great for laundry. More info & a smaller batch recipe can be found here

Use 1 tablespoon per wash load – start out with half of this amount for a high efficiency machine.

If you use this for clothes use 2-3 tbs per load.

Stain Pretreater

Full instructions (with video) can be found in my DIY Laundry Pretreater tutorial.

Concerned about borax?
recent article by EWG cautions the use of borax for cleaning in the home noting that toddlers and young children face special risks from hand-to-mouth transfer of carpet or crack and crevice, dust or spray borax treatments. I would recommend not using borax as a general home cleaner – any cleaner (aside from pure water) used for these purposes will leave a residue.  I feel comfortable using the minuscule amount found in each use of the detergent. It is not used on open surfaces and is washed out during the rinse cycle.

You can read a bit more on this debate here – there are some great points of view in the comments.

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Amanda Hearn

Amanda Hearn

Founder of The Eco-Friendly Family, design geek, serial tanktopist, content creator, mother, coffee addict, & lover of fun. I am also a partner at Green Child Magazine & Put A Cup In It!
Amanda Hearn
JJINJERSEY September 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm

About how long is the shelf life? This sounds great!

Amanda September 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

No clue, lol. I just keep it until it's gone :\ Haven't had a problem yet.

Lisa April 10, 2011 at 3:27 am

Great post!

Amy December 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I just made the cloth diaper soap and added some citric acid to it for hard water and it's AMAZING! No stinks!! Usually with the marketed diaper soaps I have to do more rinses and add soap to the first rinse to have diapers that smell decent but with the homemade, no soap in the rinse, no extra final rinses and not even a hint of stink! I'm SOLD!

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Best Cleaning Solution Ever! To one gallon of warm water add 1/3 cup of Borax, 1 tsp of dish detergent, and 1 Tbsp ammonia. Cleans better than anything I have ever used.

Amanda February 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

GREAT idea pre-treating with the fels!!!! I’m SOLD. I LOVED making my own detergent, just felt less chemical!! I’m going to make some this weekend maybe, or I may wait until I am out of my current supply. i will also do the softener, gotta get some more EOs!!!

MD March 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Clicking the link found here: “Alternatively you could not use additives at all and simply keep some dryer balls in your dryer. Read more about that here.”

Leads me here.

“This blog is open to invited readers only
It doesn’t look like you have been invited to read this blog. If you think this is a mistake, you might want to contact the blog author and request an invitation.”

Sort of pointless to write a public blog, then link to a private entry.

Amanda March 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I changed hosts recently and have come across the random ‘bug’. Thank you so much for letting me know, I fixed the link. It is the one below:

Jen M April 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Hi Amanda! I have been following your blog for awhile now, and I’m looking to make some safe cleaners for around the house that actually disinfect. I am currently trying to keep the bathroom cleaned safely because I have a curious, crawling 9 month old who likes to investigate all things bathroom…problem is that I use the diaper sprayer and it sprays yuckiness all around the toilet, and I also have a 3 year old that has poop accidents and has to get sprayed down in the shower, leaving the tub dirty. I hate to disinfect daily with harsh chemicals. I have been using vinegar and water, but learned that it’s not actually killing the yucky stuff. Is the All Purpose Cleaner you have listed (water, vinegar, dish soap, tea tree oil) actually a disinfectant? And since tea tree oil has been found to cause issues for boys, do you think it’s okay to use just for cleaning if not applied directly to their skin?

Thanks so much!

J'Marinde Shephard June 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thank you for this site. It is just what is needed in this age of mutliple chemicals. I suffer from MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) so most cleaners are no help to me and yours are a Godsend.
Thank you!
What about a disinfecting DIY all-purpose cleaner? Does the vinegar/water/dishsoap one do this?
Also what to use for a safe fresh veg/fruit wash – – one that also kills bacteria?
Thank you!

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Steve October 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I love these simple options. Anyone with a water ozonator will also find it’s highly effective at cleaning and disinfecting, though you’ve got to use it within about 15 minutes of making it so it’s still effective. (After that, it reverts to normal water.) Anyone with an ozone laundry system can also get water for general cleaning and at the same time ditch the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener while never heating water for laundry again. (Also the world’s easiest way to do laundry since you don’t have to “sort and soap” anymore! 🙂

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Hi, thank you very much for help. I am going to test that in the near future. Cheers

Sarah Warda April 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm

mixing vinegar and baking soda makes water and carbon dioxide.. so when you mix the two you’re not making a magical cleaning agent.. you’re making water and carbon dioxide which just gets quickly released into the air.. which already has carbon dioxide in it…

separately they’re good
or if using baking soda, then vinegar after to neutralize it so that it’s just water and safer than leaving baking soda behind

but together.. they’re just water… any chemistry class or even a quick google search will let you know that 🙂

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Sandra Davidson June 18, 2015 at 7:46 am

Great recipes! I’m a beginner at homemade cleaning products and I enjoy the whole process, from mixing to cleaning, very much. I like the idea of using essential oils at home cleaning just like in your all-purpose cleaner. I’m trying some of your recipes right this weekend. Thanks for the ideas!

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Ana Chapman October 22, 2015 at 9:11 am

I love homemade cleaning mixtures. I like to add lemon juice and peels to almost all of them as it gives it an extra kick and also smells nice. As in regards to the shelf life – I have never had it tested as I usually run out so quickly out of my solution!

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I never knew that about apple cider vinegar. I am amazed at all of the wonderful purposes it has! Learning something new about it everyday.

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