Simple Cleaners You Can Make at Home

Guest post by Jenny of the Southern Institute for Domestic Arts

One area of the home that is a huge market for companies that make cleaning products is the kitchen.  We do so much in the kitchen and very often have to make sure that we are disinfecting extremely well after handling certain foods.  There are the countertops, the sinks, the dishes, the floors… all need to be kept clean in order to avoid falling prey to what can be some pretty nasty viruses and bacteria (salmonella anyone?).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable using harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals to clean my kitchen, especially with little ones in our family. It seems like a battle between the two evils, nasty germs or potential side effects from harsh chemicals.  Why does it have to be a choice between the two?

Quite awhile back I attended a workshop on having a healthy home and came out of it with some great ideas for cleaning naturally.  I have been incorporating several of these ideas into my cleaning routine ever since.  One thing that I do now is make some of my own cleaners.

All-Purpose Cleaner
I use this in the kitchen all of the time!  On the counters, on the stove, around the sink, even on the teapot (that always seems to be gunked up with grease).  It cleans well and leaves a great scent too.  Here’s what you’ll need (I normally double this recipe):

A spray bottle
white vinegar
borax (you’ll find this in the cleaners section of your local grocery)
distilled water
liquid vegetable soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented castille soap)
essential oils

Mix 1 T vinegar and 1 t borax together well in your bottle.  To that, add 3/4 cup of warm distilled water and mix well.  Add 2 T liquid vegetable soap and 10 drops of essential oils.  Put the cap on your bottle and shake well.  Mark your bottle well, including which oils you used.

Carpet Freshen-Upper
1 cup of baking soda
10-12 drops of essential oils
an airtight container (I store mine in an old jelly jar with a tight-fitting lid)

Simply mix the essential oils into the baking soda!  That’s it.  Sprinkle it on your carpet  and vacuum it up.  It will leave the whole room smelling fresh!

During the cold and flu season (which seems to get longer and longer each year) I use Thieves Essential Oil Blend as my main oil in my cleaners and here’s why:
The proprietary Thieves oil blend was created based on research into the concoction used by the thieves of the 15th century. In 1997, studies conducted at Weber State University showed it to have a 99.96% success rate against airborne bacteria. The bacteria cultures were sprayed in an enclosed area, and Thieves oil blend was diffused for a given amount of time.  (Taken from
I use Thieves in my all-purpose cleaner and my carpet freshen-upper.  I also use it as a preventative measure with the kids during sickie season.  We no longer get flu shots so I’m big on supplements and natural remedies.  To use the Thieves, I dilute several drops in extra virgin olive oil and  rub it into the kids skin around the neck and chest area.  If it’s well-diluted it doesn’t cause skin irritation, but if your child has sensitive skin I would test a tiny patch of skin first.

Another little kitchen tip is to use distilled white vinegar in place of your dishwasher rinse aid!  That rinse aid is scary stuff… so toxic! Vinegar works like a charm.

If making your own cleaners isn’t your thing there are plenty of natural cleaners for sale online and in stores. Ecostore makes one of my favorite dish detergents and I just got a whole kit of natural cleaners from Better Life that I can’t wait to try out.

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.





*this post is also linked to Frugal Fridays.

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Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.


  1. I make my own cleaners too and now I’m itching to try that Thieves blend. I use tea tree oil a lot in mine.. I feel so much better about natural, homemade cleaners than I do about spraying weird chemicals everywhere! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post, Jenny! This is a great list of “frugally green” and healthy cleaners! 🙂

  3. I ran out of my expensive, eco-friendly dishwasher detergent a while ago, so I used straight baking soda in my dw and filled the rinse aid compartment with vinegar, and it works so well and is so cheap that I haven’t looked back! It does a great job of cleaning as long as I don’t overload my dw.
    I also use this same all-purpose cleaner with theives oil and I love the way it makes my whole kitchen smell!! the ingredients are expensive to begin with, but they last so long that it ends up being much cheaper per spray bottle than buying a commercial product. love it!!

    • @Laura, Doesn’t it smell great? I love it. It is expensive to buy the oil, but it lasts so long! I use it in the all-purpose spray, the carpet freshener, and the skin stuff and I still have a bunch left. It’s worth the money spent on the front end.

  4. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the safety of using borax (in cleaners and in homemade laundry soap). My husband says you can use borax to do at-home taxidermy — “preserves” the skin, eyes, etc. This seems like something I don’t want to use in my home. What is your take on the safety?

    • Donielle says:

      @Beth @ Living Simply, My personal opinion (and not that of the momma who wrote this article) is that I choose not to use it – because there are many sides tot eh borax story and I’m happy cleaning without it – don’t feel I need it. I did use it for my laundry detergent for awhile, even after I’d heard less than stellar reviews, because it was still the lesser of two evils, you know? What I won’t do is use it in my dishwasher! 😉