Natural Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

DIY Natural All Purpose Cleaner Recipe Natural Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

Once upon a time I was a single college student in a one-room dorm and it didn’t take much to keep it clean. Fast forward a few years and I was married to an amazing (but super neat and orderly) guy (random story-we met walking across the country) and had a couple of kids.

I soon learned that child is a synonym for maker-of-dirt-and-messes-while-being-absolutely-adorable and was amazed at the messes my two little kids could make.

Boy noise with dirt on it Natural Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

After I learned about all the chemicals that are contained in household cleaning products and that I could make healthier ones at home, I started making my own. One of the hardest ones to create was a homemade all-purpose cleaner, but I finally found one that works well (and my kids have tested it hard!).

There is some debate about borax and if it safe to use in homemade cleaners or not. I personally feel it is safe to use and much safer than most cleaning products, but this article has a good breakdown of the information.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner:

In a spray bottle mix:

  • 1 tsp borax
  • 1/2 tsp washing soda
  • 1 tsp liquid castille soap
  • essential oils as preferred- I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender and 10 drops orange

Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed. I use as bathroom cleaner, floor pre-treater, kitchen cleaner and on toys to disinfect.

New to natural living? You can find many other natural cleaning recipes on my Start Here page. This post includes my 19 favorite natural cleaning tips for keeping your home clean naturally.

Do you make any DIY cleaners? Share your favorite below!

Reader Comments

    • Tracey says

      For the DIY laundry detergent, what essential oils would you reccomend to use with your recipe and how many drops?

  1. Tara says

    Does this work with semi-hard water? (I mean, I hope it does not leave a deposit… and I hope I used the right word, as English is not my first language :) )

    • says

      It is sodium carbonate and you can find it in most laundry aisles in
      grocery stores. Arm and Hammer makes the most popular one and it is
      just called “washing soda”

  2. Sika says

    Hi! Wonderful blog with great tips.

    One thing I worry about is the disinfectant capacity of this mixture. Is this really effective in killing germs in kitchen/bathroom areas? Thanks!

    • says

      The essential oils are effective in killing germs, though you could always up the amount if you were especially worried about the germs. In my own opinion, we focus to much on killing germs rather than just having a strong immune system to be able to resist them. At least for kids, it seems that a lot of the recent research is showing that exposure to some germs can actually help prevent allergies and such.

  3. Amanda says

    Is there a reason your recipe does not use white vinegar? I noticed that most other recipe’s call for it. I still have not made my own cleaner and am looking for input from several sources before I do.  Thanks! Amanda

    • Sakinah says

      You don’t use vinegar with this recipe because you are using castile soap. if you use the vinegar it will cancel out the effects of the castile soap because one is a base and one is an acid. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever. Also what is great about this recipe is that you have the same strong cleaning power as vinegar without the smell. :)

  4. Anitra Sweet says

    I have heard recently about how borax isn’t good to use. Is this true? I love this all purpose cleaner but wanted to ask you. I will try to find the article someone sent me.

    • says

      A lof of the research on this looks at boric acix and in a different concentration than what is used in borax. Borax is sodium tetraborate, which is a different chemical structure. In general, i don’t use borax on areas where food will be directly prepared and consider it safe everywhere else…

    • Conny Baumann says

      You could always try witch hazel instead of borax… I use the one with Alcohol in my cleaner and it seems to work a treat? Just add a few teaspoons. Beats the vinegar smell. And we still seem to be living well after using it on all counters :-)

    • says

      You can and it works great. I’ve just gotten out of the habit since we have granite countertops and you aren’t supposed to use vinegar on them. A 50/50 vinegar and water mix will clean most hard surfaces though.

      • Jmcaree says

        What do you use on your granite? We have granite and I had no idea that I should not be using vinegar. Thanks!

        • Pat says

          For my natural cleaner, I shred my own Castile soap (liquid form is expensive) and dissolve that and then put some of that in a spray bottle with water and some drops of tea tree oil. That is safe on granite.

  5. says

    I take my lemon peels and soak them in vinegar for a few weeks and use this liquid to clean with. It really extracts the oils from the lemon peels. You can also use orange and grapefruit peels. I also add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to disinfect. 

    • LIZ says

      THIS HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL, WHILE READING THROUGH THIS ALL MY QUESTIONS ARE BEING ANSWERED, BUT MICHELLE I LIKE THIS IDEA OF LEMON PEELS IN THE VINEGAR, WHAT IS YOUR RATIOS. I LOVE THE SMELL OF ALCOHOL AND VINEGAR (WHAT I’M CURRENTLY USING) BUT HUSBAND HATES IT! DOES THE VINEGAR SMELL TRULY GET MASKED BY THE LEMON? THANKS

  6. Anne says

    Ok, I’m a little slow, just found this.  Good news – the gunk on the bathroom floor that no other cleaner in the world could get rid of (I have tried at least a dozen over the years) is now gone.  I sprayed this, let it soak about 5 minutes and wiped it up with a microfiber cloth.  I am astounded!!! Thanks so much for this!!

  7. Cindy says

    Alright, I have all the ingredients on my shopping list for this week!  I’ve checked our local store and I can for sure get the Borax  & Washing Soda.  Just wanted to know about the Liquid Castille Soap…when I search for it on google, I get lots of hits on dishwashing soaps and hand soap.  Are those what you mean by liquid castille soap?  Or is there a more natural form I should be looking for that doesn’t have scents/extra chemicals added?

  8. Dana says

    Good morning. I have a question. Yesterday I put some water, rosemary, and orange peels in a little crock pot to simmer all day (plan to do the same today). I was thinking that somewhere I read that the rosemary would be good at disinfecting the air, anyhow, I was wondering if the strained out liquid at the end of the day would make a good kitchen counter cleaner? Maybe just in small batches that get used up before it would spoil? Do you think it would clean? Be safe? Just seems like a waste to pour out the liquid. Thank you!

  9. laura says

    Hi I can’t find Dr bronners Castille soap(liquid or bar for your detergent)…just wondering could I use seventh generation dish soap?

  10. Sarah says

    Hi. I have citronella, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, tea tree, clove, and pine needle essential oils on hand. Can you recommend a good mixture of those for the cleaner?

  11. Michelle Partington says

    I’m wondering if this is the best option to clean my granite countertops. I’ve been looking for a natural granite cleaner. What do you use?

  12. says

    Hi! I love this cleaner! I use it for everything and it works great! I’m expecting my first child in May and am looking for a natural toy cleaner/disinfectant? Would this recipe work if I added some Tea Tree oil?

    Thanks

  13. ginger says

    whats the shelf life on this cleaner?
    Also we dont have a dishwasher…what is the best thing to use to disinfect our dishes other than bleach?

    Thanks so much I love this blog and have created my House Playbook today!

  14. Lori says

    I am extremely sensitive to scents. Can I leave the essential oils out or will it compromise with it’s effectiveness?

  15. andrea says

    You mentioned you dont use borax where you prepare food. So is this not safe to use on my granite in my kitchen?

  16. Cathy says

    Hi Katie,
    I was wondering how long the shelf life is for the All purpose cleaner once it has been mixed? I have a home daycare and am looking for more natural ways to disinfect/clean toys and surfaces. Thanks

  17. Kelly Lethin says

    Hi Wellness Mama,
    I LOVE the powdered laundry detergent, and find that it cleans as well as Rock in Green, my formerly favorite detergent. I realize I’d love to have a natural stain pre-treatment too, when I saw your cute little bottle up in the photo. I thought I saw the recipe earlier, but I can’t find it now. Do you mind directing me to the recipe? THANKS!

  18. Sarah says

    A friend of mine directed me to your site because of the homemade baby wipes and I was looking for a natural cleaner as well. I just made this one today and loved it on my counters but when I used it on my wood table it left a slight haze. Any thoughts on how I should modify it? I would love your feedback because I am really trying to go natural with all my cleaners and things but I want to make sure I am still getting things clean! Thanks!

  19. sharon says

    Hi, I have old formica countertops that are off white. House was built in the 80’s. Today, I cleaned them with hot water and baking soda. Had to wipe them down 3-4 Times then dry and they really look good. Getting tired of so many products that really don’t do a good job. Am going to try this and will this bring any shine to them. If not can u give me any suggestions if there is something that can bring the shine back. Thank you.

  20. Heather says

    I’ve used this cleaner before and love it but we recently moved and found out we have mice. My husbands first reaction was bleach spray. Will this cleaner be enough to disinfect the counters or what do you recommend to clean my countertops?

  21. Heather says

    Lavender oil is a natural disinfectant–you could leave out the castille soap in this recipe if you wanted to.

  22. Nicole says

    Hi, love your site! Just wondering why distiller water is important? I could only find demineralised water in our supermarket. Will that do?

  23. sandy says

    I take lot of receipes from your site. I want to know whether this multipurpose cleaner can be used for toilets, showers and tubs also?

  24. Mary Beth C says

    I’m looking for something that I can use on wood furniture in place of Pledge. Does this damage wood surfaces?

  25. Stephanie says

    I’m super excited to make this. The hubby and I are Paleo and try to buy natural products as much as we can. I try my best to buy “natural” cleaners but after much research was disappointed to find things that are still toxic in the products I was buying. Slowly but surely I will be making all of our products, including beauty/personal products. Thank you for making this journey so much easier! We do not have children but do have a dog, and I worry about exposure to chemicals when it comes to her health as well as ours. You are awesome!

  26. KC says

    Hi Just curious with the washing soda and borax is it necessary to wear gloves for everyday cleaning? Do you need to rinse countertops after use? If I wanted to use only a single essential oil( lavender) how many drops would you recommend to increase disinfecting capabilities. Thanks so much- I love this site!

  27. Kaleena says

    A friend of mine told me about your blog and I’ve been hooked for about a week straight now. Thanks for everything!

    I have one question about storing this multipurpose cleaner. Should this be stored in a glass container because of the citrus oils?

  28. LIZ says

    WAS CURIOUS IF I WERE TO ADD RUBBING ALCOHOL TO THIS MIXTURE, WOULD THAT END UP BEING SOME KIND OF EPIC FAIL OF A SCIENCE PROJECT? THOUGHTS?

  29. kryster says

    I have made many of my own cleaning products for awhile now, but just ran out of my all-purpose and looking to try another one. I’ll be whipping up a batch of this tonight and testing it in the bathroom. I always use a mixture of lavender, lemon & orange as my signature scent, just vary the ratio depending on the product. it’s my favorite & other people rave about it! good taste, or should I say smell! ;)

  30. Shelby says

    I too make an all purpose spray with white vinegar and citrus peel. I use very tall mason jars and fill them with citrus peel and vinegar. I allow it to steep for a few weeks until the oils permeate through. Sometimes I add lavender or rosemary sprigs to the jar or simply add tea tree oil to my spray bottle before use. I add a teaspoon of dish liquid to the mix and it works beautifully on everything. It cleans grout like nobody’s business and the vinegar aroma dissipates soon enough. I’ve also done this using cheap vodka and it also worked really well. The beauty of homemade is not only the affordability but you can individualise the fragrance according the Season or the room.

  31. Andrea Shepard says

    Just made this. Absolutely love it and the scent is great! I was using vinegar and water before but love something that smells refreshing! Thanks! :D

  32. Marie balandrano says

    you said not to used it on countertops where foods are prepere what can i used insted? thanks! can i used it on my wood table?

  33. Megan says

    Hey, QUESTION! I don’t have washing soda right now. I have made this cleaner before and I loved the original recipe. Will it work the same is I omit the washing soda? Or use baking soda in its place? Thank you. You are such a beacon for me!

  34. mel says

    Sorry to bang on about Borax, but given the fact it has been

    “added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child””

    would you not recommend using a borax substitute instead? they are widely available. Or would this not work?

  35. Katherine says

    My all natural cleaner, which I have used for years, is white vinegar and water in a bucket. I use straight vinegar for sanitizing. I learned many years ago that white vinegar in water makes everything you use it on smell fresh and clean.

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