Eco-friendly, natural cleaning product ingredients, including baking soda vinegar and lemons, sit on top of a brown linen towel; photo via Canva.
Climate Action

Greener Living Made Easy: The Best Homemade Cleaners

Many of us are seeking out different ways to make our everyday lives more environmentally friendly. What we purchase and use at home is typically where we can begin to implement sustainable changes and encourage effective climate action. Replacing harmful or toxic cleaning products with greener, homemade alternatives is one meaningful way we can achieve this.

Bringing awareness to the many issues our planet currently faces is why I joined the Climate Change Collective; a group of environmentally-minded bloggers who want to share climate action news that motivates and informs — keeping the subject at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Created by Michelle from Eco Boomer Crusader and Jamie of Jamie Ad Stories; each month a different member of the collective takes turns to write a lead/focus post that shares key details, concerns and/or unique perspectives about climate change. Once the post is published, the rest of the group will link to it in a response-style blog on their own sites; discussing any thoughts and ideas about the information/issues raised.

The collective is currently open to any other bloggers who want to join; if you’re interested, get in touch.


Collective Climate Action

The ninth installment and most recent lead/focus post for the collective was written by Smell from Smelly Socks and Garden Peas; where she writes about returning to past habits that naturally had a more sustainable focus. As mentioned in her post, Smell explores how in previous generations there was a profoundly different attitude towards consumerism and waste. Many of our great-grandparents and grandparents lived during the ‘make do and mend’ era; a forerunner of modern-day ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ initiatives that encourage individual households to take effective climate action through buying less and minimizing what is thrown away.

Although ‘make do and mend’ is perhaps best known as a World War II campaign about reusing clothing and textiles in households across Europe and the United States; this approach typically encompassed every aspect of daily life — many (if not most) household supplies and items were utilized in this way. The 1940s concept of ‘make do and mend’ may have been economically driven due to resource limitations during times of conflict; it remains highly compatible with sustainable practices today. Discovering ways to make things last longer and substantially reduce household waste (including reliance on single-use plastic) is something we can all embrace. 

I think that there are many lessons and habits that we can learn from our forbears when it comes to how to live in a sustainable way, minimizing our impact on the world we live in. | Returning to Past Habits (Climate Change Collective Post 9) – Smelly Socks and Garden Peas

Reading what Smell shared got me thinking about how my grandmother would sometimes clean and freshen her house with various homemade products that used vinegar, baking soda and castile soap. More eco-friendly than store bought cleaners; her concoctions kept things sparkling and smelling good — they also did not rely on toxic chemicals that harm our health or potentially damage the environment.

A metal basket holds some natural cleaning brushes, linens and a spray bottle. Next to the basket is a cut lemon, some baking soda and a bottle of essential oils.
photo via Elizaveta Elesina/Canva

Cleaning with simpler, more natural products was common for our grandparents and great-grandparents; greener living seemed to be an instinctive factor in everyday life because the focus was not on throwaway consumer culture. There is much we can learn from this mentality, especially when trying to become more environmentally conscious — and homemade cleaning products are a great way to tap into that.

Embracing sustainable living encompasses many things; here’s how you can make a start by changing your house cleaning habits …

Using Homemade Cleaners

There is an assumption that homemade cleaning products are complicated to prepare or require unusual ingredients; however, it’s likely we already have what we need in our cupboards at home — or they can be easily obtained from most stores.

Before I share some of the eco-friendly homemade cleaners that I use, here is some essential information about safety and appropriate application:

Cleaning Safety Tips

  • Never mix vinegar with bleach or products that contain bleach; combining these creates a chemical reaction that produces toxic chlorine gas.
  • Never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar as this can also result in toxic fumes.
  • Do not mix, store or use homemade cleaner in spray bottles or containers that once held other chemicals; they could react badly and potentially be harmful (see above). 
  • Clearly label all homemade cleaners and list all ingredients, including the date it was made; if irritation occurs or there is an emergency this will help identify what the mixture contains.
  • Store in a clean, cool, dry and well ventilated area; keep out of reach of children.
  • Do not consume homemade cleaner; if this does occur, seek immediate medical advice if you feel nauseous or experience any adverse effects.
  • If skin or eye irritation occurs while using homemade cleaners, rinse or flush area well with warm water and seek medical advice if/when needed.

Suitable Usage Tips

  • While homemade cleaners that contain soap and/or vinegar are remarkably good at removing many germs from various surfaces, they are not recommended as a disinfectant against viruses.
  • Before spraying homemade cleaner on any surface, test it on a hidden area to make sure it does not discolour or cause any damage to the material.
  • Do not use vinegar-based homemade cleaner on natural stones surfaces (granite, slate, marble, etc) or on cast iron, aluminium, stainless steel, waxed areas or untreated wood; the acidity can cause discolouration, pitting or strip finishes. In addition, never use it on electronic screens (televisions, computers, mobiles, etc) or rubber-based items.
  • If you have asthma, other respiratory issues or you are sensitive to scents or essential oils, consult a medical professional before using.
  • When using any cleaner (homemade or not), always wear gloves and use proper ventilation.
Eco-friendly cleaning products lay in a white table; included is a brown glass spray bottle, a natural soap bar and two natural fiber scrub brushes.
photo via Oksana Vejus/Canva

Recipes for Homemade Cleaner

By making our own cleaning products, we can choose sustainable, natural alternatives and customize a cleaning routine to our own preferences — a substantial added bonus is we can better support the environment at the same time. Here are five of the best recipes for DIY household cleaners:

All-Purpose Cleaner

Combine and store 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 15 drops of citrus scented essential oil in a clean glass or plastic spray bottle. Shake well before each use; spray directly onto the surface being cleaned then wipe away with a clean, dry cloth.

This cleaner can keep for up to one month and is safe to use on most surfaces except those listed above in the ‘Suitable Usage Tips’.

Natural Stone Cleaner

Combine and store 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of castile soap and 10 drops of citrus scented essential oil in a clean glass or plastic spray bottle. Shake well before each use; spray directly onto marble, slate or granite, etc. then wipe away with a clean, dry cloth.

This cleaner can keep for up to one month.

Wood Cleaner

Combine and store 1/4 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of light olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a clean glass or plastic spray bottle. Shake well before each use; put a small amount of the solution onto a clean dry cloth and wipe over the wooden item/surface being cleaned. Polish/buff off with a separate clean, dry cloth.

This cleaner can keep for up to two weeks.

Glass and Mirror Cleaner

Combine and store 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar in a clean glass or plastic spray bottle. Shake well before each use; spray directly onto the surface being cleaned then immediately wipe/polish with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

This cleaner can keep for up to one month.

Floor Cleaner for Mopping

Combine 1 U.S. gallon of warm water (which is 16 cups or about 4 UK liters) with 4 tablespoons of castile soap and at least 30 drops of pine scented essential oil in a clean bucket. Mix well before use; wet and ring out a large microfiber cloth, sponge or mop and wipe over surface. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

This cleaner is not designed to be kept; pour down the sink once used.

In Summary

Using homemade cleaning products is an excellent way to reduce the number of harmful chemicals we release into the environment, making it healthier for both humans and wildlife. We have so much choice when it comes to keeping our homes dirt and dust free; if we can switch to something more eco-friendly then we are well on our way to enjoying a sustainable life 

What environmentally friendly cleaning hacks do you use? Do you make your own homemade cleaner?

Further Info:

Sustainable Living Ideas: The Complete List for 2023 – Unsustainable Magazine

How to Use Cleaning Products Safely – Cleveland Clinic

47 thoughts on “Greener Living Made Easy: The Best Homemade Cleaners”

  1. This is such a great list of recipes! Seeing them all really highlights how easy it is to make cleaners at home. I like to use vinegar and water as a general all purpose cleaner. I should branch out and try a few more types of homemade cleaners though.


  2. Thanks for the insight, I enjoyed your post. I started making my own cleaners after watching a documentary about big chem and their lack of regard for public safety. These chemicals are unsafe for humans, regardless of what they say, and they are harmful to the environment from manufacturing all the way through household use. I’m glad people are starting to realize this and the public is taking matters into our own hands. Let’s keep it going!


    1. It can be quite shocking when we become aware of just how bad store bought cleaners are. The chemicals used and the environmental impact should not be ignored; wherever/whenever possible we should aim for eco-friendly, homemade options. Thanks so much for reading!


  3. These are great recipes! I have started using water and white vinegar for general cleaning, but that is a good idea to add citrus essential oil! Also, I’ll have to get some castile soap so I can make my own floor cleaner.


  4. Thank you for sharing both your recipes and also tips on how to be safe, too many accidents happen when using ‘natural’ products because people think there’s no danger! I use that glass cleaner all the time, it’s super effective!
    Em –


    1. I has quite a few conversations with people who were unaware of the safety issues with making homemade cleaners so I thought I better make it really clear. Hopefully this will be useful for anyone beginning all this (I love the glass cleaner too)!


  5. These are some great tips and suggestions but I’ll be honest, I had NO IDEA that certain ingredients mixed together would cause such a reaction. I’d honestly be too worried I’d mix the wrong thing, so I’d much rather purchase from a sustainable cleaning brand, who knows what they’re doing!


    1. You’re not the only one who does/did not know about bad reactions and mixes and it is 100% the right choice to stick with green store-bought brands if this is a concern. There are some great products out there as I still use some too!


  6. I’ve been making a real effort lately to be greener in what I buy and use in my home. One thing I love doing is using my own cleaning products BUT I’m always careful how to go about mixing them. Part of my health and safety training (for industry, not just personal) was studying COSHH and the devasting impacts of incorrectly mixed chemicals.


    1. Some mixes can certainly produce bad chemical reactions; it’s always advisable to seek out accurate advice before trying anything out like this. All the ingredients listed in the recipes here are safe to mix together but caution is always a good thing. Many people are unaware of the safety information I provided here and what should/should not be used together. The training you had sounds really beneficial for everyone (even outside of your industry/area); as more of us move towards sustainable living, this is something we should all be aware of. Thanks for reading!


  7. What a great post to help make your own cleaners. So far, we have made changes by buying smol the reusable bottle and only get the tabs so we reduced our waste. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl


  8. Thanks for sharing these Molly – making my own natural cleaners and adding in essential oils for fresh scents is one of my favourites around my house! I also have recently gotten into making my own laundry soap too! Great tips and I love how you went over safety tips for cleaners – I often don’t see much about these and they’re so important to note!


  9. It turns out vinegar is very useful in many ways. Apparently excellent for the gut too. These are brilliant tips with relevant safety advice. Everything we do to help with sustainability is a step towards a better planet.


  10. Such a great post! I didn’t know you shouldn’t use vinegar on natural stone. I was thinking about preparing some homemade cleansers. This post is a perfect starter for me. It has a collection of all useful information to get started with homemade cleansers— both the dos and the donts.. Thank you for sharing this!!

    Bookmarking for future reference.


  11. These are great recipes! I am also a fan of green living and try my best to live up to this standard. Thanks for sharing those – they are worth trying!


  12. Oh I love all these natural cleaning ideas! Thanks so much for sharing all this great info! I will have to implement some of these changes


  13. Ohh these are great tips, I’d love to try some of these when my current cleaner has run out. I work with a brand quite often that sends me natural cleaners that you put in a reusable bottle and I love them!

    Corinne x


  14. I had no idea that some chemicals shouldn’t be mixed together – will definitely bare that in mind! I like to use natural toilet cleaners because I hate the smell of bleach. I have used cornflour, baking powder, white vinegar and essential oils , and have also bought eco-friendly mixes x


  15. Very informative post Molly, especially the safety tips! I’ve been using more natural cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda. It’s nice not having to worry about chemical fumes while cleaning! Thank you for sharing!


  16. This is such a helpful post! I agree with the author’s sentiment about making do and using less when possible. I’d love to see a post that addresses using household supplies for preventing pests in the garden too! Thanks for sharing Molly!


  17. I love this article! I’ve been wanting to swap to homemade or natural cleaners for a whilst now and I’m in the middle of that process.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s