Keep Life Clean, Elegant, and Easy!
Making your own cleaning products is easier than you might expect. All it requires is a few basic materials and a willingness to try different options until you find the ones you like! This guide will get you started.
I’ll structure this post by:
- Listing the basic supplies you’ll need on hand, all of which may be found at common retailers.
- Providing any warnings or safety information you should keep in mind before crafting your products.
- Listing the recipes and combinations for your supplies by room or area of the house.
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Most of the supplies can be found at any dollar store, and you probably won’t need all of them. A number of supplies will be things you already have!
This guide is comprehensive, so pick and choose what you think is useful for you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any of your own recipes to share with the Bougie on a Budget Family!
Always do your research before making or using any cleaning product, whether DIY, all-natural, or otherwise. NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or anything acidic (such as citrus juice or vinegar), as this creates toxic chlorine gas.
Always be aware of your allergies before using any oils or other ingredients, and never use powdered herbs like turmeric or cinnamon on any kind of fabric as these can leave some very persistent stains.
For heavy-duty or acidic cleaners, use common sense and don’t overdo it with either frequency or amount of product. I strongly advise you to wear both cleaning gloves and a mask whenever you clean. I always wear an apron, too. Sometimes I also put on protective eyewear – truly, it just completes the look, at that point.
Pets – especially cats and dogs – can be very sensitive to certain essential oils. Do your research. There are many lists of oils to avoid around pets you can reference. These mostly regard diffusion of oils but can also include other uses. Also check resources regarding ingredients that are or aren’t safe for use around children and babies!
Ingredients You’ll Need.
These ingredients are easy to find – you may already have most or all of them in your home. It’s good to keep a list of your cleaning supply “haves” and “must buys” somewhere convenient. I include a place for such a list on my subscriber cleaning list sheet, or you can keep your own in a planner/cleaning binder.
- Baking Soda
- Lemon Juice
- White Vinegar (DO NOT MIX WITH BLEACH)
- Table Salt
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Ammonia (DO NOT MIX WITH OR NEAR BLEACH)
- Plain Bleach (DO NOT MIX WITH OR NEAR AMMONIA)
- Plain Castille Soap
- Essential Oils
- Epsom Salts
- Herbs (general, mostly found in the average spice cabinet)
- A few random, common food & condiment items
Tools You’ll Need.
Before you rush out to buy tools, look around and see if you can craft any of them yourself from used clothing or other repurposed items. There’s no need to spend much money on any of this!
- A Stiff Brush
- Soft Cotton Cloths
- An Old Toothbrush
- All-Purpose Spray Bottle
- A Sponge Mop
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Dusting Cloth or Commercial Duster
All Purpose Cleaner:
There are two options for this one, a vinegar and non-vinegar recipe. Some people absolutely HATE vinegar and are sensitive to its odor. For those who don’t mind it, combine approximately 1 cup of white vinegar plus 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and (if desired) about 10 drops of your preferred essential oil. For the vinegar haters, combine 2 cups of warm water with a ¼ cup of Castile soap, then add 10 drops of essential oil for scent if desired.
My personal favorite for this task (mostly due to its oddity) is half a potato dipped in baking soda and used to scrub the rusted area. Just make sure to dip the cut end – when you need to refresh, just slice off the top layer of potato and re-dip! You can also combine half a lemon with salt and use that to scrub, or soak the rusted items/surfaces in vinegar for about 5 hours (this is good for more stubborn rust).
This will sound strange, but trust me: use ketchup and salt. You simply mix equal amounts of each, plop it onto the copper item, and then use a soft cotton cloth to wipe it around. It’s best to let the paste sit on the copper for an hour or more, but in many cases wiping immediately and thoroughly will work well enough.
To keep my furniture clean, I mix ½ cup vinegar with ½ cup olive oil, then ¼ cup lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps the vinegar scent down, but that smell will dissipate once you spread the solution around. Use a small amount applied to a soft cotton or microfiber cloth and polish in a gentle, with-the-grain pattern. Wipe up any excess with a clean cloth when done.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
This cleaner usually does the job, though there are more heavy-duty recipes out there that include ingredients like borax (which I’ve chosen to avoid, as it’s a common irritant). For my cleaner I combine 1 cup water with a ½ cup each of baking soda and Castile soap, then mix in 3 tablespoons or so of rubbing alcohol and some essential oils for a nice scent. These can also be sprayed on after letting the baking soda solution sit. Shake the ingredients well, then apply to the sides of the bowl and let rest for 20 minutes before scrubbing and flushing.
My go-to recipe for this is 1 cup rubbing alcohol plus 1 cup water, combined with a tablespoon of vinegar. Use a soft cloth or a crumpled newspaper to wipe the glass (newspaper does a great job of preventing streaks).
Tile & Tub Cleaner:
To keep your tiles clean, mix 2 cups baking soda with a ½ cup of warm water, ½ cup Castile soap, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar work equally well). If my tiles have a lot of soap scum or product on them, I add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice as well. Shake the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray liberally onto the tiles. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so and then scrub the tiles.
Cleaning dirty grout can be a frustrating task, not to mention a smelly one. This cleaner doesn’t stink and gets the job done! Mix ½ cup of baking soda with ⅓ cup of rubbing alcohol, and 1 tablespoon or so of Castile soap. Spray onto the grout using the direct spray setting of the bottle and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing with an old toothbrush. Adding a little lemon juice for acidity doesn’t hurt, either.
Honestly, of all the methods I’ve tried, nothing works quite as well as cutting a lemon in half and dipping the cut end in salt for a very DIY scrubbing tool. Just keep a plate of salt nearby and keep dipping the lemon in it as needed for glittering, clean sinks! Remember to go with the grain on stainless steel to avoid scratches.
Microwave Dirt Remover:
For this, I just combine ½ cup of water with ½ cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Then, simply microwave the mix in a safe container for 5 minutes, then wipe the condensation with a cloth or paper towel. A word of good, personal advice…add a wooden spoon or popsicle stick to the mix to prevent an explosive experience, if you plan to microwave for any longer than 5 minutes.
For a glass or conduction stovetop, you can use the all-purpose cleaner listed above to clean the surface. Make sure not to scratch the glass! For an electric or gas stovetop, first REMOVE THE BURNERS and scrub them (and the area under them) with a paste of equal portions baking soda, water, and salt. A little lemon juice or zest adds some grease-cutting power to the mix, too. Let dry completely before returning the burners to their places.
To keep things simple, I just mix ½ cup rubbing alcohol with ½ cup vinegar, add about 10 drops of Castile soap, and then pour this into about 2 gallons of warm water to make an effective and easy-to-use floor cleaner. Put the mix in a bucket and use any old sponge mop or similar tool to mop the floors with this. For tough stains, a paste of baking soda and lemon juice applied directly will almost always work.
First, remove your food items. Then, carefully combine 1 cup of ammonia with ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda, then use a spray bottle or a bowl and sponge to coat the fridge interior. Wipe it down and voila! Your fridge will be smell-free and clean.
Some food-safe essential oil will cut back on smell, but be mindful that food absorbs odors.
This can be tricky, as silver with raised designs or which is antique can be sensitive to any cleaning products and may require a professional cleaning to avoid damage to the patina.
Generally speaking, though, simply using ketchup on the piece and letting the condiment sit for 15 minutes before gently wiping it away will work. Alternatively you can mix ½ cup baking soda with equal parts lemon juice and a few drops of Castile soap for an effective silver soak. Let the silver sit in this soak for 1 hour before rinsing.
(Note: there is a popular aluminum foil method all over the web, but this will almost always damage the silver over time. I do not recommend it for that reason.)
Dish ware Soaking Solution:
To clean and disinfect your plates, bowls, and other dish ware, soak it all in a sink full of 2 tablespoons bleach and a gallon of cold water for 1 hour before rinsing thoroughly. Just multiply the bleach by another 2 tablespoon for each gallon of water.
Avoid any extra ingredients – ESPECIALLY ammonia or acidic components like lemon juice – or you could create a cloud of highly toxic chlorine gas.
Scented linens are one of the most underrated pleasures of life, if you ask me. Mix 1 ½ tablespoons of rubbing alcohol (or vodka) with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, then add up to 30 drops of essential oil (the best is lavender or bergamot) and shake the mix in a spray bottle. Mist your linens with the spray, making sure not to get them truly damp.
DIY Oil diffuser:
There are MANY ways to make scent diffusers in your home, but I’ll keep it to one recipe here. Pour ¼ cup of olive oil into a glass receptacle and add 30 drops of your desired essential oil, then stick in some bamboo or other wooden skewers (the kind you use for shish kebabs works well). After an hour, flip the skewers so the oil-soaked end is up.
NOTE: BE WARY OF USING THESE IF YOU HAVE CATS OR DOGS, AS MANY DIFFUSING OILS ARE TOXIC TO THEM.
For this, you can simply sprinkle baking soda liberally on your carpets and leave it for 20 minutes before vacuuming. To make the experience more fancy, add dry herbs such as rosemary or lavender flowers (NOT cinnamon powder or turmeric, for the love of God), citrus zest, or essential oils to the powder.
Again, I’ll include both a vinegar and non-vinegar recipe here (a courtesy inspired by my best friend and once-roommate, who is likely reading this very post).
For the vinegar lovers, mix ½ cup water and ½ cup vinegar with a few drops of essential oil and shake well in a spray bottle. For the vinegar-sensitive, mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons Castile soap, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a teaspoon of lemon or other citrus juice (or several drops of peppermint oil). With either solution, spray your surfaces and wipe with a dust cloth. I use this on walls, window frames, blinds, and more.
There are more than a few effective ways to make this, so I’ll list several options.
Combining kosher salt with 20 drops of essential oil works well, with 2-4 tablespoons of the mix being effective for various washer load sizes.
Alternatively (this is better if you have very hard water in your home), simply combine a great honking batch of baking soda and about 20 drops of essential oil to the wash.
To make dryer sheets, cut up an old flannel or 100% cotton shirt and put the sheets in a jar with about 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil (the oil should prevent the vinegar smell, but you can also just use a bit of warm water and oils if you wish).
This is an oft-neglected task, but mattresses can easily hide a great deal of dirt and mites. To disinfect and clean yours, mix 2 cups of rubbing alcohol (or vodka) with essential oils and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Shake the mixture in a spray bottle and spray liberally over your mattress. Let the solution sit until it has air dried. Vacuuming the mix after a few hours works, too, if it is taking too long to dry. I vacuum mine regardless to get a deeper clean and prevent residue. This task ought to be done every three-to-six months.
Living Area Products.
Fabric Cleaner (for furniture):
The easiest and most effective solution for this task is a mix of 1/4 cup Castile or dish soap and 1 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka. Try not to use alcohol that is more than 3% concentrated, especially if you are cleaning delicate fabrics. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and lightly mist the furniture before rubbing with a cloth. Vacuum thoroughly when done.
Another option is to mix ½ cup baking soda with ½ cup cornstarch and add the mix to a small portion of water. Mix into a paste and apply to the furniture (specifically to stains) before vacuuming it up.
You can use either ½ cup of coconut oil or olive oil for this one, mixing it with some essential oil and ½ teaspoon Castile or dish soap. Apply to a soft cloth and polish the leather gently. It should be shining and conditioned when you’re finished!
I suppose this isn’t a cleaning product, strictly speaking, but it fits in with this list. Mix 2 tablespoons of epsom salt with a gallon or so of water and put the solution into a spray bottle. Mist your plants with this about once a week to aid growth.
Another recipe is ½ cup very hot water mixed with 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and epsom salt. When the mix returns to room temperature, add it to a container and then pour in approximately 1 gallon of water and ½ teaspoon of ammonia. Water your plants with this to make them extremely happy!
This is another tedious task that shouldn’t be neglected. Clean your stone every few months to keep it in good condition! To do this, mix ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol with ½ to 1 cup of water and add in a teaspoon of Castile or dish soap. You can add some essential oils if you’d like, but avoid abrasive combinations. Spray liberally to the stone surface and wait about 2 minutes before wiping it away with a soft cloth.
To make an antibacterial and antiviral disinfectant that aligns with CDC guidelines, mix 1 ½ cups rubbing alcohol with (optionally) ¼ cup of vinegar and 20-30 drops of strong essential oil such as lemon oil or tea tree oil.
(Note: some oils are commonly believed to have antiviral properties, but they also just smell nice).
Fruit Fly Control:
There are few things which irritate me as much as fruit flies. I do feel a bit bad about killing the nuisances, but c’est la vie. The best way to rid your home of these pests is to simply put ½ cup of apple cider vinegar or wine into an empty bottle, then add a few drops of Castile or dish soap to the top. The soap will break water tension when they land in the liquid.
The flies will go into the bottle in droves and drown/die in the bait. This also prevents them from breeding.
In-Home Bug Repellant (for spiders, lady beetles, stink bugs, etc.):
At my family’s mountain cabin, we have had a bit of an issue with lady beetles, stink bugs, and what we affectionately call “nope spiders” (fishing spiders, which reach the size of a man’s hand). I’ve found that repelling them can be tricky.
One solution is to purchase diatomaceous earth powder at any gardening supply store and dust your windows, doorways, and other pest-heavy areas with it.
Another method is to mix a strong solution of peppermint oil, approximately 1 cup of water, and lemon zest in a spray bottle and go to town with it in every conceivable area that could have insects in it.
So far, I’ve used these two methods in combination and have almost completely rid the home of a 30+ year infestation.
Mice are cute, and I hate to trap them in a harmful or lethal way. Repellant prevents the need for this methods, at least to some extent.
Mice do not like citrus or peppermint oils, so making a strong mix of these and applying it to any mouse-heavy areas and drawers works.
You can also make sachets or cloths soaked in/filled with a potent mix of cloves, cinnamon, lemon zest, catnip, bay leaves, pepper, sage…the list goes on. The more potent the mix and the more liberally you spread the sachets out, the better.
To soak, boil the herbs in a bit of water to make as concentrated a liquid as you can, and then soak cloths in it for a good hour or so. Leave these all over the place, and wipe entryways and windows with them.
In Conclusion – Use Good Judgment & Enjoy These DIY Cleaning Hacks!
I hope these recipes and tips prove useful to you, and I hope they save you a bit of money, too! If you would like to know a recipe for something specific that I haven’t included here, please let me know in the comments and I will get back to you shortly.
Making your own products is an investment of time and learning which can become a useful skill over time. Someone with a strong knowledge of good housekeeping practices is always popular!
As always, thank you for visiting. Do be sure to subscribe and share this post if you enjoyed it. Until next time, everyone!