Kick the (Cleaner) Bucket: Clean Your Entire Home with Just Two Homemade Cleansers

By: Rebekah-greiman Mar 25, 2013

created at: 03/14/2013

I used to lug around a huge bucket full of cleaning products. And rubber gloves. And a bunch of plastic brushes, scrubbers, and a roll of paper towels. All over my house.

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Then, I realized I was spending an arm and a leg on store bought cleaning products, and filling my house with chemicals neither my family nor the environment needed. And that bucket was hea - vy.    

created at: 03/08/2013

So, I came up with these two easy-to-remember recipes, using just two non-toxic ingredients and some water, and now, I can easily clean my entire house-top to bottom, on the cheap.

The Cleansers

My two go-tos are:

  • DIY All-Purpose Cleaner: 1 part vinegar, 1 part water, juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Anti-Bacterial Cleaner: 1 part vinegar, 1 part water, 8 drops of tea tree oil

I no longer need rubber gloves, a gas mask or a giant basket overflowing with toxic products.

How to Use 'Em

Let's start our spring cleaning in the kitchen with the one thing I loathe to clean...

The Oven:

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Ew. Gross. Embarrassing.

I start by pre-heating my oven to 400 degrees. Once it's preheated, I shut the oven off and leave the door closed for a few minutes. 

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I then use the All-Purpose Cleaner while the oven is still warm to the touch.

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For really stubborn grease, you can sprinkle baking soda on the problem area.

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And voila! No need to wear a mask, lay down newspaper or use that awful oven cleaner that causes you to cough endlessly.

The Kitchen:

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You can clean your kitchen cabinets, microwave, refrigerator, trashcans (inside and out) with the All-Purpose Cleaner.

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Next, polish up chrome and stainless steel using the same All-Purpose Cleaner.

The Bathroom:

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Spotty mirrors or dirty windows?

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Spray a little All-Purpose Cleaner and watch that glass shine, streak-free.

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Remove gunk and mineral deposits from sink faucets, shower heads and knobs with the All-Purpose Cleaner.

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Using the Anti-Bacterial Cleaner, scrub the bathtub, the toilet, toilet handle and inside the toilet bowls. For extra scrubbing power, sprinkle a little baking soda in the problem area.

Rest O' the House:

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Wipe down walls, ceilings, crown moulding and baseboards with the All-Purpose Cleaner.

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Use the Anti-Bacterial Cleaner for doorknobs, light switches and anywhere else that is frequently visited by grimy hands. 

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Remove stains and gunk from carpet with the All-Purpose Cleaner. Just spray a little on the stain...

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...use a wet sponge and wipe clean.

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Remove gooey residue from table-tops, chairs, and counters with the All-Purpose Cleaner. This also cleans desktops, nightstands, bookshelves, coffee tables and more.

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In summation, one bottle All Purpose, one Bottle Antibacterial, some washable rags for each, one scrubby sponge, and a bit of baking soda. No gas mask required. 

What are your favorite home-made cleansers? Give me your best tips in the comments! 

Rebekah Greiman is the creator of Potholes and Pantyhose, a web blog dedicated to original DIY projects. Rebekah’s detailed tutorials are written to educate and entertain, while highlighting crafts, home decor, recipes, remodeling and more. See them all at Potholes and Pantyhose.

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Comments

Hello, your all-purpose cleaner and anti-bacterial cleaner are perfect! But my friend has a cat at home, so I was wondering if I could use something else besides tea tree oil. Any suggestions? 

Remember: If you have cats do not use tea tree oil! The all-purpose cleaner sounds great though!

Claudia, I just wipe the undiluted lemon oil on the tiles and shower door with a soft rag. I don't put it on the floor because it would be too slippery.

Robyn, I also use Kirk's castile soap and Dr. Bronners. They are great. How to you apply the lemon oil? Do you dilute it? Spray it or wipe it on?

Regarding the potential antibacterial properties of Tea Tree Oil, according to this article (http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/59/1/125.long), "the recommended concentration for use of TTO as an antimicrobial agent is 4–5%", which is more than a few drops in a spray bottle.  In addition, "the hydrophobic nature of pure TTO oil may make it difficult to achieve accurate direct dilution of the oil in water, thus the in-use concentration of TTO may be very different from the concentrations recommended above."  Also, "its use at sub-lethal concentrations can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens and commensals." (A commensal is an organism participating in a symbiotic relationship in which one species derives some benefit while the other is unaffected; I assume such as gastrointestinal "good" bacteria).  While tea tree oil certainly has its benefits (use it at ~10-50% concentration in my facial moisturizer), it would be foolish to add a few drops to a vinegar/water mixture and assume it has antibacterial properties.  Better off using a high alcohol-containing mixture.

To help minimize discoloration due to mold sticking to grout is to make sure your exhaust fan is used long enough and then make sure to open the doors to the shower so air can circulate to all the corners.  Before leaving the shower a quick squeege should be done to all flat surfaces. In order to remove the stain in the first place: stick cotton balls with bleach on them and just leave it there until it dries out.  May need to repeat this a few times a week but eventually it should go away.

Any magic formulas for cleaning grout in the shower? I can't even get it clean with bleach.

If you use Castile soap only, you can can clean your shower with lemon oil. I buy Kirk's original coco castile soap at Meier (inexpensive), or Dr. Bronner's(not inexpensive, but nice). No more nasty harsh cleaners, and you don't even need to scrub.
I love this! I use something similar: 3 parts vinegar, 1 part alchohol, and a few drops dish soap (I like to use the grease busting kinds). It's great for everything, including windows! And you don't have to air out the bleach smell afterwards, haha.

Granite countertop cleaner: 1/2 cup vodka, 1 1/2 cups water, 3 drops liquid castile soap, 3 - 5 dropw of essential oil (tea tree or eucalyptus.)  NOTE:  you should not use vinegar on granite.

My favorite recipe for homemade laminate floor cleaner is 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 2 cups vinegar and 3 cups water. It also works wonders for mirrors, glass and chrome and the alcohol is a disinfectant too. And I agree with Bee, microfiber cloths are the only way to go for that finishing shine

I also use a similar all purpose cleaner, but add a drop or two of dish soap (I use 7 Generations).  Works great.  I like the idea of adding tea tree oil, but recognize that it does contain "chemicals", albeit natural ones; from one source, it contains -a-pinene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-phellandrene, a-terpinene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, y-terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, terpinen-4-ol and a-terpineol.  This doesn't trouble me, but I'm not sure 8 drops necessarily provides the antibacterial characteristics you are seeking.  If you've got a source for that. please present it - it's be useful to see.  

I use a similar cleanser: 2 cups water; 3 tblsp vinegar; 1 tblsp borax powder; 1 tblsp dish soap; 1 drop essential oil (optional) I do like your mixture too less ingredients same results.

I like to use the vinegar/water/lemon mix and baking soda to clean the tub. Wet the tub down with warm water (I guess you need a detachable shower head for this), spray the tub with the vinegar mixture and sprinkle generously with baking soda. Let sit for 20 - 30 minutes, scrub with a scrub brush and rinse. Works great!

Using a microfibre cloth also helps cut down on elbow grease - works wonders with a vinegar cleaner, I add orange oil to mine for fragrance and extra cleaning power
Good stuff! Remember though, you stand the risk of breaking the oven glass if you spray anything on it while it is hot. Been there, done that and it is not a cheap fix!
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