A glass bowl on a table, with Cleaning

14 of the Very Best Homemade Cleaners that Really Work

Items in your pantry like baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, and even tea bags, can work as effective cleaners. Even better, compared to pricey commercial products, homemade cleaners cost next to nothing.

So the next time you’re staring down a big mess but you’re out of your favorite product, don’t run to the store—open up the pantry and try mixing up one of these DIY cleaning recipes instead. Step back and enjoy the results and the savings, too!

A bowl of fruit sitting on a table, with Cup and Vinegar

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Vinyl Siding Cleaner

In a two-gallon bucket, carefully mix together:

  • 2/3 cup Spic and Span Liquid All-Purpose Floor Cleaner
  • 1/2 cup Liquid Tide Laundry Detergent (do not use the Tide liquid that has fabric softeners added)
  • 1 quart liquid chlorine bleach*
  • 3 quarts hot water

Next, using a funnel, carefully pour into an ordinary hose-end wash gun or (garden sprayer) set to the highest concentration and apply to vinyl siding. Then you will see the dirt, film, and mildew just slide off. After five minutes, rinse with the hose and clear water. In all cases, label clearly and keep out of the reach of children.

All-Purpose Liquid Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup household ammonia*
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1-gallon warm water

Mix all ingredients together, label clearly, and keep out of reach of children. Then, use as you would any commercial all-purpose multi-surface cleaner such as pricey Formula 409 or Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner.

Heavy Duty Glass Cleaner

In a gallon-size container, mix together:

  • 1/2 cup plain household ammonia*
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-gallon warm water, or enough to fill the container

To make this effective homemade cleaner, mix thoroughly. Label well. Dispense using a spray bottle.

Non-Wood Floor Cleaner

Mix together 1/2 cup plain household ammonia and 1-gallon warm water. Use on heavily soiled non-wood floors such as ceramic tile, laminate, and luxury vinyl. No need to rinse.

NOTE:  Be very careful cleaning laminate flooring as water can leak between the boards and allow them to expand, which will shorten the life of the floor and also dull the surface. It is important not to allow liquid, especially water to sit on laminate flooring. So make sure you work in small areas, cleaning then wiping down each section of the floor with a towel or soft cloth.

Wood Floor Cleaner

Prepare 2 quarts boiling water and steep two regular tea bags in it. Allow the water cool to room temperature. Remove tea bags. Then, use a well-wrung cloth mop or sponge mop (make sure it is just barely damp) to wipe the floor with this Wood Floor Cleaner. Do not rinse. The tannic acid in tea is great for cleaning the wood and leaves a beautiful shine.

Heavy Duty Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Pour 1 cup of borax powder and 1/4 cup white vinegar into the toilet bowl. Use a toilet brush to distribute the borax so all stains are covered. Allow to sit a few hours, scrub and flush.

All-Purpose Tub Cleaner

In a large container, mix together:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1-gallon hot water
  • 1-cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup household ammonia*
  • 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent like Blue Dawn

Shake or stir to mix the ingredients. After the cleaner is well-mixed, scrub down that dirty bathtub, then rinse well. Use in a well-ventilated area.

Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner

Pour one cup blue Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar. Apply sprayer top; shake gently to mix.

Spray down the tub or shower walls, door, floor, and fixtures. Allow to sit for up to overnight for a really challenging situation. You’ll see all that scum, soap and mildew just melt and soften, allow you to simply rinse it all away. Rinse very well. melted just Scrub as necessary and rinse well. Cleans better than any commercial product for even the most difficult tub, shower, and enclosure challenges.

Note: If using a different size bottle, the formula is one-part Blue Dawn to three-parts white vinegar.

Daily Shower Cleaner

While homemade Tub and Shower Soap Scum Cleaner works really well—like magic!—it’s not something you are going to want to use for daily maintenance. Once that tub and/or shower is sparkling clean, use this Daily Shower Cleaner to keep it that way. Effortlessly!

  • 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap, like blue Dawn
  • 1 tablespoon dishwasher rinse aid, like Jet-Dry
  • 2 cups water
  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a large spray bottle (24-ounce or larger). Mix gently.
  2. This no-rinse, no wipe, no scrub shower cleaner spray is safe to use on glass, glazed tile, stone, marble, granite; tubs, doors, and shower curtains. The gentle formula contains no bleach, ammonia, or harsh chemicals and it won’t scratch surfaces or leave behind a dull residue.
  3. Store your daily shower cleaner in a dark cupboard, as hydrogen peroxide begins to break down quickly in the presence of light.

To use: Just before you step out of the shower, spray the walls, doors, fixtures, curtain with Daily Shower Cleaner and walk away.

Ceramic Tile Cleaner

In a large bucket, mix together:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup household ammonia*
  • 1 gallon of warm water

Stir until baking soda dissolves. Apply and scrub with a sponge or mop of choice. Rinse. Mix a fresh batch for each cleaning.

Heavy Duty Grout Cleaner

In a small bowl, make a thick paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice. Scrub this into the grout with an old toothbrush or sponge. Allow to sit for a while depending on the severity of the situation. Rinse well with clean water.

Wood Furniture Polish

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Mix until blended well. You can do this in a blender or food processor to get the ingredients to emulsify, in the same way, you would make salad dressing.

To use, simply apply a small amount of the mixture with a soft cloth and buff to a shine. Use sparingly! A little of this mixture will go a long way. It is best to start with a small amount on your cloth, adding more as necessary. If you leave too much oil on furniture it will act as a magnet to attract the dust you’re trying to avoid. Store in the refrigerator.

You may prefer to use Jojoba oil instead of olive oil if you can find it (look in a health food store or online). Jojoba is a natural liquid wax that has no scent and will not become rancid.

Glass Carafe Cleaner

Pour 1 cup crushed ice into the glass coffee pot or carafe (put ice cubes in a plastic bag first and whack them on the floor or another hard surface so you have small pebble-sized ice).

Add 2 tablespoons table salt. Hold the carafe by the handle and swirl it around vigorously until you see all the burnt-on coffee and various stains come off. Empty and rinse thoroughly. This method turns even the grungiest pot to sparkling clean.

A second option: Fill the carafe with hot tap water. Drop-in one automatic dishwasher detergent pod (or 1 tablespoon powdered automatic dishwasher detergent). Allow to sit for a few hours or overnight. Rinse and enjoy the clean sparkly carafe.

Jewelry Cleaner

Make a 50/50 mixture of household ammonia and water. Soak jewelry. Then gently scrub with a small soft brush like an old toothbrush and rinse completely. Caution: Never use ammonia to clean opals or other soft stones.

Now that you see how easy it is to make these homemade cleaners, you can keep these common household ingredients on hand. Access to these homemade cleaning recipes guarantees you’ll never run out of cleaning products again!

*It goes without saying but bears repeating … NEVER mix chlorine bleach with household ammonia.

First published 8-11-19; Updated 6-29-20


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6 replies
  1. Mary says:

    I don’t have anything right now I want to ask you. I just want you to know how amazing I think you are. To post these most helpful, informative articles, EVERY DAY no less, is mind boggling to me. And you need to know you are very appreciated. Thank you, Mary……..from another less talented Mary : )

  2. JERRIE says:


      • D. Hope says:

        Vanilla Ice Cream
        1 (14-ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated) 2 tablespoons Astor Pure Vanilla, 2 cups (1 pint) half-and-half, 2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream, unwhipped In large bowl, combine ingredients; mix well. Pour into ice cream freezer container. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze leftovers. Fruit Ice Cream: Reduce half-and-half to 1 cup. Add 1 cup pureed or mashed fruit (bananas, peaches, strawberries, etc.) and few drops food coloring if desired. Proceed as above.

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