cleaning products in a bucket on white table

Favorite Household Cleaners You Can Make for Just Pennies

It pretty much kills me to spend money on things I know I can make myself for less than their pricey commercial cousins. Take cleaning products for example. Knowing how to make things myself for pennies that cost dollars at the store just makes me happy. It’s a no-brainer.

cleaning products in a bucket on white table


Here are four handy recipes to help you start saving all that money you’ve been spending on household cleaners.

  1. Granite Cleaner
  2. Stainless Steel Cleaner
  3. Carpet Shampoo Solution
  4. Tub, Tile, Shower Cleaner

Granite Cleaner

Countertops made of granite, marble, and stone are tricky because these materials are porous and stain easily. You never want to clean them with anything acidic, which means vinegar and lemon juice are both out.

Here is my Homemade Granite Cleaner that will not stain nor is it acidic. Used with a good microfiber cloth, it works like a champ to clean and shine these natural counters. 

You will need:

  • 16-oz. spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 5 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • 5-10 drops essential oil
  • water

To make:

Pour cup rubbing alcohol into a 16-oz. spray bottle. Add a few drops Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent, 5 to 10 drops essential oil (this is optional, but will add a nice fragrance) plus enough distilled water to fill the bottle. Apply the spray top and shake to mix.

To use:

Spray liberally on countertops. Scrub a needed with a sponge or dishrag. No need to rinse. Wipe and buff dry with a microfiber cloth


You can use this cleaner to clean and shine your appliances as well.

This homemade solution costs about 25 cents for 16 oz. Compare that to Granite Gold ($21.75/64 oz.), or Method Daily Granite, ($22.30/two 28-oz. bottles) 


Stainless Steel Cleaner

You will need:

  • 16-oz. spray bottle
  • 1 1/3 cups white vinegar
  • 5 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • 2/3 cup water

To make:

Start with a clean spray bottle. Pour in white vinegar, Blue Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent, and water. Apply the spray top and shake to mix. 

To use:

Shake to mix then spray on stainless steel appliances. Wipe with a microfiber cloth or sponge to clean; rinse well then buff with a dry cloth to shine.

Be sure to label this product clearly, as you do not want to use it on natural countertops of granite, marble or stone because it contains vinegar. 

You can spend upwards of $10 for a 16-oz. bottle of Weiman or 3M cleaner for stainless appliances, or make it yourself for just pennies.

Carpet Shampoo Solution

This is a cleaning solution to be used in your Hoover SteamVac or other carpet cleaning machine.

You will need:

To make:

Pour  Febreze, OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover (not OxiClean detergent, etc.), and white vinegar into a quart-size container or similar. Mix. Pour 1 cup of this mixture Into the cleaner’s reservoir. Carefully add hot water to the fill line—the hottest you can get from the tap, or heat it on the stovetop.

To use:

This is the solution I use in my Hoover SteamVac for challenging situations, like EC Central that gets a lot of traffic. Full instructions here. Once I’ve cleaned the carpet thoroughly I fill Hoover with clear hot water and go over the carpets again to rinse.

This homemade solution should not leave residue on your carpet fibers (I rinse just because I’m especially paranoid about removing all residue) and will not cost a fortune to shampoo the whole house.

Carpet cleaning solutions can be expensive. A small bottle that normally cleans one to two rooms is approximately $15 to $20. Making this recipe should cut that cost down to $5 or less if you get the ingredients on sale. 

Tub, Tile, Shower Cleaner

In what has to be more than 25 years since I a reader shared this recipe (we’re talking pre-Internet, pre-Pinterest … maybe pre-historic), I’ve used nothing else to clean tubs, showers, sinks, toilets, patio furniture—just about anything that will stand still long enough to get sprayed, and can be rinsed easily. It is truly magical. This must be rinsed away well with clear water.

You will need:

  • 32-oz. empty spray bottle
  • 1 cup Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • white vinegar

To make:

Pour one cup blue Dawn into a 32-ounce spray bottle; 1/2 cup Dawn if you are using a 16-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with white vinegar. (Or one-part blue Dawn to three-parts vinegar, regardless of the size of the spray bottle.) Apply sprayer top; shake gently to mix.

To use:

Spray liberally on the area to be cleaned—shower and tub walls,* floors, doors and faucets. Allow to sit from 30 minutes up to overnight, depending on the severity of the problem. All of the offensive gunk and grime will break down and become soft and gooey. Simply rinse it away. For especially challenging situations—or if this is the initial treatment—use a sponge or brush to gently scrub the surfaces before rinsing.

While this Tub, Tile, and Shower Cleaner works to loosen and remove most mildew, if you see a lot of black growth you will want to pretreat with full-strength liquid chlorine bleach* before proceeding as above.


While this Tub, Tile, and Shower Cleaner works to loosen and remove most mildew, if you see a lot of black growth you will want to pretreat with full-strength liquid chlorine bleach* before proceeding as above.

And now for three important cautions …

*1. Never, ever allow chlorine bleach to come in contact with an acidic product, especially vinegar. This could produce chlorine gas, which is deadly. Don’t panic. When treating mold or mildew with chlorine bleach,  make sure you rinse the chlorine bleach away completely before proceeding to clean with this awesome homemade tub, tile, and shower cleaner.

2. Always make sure you are using a non-slip rubber mat in the shower or tub before attempting in-shower maintenance!

3. Never use this on granite, marble, stone shower walls or countertops as vinegar can damage the sealant that makes granite look so beautiful. (Granite needs to be re-sealed annually. Don’t forget!) Alternatively, in this Tub, Tile, Shower Cleaner recipe, you can substitute rubbing alcohol for the white vinegar, which will make it safe to use on granite, marble, natural stone, however with somewhat less dramatic results.


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5 replies
  1. Mrs. M. says:

    Hi Mary!
    Have you tried the Dawn Powerwash Spray? We tried it and Iove how I can spritz the hand wash dishes with one or two pumps of it and it’s enough soap to wash it all… no sink full of dishwater!
    We bought a three pack (and are on our last bottle), but I’m wondering if you have a recipe for making your own refill for it? It works so well, I’m not sure it’s only diluted Dawn soap.

  2. Judith Ker says:

    Hello, Mary!
    Your column is so wonderful, and so full of goodness that I have trouble keeping it all in my head.
    Today, my head would like info on the cloth used for removing small scratches from cars.
    I had a tree branch scratch the front of my new car during a storm.
    Can you please remind us of that cloth and where to find it?
    Thank you so much for all you do!

  3. Sharon Christman says:

    I have read your column for a long time. I don’t remember what is best for cleaning Quartz countertops. Thank you for all you do.


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