Updated: Feb 28
Cleaning, deodorizing, disinfecting, and removing stains doesn’t have to be an expensive, overwhelming process. With a few household items and a bit of elbow grease, you can clean just about anything in your home for a fraction of the cost of commercially available household cleaners. Plus, it’s a eco-friendly choice for green living
We’ve complied a list of basics, some of which you probably have sitting right in your bathroom cabinets and our easy “how-to” tips on using them to get the most bang for your buck!
Tip- pick up some basic cleaning tools such as sponges, spray bottles, pumice stones, and gloves at your neighborhood dollar store!
*Coarse Ground Salt
*Tea Tree Oil
Cleaning Tile and Wood Floors
If you’re convinced that you need specialized cleaners for every surface in your house, it’s time to rethink. Sealed wood floors and any non-porous tile (such as porcelain) can be thoroughly cleaned to a sparkling shine with a little vinegar and water.
Spray mop, or bucket and cloth
Vinegar does have a distinctive smell, so you may want to work in a well-ventilated area if possible (proper ventilation is important for any scenario in which you’re using cleaning materials, though ventilation is less critical when using nontoxic recipes such as the ones in this list). If the smell bothers you, consider adding a drop or two of essential oil. Citrus scents, such as orange and lemon, are especially pleasant in the kitchen and evoke a sense of “cleanness” for many people. Others prefer lavender, vanilla, or eucalyptus.
Mix Your Solution. Combine approximately one cup of white vinegar with one gallon of warm (not hot) water. You can use a fraction of the solution if you’re only working on a small area, but the solution stores just fine for later, so don’t be afraid to make the whole batch. If desired, add a drop or two of essential oil.
Spray and Wipe Your Floors. If you’re using a spray mop, fill the mop’s reservoir with your homemade solution. Spray and wipe your floors, being careful not to over-saturate wood floors. Everything should be left scrubbed and gleaming – not soggy. Wring out your cloth each time after dipping it in the water. If necessary, wipe everything with a clean, dry cloth. Be careful – newly cleaned floors can be very slippery.
Cleaning the Garbage Disposal and Kitchen Sink Drain
Your garbage disposal can get awfully stinky over time – and even if it hasn’t started to smell, it’s important to prevent disgusting build-up and keep everything running smoothly. The solution described below both cleans and disinfects your drain and disposal.
One whole lemon
Make it Fizz. With the drain catch removed, pour a half-cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar down your drain. You should hear the mixture fizz.
Boil Water. While the baking soda and vinegar solution is doing its job, boil several cups of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the drain after the baking soda and vinegar solution has had a few minutes to work.
Add Ice. Fill your drain with ice and add up to one cup of salt over the top. While running the faucet with cold water, turn on your garbage disposal and run it until all the ice and salt are gone.
Add Lemon. Finally, cut the lemon into two halves and add them, one half at a time, to the garbage disposal (with the faucet still running). If you know your garbage disposal is finicky about size, you may have to cut the lemon into smaller pieces.
Removing Mildew and Soap Scum From Your Tub and Shower
A shower is supposed to make you feel clean, but it’s hard to feel clean when your tub and shower are full of grime, mildew, and soap scum. Fortunately, there’s an affordable, effective solution.
Liquid dish soap
Microfiber cloth or other cleaning cloth
Funnel or measuring cup
Heat the Vinegar. In a microwave-safe dish (ideally a measuring cup with a spout), heat a quarter-cup of vinegar until it is extremely hot. Be very careful not to burn yourself.
Mix Your Solution. Carefully add the vinegar to a spray bottle. If you weren’t able to use a measuring cup with a spout, use a funnel so you don’t burn yourself. Add in a quarter-cup of liquid dish soap and carefully swirl or shake it to mix. You can adjust the recipe depending on your needs – however, it can’t be stored (due to requiring hot vinegar), so it’s a good idea to start small and add more if necessary.
Spray the Solution. Thoroughly spray all affected surfaces. They should be completely coated, and the solution should not be runny.
Wait for Solution to Set. Allow the solution to sit for at least 30 to 45 minutes, or overnight if possible.
Rinse. Using a cloth and water, rinse the solution. If your shower has a detachable head, this would be a great time to use it.
Removing Pen Ink Stains
If a ballpoint pen exploded in your pocket, or your toddler used a couch cushion as a canvas, you need to get this tough stain out quickly.
Cotton ball or old toothbrush
You might also need the following:
Liquid dish soap
Stop the Spread. If the stain is spreading, apply petroleum jelly around the perimeter of the stain to stop the spread.
Select Your Tool. If the stain is on a sturdy fabric, such as a cotton shirt, you can use a toothbrush. If it’s on a more delicate fabric, such as your couch, start with a cotton ball. Soak the cotton ball or toothbrush in rubbing alcohol and gently blot or rub the stain until it is no longer visible.
Add Mineral Spirits If Necessary. If the stain is stubborn, you may want to apply mineral spirits after the rubbing alcohol. Use a cotton ball for this. On some fabrics, mineral spirits can remove color natural to the fabric, so be sure to test in an inconspicuous area.
Rinse. If you only used rubbing alcohol on the stain, it is likely to evaporate on its own and you won’t need to apply a rinsing solution. However, if you also used petroleum jelly or mineral spirits, dilute a few drops of dish soap in water and gently rinse the stain with a clean washcloth. Then, rinse again with just water.
Removing Stains From Carpets
An easy mix to keep on hand for those mishaps that occur on that beautiful rug or white carpet!
Nylon (or similar) scrub brush
Douse With Baking Soda. Cover the entire stain with a thorough coating of baking soda.
Mix Your Solution. In a spray bottle, combine a half-and-half blend of white vinegar and water.
Spray the Stain. While leaving the baking soda on the carpet, thoroughly spray the stained area with your vinegar and water blend. You’ll get to watch the baking soda foam up like in seventh grade science class. (Don’t worry, it’s harmless.)
Wait for the Solution to Set. Let the mixture sit on the stain for at least three hours.
Scrub. Using your nylon brush, gently work the cleaning solutions into the stain. Be careful not to rub too hard or you risk disturbing the fibers of your carpet.
Wait for the Solution to Dry. Let the carpet dry overnight.
Vacuum. By the next day, the vinegar and water solution should be dry, leaving a chalky baking soda residue. Clean this with a vacuum cleaner, and if any residue remains, gently scrub with a clean cloth.