Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

The next cleaning product I wanted to make was an all-purpose cleaner, a go-to cleaner for my kitchen, bathrooms, carpets, cupboards, appliances . . .you get the picture. As I looked over recipes I immediately eliminated any that used ammonia or bleach. Too toxic! I also eliminated any recipes using hydrogen peroxide. Too unstable. My first choice was a recipe of 50% vinegar and 50% water. Vinegar is very effective at killing most bacteria, mold, and germs, yet it's safe enough to drink (yummm). But unfortunately, my husband has a super sense of smell and LOATHES vinegar. So I decided on a soap-based cleaner instead.

Is Soap & Water Strong Enough?

At first I was worried about soap & water's disinfecting power. Companies use advertising to make us think our home isn't clean or our kids are going to get sick if we don't use their anti-bacterial cleaners. But the truth is, the toxic chemicals in their cleaners do more harm than good. They have many potential health risks, especially for children. After reading many articles like this one about how it's not necessary or even a good thing to kill every last bacteria in our home, my mind was at peace. Many bacteria are beneficial and exposure to bacteria helps kids' immune systems to develop. The rubbing action with soap and water is sufficient to get rid of most bacteria. If you are still worried, you can add essential oils for extra anti-microbial power.

Essential Oils: Nature's Disinfectant

Essential oils are natural compounds extracted from parts of plants, flowers, and trees. They have been used throughout history for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. They are extremely concentrated, so you only need about 4-8 drops per cup of water. Most pure essential oils have disinfecting powers, but these are some of the best for cleaning: lemon, lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, clove, thyme, and tea tree. You can find essential oils at your local health food store, Amazon, or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

2 cups distilled, filtered, or boiled water
3 Tbsp Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Liquid Soap

Mix together in a spray bottle.

What is Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap?

I decided to use Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Liquid Castile Soap because it's made with natural ingredients and it contains tea tree essential oil for disinfecting power. You can find it at most health food stores or Amazon. It's made with water, organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide (this is lye which is needed to make soap, but none remains after the soap process is done), organic olive oil, tea tree extract, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid (safe enough to eat), tocopherol (vitamin E). This 32 ounce container cost me $14 at Whole Foods, but you can get it on Amazon for about the same price. Some people don't like the smell of tea tree oil. Dr. Bronner's soap also comes in peppermint (Trader Joe's sells it for $10), citrus, and lavender, all great options for an all-purpose cleaner. You can even use unscented castile soap and add your own combination of essential oils.

Multi-Surface Cleaner

Since you can't use vinegar to clean granite or marble, this cleaner is a great alternative for those surfaces. I also use it on mirrors and glass when I don't feel like getting out my homemade glass cleaner. A word of caution, I don't recommend using this cleaner on hard floors. I tried it on linoleum and almost fell down it was so slippery! For floors, use mostly water and just a drop or two of Dr. Bronner's soap instead. Or you can use my homemade floor cleaner. I'm really excited when I get to use my homemade cleaners! It feels really good to use safe and natural cleaners that I made myself. Granted I didn't do much, but it feels good just the same.

What It Costs

$0.12 Distilled Water ($0.99/gallon)
$0.66 Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Liquid Castile Soap ($14/32 oz.)
$0.78 Grand Total

In your face, Clorox!

How do you clean your house without toxic chemicals?

This post was proudly featured at:
Nature's nurture
This post is linked to: More the Merrier Monday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Living Green Tuesdays, Show Me What Ya Got Tuesday, Marvelous Mondays, The Bulletin Board, Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival, Monday Mania, Simply Natural Saturdays, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday, Tatertots & Jello, Once Upon a Weekend, Little House in the Suburbs, Frugal Friday, Thirty Handmade Days, Friday Favorites, Happy Hour Friday, Whipperberry Friday Flair, Simple Lives Thursday, Natural Living Link-Up, The 36th Avenue, Piece O' Cake Linky Party, Catch a Glimpse Thursday, Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday, Penny Pinching Party, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works For Me Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Works For Me Wednesday, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Tip Me Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tout it Tuesday, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Frugal Tuesday Tip, Penny Pinching Party, Frugal Fridays


  1. So you use this to clean surfaces? :) pretty cool. I love making my own laundry detergent, gonna make a new batch tonight.

  2. this is cool! thanks for sharing your recipes. i've been meaning to thank you for the tough and tender cleaner you gave me. i love it! it makes cleaning fun! :)

  3. I really want your laundry detergent recipe. I think I might like this one too, though I have to confess that I am IN LOVE with the shower magic eraser. Not that I have a shower right now (sensitive point for me....) but if I did, I would love it like I used too. but using this for counter tops in kitchen and bath would work great for me. But first I need to do the glass cleaner.....

  4. This is great! I'm a big fan of Dr. Bronner's and use it in EVERYTHING. I've also written a lot about it on my blog.

  5. I have been hearing so many good things about Bronners that I think I need to go and get a bottle. We use the water/vinegar mixture now but sometimes the smell is overwhelming. Thanks so much for sharing on Tout It Tuesday! Hope to see you next week.

  6. This is great, Kendra! My all-purpose cleaner is vinegar and water with a few drops of Dr. Bronner's, but I'm always looking to try different ideas, so this is going on my list :) Thanks for linking up at Tiny Tip Tuesday!

  7. Thanks Kendra!! I love this cleaner I made it yesterday, and last night I went through my house cleaning everything that Dr. Bonner's tea tree smells amazing!!

  8. I am in love with Dr. Bronner's Castille soap! I use the peppermint as a body wash and it totally wakes me up in my morning shower. It is also the only soap product I use with my kids. It works as a shampoo, body wash, and in all of our hand soap dispensers. I stock up when it's on sale at Whole Foods, it was $9.99 for the big guy last week and I bought 3 containers that will probably last me for the next 6 months!

    We also use it as our dish soap when we are camping. That way we don't feel bad dumping our old water on a tree:)No chemicals!

    I use the vinegar water in my multi surface cleaner, but my husband also hates the smell. He is SOOO sensitive! I will have to try this one for sure!

    Thanks again for your amazing recipe!
    P.S. I have been following your OCM methods for 10 days now and I am hooked!!!!!! Thanks
    xxx Kim

    1. Hi Kim, I love Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap too! I use it in my hand soap as well. It would work great in this all-purpose cleaner recipe. That's cool you use it as a body wash. Do you mix it with anything? I'm excited you are trying OCM. I've been doing it for seven months and still love it! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This sounds better than vinegar because you can't clean natural stones with it, which is why I've been stuck buying cleaners for my bath and kitchen. Do you know how safe this is on travertine and granite? I'd love to make my own? From the ingredients in looks safe. I'm pinning this for sure!

    Bonny @

    1. Hi Bonny, This cleaner is safe for natural stone surfaces, like granite and travertine. Thanks for pinning!

  10. Does this work well in the shower for soap scum? Or does it make the shower floor too slippery? Also what is OCM that is talked about in the comments?

    1. My bathtub is textured so I'm not sure if it would make a shower floor slippery. I use a magic eraser to clean my bathtub/shower so I'm not sure how well it works on soap scum. Sorry I'm not more help!

      OCM stands for the oil cleansing method. You wash your face with oil instead of soap. It sounds crazy, but it works! You can read more about it here.

  11. I can't use dr bronners because my husband has a coconut allergy. Is glycerin just as effective? Or is there something else I can use? Thanks!

    1. Glycerin by itself isn't soap so I wouldn't use it to clean. You could use a natural brand of dish soap (made without coconut oil) and mix it with tea tree essential oil or a different essential oil.

  12. I am not familiar with Dr. Bronners, so would you have to rinse after wiping since it is a soap based cleaner?



Thank you for your comments! They make me happy!

Click on "Subscribe by email" in the bottom right corner if you want follow-up comments sent to your email. Click again if you want to unsubscribe.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.