Introduction: Homemade Green Cleaning Recipes

Picture of Homemade Green Cleaning Recipes

Clean nearly everything in your house with simple and non-toxic ingredients.

Whether you're worried about the chemicals you're using, wanting to save money, or hoping to save yourself from all those horrible added dyes and fragrances - these recipes are for you!

Step 1: Ingredients Used in These Recipes

Picture of Ingredients Used in These Recipes

The recipes use very few ingredients, most of which you should have around the house! In addition, you'll need spray bottles and glass containers, depending on the recipe. You can reuse bottles from old cleaners - just make sure to clean them thoroughly! You can also buy cheap reusable ones from most grocery stores.

Step 2: All Purpose Cleaner

Picture of All Purpose Cleaner

What you'll need: Fill your spray bottle with 3 cups of water. Add the tablespoons of vinegar and the castile soap. (Make sure you add the soap AFTER the water, or it will get very sudsy and exciting.)

Now you'll add the essential oils. I like adding 10 drops of lemon and 10 of tea tree!

I use this in my kitchen and my bathroom with great success! It's amazing at getting the stove top clean, and I love how clean it gets my counters and tabletops. Also great for cleaning the fridge.

I recently started scaling down the soap and adding more vinegar. I like it a lot. I'm using closer to 1/8 cup of castile soap now. :) The extra vinegar cuts down on soap scum/residue, and using less soap has been just as effective, but with less bubbles to clean up.

Step 3: Ghetto Febreze

Picture of Ghetto Febreze
This is a very easy Febreze alternative - I've seen a ton of recipes using fabric softener... but those aren't very "green".

What you'll need:
  • a small spray bottle
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka
  • essential oil
  • 1 cup water
Fill the spray bottle with 1 cup water and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka.

You'll now add the essential oils - I typically start with 30 drops and then work my way up. You can also mix oils to create custom scents. I also like using The Body Shop home fragrance oils in this mix and I've had no problems with them.

Note that you will be able to smell the alcohol, but only for a minute or so... after that things will just smell lovely. Rubbing alcohol has a stronger smell than vodka! :)

I use this on my couch, bed, curtains, dog bed, towels, etc. and the smell lingers for quite a while - for example, I sprayed my couch while cleaning yesterday and it still smells nice.

Step 4: Gel Air Freshener

Picture of Gel Air Freshener

Very simple to make and very, very cheap! Perfect for bathrooms or closets. Will last around a month.

The instructions for this will depend on the type of gelatin or pectin you use.

What you'll need:
  • plain, unflavored gelatin or pectin
  • water for preparing gelatin
  • food coloring (optional, just for added flair)
  • essential oils
  • small glass jars or bowls¬† (I filled three with 2 cups of finished gelatin)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (prevents mold)
To make this, place 1-2 drops of food coloring in each of your glass jars or bowls, and then prepare the gelatin according to the package directions, adding the salt during boiling. Once the gelatin has dissolved in the water and it's ready to set, add 20-30 drops of essential oil and mix. Then pour into your individual containers and mix with the food coloring.

Check the strength of the smell at this time and add more oil if necessary.

This will firm up at room temperature, but if you want it to set quicker you can place it in the fridge.

I've got two of these in my closet right now, as well as one in the bathroom.

You can cover these with thin cloth or perforated paper if you like, but I keep mine up high enough that anything that sticks to the surface is out of sight. :)

Step 5: Window and Gloss Surface Cleaner

Picture of Window and Gloss Surface Cleaner

This one is easy, though a little smelly - but don't worry, the smell goes away pretty quickly and you'll have nice clean windows!

What you'll need:
  • small spray bottle
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • squirt of castile soap (this is optional, but helps reduce streaks)
Pour the water and vinegar in the bottle, and add a tiny squirt of the castile soap. Shake it up and you're ready to clean!

Many people recommend using newspaper to clean your windows, but as I don't get it delivered, I use flour sack towels or old cut up tshirts. This solution takes a little longer to dry than your typical glass cleaner, but don't worry! It'll look very nice when totally dry.

You can also use this solution to clean appliances and countertops. :)

Step 6: Drain Cleaner

Picture of Drain Cleaner

This is very simple - just baking soda and white vinegar. You can also use lemon juice if you have that on hand! This works best on drains that are running very slow, but not those with standing water. If your problem is soap scum or other build up, this will break it up and get things moving again. It also works as a good deodorizer for kitchen drains.

Shake a bit of baking soda over the drain - I'd say a 1/4 of a cup or so. Push it into and around the drain, and then pour a bit of vinegar over it until you get a good bit of bubbling and the vinegar begins to pool in the sink.

Let this drain and set for 15-20 minutes and then flush with hot water.

And as a bonus, you can also clean your sink with the little bit of mixture that'll be left at the top of the drain. :D

Step 7: Extra Cleaning for Pots and Pans

Picture of Extra Cleaning for Pots and Pans

If you've burned food to a pan, or if you've made yourself a nice hardened, stuck-on food mess along with your dinner, there's an easy way to get it out. :)

Add about 1/4 cup baking soda to a couple of cups of water in your pan and bring to a boil on the stove for 5-10 minutes. While this is going, it helps to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

After you take it off the heat, give it a good scrub. You should have a nice clean pan! If not, rinse and repeat with a little more baking soda. This will also help remove stains for things like tomato sauces.

Step 8: Additional Green Cleaning Tips

Picture of Additional Green Cleaning Tips
Try to use cloth towels for nearly everything. If you can't afford towels, a good way to save money is to cut up old tshirts into rags. My mother and grandmother did this when I was growing up, and I think it's such a good idea! Just clean with them, rinse in hot water, and hang to dry. I tend to hang mine on the sides of my recycling bin.

Once you've used them a few times (or for a really gross mess) they're easily thrown in the washer. :)

Also, here are some other uses for the ingredients used to make the cleaners in this instructable:
  • use water and baking soda to make a paste to clean especially nasty messes - a greasy stove top, a spill in the oven, your toilet bowl.
  • vinegar and baking soda can be left overnight in the toilet bowl and then scrubbed in the morning - gets rid of stains and odors.
  • baking soda sprinkled in littler boxes and mixed in helps control all those urine odors... I've been doing this for years with both plant based and clay litter.
  • straight vinegar is awesome at getting rid of hard water stains in showers... simply put it in a spray bottle, spray down the walls and let them soak for a few minutes, and then grab a brush and get scrubbing! I cleaned my mom's shower this way - it was all orange streaks before and the normal cream color after! It takes a little elbow grease, but it so worth it to avoid something like CLR.
  • you can use castile soap as a cheap but effective hand wash - just fill an old soap dispenser with half water and half soap. It might not suds up as much, but rest assured - it's still doing the job.

Anyone else have great homemade cleaning products? Tell us about them in the comments! :D


Randstar79 (author)2018-01-13

If you add rubbing alcohol or cornstarch to the window cleaner this will speed up the drying process

grannyjones (author)2016-03-25

Your alternative Febreze is a great idea, but I was wondering if I could use carrageenan instead of gelatin or pectin. I just found out it is bad for diabetics, and was getting ready to throw that chit out.

grannyjones (author)grannyjones2016-03-25

Oops! I meant the gel room air fresheners.

LynnM21 (author)2015-09-16

Have you tried UVC?

DDsCats (author)2015-08-22

Please use Great Caution when using essential oils with pets especially cats. No they are not safe and some are toxic to cats. Please be careful do your research. Essential oils are not magic and all come with some kind of side effects to all. Read and know before you use. Please!

melinda.o.gray (author)2015-03-17

What scents are safe to spray around cats? I am planning on spraying furniture that they frequently sit and sleep on, as well as mattresses. I prefer fruity smells over floral.

Really, all essential oils are not very healthy for cats. What I always do is shoo the cats out of the room and then spray. Once the spray has settled, they're fine. But they just don't need to breathe it in or have it sprayed on/around them because they're so sensitive. :)

kieRAWR (author)2011-06-04

Does anyone have tips on cleaning kitchen floors? For some reason my roomate is a messy chef and believes simply swiping at a spill with a papertowel will clean it. The spot is still sticky! They purchased a Swiffer WetJet, but are taking it with them when they move out soon.

Should I just use the all-purpose cleaner? The flooring looks pretty sturdy, not linoleum (sp?)

lipstic (author)kieRAWR2015-03-17

Vinegar for non oily messes and baking soda for oily messes. Salt if you have spilled oil.

mrsthursday (author)kieRAWR2011-07-10

First off I don't like swiffers. Get yourself a mop & bucket & rubber gloves & a spray bottle of your fav. all purpose cleaner & water. If it's wood DON'T use ammonia & don't over-wet it, it just damages the wood.

1st vacuum - most of the yuck is hair - people moult just like animals- it'll be way quicker to vac or sweep if u prefer.

I go around & clean the edges & corners of the room just spray around the edges wait a few minutes for the yuck to break down then mop - that's the worst area done! .
Then do the remaining area- spraying & mopping & rinsing the mop now & then. When finished make sure u wash the mop in clean water & cleaner, rinse & stand it mop up- outside if possible or in the tub until it's dry & it'll last ages not like those germy sponge mops, don't like them either : ).

jessyratfink (author)kieRAWR2011-06-04

I use the all purpose cleaner on my floor all the time - both wood and vinyl - with no problems. :)

A mix of vinegar and water with a little soap can work on most floors too, and especially in kitchens where things can get greasy and nasty.

Ingridpin (author)2011-07-20

There is any substitute for the castile soap to make it? I can't easily find it where I live in... :/

lipstic (author)Ingridpin2015-03-17

Just leave it out :)

mcorriveau (author)2011-11-02

I would be careful with some essential oils. Peppermint, in particular can be harmful to cats so it's a poor choice to deodorize your couch if you have one that likes to lay on it.

lipstic (author)mcorriveau2015-03-17

It's not that it is harmful, they really just don't like it. However do keep in mind that if you use too much it will irritate the senses for everyone on the couch and cats are more sensitive than we are. Always research the essential oil before you use it around pets and kids. :)

GeckoHiker1 (author)2015-01-04

Unfortunately, vinegar breaks castile soaps down into a sticky, oily sludge and really shouldn't be used as ingredients together in a cleaning recipe. Just do an internet search on the terms "castile soap" and vinegar, for the explanation. Either one alone is a great cleaner.

sirima.binthep (author)2015-01-02

Thank you or very good recipes, it is so useful.

fgodwin (author)2011-07-15

Would vanilla essence work? Because then you could still drink some :D

tammilynnbrown (author)fgodwin2014-10-12


jessyratfink (author)fgodwin2011-07-15

I initially read this and worried about the color of the essence, but I think it would be since it would be diluted so much!

gluvit (author)2014-05-01

Great job

garnetgirl (author)2014-01-07

Thanks for the good info.
For really slow drains I follow the baking soda with a large pot of boiling water. I have also used boiling vinegar. Both yield good results.

indywave (author)2013-07-29

Go Green!!

wsmr (author)2013-06-12

thanks ;)

ogorir (author)2013-03-30

How did you manage to get Meijers isopropyl in Cali?

jessyratfink (author)ogorir2013-03-30


( actually, this ible was made when I was still living in Louisville, KY :D )

el_lyn (author)2013-03-24


Tried this out for the first time but had a slight problem, I used a lemon oil but it just rose to the surface. Any ideas?

jessyratfink (author)el_lyn2013-03-25

I had this problem a couple times - I found that if the gelatin was still super hot and liquidy, the oil would rise more often.

If you let it cool and start to congeal a bit, it works better, I think!

It's honestly I little hit and miss. I think sometimes the gelatin just doesn't want to play nice. :)

redorchestra (author)2011-06-19

I make my own laundry detergent by mixing 1/2 a cup of borax and 1/2 a cup of washing soda in a gallon of water until it all dissolves, then melting 1 cup of grated sunlight bar pure soap into a medium pot of about 1 litre of water.
Mix the dissolved soap and borax/soda mixture together and let it sit for 12 hours.
Laundry soap for about 1 dollar.

uberlazy (author)redorchestra2012-07-14

Where do you find washing soda? I can't find it anywhere!

rpguy (author)redorchestra2011-12-22

Hi, how much would you use for a large load in a front load washer. What a great idea

redorchestra (author)rpguy2011-12-22

i use about a cup of my homemade soap for a load in a toploader. it is low foaming soap so it works great for front loaders though

barefootbohemian (author)2012-02-13

Love the work you've done! I'll definitely be following :)

MsJaxFla (author)2011-05-02

Hey Jesse! I use most of these and they are GREAT. I don't add the essential oils though, mainly because I don't have access to them without going out of my area. I wanted to ask you if you had tried this one yet or if any of your followers had tried it YET? I have not, because I keep forgetting to get the lemons and/or oranges to use in it. And now my car battery died and have to get a new battery.

2 liter plastic bottle
100 grams of brown sugar
1 liter of water
300 grams (total) of lemon and orange scraps
Sharpie because you have to put a date on it and let it ferment for 3 months.
And I worry about it exploding as well, you need to loosen the lid ever so often, so not real sure about trying it yet. lol

Sheryll & Critters.

rpatzman (author)MsJaxFla2011-05-15

Safe way to ferment the home made enzyme cleaner, is to put a balloon over the top of the bottle. Then it won't explode.

MsJaxFla (author)rpatzman2011-12-12

Thanks for reminding me, I meant to post that as an added thought and just got sidetracked and forgot. Like making homemade wine. And those vinyl gloves work as well. Just tie some twine around the neck of the bottle or use a rubber band. My ex boy friend always fussed about me saving stuff, but I reuse a lot of stuff. Partly because I was raised to reuse then recyle (my parents did this before it was fashionable) and partly cause I am rather broke all the time.

jessyratfink (author)rpatzman2011-05-16

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for that - I was wondering the best way to do it!

MsJaxFla (author)MsJaxFla2011-05-02

Duh, the recipe is for Homemade Enzyme Cleaner. Sorry!

DeliciousMystic (author)MsJaxFla2011-12-11

A hint for cloth towels.. You can cut and hem old sheets, or curtains from a thrift store for napkins and towels... this can save you a ton of money. I haven't bought paper towels in several years, and I don't miss throwing away all the money I used to spend on them.

MsJaxFla (author)DeliciousMystic2011-12-12

Same with me.

I just can not see spending the money. I do once in a blue moon (like once a year) buy paper for drying meat for cooking. And even then a nicely washed cloth towel, used just for that works great.

I found that men (sorry guys) I would have over as guests used to use paper towels like there was NO tomorrow, so I just quit buying them. They are forced to use a washable towel that way. lol

jessyratfink (author)MsJaxFla2011-05-16

Oh, wow, that sounds intense! I have not tried anything like that yet. I did do some googling, though, and they seem pretty popular. I saw a couple sites selling them for a ton of money - so they must work pretty well!

I think I'd like to give this a go. Next time I get a bottle big enough to make it in, I think I'll try. :)

bluidego (author)2011-11-05

oh also I use RAIN vodka for this it is the best

bluidego (author)2011-11-05

I have been doing this with vodka for years. Although I didn't ever see it as ghetto. Essential oils are pricey and way better than anything febreeze puts out!

pmahler1 (author)2011-11-05

You can order castile soap easily from for $5-$10 =)

vortexmax (author)2011-07-21

Better look up the toxicity factor on IPA (Rubbing Alcohol) Is is flammable and toxic,handle with care keep out long reach of children.Vodka to expensive to waste on cleaning.Use it to clean your throat but not to much.Other then this good stuff.

fidgetofdoom (author)vortexmax2011-09-22

actually... Vodka is WAY cheaper then some alternatives... This isn't just a smell good spray, its a deodorizer... and Vodka is brilliant for that oddly enough. I use it to remove sweat stink in shoes, and cat piss smells... great for spraying down furniture that you've gotten of craigslist and whatnot...

You don't need the kinda Vodka you'd buy to enjoy drinking, that nasty bottom shelf swill will work just fine for this.

thefiftyfootwoman (author)2011-09-10

I just made this with cheap vodka, lavender and grapefruit essential oils. My sheets smell incredible. Thank you!!

BluWriter (author)2011-06-19

Awesome instructable! Thanks so much for this. *-* <3 It's going to be really handy. :D

bluemoon6 (author)2011-05-29

I do this but I use an Alka-Selzer tablet and it works wonders----just make sure that the water is almost boiling that you use to flush the solution down the drain!!!!!!!!!!!!

bluemoon6 (author)2011-05-29

Amazing this is so...simple-thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
More by jessyratfink:DIY Gold SlimeHow to Hand Embroider Flowers How to Clean A Coffee Maker with Citric Acid
Add instructable to: