5 Natural Cleaners You Can Make for Cheap at Home

23 July 2012

I don’t know about you, but from May all the way up until September I am in a constant spring-cleaning mode. Maybe it’s because my apartment is the size of shoebox and was made in a decade when milkmen dropped off tenants’ weekly milk supplies in cupboards attached to their suites, but I just can’t help constantly dusting, mopping, and buffing until I see the leaves starting to fall again. That being said, due to the lack of square footage in my home, and my overall strive to lead a greener and healthier lifestyle, recently I’ve cleared out my closet full of chemical-filled cleaning products and have started using a few homemade concoctions instead. Not only do most of these natural solutions require ingredients I already have in my kitchen, thus saving me big bucks, they also don’t contain any harmful toxins.

Here are a few of my favourite DIY cleaner recipes, which I think you may enjoy as well. You’ll be amazed what a bit of vinegar, baking soda, and elbow grease can really do!

1. DIY Drano – Because I live in an older apartment building, I am constantly dealing with a plugged and sometimes smelly sink. Instead of automatically reaching for the Drano, I sprinkle a bit of baking soda down the sink followed by a splash of apple cider. I then cover the drain with a small bowl for a few minutes then flush everything down with some boiling hot water. I got this nifty trick from a book called 1001 Quick Fixes & Kitchen Tips, which I bought when I first moved out and it has been somewhat of a cleaning bible ever since.

2. Rust spot remover – This recipe was seriously such a blessing to find. I bought these very nice and very expensive knives not two years ago, and after only six months of use, they started getting rust spots. In my mind I thought I would just have to live with it and wait until they got so bad that I could reason replacing them. That is until I found this natural solution that would get my knives looking almost as good as new. All you need is a tall glass full of lemon juice and a thorough scrub with the rough side of a sponge. It may take a while to get them looking how you want but I prefer some elbow grease over spending a few hundred bucks for a new set any day!

3. Make-up brush cleaner – Whether you have a handful of expensive make-up brushes from MAC, or you just use the free brushes that come with the make-up you get from the drug store, these brushes need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria or getting damaged from clumped up dry make-up. Since I generally don’t like to pay that much for make-up brushes, I’m glad I found this recipe that doesn’t cost me much more to take care of them. All you need to do is get some Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, mix it with some lukewarm water, and give those brush bristles a well-needed bath. Don’t forget to rinse and let dry over night.

4. Jewelry cleaner – Do you have a favourite pair of earrings you wear everyday? I do and I quickly realized that if I didn’t clean them properly they would get dirty or rust after just a few months. After checking out the prices that some jewelry stores were charging for jewelry cleaner, I turned to the Internet to find a natural solution that I could whip up at home. Thank you to food.com for this great recipe for an simple homemade jewelry cleaner. First heat 1 cup of water in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then cover the bottom of a cereal bowl with a piece of aluminum foil. Pour the hot water into the bowl, followed by 1 tbsp. of salt, 1 tbsp. of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of dish detergent. Place your jewelry in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, rinse in cold water, then dry the jewelry pieces in a soft cloth.

5. After swimming ear cleaner – Ok fine, this isn’t a cleaner for your home, but your ears need cleaning too! This was a recipe I found on Pinterest, which I love because it’s perfect for summer and I always feel like there’s a still bit of ocean stuck in my ears after a long swim. Just get an empty, cleaned out eye drop container, and fill with one part alcohol and one part vinegar. Shake well before use, and with only four drops put in each ear you’re good to go!

What homemade cleaners do you use at home?


  • Avigayil M.
    Re #2: I have this horrible rust stain on the linoleum in our bathroom... I tried soaking it as best I could in lemon juice and scrubbing with a Scotch Brite... but NO success. I hate the spot.. and would love a solution that doesn't involve me going out and wasting money on CLR.
  • Mei
    Sinc having my baby I've gotten rid of all the toxic cleaners and found that vinegar and water with a bit of dish liquid pretty much cleans anything especially on tile! Thanks for the tips! The sink cleaner one I need to try since Draino is really bad and is expensive too!
  • Anna Waters EDITOR
    I don't wash my make-up brushes... I never thought of that!!
    • Jessica M.
      I never thought of it too until some of my brushes stopped working as well, and when I saw how much make-up brush solution cost at Sephora, I thought I would just find a natural recipe to make my own.
  • Kerry
    My grandmother taught me to use ketchup on brass to get rid of the tarnish. You've go to leave the ketchup on for a few hours though. Also, this isn't home made, but the Ultimate Cloth has saved me on many occasions (http://www.ultimatecloth.com). It's an initial investment of about $20, but it eliminates the need for any cleaners and paper towels, which will save you money in the long run. These cloths last forever and I've found them to be worth every penny. I use them on everything from soap scum, to windows, to oily stoves, to carpets. I even buy them to give away as gifts when The Shopping Channel has them on sale!
    • Jessica M.
      That's too funny, my mom actually just emailed me about the Ultimate Cloth. I may have to check it out.
  • Sarah
    Vinegar has 1001 uses... literally! I love this website which divides up all the categories of use for it: http://www.vinegartips.com/ I moved onto an acreage in the fall and have a septic system, so that means any commercial cleaners I use that go down the drain end up in the septic, which can mean bad news for the good bacteria down there. So I try to use as many natural cleaners as possible. I have this handy cheat sheet up on my fridge, which has alternatives for everything from oven cleaner to laundry detergent: http://www.crd.bc.ca/wastewater/septic/documents/Septic_Infosheet1_Cleaning_v3.pdf

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