How to DIY an All-Purpose Cleaner That Actually Works

Lauren Smith McDonough

From Good Housekeeping

Some of the items in your pantry (like baking soda and vinegar) work as effective all-purpose cleaners and, even better, cost next to nothing. So the next time you're staring down a big mess but you're out of your favorite cleaning product, don't run to the store — try one mixing up one of these DIY homemade cleaners instead. These natural products will kick grime to the curb and keep your wallet happy.

Important Safety Tip: Never combine ammonia-based cleaners with chlorine bleach or products containing bleach, such as powdered dishwasher detergent. The fumes they'll create are extremely dangerous. Before doing any mixing, read the product labels first. Always label any bottles of DIY cleaners with all the ingredients inside. In case a child or animal gets into it, it’s important to know what the mixture contains.

1. Scented All-Purpose Cleaner

What you'll need:

Combine the above ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and then let infuse for a week before using. Once done, you can use the natural solution to remove hard water stains, clean trash cans, wipe away wall smudges, and much more. Besides a fresh scent, the lemon rind may help boost cleaning power. Caution: Do not use acidic cleaners on granite, as they will etch the stone.

2. Kitchen Cleaner and Deodorizer

What you'll need:

  • 4 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 quart warm water

To clean kitchen counters, appliances, and the inside of your refrigerator, all you need is baking soda. "It makes a great deodorizer and can be used to shine stainless steel sinks and appliances," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. To deodorize surfaces, use the solution above or pour baking soda straight from the box and into your drain or garbage disposal to remove odors. To shine and remove spots from stainless steel, make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it with a damp cloth and rub gently in the direction of the metal’s grain. Rinse and buff dry.

3. DIY Glass Cleaner

Photo credit: ronstik - Getty Images

What you'll need:

The next time you need to wash your windows and mirrors, combine these ingredients and pour them in a spray bottle. Hint: Don't clean windows on a hot, sunny day, because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks. For mirrors, spray the solution on a paper towel or soft cloth first before wiping.

4. Homemade Brass Cleaner


What you'll need:

To clean non-lacquered cabinet pulls, bathroom appointments, and more, dampen a sponge with vinegar or lemon juice, then sprinkle on salt. Lightly rub over surface. Rinse thoroughly with water, then immediately dry with a clean soft cloth.

5. Natural Heavy-Duty Scrub

What you'll need:

Rust stains on porcelain or enamel sinks and tubs are no match for this cleaner. Dip the lemon into the borax and scrub the surface, then rinse. (This is not safe for marble or granite.) Tip: You can find borax, a laundry booster, in the detergent aisle or order it on Amazon.

6. DIY Grease Cleaner

Photo credit: ablokhin - Getty Images

What you'll need:

Sudsy ammonia contains detergent that helps remove tough grime. Mix 1/2 cup with enough water to fill a one-gallon container. Then clean your oven racks, stove hood, and grill by dipping a sponge into the solution and wiping over the surface before rinsing with clear water. You can also soak oven racks and grill grates in the mixture directly, with a little extra ammonia if they're particularly dirty.

7. Last-Resort Clothing Stain Remover

Photo credit: tomazl - Getty Images

What you'll need:

Treat badly stained but washable white clothing by mixing the above ingredients into a stainless steel, plastic, or enamel bowl (not aluminum). Soak garment for 15-20 minutes. If stain is still there, let it soak a bit longer, then wash the item as usual.

8. Natural Marble Cleaner

What you'll need:

Mix dishwashing detergent and water the next time you want to clean natural stone countertops. Sponge over marble and rinse completely to remove any soap residue. Buff with a soft cloth; do not let the marble air-dry. Caution: Never use vinegar, lemon, or any other acidic cleaner on marble or granite surfaces; it will eat into the stone.


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