home + garden

Homemade All Purpose Cleaning Solution

All Purpose Cleaning Solution

I have tried several “natural” or “green” cleaners over the last few years and have come to two conclusions: either the cleaners didn’t work very well or they were so expensive, I couldn’t justify the cost. As a result, I decided it was time to try to start making my own. The ingredients in my homemade cleaning solution are ones that you probably have on hand and if not, they’re easy to find. Aside from my double-duty cleaning supplies, I now purchase very few cleaning supplies.

I didn’t actually mean for this cleaner to get used everywhere – meaning on ALL surfaces in the house except our wood furniture – but my kids do most all of the cleaning around the house as part of their chores and they are the ones who started using this homemade cleaning solution on our wood floors and bathroom floors.

Homemade cleaning solution

Where else do we use this spray? The kitchen sink, on the stove top, wood floors, all painted surfaces, as an after bathing spray in the shower, on shower curtains, on the bathroom fixtures (porcelain sink and toilet), on windows, mirrors. If I’m cutting raw meat or fish while cooking, I spray this on the cutting board and knife before cleaning the surfaces with hot, soapy water and a sponge.

I have not done any scientific testing to see if germs are actually gone but I use it regularly. Just this morning, I tried it with Borax on a stubborn laundry stain. We’ll see if it works. I stopped using Borax because it got a horrible reviews on Environmental Working Group’s site.

Cleaning wood floors
Sprayed on a mop-head cover this cleaner gets used on our kitchen wood floors. That’s my daughter doing an “extra chore” for me.

Do test this at your house before embracing it hog-wild. I would not want it to ruin your floors or anything. It’s been a good solid cleaner at our house and I don’t worry about wearing rubber gloves while making it or cleaning with it.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaning Solution

This recipe makes enough to fill a 32 ounce (1 quart) bottle or about 1 liter.

Here are the supplies needed to make this all purpose cleaning solution at home:

  • Spray bottle – 32 ounce or 1 quart or 1 liter
  • white vinegar (I buy it by the gallon)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • Dr. Bronner’s pure castile (liquid) soap
  • tap water
  • 1-Tablespoon measuring spoon
  • 1-cup measuring cup
  • funnel (if you’re careful, you don’t need this. I need this.)

In an empty 32 ounce or 1 liter spray bottle combine the following in this order:

  • 2 cups (16 ounces or 474 milliliters) white vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons (60 milliliters) of rubbing alcohol (70% Isopropyl Alcohol)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 milliliters) Dr. Bronner’s classic liquid soap
  • 2 cups or about that (16 ounces or 474 milliliters or until container is filled almost to the top) water

DIY cleaning solution

Notes about this homemade all purpose cleaning solution:

  1. Depending on the exact size of the container, sometimes I can fit all of the water into the spray bottle and sometimes not, which is why adding it last works out.
  2. You can use just white vinegar and water as a cleaning solution if you’d like to simplify even more. Use equal amounts of both and put in spray bottle.
  3. If you can’t find the Dr. Bronner’s cleaner at the store, you can add a few drops of your favorite citrus essential oil. This addition is more expensive than using the Dr. Bronner’s but is an option if you’re trying to change the smell. I couldn’t tell enough of a difference using essential oil to justify the cost.
  4. The Dr. Bronner’s container packaging has plenty of cleaning solutions (and other tid-bits of knowledge) on the bottle itself. If you’ve never bought it, enjoy. Look for it online at Dr. Bronner’s or Trader Joe’s or in the health food section of your grocery store. I use Dr. Bronner’s in our camping supplies as dish detergent and hand soap. It’s organic and very easy on the environment.
  5. There is a reaction that takes place and makes some of my cleaner thickened and leaves little chunks in the bottom of the spray bottle once the cleaner is gone. This could be the Dr. Bronner’s being cold in our house or it could be the Dr. Bronner’s interacting with something else. Either way, I use these “chunks” at the end by sprinkling them in the bathtub and adding baking soda to make a scrub paste.
  6. If I’m cleaning windows with this and the windows are VERY dirty or outside, I clean the windows with a wet sponge and a few drops of dishwashing detergent in a bucket of warm water, first. Wet, soapy sponge and then spray this on and wipe to a shine with a clean, dry cloth.
  7. Dr. Bronner’s has plenty of unscented items but I use the peppermint scented version. My favorite spray bottle is a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day spray cleaner I bought. Again, I liked Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner but it was too expensive for what it was. The spray bottle itself is a good one that doesn’t leak either. Her cleaners smell wonderful!
  8. Finally, the rubbing alcohol. At the risk of over-sharing, someone in our family has a nasty case of plantar warts and shared them at home via our shower. Adding the rubbing alcohol to the cleaner seems to have stopped the spread of them. I’m thinking about sending the culprit to school with a spray bottle of this solution to clean the locker-room floor before gym class! Bare-feet on middle school gym locker-room floors? Very bad.

That’s my super simple homemade cleaning solution. It’s simple to make and will save you lots of money in the long run on purchasing cleaning supplies. Make some today and enjoy a clean house without the cost or lots of chemicals. I’d love to hear if it works for you, too.

Do you make your own cleaners or buy them? What’s your favorite all purpose cleaner?

Update: I no longer use this formula based on comments left below. Thank you to my readers!! Green and clean for greasy stuff is my new formula. For green cleaning, try the super easy formula that’s for glass and shiny surfaces.

15 thoughts on “Homemade All Purpose Cleaning Solution

  1. This sounds great. I have always wanted to make my own cleaning solution – why are cleaning solutions so dang expensive anyway???? As usual, I will benefit form your experimentation and perfection fo the formula. Thanks for the recipe.


    1. They are expensive, aren’t they? Plus, I don’t like all of the packaging. I do like the manufacturers who give you an option for a big refill container or even a concentrate version. Cleaners have a lot of water in them, too, so we’re paying for containers and water – well, and some chemicals. I can’t wait to hear how this works for you, Annie!


  2. Could I add Dawn Dishwashing Liquid instead of the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, or is there something special about the Dr. Bronner’s soap?


    1. Cheryl, I’m sure you could – try it!
      Here’s the thing…Dr. Bronner’s is very low-foaming so I would try very little dishwashing liquid at first. You can always add more but you can’t take it away.
      The other angle is the organic/natural-ness of the product. Dr. Bronner’s is all natural and organic but if that doesn’t matter to you then the Dawn dishwashing detergent is a fine alternative.
      Good luck! Please let me know how it turns out ~


  3. A person after my own heart…. Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is a budget-friendly household and personal-care favorite. I store it in the quart-size bottles and stock-up when I find it at a good price (locally or on-line). I’ve never paid full price for it and generally keep 2-3 in storage.

    I also keep a spritz bottle mixture of water and alcohol in the bathrooms and use it all the time to wipe down all surfaces, handles, door knob…. Pure alcohol can remove paint or harm some surfaces, so I generally use a 50/50 mixture.

    You can also make your own “hand sanitizer”:
    2/3 cup Isopropyl alcohol 91%
    1/3 cup aloe vera gel
    Essential oil in your choice of fragrance (optional)

    For my weekly cleaning (surfaces and floors) I prefer a steam cleaner to avoid chemical cleaners entirely.


    1. Karen,
      Great tips – as usual! I’ve wondered about the steam cleaners and how they might work on my wood floors. Do you use them on your wood floors?
      Thanks for the hand sanitizer recipe, too.
      I love Dr. Bronner’s and just made hand soap with one of the peppermint bars. It smells so good!
      Thanks, Karen.


      1. Personally, I wouldn’t use steam for cleaning a wood floor, although you will find differences of opinions on the subject. After years of taking care of wood flooring, it’s key to avoid water on it as much as possible, which would include steam. We’ve always cleaned ours with window cleaner and a soft rag – per instructions from the installer. Steam cleaners actually leave very little moisture on surfaces and the surfaces dry in minutes.


  4. I just watched your video on Yahoo and hopped over here. I love your blog! In our house we try to live green and I have tried so many homemade cleaning recipes. The one thing I want to share is that there is a growing concern about using Borax due to reproductive issues. I feel that if THAT is an issue, then what problems will be discovered later? Here is a link http://www.enviroblog.org/2011/02/borax-not-the-green-alternative-its-cracked-up-to-be.html
    Just thought I’d share.


  5. Hi Sara,

    I had all those ingredients on-hand, and made my first batch of the cleaning solution. I love the smell of the Dr. Bronner’s products–especially the peppermint ones! So far I am very happy with your recipe. The only thing I have noticed is that it practically freezes under my sink at night. When I get up to use it (yes, I clean with it everyday), I have to shake it up really well to break up the big chunks that have formed. I live in AZ, so it can’t possibly be actually freezing. Do you think the combo of ingredients just separates when sitting for a while? BTW, I love your blog, and and thrilled that I have found it. I put it in my “Favorites”! Keep the great ideas and recipes coming.


    1. Martha,
      Well the good news is – my house isn’t as cold as I think it is! 😉 I’m so excited you made the cleaner.
      I love the smell of the Dr. Bronner’s also but I do believe that’s what makes the chunks. Shaking is the best way to eliminate and the other approach is ignoring. At the end of batch, I just shake out the “chunks” and use them to clean with baking soda. It makes a good paste for cleaning out my bathtub. You could skip the Dr. Bronner’s as well but I like the cleaning properties it adds and the smell is nice.
      I just made liquid hand soap with a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap. It smells yummy! I’m testing it right now because my first batch was too stringy.
      🙂 thank you for adding GG on your favorites!


    1. Kendal,
      Thank you so much! This is exactly what is going on with my cleaner. I plan to revamp my spray cleaner situation and will post about it soon. Thank you for sending the link.


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