Keeping the house clean can feel like a never ending effort, especially when you have a busy schedule. You need quick and effective cleaning supplies that get the job done.
When you browse the cleaning aisle at the store, you’re faced with dozens of products to choose from. Unfortunately, most cleaning products aren’t healthy for you or for the environment.
The Problem With Conventional Cleaning Supplies
Manufacturers aren’t required to list all ingredients in household products, and many contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin, eyes or lungs.
Plastic-based brushes, sponges and cloths send microplastic pollution into waterways every time you wash. Single-use paper towels may be free from plastic, but they contribute to other issues like deforestation and landfill waste.
Here’s the good news: you can build a natural, zero-waste cleaning kit that’s safe for you and the planet. And it doesn’t require a lot of time or preparation. With a few minutes and common household ingredients, you can whip up DIY solutions to keep your home clean and fresh without polluting the environment.
Must-Have Ingredients for Building Your Natural Cleaning Kit
We’ve chosen cleaning recipes with simple, easy-to-find ingredients. In fact, you probably have most of these in your cupboards already! Since these ingredients are natural and cost-effective, you can cut out harmful chemicals and save money, too.
Vinegar is one of our favorite staples for zero-waste cleaning. It naturally disinfects and removes grime and soap scum. It also inhibits mold and fungus growth. Since vinegar is acidic, avoid using it on marble, granite, wood and stainless steel to prevent corrosion.
Baking soda isn’t just for making a perfect batch of brownies! It’s also a natural way to fight odors and remove stains, proteins and grease. And since it’s only mildly abrasive, you can use it to scrub stubborn messes without worrying about scratches.
We recommend using distilled water in glass cleaning spray. Since it’s purified, it’s less likely to leave streaks or spots behind. When buying distilled water, look for bulk containers to reduce packaging waste.
Pure Castile soap is a natural, vegetable-based soap free from animal or synthetic ingredients. It’s non-toxic and gentle on skin, yet tough on grease and grime. We love this solid castile soap bar with just three simple ingredients. For liquid soap, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap is cruelty-free, fair trade and comes in a 100% recycled plastic bottle.
Vodka or Rubbing Alcohol
Alcohols like vodka or rubbing alcohol help clean and disinfect surfaces around the house. And alcohol evaporates faster than water, so it’s ideal for cleaning windows and glass.
Hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule added. It disinfects and fights germs and is a more gentle alternative to chlorine bleach.
You may be surprised to hear that the secret ingredient in our streak-free glass cleaner is cornstarch! It helps remove fingerprints and spots without leaving residue behind.
Essential oils add natural fragrance and an extra boost of cleaning power. These are some of the best essential oils for cleaning.
- Cinnamon freshens the air, fights fungus and naturally deters insects.
- Eucalyptus has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great choice for when you’re dealing with seasonal allergies or colds.
- Lavender helps remove bacteria and fights odors. It has a soothing scent and is ideal for cleaning areas heavily used by children.
- Lemon has natural antibacterial properties and leaves behind a clean citrusy scent.
- Peppermint gives you a minty fresh smell and helps keep pests away.
- Pine is helpful for purifying the air, killing bacteria and killing odors.
- Tea Tree fights off germs and bacteria and smells fresh.
9 DIY Recipes for Natural Zero-Waste Cleaning
You can mix up each of these DIYs in five minutes or less. Many of them have multiple uses for convenient cleaning around the house.
Here are a few tips before you get started:
- Avoid mixing Castile soap and vinegar. Since Castile soap is basic and vinegar is acidic, they’re less effective when combined.
- Always test new cleaners on an inconspicuous surface area before use.
- Use a funnel when filling bottles to avoid spills.
- Label homemade cleaners clearly.
- Use clean bottles that have never been used for chemicals to avoid cross-contamination.
1. All-Purpose Cleaner
This quick cleaning spray helps disinfect, deodorize and shine up surfaces around the house.
Add the following ingredients to a glass bottle and shake well:
- 1 ½ cups of warm water
- ½ cup of white vinegar
- 15 drops of essential oils (lemon and lavender are two of our favorites)
2. Granite/Marble Countertop Cleaner
Natural stone countertops can develop dull spots or corrode if cleaned improperly. This cleaner gently removes dirt and grime without damaging these surfaces.
In a small bowl, mix together:
- 2 cups of warm water
- 2 drops of liquid castile soap
Dip a rag into the soapy water and wipe the countertops down. Use another rag to dry the surface when you’re finished.
3. Degreasing Spray
This spray is great for removing tough grease from stovetops, ovens or even microwaves with minimal scrubbing.
Add these ingredients to a glass bottle and shake to combine:
- 2 cups of warm water
- 2 teaspoons of castile soap
- 1 Tablespoon of baking soda
- 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Spray onto the surface and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before wiping.
4. Glass Cleaner
Say goodbye to streaky windows and mirrors! This natural cleaner leaves glass crystal clear without any harsh ingredients.
In a medium bowl, mix together:
- 1 cup of rubbing alcohol or vodka
- 1 cup of hot water
- ¼ cup of cornstarch
Whisk until well combined, then use a funnel to pour into a glass spray bottle.
To use, spray onto windows, mirrors or glass and wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
5. Bathroom Scrub
Conventional bathroom cleaners are often full of chemicals and create strong fumes. This gentle scrub cuts through soap scum and grime naturally.
In an empty dish soap or squeeze bottle, combine:
- 1 1/2 cups baking soda
- 1/2 cup liquid Castile soap
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 10 drops of tea tree essential oil
The baking soda and vinegar will foam for a few moments. Once the foaming subsides, shake well and replace the lid. Squeeze the scrub onto bathroom surfaces and use a damp cloth to wipe clean.
6. Toilet Cleaner
Cleaning the toilet may not be your favorite chore, but using this DIY toilet cleaner is actually fun! It may remind you of making volcanoes in your elementary school science class.
Add the following ingredients to your toilet bowl:
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- ½ cup of baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oils such as tea tree, lemon or peppermint
Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then clean your toilet as usual.
7. Disinfectant Spray
Hydrogen peroxide is listed by the EPA as an effective sterilizer. It naturally kills germs and bacteria and is safe to use on just about any household surface.
Use a funnel to add these ingredients to an opaque glass bottle:
- 16 oz hydrogen peroxide
- 10-15 drops of essential oils
Lemon, pine, tea tree, or peppermint can help add disinfectant power. Hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to light, so using an opaque bottle helps your spray stay fresh longer.
Spritz onto the cleaning surface and let the spray sit for at least two minutes before wiping with a clean cloth.
8. Carpet Deodorizer
I recently helped house train four puppies, and this DIY was a lifesaver. Baking soda and cornstarch help absorb odors trapped in carpet fibers and essential oils add natural fragrance.
Upcycle an empty shaker or use a hammer and nail to make 5-7 holes in the lid of a mason jar.
Next, add these ingredients and shake well:
- 1 cup of baking soda
- ½ cup of cornstarch
- 5 drops of an essential oil of your choice
Sprinkle liberally onto the carpet and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum up any remaining powder.
9. Floor Cleaner
Because of the four puppies mentioned above, cleaning the floor is a regular chore at my house. With this gentle cleaner, you don’t have to worry about children or pets getting harsh cleaner on their feet when they inevitably run across the floor!
Fill your cleaning bucket with:
- Warm water
- ⅛ - ¼ cup of Castile soap
- 10 drops of essential oils (optional)
Next, mop as usual. Note: Do not use Castile soap cleaner on waxed wood floors as Castile soap can cause the wax to break down.
Ideas for Plastic-Free Cleaning Supplies
By choosing plastic-free cleaning supplies, you help keep plastic out of landfills and the ocean. Look for quality products that are made to last.
Here are a few simple swaps you can start with: :
- Use glass spray bottles instead of plastic. This helps reduce plastic pollution and keeps your homemade cleaners fresh.
- Choose cleaning brushes with natural bristles, like a wooden dish brush or scrub brush.
- Avoid single-use wipes or plastic sponges. Instead, clean with reusable options like Unpaper Towels, Swedish Dishcloths, or upcycled cleaning rags.
For more inspiration, check out our zero-waste cleaning collection.
Clean for Your Home, Clean for the Planet
We hope you feel inspired to get started with natural zero-waste cleaning. It’s a simple way to keep harmful ingredients out of your home and the environment. Next time you’re ready to clean, mix up a DIY recipe or two and try them out!
Do you have a favorite zero-waste hack for cleaning the house? Share it in the comments!