Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

spray bottle

If your house is like my house, it’s a battle to maintain cleanliness. Spills, more spills, endless kitchen messes, the list goes on.

Prior to completely selling out to this frugally sustainable lifestyle we went through the gamut of commercial cleaners and disinfectants. When I think about the money we spent in this single area, it almost makes me nauseated. What makes it worse, is the knowledge that I now have regarding the use of these anti-bacterial, highly toxic cleaners. But, I’ll let you do the research and make up your own mind.

Some of you may already be aware of these truths and have opted to use “greener” products. The problem you run into here is cost. They’re just to stinkin’ expensive! And, if you think like me, you see that these products are made by the same companies that make the other mainstream products. So, you end up still giving them your money!

Fortunately, there is a way in which to clean your home that is low-impact, frugal, and safe for your family. It’s actually very easy and you’ll find your creative self rising to the surface.

Here are a few more reasons to make your own all-purpose cleaner:

  • Chemicals found in commercial cleaners are harmful to the nervous and respiratory systems.
  • Huge savings!
  • This all-purpose cleaner is much gentler for those with various sensitivities.
  • Safer for kids and animals.
  • The ingredients of the cleaner are biodegradable and gentle on the Earth.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

Okay so here it is…the recipe that I use for my all-purpose cleaner. It’s seriously the best cleaner I’ve ever, ever used.

All-Purpose Cleaner

-2 teaspoon of castile soap
-5 tablespoons of vinegar (just use the cheap white vinegar)
-2 teaspoons of borax
-1 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Mix with 4 cups of hot water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of essential oils for kicks. You can use a mixture of two or just one. Oils that I’ve tried are lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, sweet orange or peppermint (eucalyptus and lavender go nicely together).
  3. I also add about a 1/4 of a teaspoon of tea tree oil for its anti-septic benefits.

Now, load your cleaner into a spray bottle, and use it on anything besides glass.

Click here to learn more about making your own homemade cleaners!


  1. I am gonna make this up! I have been wanting to try and get "greener" cleaners but they do cost a ton! With the kiddo's migraines that started last January and Vitiligo I figure who knows WHAT is going on in our "chemical" world that could be hurting instead of helping! Excited to try it and hopefully toss the rest! Will this clean toilets too?

  2. Hey Crystal! Yes, use away on the toilets. Let me know what you think. I promise you'll be amazed. And as for throwing out the rest…we did:)

  3. Stephanie Dietz says:

    I used something just like this but the peppermint castile and it was so awesome. And my whole house smelled so good and clean. I even adapted it to a recipe for liquid clothes washing detergent and it is great on stains. Thanks for the post.

  4. Hi Stephanie! Yes, I love it! It's all about using what supplies you have on hand. All you really need is castile soap, baking soda, washing soda, and vinegar and you can make about any cleaner necessary for the home.

    I too have made the recipe with peppermint castile. It's especially my favorite during the holidays:) Great idea with using it on stains! That's brilliant…I'm going to try it.

  5. Would this work on stainless steel?

  6. I have all the ingredients on hand so since tomorrow's cleaning day I think I'll mix up a batch and give it a try. Thanks!

  7. This is what I use for my all purpose cleaner. I love it! I buy the peppermint castile soap so then I don't have to use my own essential oils.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Where do you find castile soap?

  9. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable says:

    @Anonymous I find mine at my local Target. Also check your health food store. Here's my Amazon store affiliate link if you cant find it locally: http://amzn.to/2anrKv8

  10. I made up the All Purpose cleaner, using the Orange Castile soap & the Tea Tree oil. It’s a great cleaner!! Thank you.

  11. I was just wondering if Castile soap is simiar to other all-natural bulk liquid soap and if you know of any. I live in Alberta Canada and have never seen this soap here before. I also don’t think that I can import something like that, but not sure. Anyone else here from Canada? If so have you seen this soap before or know of an alternative?

    • I live in BC. I find castile soap at any natural goods or health food store. Dr. Bronners.

    • I live in Sask. I find it at the health food store too. I have never seen another brand other than Dr. Bronners.

    • I just made this a second time today but I made half batch so it just fits in my spay bottle. I live here in NE Ont. and I just used a biodegradable dish soap as the soap portion. It is called Ultra Dishmate by Earth Friendly Products i got it at Canadian tire but I found sinularr products at my grocery store. I didn’t wan’t to go out looking for drBronners (it would involved driving to the next big town and hitting up the health store) or order it online so I used what I could find. I am sure any mild naturally derived surfactant would work. And it works brilliantly!! I had so stains on the carpet and didn’t have carpet cleaner and thought why not? Took the marks right out! I like that I have one bottle to use on most things. Thank you Andrea for this!!!

    • If you live in Lloyd, they stock it at Nutter’s… Edmonton or Calgary you should be able to find it at any health food store or possible a Superstore. If you’re more rural, well.ca has castile soap – I find they are just a little pricier.

  12. What if you do not have Castle soap, is there an alternative to it?


    • Paulette says:

      I’ve been using “Seventh Generation” unscented dish soap for all the recipes that call for Castile Soap, with fantastic results.

  13. 1. Just to clarify for Danita, the actual full name of the soap is {Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile (not Castle) Soap made with organic oils} which may make it easier to find. I find it a Walmart and the local health food stores, the unscented is in the baby section of soaps.

    2. When people are referring to “washing soda” are they talking about “Borax” pictured at the top of this page?


    • No, Washing soda looks a lot like baking soda. The kind I buy is made by arm and hammer and is in the laundry aisle close to the borax. Borax stands alone.

  14. Angel – I live in Edmonton and have found Dr. Bronner’s soap at Superstore in the health food aisle. Lots of health food stores carry it as well. If you can’t find it, I’ve ordered from http://www.iherb.com.

  15. Used this recipie before, I no longer buy scrubbing bubbles and now wonder why i ever thought that stuff worked so well! What do you use for glass cleaner?

  16. jeanette says:

    my question is if i don’t have the liquid (dr. bonners ) and only had the castil bar soap and grated it how much water would i use to make my own version of ( dr. bonners) soap the liquid part?

  17. Is this safe for septic systems / leach fields?

  18. christianmotherof5 says:

    Hello. I love your blog. I am new to makig my own products at home. I have been reading all kinds of blogs and recipes and I am having a blast learning. I want to try them all. With all of my research I have been reading that Borax is really not good for you. I wondered if you had heard this and what you might be able to use in replace of it. Thanks so much for all your wonderful recipes!!!

    • Chelsea says:

      I was also wondering the same thing. We have a cat, and I’ve read that Borax cannot be used around pets in case of accidental ingestion. Would the recipe be able to do without the borax?

  19. Jennifer says:

    I love the smell of this stuff. I made up a batch to clean our bathrooms at church. Made everything smell so good. I just made another batch for home. It made my tile floors look a bit dull, but I don’t think I’ll use it on the floors anyway, because of having pets and I added tea tree oil to it. Otherwise I love it for cleaning.

  20. Pyxidragon says:

    I applied this recipe (sans the water and with lavender oil) to the bathtub soap scum that nothing had been able to touch for the last three years. Gross, I know, but even steel wool wasn’t removing it, so I’d pretty well given up hope. After letting the foamy stuff sit for five minutes, every last bit of the scum wiped off with a washrag.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  21. I am very blessed to work for a natural grocery wholesaler ( in fact IHERB gets all of their stuff from us )….
    Thanks for the great ideas for things to make and not waste my money on….

  22. I absolutely LOVE this cleaner! I recommend it to everyone I know. It smells amazing, and I cannot get over how well it works!

  23. I have been using this for months and LOVE the smell it gives our house!! My neighbor asked if I had sugar ants and I said that we don’t. She was spraying her counters with vinegar as she said it deterred the ants. I guess I don’t have ants surround this cleaner??? Anyhow – I made a batch to share with her!! Love it so much!!

  24. Just made this! Thanks for the recipe. Is there an expiration date for these homemade cleaners?

  25. I’m thinking of making this, but I avoid keeping white vinegar in my house because of my corn allergy. Even for cleaning I just avoid it as a rule. Do you think Apple Cider vinegar is a strong enough acid to work in this?
    Thanks for all the great ideas!


  27. dogtown says:

    I like everything about this except for the statement that it’s safe for kids and animals – the moment you add tea tree oil, this mixture became toxic for cats. Tea tree oil is a highly effective anti-bacterial agent, that unfortunately can be quite deadly for all felines, even in trace amounts. If you keep a spray bottle loaded with hydrogen peroxide, and lightly spray surfaces previously cleaned using this recipe, the combination creates an even more effective anti-bacterial than bleach.

  28. I just made this cleaner, but without the tea tree because I don’t have it. So far, pretty good. I am liking it. But I am very curious, seeing as you call for hot water–is this cleaner effective only when a freshly made batch is made up? Meaning-does it have to be used warm, or can i let it sit and use it days, even weeks later? Thanks!

  29. Why should you not use it on glass – is it just because it streaks?

  30. Jaime in Medellin says:

    What can I substitute for the Castille soap? I am in Medellin, Colombia and cannot find it here.


  31. Teri Burkes says:

    I read today on another site that we should not mix Castile soap & vinegar together it cancels each other out. I did not know this for I have been using this recipe for almost a year. Any thoughts on this?

  32. I honestly just use vinegar diluted in water. Works just fine and is super inexpensive.

  33. I’ve been using this and loving it…but what about this?:


  34. Tiffany says:

    I am going to try this! I have a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap. Will this work?

  35. I’d omit the vinegar. Your vinegar and baking soda neutralize each other so you’re really just cleaning with borax and castile soap, which is not a bad cleaner. Baking soda alone in water is not a bad cleaner either. Don’t mix vinegar and baking soda or washing soda, as it’s it’s not frugal because you’re wasting money.

Speak Your Mind