Advertising

21 Homemade Cleaner Tips That Actually Work Better Than Commercial Cleaners

21 Homemade Cleaner Tips That Actually Work Better Than Commercial Cleaners
Advertising

You may have heard of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, but you may doubt if they really work. I can assure you that they absolutely work – and work effectively.

Let me be honest: cleaning is not my favorite thing to do. Moreover, unpleasant odors and the air-contaminating nature of commercial cleaners always troubled me and caused me to put off cleaning.

We know most commercial cleaners are harmful to our health and the environment. The challenge is to make an old habit into a new lifestyle. You can find the health and environmental effects of commercial cleaning products by checking the EWG rating by Environmental Working Group. The rating criteria include concerns with asthma, skin irritation, and cancer. Try looking up your “natural” commercial cleaner’s rating.

In search of more pleasant and natural cleaning methods, I dumped all commercial cleaning products and replaced them with non-toxic homemade cleansers about a year ago. I can breathe much better while cleaning, and I am very pleased with this lifestyle change, which will last for the rest of my life. More importantly, these homemade cleaners not only efficiently clean almost anything, but also often work better than commercial cleaners. These are cost-effective too.

The essentials:

  • Vinegar (distilled white vinegar) removes water-based buildup particularly well. It also removes mold and wax, and disinfects and deodorizes surfaces. White vinegar consists of 5 percent acetic acid and 95 percent water. The smell of vinegar lasts only for a short while after cleaning. Lemon juice can also be used instead of vinegar.
  • Citric acid is lesser-known, but cleans exceedingly well and is a cost-effective agent of homemade cleaners. It is a weak acid from citrus fruits and is commonly used for preserving and flavoring food. An advantage over vinegar is that it has no smell. It comes as a form of crystalline powder, and you can buy it readily online such as Amazon. If you don’t have it, you can use vinegar instead, though I think citric acid cleans better.
  • Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) deodorizes, whitens, and works as scouring powder. If kept it in a closed container in a dry place, it lasts for several months. You can test if your baking soda is still effective: drop a small amount of vinegar (or lemon juice or a citric acid solution) on a pinch of baking soda. If it is active, you will see foaming as a result of a chemical reaction.

I keep vinegar, citric acid powder, and baking soda readily available, each in its own plastic sauce bottle.

  • Biodegradable cleaner is especially suited for removing grease such as oily tableware and cookware. I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable liquid cleaner, which gets an A grade on the EWG rating.
  • Castile soap is mainly made from olive oil and/or coconut oil and is safely used for body cleaning. It is milder and more versatile than Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner, but may be less economical for cleaning purposes.

The following are useful cleaning tools that will save your time. While not biodegradable, these are considered non-toxic – and also save water.

  • Melamine sponges make your cleaning life much easier in various ways. The secret of the “magic” is that a melamine sponge works like super-fine sandpaper. Other than Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, you can buy inexpensive alternatives with the same quality at discount stores or online. (Note: an ingredient of melamine sponges called formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer is not the same as a toxic chemical formaldehyde.)
  • Microfiber cloths trap dust and wipe dirt without leaving lint on the surface, due to their ultra-fine synthetic fibers.

Note: Before applying any of the cleaning methods below, I recommend testing first at an inconspicuous area.

Everyday Cleaning

2-43936630_efc181a7a1_o-_cleaning-by-ryan-harvey_flickr_edit_edit_770x433
    Cleaning by Ryan Harvey via Flickr

    1. Take Advantage of Melamine Sponges, and Keep All-Purpose Sprays Made of Vinegar, Citric Acid, and/or Biodegradable Soap Handy

    Melamine sponges are surprisingly versatile. With just a little water, it even removes permanent marker and cleans sneakers’ surfaces. While a melamine sponge cleans just about anything, it is not recommended to use for glossy or varnished surfaces in order to avoid scratches. You can cut the sponge with a kitchen knife to small pieces for handy uses. Although it is reusable, it shrinks as you use.

    All-purpose Homemade Cleaners:

    • Vinegar solution
      Mild: 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar + 1 cup water
      Strong: 1 cup distilled white vinegar + 1 cup water
    • Citric acid solution
      Mild: 1 teaspoon citric acid powder + 1 cup water
      Strong: 2 ½ teaspoons citric acid powder + 1 cup water
    • Dishwashing soap
      Mild: ¾ teaspoon Sal Suds + 1 cup water + optional: a few drops tea tree oil
      Strong: 2 teaspoons Sal Suds + 1 cup water + optional: 5-10 drops tea tree oil

    Keep each solution handy in its own labeled spray bottle. Strong solutions do not mean harsh solutions. Personally, I use strong solutions for almost any cleaning. You can adjust the proportion of a solution according to your needs.

    Advertising

    Above all, a combination of a melamine sponge and a strong citric acid solution works best to remove tough stains on various surfaces quickly and easily.

    Baking soda can also be added in the vinegar solution, though the mixture leaves somewhat dull texture on the surface. Baking soda in this use mainly acts as scouring powder, but a melamine sponge works better for this purpose.

    Citric acid solutions above have stronger acidity than that of vinegar solutions above because an acetic acid in white vinegar is already diluted by water to only 5 percent, whereas acid in citric acid powder is 100 percent. Vinegar or citric acid powder can also be used without adding water for some cleaning.

    Dishwashing soap above is based on Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner, which is concentrated. Please follow appropriate measurement of the particular biodegradable soap.

    Tea tree essential oil is widely used as an antibacterial agent.

    2. Shine Windows and Mirrors with Microfiber Cloths, Melamine Sponges, Vinegar, or Citric Acid

    To wipe off dust on windows or mirrors, use a dry microfiber cloth or dry melamine sponge.

    For heavy cleaning, clean with a slightly moist melamine sponge or microfiber cloth. You can also use an extra-mild solution (1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 cup of water, or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water). Finish with a dry microfiber cloth to remove water residue.

    To remove tough water residue or streaks, fine steel wool works quickly. Although steel wool does not scratch ordinary glasses, it is always safe to test the surface first.

    3. Freshen Your Room with Rubbing Alcohol Spray, or Eliminate Room Odors with Vinegar or Baking Soda

    Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) spray removes room odors quickly – this certainly works! Optionally, you can add a few drops of essential oils that have a deodorant property, such as lavender, to diffuse a pleasant scent. Vodka spray also seems to work, though I haven’t tried that yet.

    Another way to remove room odors is to leave a bowl filled with vinegar or baking soda in a room.

    Laundry

    3-2609350734_7efc5d958f_o_laundry-room-by-paula-henry_flicker_edit2_770x578
      Laundry Room by Paula Henry via Flickr

      4. Wash Clothes with Biodegradable Cleaner

      A commercial detergent Tide Free & Gentle, which I used for years, is labeled “Free of Dyes & Perfume; Dermatologist Tested.” Nonetheless, I was stunned to find an F grade on the EWG rating. Sal Suds biodegradable cleaner washes clothing well, yet is not harsh on the skin. I use 1-3 tablespoons, depending on the load. Alternatively, washing soda or Castile soap can be used to clean clothes.

      Advertising

      Optionally, baking soda can be added in the wash cycle to remove odors and whiten clothes.

      5. Rinse Laundry with Vinegar, and Dry Clothes Faster with Wool Dryer Balls

      White vinegar (¼ cup-1 cup, depending on the load) can be added in the rinse cycle. It softens clothing without leaving the vinegar smell. Why does this work? It is an alkali and acid reaction: an acid of vinegar neutralizes the clothes soaked with alkaline soap. The vinegar softener also works well with laundry with a commercial detergent. A word of caution: Do not add vinegar in the wash cycle – doing so will cancel out effectiveness of cleaning ability.

      Dryer balls soften laundry and shorten drying time: they keep clothes from tangling by bouncing around inside the dryer. The more balls (3-6) you use, the faster your clothes will dry. An eco-friendly option would be 100 percent wool dryer balls rather than their plastic or rubber counterparts.

      Bathroom

      4-bath-by-enrico-corno-1220567_freeimages_edit_770x513
        Bath by Enrico Corno via Freeimages

        6. Make Toilet Bowls Sparkle with Vinegar or Citric Acid

        Commercial toilet bowl cleaners are among the harshest with a strong smell and eye-irritating agents. You can clean a toilet bowl in a more pleasant way.

        For regular cleaning, spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water), and leave it for 15 minutes to 1 hour (the longer, the better). Scrub with a brush, and flush. Alternatively, you can spray dishwashing soap, though I found it is less effective for this cleaning.

        For deep cleaning, spray a strong citric acid solution, and sprinkle ½ cup of citric acid powder inside the toilet bowl including under the rim. The powder kept in a sauce bottle serves nicely for this job. Optionally, you can add ¼-½ cup of baking soda. Leave it for an hour to several hours. Scrub thoroughly with a brush, and flush well. Now you have a shiny toilet bowl!

        When you see black streaks running from under the rim inside the toilet bowl, it may be caused by mold in the toilet tank. To prevent this, periodically add 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the toilet tank.

        7. Cleanse Bathtubs and Sinks with Citric Acid or Biodegradable Soap

        After I tried everything for cleaning a bathtub – from vinegar and baking soda to grapefruit and salt, I chose citric acid as a winner. It cleans thoroughly with ease.

        Spray a citric acid solution (1-2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) inside the bathtub, sprinkle citric acid powder, and leave it for 30 minutes or more. Scrub with a scouring pad or melamine sponge. If needed, spray an additional citric acid solution when scrubbing.

        Dishwashing soap can clean the tub quickly without waiting time, though it is better to leave it for a while so that the dirt comes off more effortlessly.

        To clean a sink, spray a citric acid solution or dishwashing soap. Leave it for 15 minutes and scrub.

        Advertising

        For stubborn stains, spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoon of citric acid and 1 cup of water) over the stain, and lay a paper towel over it. Spray the solution again over the paper towel, and cover the area with plastic wrap to keep from drying. Leave it for several hours before scraping off the stain.

        8. Wipe Away Soap Scum on Glass Shower Doors with Melamine Sponges and Citric Acid

        Without too much effort, you can restore a murky glass shower door to a translucent door!

        Spray a citric acid solution (1-2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) on shower doors, leave it for several minutes, and rub it off with a melamine sponge. Soap scum comes off effortlessly. Wipe away the scum on the surface with a microfiber cloth or a paper towel. You may need to repeat this process a few times until you no longer see white streaks on the door surface.

        9. Destroy Calcium and Lime Deposits on Faucets with Vinegar

        The spout head of a faucet can easily get stains from buildup of hard water minerals. A vinegar pack serves well to remove this. Pour a small amount of vinegar into a fold-top sandwich bag. Wrap it around a faucet’s spout head, soaking the stain in vinegar, and fix it with a rubber band. Leave it for several hours before scraping away the stain.

        To restore the shine on the faucet body and handle, water residue can be wiped away with a dry microfiber cloth or a paper towel moistened with a vinegar or citric acid solution.

        10. Kill Mold and Mildew with Hydrogen Peroxide or Vinegar, and Prevent the Regrowth with Tee Tree Oil

        To get rid of mold and mildew, spray hydrogen peroxide (3 percent), and leave it for 10-20 minutes. Wipe off, and allow the surface to dry completely. Alternatively, vinegar works too. Leave it for one hour before wiping. (Caution: Don’t mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide as it may produce a harmful acid.)

        To prevent mold and mildew spores from growing, spray a tea tree oil solution (1 teaspoon of tea tree essential oil and 1 cup of water). Do not wipe away, and let it dry.

        11. Unclog Drains with Baking Soda and Vinegar

        To unclog the drain, pour a mixture of ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of vinegar into the drain. Leave it for 15 minutes, and pour hot water.

        Kitchen

        5-3186998166_d89571a77a_o_kitchen-by-ryan-boren_flicker_edit_770x511
          Kitchen by Ryan Boren via Flickr

          12. Clean Tableware with Melamine Sponges or Biodegradable Soap

          A melamine sponge with a little water easily cleans tough stains and rust on porcelain, silverware, knives, and plastic with a non-glossy surface.

          To remove grease, use a small amount of dishwashing soap (¾-2 teaspoons of Sal Suds and 1 cup of water, for example). In most cases, hot water with a cellulose sponge or melamine sponge does a sufficient job when cleaning non-greasy, non-smelly tableware by hand, thereby also saving water.

          Cellulose sponges are biodegradable and mostly made from plants such as wood pulp and cotton fiber.

          Advertising

          13. Let Stainless Steel Cookware Glitter with Vinegar or Citric Acid and Melamine Sponges

          You can restore the shine of cloudy stains inside stainless steel saucepans in 10 minutes.

          Pour or generously spray vinegar or a strong citric acid solution (2 ½ teaspoons of citric acid and 1 cup of water) over the stain, leave it for 5-10 minutes, and gently rub it with a melamine sponge. Don’t scrub too hard as doing so can scratch the surface. Also, don’t use a melamine sponge on a glossy surface of stainless steel.

          14. Remove Heavy Stains on Ovens and Stove Drip Pans with Baking Soda and Vinegar

          To clean brownish buildup stains on stove drip pans, make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, and apply the paste on stains. In order to keep moisture, put each drip pan into a plastic bag separately. Leave it overnight, and scrape off the paste. For inside the oven, cover the area with a plastic wrap after applying the paste.

          15. Get Rid of Fruit Wax with Vinegar

          To remove wax on fruits or vegetables, put them into an extra-mild vinegar solution (1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 quart of water) for 10-20 minutes. Alternatively, rub non-porous fruit or vegetable with a scouring pad moistened with vinegar. Personally, I also wash them with hot water.

          16. Eliminate Fishy Odor with Lemon Rind or Vinegar

          To remove an odor like a fish smell on the tableware or on your hands, rub them with inside of the leftover lemon rind. Otherwise, soak the tableware in a vinegar solution. Dishwashing soap works as well.

          17. Wipe off Sticker Residue with Melamine Sponges or Orange Essential Oil

          Sometimes you may want to recycle a nice container that has a sticker and date stamp on it. To remove sticker residue, a melamine sponge or a cloth with a few drops of orange essential oil will do wonders. For tough sticker residue on a glass container, fine steel wool works too.

          A melamine sponge also removes a date stamp on a container, though it can scratch and haze plastic or metal surface. Rubbing alcohol also works on a glass container. Having said that, acetone (nail polish remover) works most effortlessly to remove a date stamp on most materials, but use it sparingly as it is toxic with a large amount.

          Living Room

          6-my-living-room-by-samantha-villagran-1233805_freeimages_edit_770x513
            My living room by Samantha Villagran via Freeimages

            18. Restore White Keyboards and Computer Surfaces with Melamine Sponges

            Melamine sponges easily clean finger marks and stains on white keyboards and computers. Years-long stains on my old white MacBook effortlessly wiped out in a few minutes. Gently rub the surface with a slightly moistened melamine sponge.

            19. Polish Wooden Furniture with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice

            You can polish varnished wooden furniture with an equal part of olive oil (or vegetable oil) and lemon juice (or vinegar).

            20. Disinfect Air-Conditioning Filters with Vinegar

            To keep indoor air fresh, it is recommended to clean air-conditioning filters every two weeks. (I know it is just an ideal.) Vinegar disinfects the filters. After vacuuming an air-conditioning filter, soak it in a solution of an equal part of vinegar and lukewarm water for 1-4 hours. A large sink may fit to do this job. Don’t rinse the filter; let it dry naturally.

            The Last Resort

            7-pumice-stone_via-popsugar_crop_770x530
              Pumice Stone via Popsugar

              21. Erase Extremely Tough Stains with Pumice Stone or Sandpaper

              When anything else didn’t work in removing an extremely stubborn stain, scraping it off with pumice stone or fine sandpaper could be a solution for non-glossy or unvarnished surfaces. Good luck!

              Advertising

              Related: 50 Cleaning Hacks for Your Home That Will Make Your Life Easier 

              Featured photo credit: Baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background by Focal point via shutterstock.com

              More by this author

              21 Homemade Cleaner Tips That Actually Work Better Than Commercial Cleaners

              Trending in DIY

              1 11 Killer Ways To Get Rid Of Roaches Without Harming You 2 12 Quick And Safe Ways To Get Rid Of A Stye 3 Complete Guide To Getting Rid Of Flies In The House 4 Bedroom Makeover 101: Enhancing The Most Important Place In Your Home 5 How These Basic Design Principals Will Transform Your House

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on July 12, 2021

              100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

              100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
              Advertising

              Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

              By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

              Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

              83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

                84 write random letter

                  85 use a rubberband

                    86 dorm smell bad

                      87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                        89 how to waterproof your shoes

                          90 take a picture of the name card

                            91 iron inside out

                              92 old newspaper

                                93 tumble try shoes

                                  keep a card like this

                                    SONY DSC

                                      94 soap bar

                                        95 make a hole

                                          96 drop the battery

                                            97 use a coozie

                                              98 when taking a picture

                                                use a clean dust pan

                                                  try a pants hanger

                                                    use your cellphone light

                                                      use a spring from an old pen

                                                        quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                          user binder clips

                                                            wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                              put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                                clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                                  use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                                    doritos are great for kindling

                                                                      use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                        use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                          freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                            use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                              almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                                sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                                  unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                                    cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                                      remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                        turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                          for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                            how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                              tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                                place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                                  ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                                    use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                                      take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                        how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                          put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                            How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                              user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                                good sandwich guide

                                                                                                                  turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                                    50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                                      the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                        add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                          38

                                                                                                                            hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                              stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                                the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                                  how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                                    the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                                      use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                        to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                          user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                            a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                              rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                                use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                                  50

                                                                                                                                                    51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                                      52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                        rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                          kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                            use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                              58

                                                                                                                                                                59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                                  60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                                    hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                                      Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                        hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                          use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                            if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                              keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                                If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                                  drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                                    use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                                      use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                        do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                          when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                            dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                              put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                                  use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                                    pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                                      78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                        79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                          80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                            81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                              82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      More Amazing Life Hacks for An Easier Life

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      50 Top Parenting Tricks and Hacks That Will Make Life Easier And More Fun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      30 Brilliant Camping Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Read Next