Interior Cleaning

9 Potent Cleaners You Didn’t Know You Had

More and more people are steering away from commercial cleaners with their harsh chemicals and opting for more natural choices to get their homes spotless. While it may seem excessive to make a whole pantry's worth of cleaners from scratch, using cleaning solutions made from common ingredients you probably already own can be both safer and more cost-effective. Bring out the shine in every corner of your house with these 9 tried-and-true cleaning recipes that have been used for generations.

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Glass Cleaner

Make your own glass cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol, 2 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a spray bottle. (The cornstarch helps prevent streaks.) Shake before use, and spray it on as you would a store-bought cleaner. Wipe it off with a microfiber cloth—you’ll avoid the lint that paper towels leave and, at the same time, save a tree.

Grout Cleaner

Clean grubby grout with a nontoxic cleanser. Mix 1 cup of dish soap and 1 cup of heated white vinegar then pour into a spray bottle. Shake it well, then spray lightly and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub the grout with a brush—it’ll take a little bit of elbow grease—and wipe up with a wet cloth. When you’re done, rinse away any residue with plain hot water.

Oven Cleaner

De-gunk the inside of your oven using a paste of 1/2 cup of baking soda and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. First, remove the racks. Then cover the interior of your oven with the paste (avoiding the heating elements), and let it sit overnight. The next morning, wipe up with a damp cloth. Spritz vinegar on whatever residue is left; it will foam and can then be easily wiped away.

Brass Cleaner

Cleaning solid brass requires only two common and nontoxic household ingredients: lemon and baking soda. Juice half of a lemon and mix with 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl to form a paste. The mixture will fizz. When it settles, rub the paste onto tarnished brass with a soft cloth, rinse, and pat dry with a clean towel. Reapply in spots as needed.

All-Purpose Cleaner

This cleaner works great, well, just about anywhere—especially laminate and tile floors. Mix equal parts water, vinegar, and alcohol. Add 2 to 3 drops of dish soap and 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oils to cover up the vinegar scent. Use the cleaner in a fine-mist spray bottle and wipe it off with microfiber cloths.

Granite Cleaner

Cut through grease and make your kitchen surfaces shine with this DIY granite countertop cleaner: Mix 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Add 3 to 5 drops of dish soap, and 5 to 10 drops of essential oils for fragrance. Spritz your countertops, then wipe down with a microfiber cloth.

Toilet Cleaner

Got tough toilet stains? Make your commode sparkle with 3/4 cup of borax and 1 cup of white vinegar. (Add a few drops of lemon or lavender essential oil for fragrance, if you’d like.) Flush the bowl to wet it, then pour the mixture into the toilet to sit undisturbed overnight. Scrub and flush to rinse in the morning.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

For a streak-free shine on your stainless steel appliances, pour equal parts water and vinegar into a spray bottle. Add 1 drop of dish soap and 4 drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake until blended, then spray on a microfiber cloth and wipe down your appliances. A big batch costs less than a dollar, and you won’t believe the results.

Furniture Polish

Avoid the waxy buildup of commercial furniture polish by making your own. Mix together 3/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and the juice from half of a lemon. Stir well before each use, and apply a small amount to wood furniture using a soft cloth. Buff with a clean cloth, or let it air dry. The wood will be nourished by the oil, cleaned by the lemon, and refreshed by the vinegar.