General Household Cleaners

Various cleaning items and supplies in a bucket on the bathroom


Hazardous ingredients to avoid:
Ammonia, dichloro (or trichloro) isocyanurate, glycol ethers, oxalic acid, phenols, sodium carbonate, sodium hypochlorite, sodium metasilicate, tripolyphosphate, trisodium phosphate

Potential Hazards:
Mildly to extremely irritating to skin, eyes, nose and throat; corrosive if swallowed.

Use and storage: DO NOT MIX AMMONIA-BASED CLEANERS WITH BLEACH-BASED CLEANERS. HAZARDOUS FUMES WILL RESULT. Wear gloves and use with adequate ventilation. Keep container lid tightly closed when cleaner is not in use. Store in secure area.


  • Best: Use up or give away. Dispose of empty container in the garbage.

  • Second Best: If your home is connected to a city sewer system and you are unable to use or give away leftover bleach, flush small amounts down an inside drain (toilet is preferable) with lots of water. If you are on a septic system, flush very small quantities over several days. Place small amounts of powdered or solid cleaner in a heavy-duty plastic bag and dispose of in the garbage.

  • Third Best: Hold for a household hazardous waste collection. In Oregon, call 1-800-732-9253 to find out if there is a hazardous waste collection event scheduled in your community, or call your garbage hauler, local government solid waste department or the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality at (503) 229-5913 or toll-free at 1-800-452-4011.

Alternatives for general cleaning

  • Mix vinegar and salt together for a good surface cleaner. Will remove grease if vinegar is at full strength.

  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water.

  • For an abrasive cleaner, use baking soda or a nonchlorinated scouring powder.

  • Use a mixture of ½ cup vinegar and 1 cup to 1 quart of warm water.

  • A pumice stick, available at many hardware stores. It contains no harsh detergents or other chemicals. It effectively cleans ovens, racks, barbecues and grills; removes rust from garden tools and iron stains from toilet bowls; and handles many other tough cleaning jobs.

  • Use soap and water, baking soda and lemon juice.

Alternative Cleaning Formulas

Bathroom Cleaner
Fill a jar with 1 ½ cups of baking soda, ½ cup of warm water, ½ cup of Castile Soap or dish soap and 2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar. Add a touch of lemon juice for added acidity.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
Combine 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water. Add 15-30 drops of essential oils to the mixture and funnel into a spray bottle. Use on multipurpose surfaces.

Combine ¼ cup of Vodka and 2 ¾ cup of distilled water with 15-20 drops of essential oils such as lemon or tea tree. Funnel into a spray bottle to use on counters, sinks, light fixtures and more.

Young Asian Woman Cleaning Windows

Window and Glass Cleaners
Combine 1 cup of hot water and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into a bowl. Stir until cornstarch dissolves. Funnel into a spray bottle and spritz on windows, mirrors, and glass then wipe away for a streak-free clean.

Stainless Steel Cleaner 1
Combine ½ cup of white distilled vinegar with ½ cup of warm water in a spray bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of Castile Soap or dish soap and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to the bottle. Funnel in ¼ cup of olive oil or your choice of oil such as jojoba oil. The oil will polish and add shine to your stainless steel. Spray onto the surface and wipe down with a microfiber cloth.


Hardwood Floor Cleaner 2
Black tea can be used to clean and polish wood floors. Bring four cups of water to a boil and remove from heat before adding 3 black tea bags to steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and use cloth or mop to clean floors. For some optional additives, add 10 drops of essential oils, add ¼ cup baking soda, or some water to dilute the tea.


hot water pouring into transparent cup with tea bag
womans hand sprinkles a small amount of baking soda on a stained carpet 21706-SQ_600px

Bathroom Cleaner
Fill a jar with 1 ½ cups of baking soda, ½ cup of warm water, ½ cup of Castile Soap or dish soap and 2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar. Add a touch of lemon juice for added acidity.

Carpet Cleaner
For a direct, fresh stain use a towel to dab away any excess liquid. Sprinkle baking soda and cover the area for 10 minutes to deodorize and whiten. Mix Castile Soap or dish soap together with hydrogen peroxide then pour into the stain. Let sit for a few minutes and pat dry. Repeat until the stain is lifted, use a toothbrush to scrub if needed.

For general carpet cleaning, mix one cup of baking soda with ½ cup of corn starch then add 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil or your favorite. Sprinkle on carpet, let sit for at least 2 hours then vacuum. Baking soda works to break down and dissolve organic compounds such as dirt and grime while also providing a gentle abrasion.

Microwave Cleaner
Place a bowl mixed with ¼ cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of water in the center of your microwave. Set the microwave for 5 minutes and let sit until cooled. Once cooled, use a cloth to dip into the bowl and wipe away food residue from inside of the microwave.

Drain Cleaner
¼ cup of salt, ¼ cup of Borax and ½ cup of vinegar. Add a pot of boiling water down the drain and let sit for at least an hour for it to clear. Lastly, rinse the drain with hot tap water to ensure all the ingredients are cleared from the drain.



1) Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner by Aurora Hatfield

2) 6 Natural Homemade Wood Floor Cleaner Recipes By Jennifer L. Betts

Also, see: "15 Homemade Cleaners the Pros Swear By" (These natural alternatives are just as effective.) By Brigitt Earley