Ah, the magic of the DIY cleaning solution. The comfort of wholesome, natural, non-toxic ingredients. The ease of recreating your own solutions over and over again without having to spend a dime. The satisfaction of using just a couple of simple household ingredients to do jobs advertisements told you couldn’t be done without harsh chemicals and plastic.
If you haven’t tried it yet, now’s your time. Baking soda, white vinegar, and castile soap are three all-star ingredients that aren’t just safe to use all over your home, they’ve got the chemistry to back up their efficacy. Even if you’re not usually the DIY type, many of these solutions take about 30 seconds to prepare, which includes the time to fish the ingredients out of your cabinet.
How It Works
Vinegar is made through the process of sugar fermenting into alcohol and then fermenting again to produce acetic acid, which is the primary compound of vinegar. Acetic acid is what makes vinegar acidic with a pH level of 2.0, which is what makes it inhospitable for microorganisms and a powerful cleaning agent. White vinegar is one of the most acidic forms of vinegar and thus a great go-to for helping to dissolve dirt and bacteria all over your home. And don’t worry, that vinegary smell dissipates when it dries.
What to Do With It
- Make an all-purpose cleaner with 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. You can also add a few drops of tea tree and/or lemon essential oils for a lovely scent and extra cleaning power. Use on countertops, glass, stainless steel, stovetops, microwaves, and sinks. (Avoid using on marble or granite.) Can also be used to disinfect doorknobs, remote controls, phones, etc.*
- Help dissolve mineral buildup in your steamer, coffee maker, or your shower head by soaking in warm vinegar.
- Let silicone and plastic sit in vinegar to remove stains.
- Clean cutting boards by spraying with undiluted vinegar and rinsing clean.
- Use it to polish copper, silver, brass, or bronze.
- Spray your carpet with vinegar mixed with a few drops of your favorite essential oil to freshen and banish dust mites.
- Add a cup to your laundry’s final rinse cycle as an alternative to fabric softener.
*Note: Vinegar has not yet been approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a disinfectant. (CDC)
How It Works
Baking Soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a mildly alkaline, naturally occurring substance with a pH of 9.0, which acts as a mild but mighty abrasive, making it great at eliminating odors and cutting through dirt, grease, and stains like a dang knife. Seriously, this stuff gives those Magic Erasers a run for their money.
What to Do With It
- Rub dry baking soda on mugs and tumblers stained with tea and coffee.
- Place some in your fridge or anywhere else that’s been developing a smell, like under the sink, the trash can, pet bedding, or shoes.
- Clean your brushes and combs by mixing a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda and letting soak overnight.
- Pour some powder on oil stains in your garage or driveway.
- Sprinkle on surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom, including tile, stainless steel, painted walls, stovetops, bathtubs, and grills, to scrub away stains.
- Mix baking soda into a paste with lemon juice to clean the grout in your shower. Let the paste sit for 5-10 minutes and then scrub with a toothbrush.
- Pour a little down your garbage disposal or at the bottom of your dishwasher to give them a refresh.
- Sprinkle some on carpet and upholstery, let sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuum up to help remove odors.
- Make a paste out of a little baking soda and a little oil, and use it to rub off adhesive. Works great on mason jars!
How It Works
Castile soap, named for its origins in Castile, Spain, is a type of soap made of vegetable oils, most commonly olive, coconut, and hemp, and free from synthetic ingredients or animal fats, which makes it biodegradable. It is mildly alkaline with a pH of 8.9, similar to baking soda. Castile soap, as well as other traditional soaps, work by using molecules with “one end that is attracted to water and another that avoids it. When soap is combined with water, it creates free-floating charged atoms that attract and capture dirt and other types of non-water-soluble molecules.” (TheKitchn) This allows Castile soap to be powerful at cutting through grease and can also be applied all over the house as a multipurpose cleaner. It comes in both liquid and solid form, which tend to be more heavily concentrated than traditional soaps and thus reduces waste. (Look for bar soap forms to avoid plastic containers.)
What to Do With It
- Dilute 1 part Castile soap with 10 parts water to make a liquid dish soap, or mix equal parts Castile soap and water to make a potent dishwasher detergent.
- Use 1-2 parts Castile soap with 4 parts water for an all-purpose cleaning spray that can be used on floors (not waxed wood or marble), countertops, walls, sinks, tubs, toilets, etc.
- Add ½ cup to laundry to use an alternative detergent. Use ⅛-¼ cup for HE machines. If you have hard water, try adding ⅓ cup of baking soda.
- Deter bugs from your plants by spraying 1 tablespoon of castile soap in a quart of water directly onto plants.
- Clean makeup brushes by placing in a warm cup of water with a couple of drops of Castile soap and letting soak for 10 minutes.
Ready to start DIYing? We offer several containers and essential oils perfect for DIY cleaning solutions, many with the recipes right on the bottle!
Blue Glass Spray Bottle - $14
Includes 5 recipes: Heavy Duty, All-Purpose, Veggie Wash, Granite, Glass
Amber Glass Spray Bottle - $14
Includes 5 recipes: Kitchen, Bathroom, Glass, Tile, Wood
Lavender Lemon Essential Oil - $19
Calming and powerful antibacterial cleaning properties
Excellent antibacterial and disinfectant properties
Have a favorite DIY cleaning solution? Share with us in the comments!
- Ktchn. “What is Vinegar and What Makes it a Good Cleaner?”
- Better Homes & Gardens. “Cleaning with Vinegar.”
- American Chemical Society. “The Science of Baking Soda.”
- Bob’s Red Mill. “What Does Baking Soda Do?”
- Good Housekeeping. “21 Problems You Can Easily Solve with Bicarb.”
- Taste of Home. “50 Clever Ways to Clean with Baking Soda.”
- Healthline. “Castile Soap: A Miracle Product for Both Beauty and Cleaning?”
- Ktchn. “What is Castile Soap and How Does It Work?”
- The Spruce. “Use Castile Soap to Clean Your Whole House.”