Get squeaky clean with our homemade cleaner | how to make it

homemade cleaner
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How to make non-toxic homemade cleaner is the name of new project. A look at some of the cleaning products in our cupboards and on the market reveals that several of the labels recommend calling a poison control center if swallowed!

Two motivating factors in our big box detox theme and philosophy are to be environmentally friendly, saving money with homemade products and non toxic living. That fits perfectly with the new project.

I am going to make my own homemade all-purpose cleaner. 

I found several recipes on the web that could be suitable for my project. So I cross referenced those recipes with ingredients we already had in our house. A few of them called for Borax.

Borax is a mineral with a chemical composition. Borax has been used for hundreds of years as a laundry detergent, cleaning agent and fire retardant.

The use of borax as an ingredient in detergents started long ago and has also been used to make glass, ceramics and enamel glazes more resistant to high temperatures and acids.

Since I don’t have borax on hand I addapted the recipes. Then I compared the ingredient mixtures to come up with a reasonable recipe of my own:

Big box detox Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap
  • 1 half teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cups water

First I combined the liquid dish soap, baking soda and water in an empty spray bottle. I added the vinegar after the baking soda was already diluted by water to avoid a reaction.

Big Box Detox Homemade Cleaner vs. Brand Name Cleaners

There’s no doubt that our homemade cleaner can be made for a fraction of what a brand name cleaner costs. I made mine for less than half the price. 

But the big question is, how well does it clean?

 I decided that I would compare our homemade cleaner to the brand name cleaners based on its ability to:

  1. cut grease,
  2. clean up a dirty mess, and,
  3. eliminate soap scum.

Cutting Grease

The first test pits our homemade cleaner versus Easy-Off. In this test, I simulated a greasy mess by pouring a whole tablespoon of olive oil on the floor and spreading it out with paper towel to form a spot about 20 cm (7 inches). 

I made a few of these oily messes, one for each cleaner. Then I sprayed a roughly equal amount of homemade cleaner on one oily spot and Easy-Off on the other oily spot. I used microfibre towels to wipe up each side of the spill.

Before wiping with the microfiber towel, I noticed that both cleaners were cutting the oil but the Easy-Off appeared to do a better job. Then after wiping both messes up with a clean microfibre towel, I found that the Easy-Off left less oily residue on the floor than our homemade cleaner. 

After another application and wiping of homemade cleaner and Easy-Off to each spot, neither left any further oily residue. It’s not really a shock that the Easy-Off did a better job on oil than our homemade cleaner given that it is a universal degreaser. 

I suppose it’s not really appropriate to pit an all-purpose cleaner against a homemade one in a battle to eliminate oil. Unfortunately, that was all we had available around the house.

Nevertheless, I think the homemade cleaner did pretty well and that is likely because I included some liquid dish soap in the recipe.

Cleaning up a Dirty Mess

My second test is similar to our first test, except that I used tomato sauce instead of oil. I allowed the two messes to become primarily dry and semi-dry. 

After applying the homemade cleaner to one spot and Easy-Off to the other spot, I wiped each spot with a separate microfiber towel.

In this trial, I found that both spots needed two more applications of cleaner and three wipings. After the third application, I found that neither product had outperformed the other, so I’m calling this one a tie.

Eliminating Soap Scum (Homemade Cleaner vs. Fantastik Total Bathroom)

I compared my homemade cleaner to Total Bathroom for the last test. 

I removed the chrome pan behind our shower handle for this test, which had heavy soap scum staining. I applied a generous amount of homemade cleaner to one towel and an equally generous amount of Fantastik to another towel.

 Then I cleaned half of the chrome pan with the homemade cleaner and half with Fantastik.

Here I found that both cleaners removed a substantial amount of the scum on their respective side of the chrome pan, but neither was able to get rid of all the soap scum, even after multiple applications and vigorous scrubbing. 

Since both cleaner’s removed an approximately equal amount of soap scum, I had to call this battle a draw as well. I have to say that this result surprised me, given that store-bought bathroom cleaner that is supposed to “Remove Soap Scum Easily!” and was “specifically formulated to attach soap scum”.


After three tests comparing our homemade all-purpose cleaner to store-bought ones, I was surprised at how well it competed up against the store-bought cleaners. 

It was a draw in two out of three cleaning tests 

Given that my homemade cleaner probably cost us less then half the store-bough price, is non-toxic and did a good job, we’ll definitely continue using it.

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