Best DIY All Purpose Kitchen and Bathroom Spray, Tub Scrub and Window Cleaner Recipes

Over the past two years, I have begun weeding out more and more of my expensive and toxic household cleaners and replacing them with homemade substitutes that work as well, or even better.  You’ve all probably seen my homemade laundry detergent recipe (20.4¢ for homemade vs. $12-$14 retail) and I’ve recently added a homemade “shout” laundry stain remover recipe (now tested successfully on both colors and whites, by the way.)  Even our liquid hand soap has been replaced by my homemade foaming soap version.  Why would I go to the time and trouble of making these products at home?  Cold hard cash!  They can all be made for pennies on the dollar, when compared to what you are spending to buy them at the store.  Plus, they don’t actually take that long to make — some only a few minutes!

Beyond that, homemade cleaners, made with natural products, are better for the environment and exponentially better for your family’s safety and health.  The chemicals and ingredients (and their fumes) in typical household cleaners can be terribly dangerous and many build up in our systems over decades of use.  Even liquid hand soap, many shower gels, lotions, face soaps and dish soaps, sadly, even many toothpastes, now contain the “antibacterial” ingredient, triclosan.   In my opinion, you wouldn’t need to read more than one or two articles about this pesticide, before you would refuse to expose your home and family to it, but that’s a post for another day.  :) With homemade cleaners, you can be confident you are providing the safest and most economical options for your family because you know exactly what you’ve put in them.  It makes sense for your health, your budget and the environment.

I needed to make a quick Walmart run to restock a few ingredients to make my favorite DIY cleaning products.  The most critical need was for vinegar.  I was completely out.  You are welcome to check out my whole shopping trip in this Google+ album.

vinegar aisle

My local grocery store offers a great variety of vinegars for all my cooking needs, plus the white vinegar I like to use in my homemade cleaning supplies.

One of the most commonly used ingredients in making your own household cleaners and even personal care products is vinegar.  Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar has some incredible health benefits, that we can discuss at another time, but today, I want to talk about white vinegar.  White vinegar is readily available and very inexpensive, usually around $2.50 a gallon, in our area.  I was excited to see that Heinz is marketing a cleaning strength white vinegar, now, with a slightly higher acidity (6% as opposed to 5%) than standard white vinegars.  This little boost in acidity, adds extra oomph and effectiveness to my homemade cleaning products without a noticeable increase in cost.  Score!

cleaning vinegar

Only $2.98 for a whole gallon. That will make tons of “just for pennies” cleaning supplies!

If you haven’t cleaned with vinegar, before, you’re missing out on a very effective multi-purpose cleaner or cleaning ingredient.  For those just getting started with natural cleaning supplies, the biggest objection to vinegar is usually that they are afraid their home will smell like vinegar.  Honestly, you don’t notice the smell unless you are using it straight, and even then, that vinegar fragrance dissipates pretty quickly.  But, you can try this great tip I found over at Frugal Freebies for scenting your vinegar and then you won’t have to worry about it at all!

There are literally hundreds of uses for vinegar, some pretty well known, others may be new to you. For instance, did you know that not only is vinegar good for taking the itch out of bug bites, if you put it in a spray bottle and spritz it on your skin, the smell will go away in a few minutes, but you will be protected from bug bites for the rest of the evening?  Nothing could smell worse or be worse for you than the commercial bug repellents being sold, now.  I’m so excited to try this, next summer!   Along the same vein, pouring vinegar around the outside of your kids’ backyard pool will keep flies and pests away and if you do the same around the children’s sandbox, not only will it repel bugs, but it will keep neighborhood cats from using it as a litterbox.  I hate that!  This is such a good idea.

Of course, vinegar is one of the most commonly used natural cleaners for glass, mirrors and windows.  My problem has always been that I still ended up with streaks when using it straight.  Then I read Andrea’s post, over at Simple Organized Living.  Her glass cleaner still utilizes the acidity of vinegar for super cleaning and degreasing, but with the addition of a couple other ingredients, leaves glass sparkling and streak-free!  

Window & Glass Cleaner
  • 2 c. water
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Mix all ingredients by pouring them into a spray bottle, replacing the lid and then shaking. You definitely need to shake this, again, before each use, because the cornstarch will settle to the bottom, but you will have sparkling clean, streak-free windows for pennies!
  2. Here's my mirror before cleaning with my homemade window cleaner. I had no idea how hard it is to take a picture of a mirror and have the schmutz actually show up, but it's there -- all the smudges and spots there in the center.
  3. And here's the after, with fingerprints, smudges and spots cleared away and the mirror completely streak-free!

Did you know that using a cotton ball to blot vinegar on cold sores will help dry them up?  Mix one part vinegar with 10 parts water and apply it in the same way, to help clear up acne.  Apparently, even warts can be treated by dotting a small drop of vinegar onto the pad of a bandage and then applying directly to the wart.  Replace the bandage each evening, for 7 days, and the wart should be gone.

When it comes to cleaning your house, there are even more practical uses for vinegar:

  1. Use in the laundry to soften clothes and reduce static cling.  Just pour it into the fabric softener dispenser in your machine.  The vinegar smell has never been in our clean clothes, afterward.
  2. I use white vinegar to clean the tub of my washing machine, by adding vinegar to the fill line in my soap dispenser and then running the cleaning cycle.
  3. Vinegar is food safe, so there are many ways to use it in the kitchen, like cleaning the inside walls, shelves and drawers of your refrigerator.  You can also use a solution of 1 part vinegar, to 1 part water, to safely clean the residue from fruits and vegetables.
  4. Use white vinegar in your dishwasher, in place of Jet Dry, to eliminate water spots and help rinse away soap residue.
  5. Use vinegar as one of the ingredients to make your own bathroom cleaners.  These are my two most favorite recipes for cleaners that disinfect and clean like crazy in the bathroom.  Love them!
All-Purpose Kitchen and Bathroom Spray Cleaner
  • 1 teaspoon Borax
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated Fels Naptha
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 18 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  1. Boil the water and vinegar, together.
  2. Dissolve Borax and Fels Naptha in boiled vinegar water.
  3. Cool to room temperature and add castile soap and essential oils.
  4. Mix thoroughly and pour in a spray bottle.
  5. Label bottle clearly and use this cleaner to clean the vanity, toilet and tub surfaces in your bathroom.
  6. It polishes the chrome fixtures and leaves them shining.

  7. I was almost too embarrassed to show you these pictures. Since we have bought this house, I have struggled with some sort of orangey build-up stain on the grout in our shower. I'm so excited, because this is the first product I have ever found to kill and remove whatever it was.

  8. Great all around cleaner that has the natural disinfecting properties of tea tree oil and lavender.
  9. For a super difficult build-up of soap scum or lime scale and tougher stains, spray the affected area with this cleaner; and then use my Bathroom Scrub recipe, below, to put the sparkle back in your bathroom.
I found this next recipe over at Cajun Joie De Vivre  and it is definitely a keeper!  I have changed very little, but the recipe below is how I make it.  I use it for tough lime, soap scum build up and other stains in the bathroom; and I actually use it on my kitchen sink, too!  It works better than any commercial bathroom cleanser I have ever tried and its so inexpensive to make, requiring only small amounts of ingredients that I always have on hand, because I use them in many other cleaning supply recipes, as well.  This is another staple, that will make cleaning your bathroom so much easier!
Tub and Shower Scrub
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup Castile soap
  • ¼ cup washing soda
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 10 drops Germ Fighter essential oil
  1. Mix baking soda, salt and washing soda.
  2. Stir in the vinegar and allow it to foam up and then settle back down.
  3. Add coconut oil, castile soap and essential oils.
  4. Mix until all ingredients are combined. The mixture will be moist, but crumbly. Pack into a container with a tight-fitting lid.
  5. To use, spritz the affected area with the spray bathroom cleaner, from the recipe above, or with water. Let it set for a couple of minutes and then sprinkle a small amount of this scrub on a damp cloth to clean built-up soap scum, hard water or lime deposits and other tough stains.
  6. The power of this inexpensive, all-natural cleaner is evident in the picture, below. The left side has already been scrubbed and the right is about to be. When I first discovered this formula, the author wrote that I would be scrubbing off build-up that previous cleaners left behind and I didn't even know was there, until I started scrubbing with this one. She understated the issue!
For the purposes of economical, ecologically sound and effective DIY household cleaners, white vinegar will be a must in your cleaning arsenal.  I think Heinz Cleaning Vinegar provides the best value and cleaning power for the money spent and it will be a staple under my kitchen cabinet.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and HEINZ.   #CBias #SocialFabric #HeinzVinegar


  1. Debi H. says

    Amazing! I’m going to try all 3 of these. I use baking soda and salt to scrub my pans…never thought to use them in a scrub for the bathroom!

    • says

      I’m so tickled with how well each of these work. The tub scrub is exceptional and I got an old stain out of my kitchen sink this afternoon, that I had given up on, before. So glad you stopped to visit! :)

  2. says

    Love this post! You know that I have to use everything NATURAL, so this is perfect! I will probably be mentioning this on my site at some point if thats okay. 😉 I have been planning on experimenting with this stuff for quite a while but have never gotten around to it. As of right now, we just use A LOT of vinegar! 😛 I did just do a trial run of “soap nuts” to see how they worked for the laundry, but I was not very impressed.

    • says

      Go for it! Link them back over here and I’ll syndicate yours, too. It seems silly, now, that I waited so long to do it. It saves money and there’s nothing dangerous in them. It’s all baby steps for me. Little by little I’m finding things that work, that we can afford and don’t involve all the chemicals.

      • says

        As far as the laundry detergent, I’m still having good luck with our homemade. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year, now. I won’t ever go back. Not sure if you can use the Fels Naptha soap, though?

    • says

      Hi Annette,

      It’s made by Arm and Hammer, just like baking soda; but it is WASHING soda. You purchase it in the detergent aisle. At my Walmart it is on the very bottom shelf next to Borax and Fels Naptha. They are stocked low to the ground because they are so much less expensive than the detergents and softeners they want up at eye level..

  3. Elizabeth says

    Hi! I’m so excited about trying these. I’m planning on replacing all of my household cleaners with homemade ones as I run out. I got all my supplies for the bathroom cleaner today but am having a hard time finding Castile Soap. Where do you find yours? I’ve resorted to ordering some off the Internet but was wondering for future use? Thanks!

  4. says

    using every last one of these and equally love them all, they work just perfect! I no longer use any chemical cleaners and make my own laundry soap and save tons of money!

  5. Shana says

    I love your laundry soap “recipe”, and I use it exclusively! Thanks! Have you ever tried a liquid fabric softener recipe?

    • says

      Shana, I haven’t ever found one I like. I actually use white vinegar in the fabric softener tray on my washer. Believe it or not there is ZERO vinegar smell in the laundry and it helps to soften the fibers. I do use wool dryer balls in my dryer, but no softener sheets or liquid fabric softener.

  6. Michelle Patterson says

    Thanks for the recipe…the lavender essential oil really made for a pleasant smelling cleaner. #oils4everyone

  7. Amy B. says

    I just tried the tub scrubber and it’s fantastic! The mushy-abrasive texture is easier to scrub with than plain baking soda, it smells great and it works. I’ll try the others soon!

  8. John says

    I love the mirror cleaner idea. Do the ingredients separate or go bad sitting in the bottle over time? I wasn’t sure if the cornstarch separated from the solution and turned gross over time or if the alcohol helps act as an emulsifier? Thanks!

    • says

      John, mine gets used pretty regularly, so I’ve never had a batch spoil. If the cornstarch settles to the bottom a little, give the bottle a quick shake and you’re back in business. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Kavita says

    Hi Glenda,

    Just found your site and love all the great recipes for homemade green cleaning supplies.Where do you buy the spray bottles for the bathroom and glass cleaners?


  10. Kaitlyn says

    Love this! Gonna go get all the stuff tomorrow! :) … Question though, can you use the laundry soap in front loading machines?? And any good ideas for washin and making hardwood floors shine? Thanks soo much!

    • says

      Kaitlyn, my machine is a front-load high efficiency machine. I’ve used it in there for around two years. For cleaning hardwood floors, try 1 gallon of hot water, 3/4 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice. I need to get that posted, don’t I? Thanks so much for stopping by and have fun switching over to safe DIY cleaning supplies! You’re going to love it!

  11. Camilla says

    I love the bathroom cleaner and I’m going to try the glass cleaner today, but I’m having a problem with the shower scrub. I followed the recipe exactly, but my mixture turned hard like rocks and pebbles. I ended up putting it in a freezer bag and hammering it to break it up. Has this happened to anyone else and what did I possibly do wrong? I did use it and it worked great, but the texture is all wrong.

    • says

      Camilla, over time, mine did end up getting hard too. I sprinkle a little water over the top and let it set for about 15 minutes and then I can get enough paste off the top to use for scrubbing.

  12. Lukas says

    You can try to save on such a things, but you have to understand that these cleaners will not fight with bacteria :) So it is worth to consider, in case you want to save your health :)

    • says

      Actually, Lukas, adding tea tree oil, or an essential oil like Plant Therapy’s Germ Fighter makes this a great bacteria fighter and actually safe to use around children and pets.

    • Lake says

      100% false. Vinegar is an anti fungal, anti bacteria as well as the tea tree oil and lavender. The problem with the products on the market today is that as they clean the big bad ugly viruses they are also killing the good ones. What is happening is viruses are amping up to be strong enough to be untouchable to the antibacterial hysteria brought to you by Dow chemical. A monster strain of pneumonia took my fathers life and these scorched earth antibacterial cleaners are not helping. Studies are actually showing these natural homemade cleaners are far more beneficial to our health and safety.

  13. says

    Another fruit that works wonders for cleaning your bathroom is the zesty lemon. One area in particular that I love to use lemon is the shower door. All I do is cut it in half and then rub the inside over stains on shower doors. If the stains are particularly stubborn then simply rub the area and leave for a few minutes. You should then be able to rub away the stains with ease.
    Best regards!

  14. Ginny says

    Hi, I’ve been reading online about this new cleaning vinegar and became excited. Even though the stores around my neck of the woods don’t carry it, I wanted to see what the container looked like. You are the first person to have a pic of it. Oh my, I’m excited again. Looks like I’ll be traveling out of town to find this cleaning vinegar. Thanx for the recipes. I’ll definitely be trying them very soon.

  15. says

    Great recipes! I especially liked the window and glass cleaner recipe. I tried it, it’s quite effective and easy to mix. Other recipes I’m making this weekend. Thank you for the ideas!


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