Half a lemon on top of a lemon squeezer

Homemade cleaning products: 5 fantastic recipes

Try some of these DIY recipes for a plastic-free and cost-effective approach to cleaning your home.
  Published:  13 Nov 2017    |      2 minute read

Making your own cleaning products is a great way to reduce plastic pollution and avoid harmful chemicals in your home. 

You can also help by joining thousands of people asking the government to cut the plastics pouring into our oceans.


1. Make your own dishwasher liquid

Pile of dishes with cloth
Get a natural shine on your dishes
Credit: iStock

Dishwashers can be very handy. But dishwasher liquid or tablets are often expensive and may contain phosphates that are hazardous to water supplies. Make your own natural dishwasher liquid and enjoy plates that sparkle for less.


  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 drops tea tree extract
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar


Stir the water and soap together. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended. Transfer into a bottle for storage. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

2. Make your own laundry detergent

Laundry hanging outdoors on line
Have you tried borax on your blouses?

Many commercially available washing powders and detergents contain toxic chemicals like bleach that can lead to skin irritation. Ditch the detergent in a few easy moves.


  • 1 bar of shaved bar soap - either oil-based castile soap or chemical-free laundry soap 
  •  1/2 cup of soda crystals 
  • 1/2 cup of borax substitute – optional


Perfect for all front-loading washing machines. Stir together soap shavings and soda crystals until well combined. Decant into a container and store. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavy soils). 

Tip: For a simpler alternative seek out multi-purpose, biodegradable soapnuts. Soapnuts are a natural detergent source grown in India. They produce mild soap suds when in contact with water, and can be used as a shampoo or soap alternative

For use as a laundry detergent, place 5-7 soapnut shells into a sock or cotton bag, tie securely and wash with clothes. Soapnuts can be used for more than one wash, though it's better to use them on the same day. 

3. Make your own glass cleaner

Clear wine glass
Vinegar works wonders on wine glasses


  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 4 cups warm water


Blissfully simple. For glass cleaner combine the white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Use to clean glass or mirrors with a dry cloth or piece of newspaper.

For a quick-fix carpet stain remover mix equal parts of white vinegar with water in spray bottle and apply to stain. After soaking for several minutes clean with a brush or sponge with warm, soapy water.

Ask government for a new law to end pointless plastic pollution.

4. Make your own furniture polish

Antique wooden tabletop
Lemon oil makes great furniture polish


  • Lemon oil (essential oil)
  • 1/2 cup warm water


Add a few drops of lemon oil to the warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and then wipe again with a dry soft cotton cloth.

5. Make your own general purpose cleaner

Bathroom, with tiles, tub, taps and window
Don't worry, the vinegar aroma doesn't last long

For use on tiles, bathroom panels, mirrors, windows and hard bathroom and kitchen surfaces.


  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 litres water


Mix together all ingredients in a bucket of water. Decant into a spray bottle. Store and keep.

Natural cleaning cupboard must-haves

Essential oils - eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree
Yes, they really are essential
  • Bicarbonate of soda (buy a large container from the chemist, rather than small pots from supermarkets. Also available in bulk online)
  • White vinegar (available to buy in bulk from supermarkets)
  • Lemon juice
  • Essential oils (especially tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemongrass oil)
  • Castile soap - vegetable oil-based soap (try Dr Bronner's, Naissance or  The Soapery)
  • Soapnuts (available in high street stores and online)
  • Soda crystals (washing soda). Find in the laundry section of large supermarkets
  • Spare jars and spray bottles.