How To: Fresh Smelling Homemade Cleaners

I’m a sucker for store-bought cleaners.  They SMELL clean.  They smell powerful.  They’re likely harmful, yes, but I feel so good about the cleanliness when I’m done using them because they SMELL  like I’ve accomplished something.

Sound like you?

If you’re like me, maybe that’s why you have been putting off making your own cleaners at home.  Not because you like paying more money for store bought, or because you don’t have the 45 seconds to mix them yourself, but because you like things to smell good.

I get that.

But, now that I have Seven, I think about these things a little more.  What if the smell is doing more harm than good?  And, if it’s recommended that I keep the bottles of cleaner out of his reach, what about the things he touches after I clean with them?  And then sticks those dirty little paws in his mouth?

Not that he does that.  Ahem.

So, I gave making my own cleaners a shot.  Namely a window/glass cleaner (which doesn’t really smell so great in my opinion) and a Stainless Steel Cleaner.  Now that I have a suite of KitchenAid Appliances (oh my!)  I am obsessed with keeping them spit shined.

It won’t be easy, with a four year old and a desire to be cooking/baking every free minute.

Here are a couple of “recipes” that are working for me.  Not the aromas I am used to, but still smell fresh and clean.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups warm water

Honestly? It works better than storebought.  Super shiny results, fresh scent, and nothing toxic.  Even better? You can make the whole bottle for about 50 cents.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Moving on to those pesky Stainless Steel Appliances we all love (but hate to clean).  There’s a cost for high fashion, and now it’s time to pay…just not $7.99 for the fancy bottle in the store.

Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)

If your stainless is particularly greasy, wipe it down first with undiluted vinegar.  Then, shake up the bottle of homemade cleaner and spray it on the surface.  Use a soft, clean cloth and buff in the direction of the grain for the best results.  What are we at here, total wise? A dollar?


Now, you’ll want good looking, hard working bottles to keep your new cleaners in, right?

Of course.

imageI love the new products from Full Circle.  Have you seen them?  It almost pains me to keep them tucked away, under the sink.  Look at those brushes!  The wooden handles are as pretty as they are functional.  Would it be wrong to buy a pretty canister to keep them in on top of my counter?

A sponge brush for deep glasses, a scrub brush for veggies, hand scrubbers for tough dishes and pots, sweet little dish rags – you name it, they offer it!

Not only do they offer these attractive cleaning tools, they have the spray bottles you need.  I adore them! (plus, the set comes with even more recipes for homemade cleaners)

Like what you see?

Then one of you shall win a set.

Yep – a full set of Full Circle cleaning products!

Just tell me – what homemade cleaner do you use (a recipe, please), or, what kind of homemade cleaner are you HOPING to use?  Time to share!

For more chances to win:

Contest is open until April 24, 2012, 11:59pm EST.   Open to US Addresses only.  Winner will be notified via email at end of contest.

Disclaimer: Prize is courtesy of and shipped by Full Circle Home.  I was supplied a review copy but was not compensated for this post.  My range and new kitchen appliances were supplied by KitchenAid, and all opinions are my own.

imageAre you crafty? A DIYer? Me too, or I like to think I am! I have become smitten with the new Lowe’s Creative Ideas App. Full of great ideas (so clever!) and the best part? It is FREE. Free is my favorite price, though I would have paid for this little gem. I think you will agree.


  1. Miss Chris says:

    This sounds great! I’d love to use a homemade substitute for citric acid bathroom cleaners..

    • hey for stainless steel cleaner just use equal parts of baby oil and rubbing alcohol…it don’t streak at all…make sure u use a flat cloth..

  2. Deb Harris says:

    This is actually a disinfectant. I had been using a diluted bleach solution to disinfect counters, island, cutting boards etc. my daughter was visiting with my then 2yo granddaughter & asked me how I was going to clean everything after prepping some chicken. I told her about the bleach & assured her I’d rinse well but got me thinking. The bleach had always bothered me (Asthma) so I bought a hard surface disinfectant. Then tried to read ingredients. Finally I read an article about disinfecting with white vinegar. I mix up white vinegar, some lemon juice & a little water. Spray & let set a few min. Then wipe. Makes me feel better for my breathing & my grandchildren. I’m thrilled to see your stainless steel cleaner. With the first appliance I started using ss cleaner but never liked. Recently got new refrig & deliveryman told me to clean with WD-40 & microfiber cloth. I like this even less. Can’t wait to try your suggestions & would love fancy bottles & brushes for all my new cleaners. Thanks

  3. I have been looking to make my own cleaners but just haven’t started yet. Now that my son is crawling, and getting into everything, I realized how important it is to clean without using harsh chemicals. Your post is going to get me started!

  4. I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for years. Finely grated Fels Naptha bar soap,washing soda and borax. There are many recipes for this online . You just have to find the right amounts that work for you. I would absolutly love to win a Full Circle Home cleaning set !!

  5. I’ve been using pure baking soda to clean my bathtub. I find that it works a lot better than any commercial cleaner.

  6. I follow Doughmesstic on Twitter (@kelster)

  7. I’m a Doughmesstic fan on Facebook.

  8. Well this isn’t really homemade but it works so well! I use Alka Seltzer tabs to clean my toilet bowl. Just plop a couple in the bowl…leave them to dissolve for a bit go back and swish a few times with a bowl scrubber and it’s a spotless bowl! Vinegar and baking soda also make an amazing (and cheap) drain unclogger too!

    I’d love to get a recipe for a “soft scrub” like cleaner that will make my white enameled sink shine!

    These containers are beautiful!

  9. My kids are charged with cleaning their own bathroom. I have them use a vinegar-based all-purpose cleaner. It’s one part vinegar, 2 parts water and a couple of tablespoons of rubbing alcohol. It smells kinda nasty. I need to find something (lemon? lavendar?) to help it smell better. But I still feel better about them spraying that stuff around, as gross as it smells, than overly perfumed, chemical laden junk from the store. (I do love me some Method cleaners, though they tend to be pricey.)

  10. Deb Harris says:

    I follow you on twitter(Cookbkcollector )

  11. Deb Harris says:

    I like you on FB

  12. Deb Harris says:

    I like Full Circle on FB

  13. Deb Harris says:

    I like Full Circle on Twitter.

  14. I’m going to try the glass cleaner!

  15. I tweeted ; ) Tweet Tweet!

  16. I stalk you on Facebook!

  17. I’m very basic and old-school when it comes to glass cleaner: Just vinegar and water and use an old newspaper to wipe. This is what my mother used for years and it never failed.

  18. My home made recipe is for make up brushes. It’s important to keep them clean too! Mix equal parts olive oil and antibacterial dish soap. Then rub the brush in the mixture. Rub them around in your hand until the bristles seem clean and rinse, making sure not to get water in the feral. Dry them bristles down so that water doesn’t seep in and loosen them.

  19. I’ve said it before – I follow you everywhere:)

    I’m pretty basic with my cleaners – vinegar, water, a bit of baking soda and lemon/orange essential oil. Use this for toilets, floors, counters, and it smella pretty good.

  20. I am going to buy the supplies today to make my own laundry detergent! Plus, I was just thinking last night, “where can I buy some good squirt/spray bottles for the cleaners I want to make?” This would be perfect!


  21. For our cast iron gas stove top grates I use a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part ammonia (more ammonia for really nasty grates). I don’t know that it’s natural, but boy does it work. Just put the grates in a ziploc bag and spray them with the water/ammonia mixture and leave them overnight. You can almost wipe it off with a paper towel. Also works great on grill grids.

  22. I made my own laundry detergent. It works very well and save me a ton of money. I also made dishwasher detergent but I am not so happy with it.

  23. Laurie Hines says:

    I make my own fabric softener and laundry detergent. The fabric softener is my favorite. I stole the recipe from the Frugal Girls website. The only thing I add is a few drops of lavender essential oil to make the scent stronger.

    6 cups HOT water
    3 cups white vinegar
    2 cups Suave Refreshing Waterfall Conditioner {or other favorite scent}

    What You’ll Do:

    Mix conditioner & hot water well, until conditioner is dissolved completely.
    Add the vinegar, and mix well.
    Store in a large container {empty fabric softener container, empty large vinegar bottle, etc}
    Pour into a downy ball… or use approx. 2 tbsp. in the fabric softener spot in your laundry machine… then wash!

    Read more:

  24. I’ve made a homemade solution to get armpit stains out of white t-shirts:

    1 tsp. Dawn dishwashing detergent, 3-4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide, and a couple tablespoons of baking soda.

  25. Suzanne Sherman says:

    I use a sliced up lemon and a bowl of water to steam clean my microwave. Just stick the bowl in the microwave for about 5 minutes and then wipe it down afterwards. My mother taught me this trick years ago.

    • Suzanne Sherman says:

      I forgot to mention in my first post that you need to turn the microwave ON for about 5 minutes!!!

  26. I haven’t found one that works yet, but am determined to find a household recipe that will get rid of dingy armpits in my white shirts!

  27. And I like you on Facebook!

  28. Aaaand I like Full Circle on Facebook!

  29. I haven’t made my own cleaners yet, but I am excited to try your stainless steel cleaner. I would also like to find as recipe for something I can use to clean my kitchen counters.

  30. I’m a fan on Facebook!

  31. I’m following on Twitter, as well. :-)

  32. Suzanne Sherman says:

    Posted this on FB!

  33. I’ve tried baking soda and vinegar to clean our drains.

  34. Karen Lee says:

    I grind up used lemon peels in the garbage disposal to clean it. My favorite window cleaner is Martha Stewart’s recipe…1/4 cup ammonia, 1 cup alcohol, 64oz water, 3 drops dish detergent. Use a non static cloth & your windows will be perfect. I would be interested in hearing what people use to clean granite? Everything I try that is non commercial leaves them dull…

  35. Karen Lee says:

    @Michelle, try Borax in your wash, my neighbor has three kids and swears that it gets her whites extra white :) Its an old fashioned product that we have all forgotten about but still available in my local grocery store (Kroger)!

  36. Karen Lee says:

    Just one more comment about housekeeping ;)…I literally ruined a Bosch Dishwasher because according to the serviceman dishwashing detergents no longer contain phosphates…good for the environment but apparently not so good for my Bosch. We replaced it w/a new model & he told me to use only powdered dishwashing soap & add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar into the bottom of the load every other time. Also to run the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. Have done this for the last year & no more problems.

  37. I use hydrogen peroxide as a stain remover – it’s great!

  38. i tweeted

  39. i shared on facebook

  40. i’m following full circle on twitter

  41. i’m following full circle on facebook

  42. i already follow you on facebook

  43. i already follow you on twitter

  44. After weeks of starring at my stainless steel sink desperately not wanting to throw down money for the cleaner, I am going to try your recipe!

  45. I’d like to start using homemade vinegar and baking soda cleaners!

  46. Casting Cleaners says:


    I am a Casting Associate here in Los Angeles. We are currently in the process of casting a new pilot TV show for a major network. We are presently casting individuals who are obsessed with cleaning. I am reaching out to you because I loved this article. If you are an extreme cleaner, I would love to speak with you! We would appreciate any help you could give us in getting the word out. If you have any questions or need additional information please contact me.

    Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

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