When I started making my own deodorant and body butter in 2013 it was because I became aware of what ingredients I was applying to my body. I wanted to make sure I was only using ingredients that were found to be safe and natural.

It didn’t take long for me to connect this to my cleaning products.

I usually cleaned my house once a week and it was pretty quick and easy to do as I lived alone, but even then I knew the strong chemicals I was inhaling was not going to be good for me as time marched on so I  looked to DIY cleaning products for a natural cleaning replacement.

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Don’t Expose You and Your Family to Toxic Chemicals

Think about just disinfectant cleaners for example, ones that contain bleach also known as sodium hypochlorite.

It’s on the EPA’s list of proven disinfectants however, bleach can have negative respiratory effects, can damage your vision, and cause damage to your skin.

Have you ever cleaned with bleach and felt lightheaded? That is the toxic fumes from the bleach.

Is that really what you want to clean your house with? Especially if you have children or pets around?

Well I didn’t want to expose myself to those kinds of toxins then and even more so now that I have two little girls in the house.

What’s even scarier is I came across this article outlining a negative effect we probably didn’t think about when Brexit went through and that’s chemical regulations.

Right now the EU has very strict guidelines and the man power to check and test chemicals and their toxicity to humans.

I used to use benzoyl peroxide to keep my acne clear and when I moved here I couldn’t find it anywhere. Turns out it is a banned chemical in the EU, but not the US. That scared me a lot. What did the EU know that I didn’t?

If the UK is now handling our own chemical testing with less man power, what kind of ingredients will get approved now? Will they be safe?

All the more reason to make your own eco-friendly cleaners.

Not only am I able to dictate exactly what ingredients my family is exposed to, but I save over £200 a year in cleaning products.

The bonus to my switch? Less waste sent to landfill and less toxic chemicals sent into our water supply to be filtered out.

What are these 4 homemade cleaning ingredients?

White Vinegar, Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, and Hydrogen Peroxide. Yup that’s it.

Three of the ingredients are common cooking and baking ingredients and the hydrogen peroxide is an oral antisceptic. Yeah, safe to go in your mouth- not for swallowing though!

Though I still wouldn’t leave any of this in reach of my girls, I feel a whole lot better when Penny literally does stupid things like lick the floor or bathroom mirror, knowing that I only used white vinegar to clean them

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is fermented ethanol or sugar that turns it into acetic acid. The acidity of the vinegar is what makes it such a useful cleaning product. It’s also handy to have as a cooking ingredient for things like pickling and salad dressings. The vinegar is what give the tangy taste to ketchup and hot sauces and mayo.

It is so versatile as a cleaner, too

White vinegar is ace for cleaning windows, mirrors and glass. The distillation process removes and minerals from the liquid that are responsible for streaks and spots.

I knew of a man that owned a Ferrari and he cleaned it with nothing but distilled water and a cloth diaper. Because the water was distilled (also known as deionised), there were never spots or streaks, just water removing all the dirt and whatever else was on his car.

When diluted with water, vinegar becomes a great all-purpose cleaner for a variety of floors and worktops. It also works as a fabric softener, descaler, weed killer and removes urine smells from carpets (pet owners anyone?).

One of my favourite parts? It’s a spider deterrent.

I know, I know, the spiders in the UK aren’t poisonous, but I grew up in California where not only are there spiders that can kill you, they have no problem biting your face when you sleep!

When I clean my house weekly with my vinegar mix, I see maybe a half a dozen spiders a year as opposed to a week during the warmer months. In fact, I notice less creepy crawlies in my house in general.

Please note that vinegar is not a disinfectant. To be classed as a disinfectant your cleaner needs to kill 99% of germs, white vinegar is somewhere around 70-80%.

There are several surfaces you will want to avoid cleaning with white vinegar like waxed wood and granite so make sure to check before you go on a cleaning frenzy.

Sodium Bicarbonate (aka Baking Soda)

Sodium bicarbonate is a type of salt that is used often in baking as a leavening agent that mixes with more acidic ingredients and make bubbles and gas that makes batters light and fluffy.

For a household cleaner, sodium bicarbonate can be mixed with water and used as a gentle scrubbing powder for your bathtub, bath mats, shower screen, and shower curtains. It is also useful for cleaning ovens, stove tops, BBQ grates, and your washing machine.

Though it is great for cleaning metals and tubs, do not use it on aluminium as it breaks down the protective layer on the aluminium.

Sodium bicarbonate is a great deodorizer. Use it to remove unwanted scents from plush toys, shoes and gym bags, clothes, wardrobes, bins, and your refrigerator.

One of my favourite uses it to wash fruit and vegetables. Running your produce under the tap can wash away dirt but not pesticides.

Filling your sink with water and 4 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate is enough to remove most pesticides from your produce after a 2 minute soak, more if you leave it 12-15 minutes. Give your produce a rinse and it’s ready to eat.

Another fun use is cleaning tarnish off of silver using sodium bicarbonate and a piece of aluminium foil.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is naturally derived from citrus fruits and is a common ingredient in shop bought cleaners as well as foods like candies and soft drinks, bath bombs and indigestion tablets. Read labels and you’ll see how often it shows up towards the end of the list.

As a cleaner it is another mild acid (but stronger than white vinegar) and is effective for descaling the kettle, coffee machine and dishwasher. It is a great replacement for toilet bleach especially if you have that ugly brown ring that won’t go away for anything. Throw some citric acid and leave it overnight and the next morning you have a clean toilet.

You can also use citric acid as a stain remover. Discovering this was like a miracle for me. The way the solution magically removed chocolate from the girls’ clothes was just the best. It doesn’t work on all stains (I found it’s only about 50/50 on pasta sauce and doesn’t work on pen ink) but between these 4 ingredients and maybe some table salt, you still have what you need to effectively remove most stains.

Failing that, a sunny day works beautifully, too.

Hydrogen Peroxide

I mentioned above that white vinegar is not a disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide is.

It is on the EPA’s list of effective disinfectants. It is an oxygen based bleaching agent that is usually the active ingredient in colour-safe bleaches and whitening toothpastes.

The shelf life is not great on this especially once opened so don’t buy it in bulk. That being I go through these small bottles fast enough that I can get though a bottle a month to beat the expiry date.

Wash the surfaces that need disinfecting (worktops, door handles, taps) with dish soap and water first to remove germs. Dry with a clean towel. Then spray hydrogen peroxide on the clean surface to kill any remaining germs. Then let it air dry. Done. Easy. And no toxic fumes.

Do not mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar as the reaction can create toxic fumes and that is what we are trying to avoid.

Since it is a colour-safe bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide is also effective at removing carpet stains which is useful if you have kids.

Keep this stored in a safe place because although it can be used as an oral antisceptic, it is not safe for ingesting accidentally.

Safe Usage and Storage

As with any cleaner, even though the white vinegar, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid have uses in food, doesn’t mean they are safe for ingesting in large quantities and can sill have negative effects like hurting your little one’s eyes or causing vomiting. So make sure they are stored in a safe place out of reach of your kids and pets.

Your hydrogen peroxide also needs to be stored safely away. I leave mine in the child proof bottle and fill a little spray bottle as I need it and then keep them both stored away in a high medicine cabinet.

Keep your cleaners in a cool, dark cupboard and they should have a long enough shelf life for you to use them before their expiry date.

Putting it All Together

Using these 4 ingredients you have enough to replace most of your household cleaners.

Here’s a list of the products I replaced in my home (but there are even more you can replace depending on what products you used to buy):

  1. Barkeepers Friend
  2. Carpet Stain Remover
  3. Clothing Stain Remover
  4. Floor Cleaner
  5. Bathroom Cleaner
  6. Disinfecting Wipes
  7. Window Cleaner
  8. Oven Cleaner
  9. Fabric Softener
  10. Stainless Steel Cleaner
  11. Toilet Bleach
  12. Spray Bleach
  13. Air Fresheners
  14. Washing machine cleaner
  15. Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Not only did I replace 15 products, I replaced the countless chemicals in each of those products that my family is no longer inhaling.

4 ingredients more than 15 uses and I still have a clean house.

Now the cost.

Those 15 products over the course of a year used to cost £265. My 4 ingredients over a year? £63.

For More Ways to Save Money Check Out The 4 Step Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste 

Make the Switch

Taking the time (seriously 2 minutes) to use these ingredients to make your own cleaners you save time, money, space, and most importantly protect your health and your family’s health.

Making the change is easy, as you run out of your previous cleaners don’t replace them. Make the switch. I saved my white vinegar spray bottle from Wilko and have been using it for a few years now for my vinegar cleaner. A dark glass spray bottle is perfect for your hydrogen peroxide.

I hope you found this information useful and if you check out the specific recipes, you will find that you genuinely only need these 4 ingredients. Happy Cleaning!


You may also be interested in:

My 4 Favourite Zero Waste Cleaning Products

How to Save Money Using White Vinegar to Clean Your Home

6 Surprising Ways to Use Citric Acid to Clean Your Home