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DIY Home Cleaners: 4 Recipes That You Can Make From Pantry Staples

May 28, 2020
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If your cleaning product supply has run dangerously low but you're sheltering in place and trying to limit trips to the store, why not go the homemade route? DIY cleaners can be easy to put together and as efficacious as store-bought when you use the right recipes. Plus, they're cheap as can be. Here are a few from the mbg vaults that use ingredients you probably already have in your quarantine pantry.

Note that these are cleaners, not disinfectants (according to the CDC, there's a difference1!) and will not stand up COVID-19 germs. They're good for quick touchups around the house, but if you suspect you may have tracked the virus into your home, you're better off using a heavy-duty product containing at least 70% alcohol.

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Apple cider vinegar: An all-purpose cleaner.

Apple cider vinegar is a poster child of the DIY beauty and cleaning scenes. And while not all of its purported benefits are backed up by science, it does have bonafide antimicrobial properties2 that make it an effective spot cleaner.

There are many ways to use ACV at home including as a window wash, cutting board refresher, or even fruit fly trap. Most of the time, though, it's used in all-purpose cleaners. Simply combine equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle and apply to appliances, countertops, and furniture like you would any other cleaner. Just be sure to try a small test patch first, since the vinegar's high acidity can potentially corrode some more sensitive materials. If it causes any discoloration, you're better off using a product that's more targeted to that particular surface.

Baking soda: A quick refresh for appliances (and basically anything smelly).

A deodorizer with a much more approachable smell than vinegar, baking soda can help you freshen up appliances, trash cans, and basically anything else that gets smelly over time. Mix in a few drops of the essential oil of your choosing and you have a cleansing powder for your sneakers and trash bin. Or combine it with just enough water to make a paste and let it sit in your blender, oven, or microwave for a few minutes before wiping clean.

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Lemon: A surface stain remover.

While the jury's still out on whether lemon can remove clothing stains, it should be able to tackle food and drink stains on hard surfaces like mugs and tableware. Let its juice sit on a stain for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping down with a cloth. If that doesn't work, add some salt to make the spot treatment more abrasive.

White vinegar & essential oils: All-purpose wipes

Essential oils can add a smell-good factor to any DIY cleaner, and they also add an antibacterial element to these homemade wipes that Fern Green, author of Natural Home Cleaning, shared with mbg last year:


  • 60 mL (2 fl. oz./¼ cup) white vinegar
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 500 mL (17 fl. oz./2 cups) distilled water
  • 12 sheets strong paper towels
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  1. Mix the vinegar and oils with the distilled water.
  2. Cut the paper towels in half and stuff them into your container.
  3. Pour over the solution and swirl and shake it around until the solution is absorbed.
  4. Empty any excess liquid. When ready to clean, remove a paper towel carefully, wring out any excess into the sink, and use.
  5. Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container, Mason jar, or zipper bag.

Again, you'll need a cleaner that's at least 70% alcohol to kill viruses like COVID-19, but these easy DIYs are great for tackling stains, odors, and more everyday messes.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.