Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

Reduce Spending with Homemade Cleaners

  • Tawra Kellam
  • 2009 1 May
Reduce Spending with Homemade Cleaners

Here are some tips for using and making your own household cleaners from Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Most are simple and only take a few minutes to mix.

1. NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH! Mixing these chemicals creates a harmful gas that can be fatal!

2. If you don't want to make your own cleaning supplies either purchase the store brands at your dollar store at bulk at a janitor supply.

3. Buy 1 gallon of bubble bath and use instead of liquid hand soap. It is much cheaper and smells better than regular hand soap.

4. Read the labels on any cleaning product you buy, even on common products that you, your mom and grandmother have used for years. For example for generations women have used ammonia to disinfect their kitchens, but ammonia is not a disinfectant, it is a de-greaser. It works great for that greasy grimy build-up on floors, but it isn't actually disinfecting anything.

5. Mark your cleaning pail with fingernail polish to indicate the levels of water you usually use for your jobs (i.e. 1/2 gal., 1 gal.) That way you don't waste water.

6. When using cleansers, tear the tab back only part way. Then you only get half as much cleanser so that you don't wash as much unused cleanser down the drain.

7. Save on spray cleaners. Spray the solution on a rag and then wipe. This way the extra spray cleaner is not wasted and you save time by not having to rinse off the over spray.

8. Use fabric softener sheets to dust furniture and television screens. The sheets make your furniture smell good, but more importantly, eliminate static so dust won't be attracted to these surfaces.

All purpose/Window Cleaner

I use this to clean almost everything from the bathroom to the window. This the main cleaner I use in my house.

  • 1/2  cup ammonia
  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol
  • water
  • 1 tsp. dishwashing liquid

In a one-gallon container, mix ammonia and rubbing alcohol. Fill almost to the top with water. Add dishwashing liquid and mix. Top off with water. Rated by Consumer Reports Magazine to work much better (and much cheaper) than most commercial window and kitchen sprays. Alcohol is the secret ingredient - it's what commercial window washers use. 

*Safe on most, but not all, household surfaces.

Ready Mop Cleaner Refill

  • 1  gallon water
  • 1 cup ammonia
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • water

Mix ingredients and use in your mops instead of buying commercial cleaner. Tip: Use a piece of scrap fleece, scrap flannel or micro-fiber towels (purchased at automotive stores) to replace your SwiferTM or Clorox Ready MopTM disposable pads. Cut several to size to have on hand. When soiled throw in the wash and launder as usual.

*Note: Don't use ammonia on wood floors. Just use vinegar and water or water and Murphy's oil soap.
Daily Shower Cleaner

  • 1/4  cup concentrated cleaner (Lysol is a good brand)
  • 1/2  cup isopropyl alcohol
  • water

Pour cleaner and alcohol into quart spray bottle. Add enough water to fill. Thoroughly clean shower before using. Spray on shower daily. Use daily to prevent water deposits and soap scum.
Homemade Cleaning Wipes

  • 1  round baby wipe container*
  • 1  roll of paper towels**
  • 2-4  cups cleaning solution (homemade is fine)

Recycle a used round baby wipe container. Cut a roll of paper towel in half, (an electric or serrated knife works best for this.) Remove the center cardboard. Place 1/2 of the paper towels in the baby wipe container. Pour cleaning solution into the container. (The amount will depend of the absorbency of your paper towels.) This can be used for window cleaner, all purpose cleaner, or disinfectant cleaner. Pull the first paper towel out of the center of the roll, through the hole in the container lid. If the paper towels dry out before they are all used add more solution or some water.

*If you don't have a baby wipe container, you can use a round plastic container and just drill or punch a large hole in the center of the lid.

**It is best to use expensive, thick paper towels. The cheap ones won't hold up to scrubbing.

Face/Hand Wipes

  • 2 tablespoons liquid baby bath
  • 2 cups water

Bathroom Wipes

  • 1/2 cup pine cleaner
  • 2 cups water

Window Wipes 

  • 1 cup glass cleaner
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Outdoor Window Washer

This is for cleaning the higher windows on your house that you can't reach except with a ladder.

  • 3 Tbsp. liquid dishwashing soap
  • 1 Tbsp. anti-spotting agent (Jet DryTM)

Put soap and anti-spotting agent into a spray bottle attachment for your garden hose. Spray upper windows and let them dry.  

Tough Hand Cleaner

  • 1/4 cup Fels Naptha*, grated
  • 2 tbsp. mason’s sand or pumice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cup plastic container (16 oz. cottage cheese container works great)

Place soap and water in a saucepan. Place over low heat; stir until soap is melted. After mixture cools, add mason's sand or pumice. Store in a cottage cheese container or margarine tub. Dip fingers into soap mixture and lather hands. Rinse well.

*Any grated bar of soap will work but Fels Naptha removes the stains better.
Skunk Smell Remover

  • 1 qt. hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp. dish detergent

Sponge on and let dry. Safe for use on cats and dogs.

Published May 1, 2009

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income.