In the Details

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My All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

I started making my own all-purpose cleaner almost five years ago. I like the idea of getting things clean without harsh chemicals. Having kids has made me much more aware of our family’s impact on the environment and having thyroid cancer has made me more conscious of toxins and potential carcinogens. My friends know me as someone who keeps her house pretty clean (right guys?) and I do it all without a drop of Mr. Clean, Windex, Pinesol, Lysol, Comet or any of the products I used to use regularly. Instead I use: lemon juice, baking soda, biodegradable dishwashing soap, white vinegar, tea tree oil, walnut oil and water.

I came up with my all-purpose cleaner after chatting with my mother and grandmother about what a great cleaner vinegar can be. At the time I was already beginning to use it to whiten whites when I did laundry, to remove musty smells, to clean my iron and kettle (nothing removes mineral stains like it!) and to remove soap scum. I thought I should start making an all-purpose cleaner that I could mix up and keep in a spray bottle to use on counters, table tops, the stove, the microwave, cupboard doors, garbage containers and pretty much anything else around the house. Companies like Method were making all-purpose cleaners which they promoted as non-toxic, but they were pricey and often the list of ingredients was kept secret. After a little research and some experimenting I found a good combination of ingredients. Vinegar has antibacterial qualities and also helps to make hard surfaces shine (like counter tops and wood floors). But just to make sure my all-purpose cleaner really was highly effective I wanted to add some other cleaning agents (remember, I’m someone who used to use harsh cleaners like Scrub Free that would literally burn my lungs as I cleaned the bathroom — I like things clean!). This is where a bit of biodegradable dishwashing soap and a few drops of tea tree oil come in handy. Tea tree oil is antibacterial/antiseptic, anti-fungal, has antiviral properties and smells great. Dishwashing soap simply helps to degrease and deodorize. I’ve been using this all-purpose cleaner for years around the house — even on soft furnishing and carpets when my boys were toilet training. I think it’s great!

My Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

  • 1 part pure white vinegar
  • 3 parts tap water (or distilled water if you are really keen)
  • 2 squirts of biodegradable dishwashing soap (I like ECOVER but there are several options)
  • 10-15 drops of tea tree oil

Put all of the above into a spray bottle. Add the soap last so that I can add the tap water without foaming. Shake well and keep handy for cleaning almost anything around your house: counter tops, kids’ plastic toys, the oven and stove, the microwave, the fridge, highchairs and potties, the bathroom sink and toilet in between major cleanings (i.e. when people drop by with 4 minutes notice!)…the list goes on and on. I do not rinse after cleaning — tea tree oil should not be ingested in its pure form but in this recipe it is highly diluted so a tiny bit of residue is not dangerous.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my all-purpose cleaner.

Filed under cleaning cleaner vinegar tea tree oil detergent soap