How to Make a Natural All-Purpose Cleaner with 3 Ingredients, Just in Time for Spring

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

You can whip up a greener cleaner in just seconds with these three ingredients. Joey Skladany/CNET

Spring has officially sprung, and with it has arrived an onslaught of dust, dirt and, of course, allergy-inducing pollen. Whether you’re wiping up pollen and dust as it collects or tackling those hard-to-reach spots in your home, like underneath the sofa or behind a bookshelf, it’s likely you’ve opted for a variety of store-bought cleaning supplies to get the job done.

While these brand-name spray bottles, aerosols, and wipes are effective and powerful, they’re not always the best for you or the environment. Some studies have suggested that breathing in the fumes of these products can be downright hazardous for your respiratory system. They can also speed up the wear and tear of your furniture, especially if used in excess.

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But good news! You are capable of making an all-natural, all-purpose cleaner with components that are already in your house. Not only is creating your own cleaning solution more safe and environmentally friendly, but it’s also inexpensive. And it works. From kitchen counters to bathroom sinks, there is nothing this simple mixture of easy-to-find liquids can’t clean. That said, anything that incorporates vinegar has some limitations. Be sure to check out the frequently asked questions after the jump for a detailed list of uses.

Warning: Never combine ammonia or bleach. The two create a toxic chloramine gas that, when inhaled, can be deadly. Always read the ingredient list on any product before mixing it with another. Contact poison control for additional information.

What you’ll need: 

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

You can add other essential oils or lemon juice for a fresh scent and added cleaning power. Joey Skladany/CNET

  • A spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (for all surfaces except sensitive stones like marble or granite)  or 1 teaspoon castile soap (for less intense, yet generally safe cleaning)

How to make it: 

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

A custom all-natural cleaner will boost your spring cleaning. Joey Skladany/CNET

  1. Grab an empty spray bottle and fill it with all of the ingredients, saving the water for last. If you’re targeting tougher-to-clean stains and grime, use the vinegar. If you’re looking for a less abrasive spray that can be used on practically anything, use the soap. 
  2. Pour in the distilled water until it fills the bottle. Depending on the bottle’s size, you may not use all of the water. This is okay. A slightly stronger solution won’t damage your furniture or finishes. 
  3. Give the bottle a good shake to blend the components. 
  4. Spray as you clean, using a cloth or paper towel to capture dust, streaks, and messes. 

Why not use soap and vinegar?

Castile soap and vinegar serve two different purposes. The former is more gentle and wipes away dust and dirt that rests on the surface. Vinegar is more intense, and, when applied to areas like a sink drain or bathtub grout, can eliminate stains and smudges that require a bit of acidity and extra elbow grease. The two ingredients also don’t mix well together, resulting in a spray bottle whose contents can easily separate when not in use.

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

This cleaning solution is great for the kitchen and bathroom. Alina Bradford/CNET

How long does this all-purpose cleaner last?

About a month if stored in a dry, cool environment.

Why doesn’t this cleaner contain baking soda?

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

Vinegar and baking soda are a potent combination for getting rid of cookware stains. David Watsky/CNET

It is said that the properties of baking soda (a base) and vinegar (an acid) can essentially cancel each other out when combined. That said, you’re better off using baking soda on its own as a stain lifter or by sprinkling it onto a surface as a mild abrasive before spraying and cleaning.

Why castile soap? 

how to, how to make a natural all-purpose cleaner with 3 ingredients, just in time for spring

A little castile soap in place of vinegar will make for a gentler cleaner. Dr. Bonner’s

Made most often from olive oil, this nontoxic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly ingredient is safe, effective and won’t damage most furniture. You can use it on practically everything in your home without worry.

Why vinegar, and what not to use it on? 

Vinegar kills bacteria on the surface and is fantastic for cleaning glass and mirrors giving them a smudge-free shine. That said, it shouldn’t be applied to sensitive stones such as granite or marble. The protective sealant can be damaged and leave behind cloudy marks that are both permanent and unattractive.

7 Ways to Use Lemons in Cleaning: See at Cnet

Are some essential oils better than others?

The scent is entirely up to you and your personal preference. There are, however, a handful that come with added benefits. For example, tea tree, lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus are natural antibacterials, while grapefruit is a great antiseptic and disinfectant. Be sure to research which essential oils may be toxic to pets.

Why distilled water?

You want to limit the amount of potential bacterial growth in your solution, and distilled water will accomplish this. Here’s how you can make distilled water at home in five easy steps.

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