3 Easy Homemade Zero-Waste Cleaners

Updated: May 18, 2020

If you'd rather watch a video about this topic, click here (video going live on April 6), though the blog post goes more in detail about the exact recipes.

These recipes are cost-effective, low waste, all natural, and keep your home sparkling clean. Especially in the time we are in right now with COVID-19, cleaners might be selling out or you might run out while you are on quarantine or self-isolation. I am not saying these cleaners are better than commercial cleaners, but they sure do get the job done.

DIY Citrus Vinegar All-Purpose Cleaner:

I started making my own cleaners about a year ago now when I started taking my zero waste journey seriously. I started with my own all purpose spray. I love this recipe because it repurposes food waste, it's made from all natural ingredients that are easily accessible, and it's chemical free.

It's super simple, all it requires is:

- Citrus peel

- White vinegar

- A jar

- A spray bottle

Here are the steps. Please keep in mind there is really no right or wrong way to do any of these cleaners. They are all super simple and don't require precise measurements.

1. Eat some citrus. Orange peels smell the nicest but I have also used grapefruit peels.

2. Scrape out the flesh if there is any left on the peel. You only want the peel/rind left. The outer part and the white part.

3. Put said peels in a jar. A wide mouth jar works best, but use whatever you have. If your jar isn't full yet, put the jar in the fridge and keep putting more peels in until it is full.

4. Once the jar is full of peels, top it off with vinegar and place back in the fridge.

* the peels will absorb a lot of the vinegar so an optional step is to add more vinegar about a week later, but if you forget this, it's fine.

5. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 weeks but 3-4 weeks is best.

6. Remove the peels and strain. Mix 2 parts vinegar to 1 part water

* what does this mean? Say you made 4 cups of vinegar mixture, add 2 cups of water. This helps thin it out a bit, make it last longer (while still have a powerful cleaning effect), and makes the smell not so strong*

7. Put into a spray bottle. I use a repurposed glass vinegar jar with an old spray nozzle from an old commercial spray cleaner. Use what you have before buying new!

And that's it!

Super simple, super easy, super cheap. And I love that it repurposes food waste before being composted. Get a little more bang for your buck. All you do now is spray and clean!

For best results on tough grit and grime, either add some baking soda before spraying OR just leave the vinegar spray sit on the grime for several minutes. You won't even have to use any elbow grease to get out the toughest stuff!

DIY Dishwasher Detergent Powder (or tabs):

I started making this about a year ago as well. I was discouraged at how much plastic we were producing for our dishwasher alone. So, I consulted several dishwasher detergent recipes online and concocted a combination of the few and made my own recipe that works best for me.

This recipe is also super simple and all ingredients are easy to find once you know where to look (I'll help ya out below). I leave mine as a powder but I will also include directions for making them into tabs if that is what you prefer.

Personally, the tabs are too complicated and time consuming for me. The powder works just find and I even was able to repurpose a protein powder container and scoop to measure!


- 2 cups washing soda (found near laundry and housecleaning sections of the store. If you can't find this, baking soda (or bicarb) work as well)

- 2 cups borax (also in the laundry or housecleaning sections)

- 1/2 cup Epsom salt (probably found near the medicine section or bathroom section)

- 1/2 cup citric acid (this can be found near mason jars and other food canning items)

Here are the steps for making the powder:

1. Measure all your ingredients and dump into a large bowl

2. Mix thoroughly

3. Dump into a large enough container (I repurposed one, use what you have!) and store with a lid

That is literally all there is too it! SO EASY! And so cost effective as well. I also love this because it lasts for roughly 6 months. I use about 3/4 of a scoop from my protein container so probably 2-3 tbsp per load. Plus, the washing soda and borax come in cardboard (and last for four batches!) and while the Epsom salt and citric acid come in plastic, they too also last a long time. The citric acid lasts about 2 batches and the Epsom salt could last probably a dozen or so batches. I still have so much left!

Now, what if you want to make them into tabs? Simple:

1. Follow the recipe from above, but before you put them into your storage container, mix in 1.2 cup of vinegar.

2. Now, you'll have to work fast. Mix thoroughly and quickly pack them into an ice cube tray. Preferably a silicone one to make for easy removal. This stuff gets hard quick!

* it would be best to either work in batches for have a few helping hands to make things go quicker

3. Let sit until hardened. Remove carefully and place in an airtight container. Use one tab per load (I think this made about 3 dozen or so tabs).

Still easy, but requires a bit of work. I am lazy so I will also chose method one ;)

DIY Sink/Drain Cleaner:

This stuff sure does the job on polishing your sinks and other bathroom surfaces and even helps to clean the drain a bit. For an all natural, DIY, zero waste cleaner, I can't complain (but it's not perfect, just a disclaimer).

This doesn't require any "ingredients" but just a method:

1. Sprinkle some washing soda or baking soda in your drains.

2. Spray with your new all purpose vinegar cleaner (see recipe above) or just dump a little vinegar in there.

3. Let sit until done foaming.

4. While waiting, boil some water.

5. Once boiling, dump in your drains for a final clean. Use the vinegar spray to polish your sinks as well!

That's it! Another simple one.

These simple recipes and methods make cleaning for me much more enjoyable while feeling less guilt about how much plastic I consume and how many chemicals I'm putting into our water.

I hope you enjoy these recipes!

Let me know if you make any and if you make any alterations. I'd love to try your ideas.

Emma :)

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