3-Ingredient DIY Natural All-Purpose Cleaner with Essential Oils
With just 3 ingredients, this DIY natural all-purpose cleaner comes together in under a minute + it’s safe, effective and smells AMAZING!
We’re back with another DIY homemade cleaning recipe! This time, I’m sharing one of my most used household cleaning products: a 3-ingredient DIY natural all-purpose cleaner.
Why make your own all-purpose cleaner?
Just like we discussed why you should make your own beauty products in this DIY moisturizer post, most store-bought cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals. Plus, it’s cheaper to make your own cleaning products and it couldn’t be easier.
I used to be so intimidated by DIY projects, but after I got over my fear (and, let’s face it, laziness), I realized that these products come together in less than 30 seconds flat. I made four other DIY cleaning products when I made this all-purpose spray, and in less than 5 minutes, I had completely made over my household cleaning closet with safe, natural, effective products. Boom!
THE TRUTH ABOUT STORE-BOUGHT CLEANERS
I always feel like the Grim Reaper when I write these stories, constantly warning you guys about the doom and gloom that’s found in most of our store-bought products. While I hate to always be the bearer of bad news, my hope is that a domino effect will occur that will ultimately result in companies changing their products to safer, non-toxic ingredients so that we can go into any store and trust that we’re buying products that won’t harm us.
In my dream world, the scenario goes like this:
- I write a story about the scary chemicals lurking in conventional products. I’m all, “this gives you cancer”, “this makes you infertile”, “this messes with your respiratory system”. Total buzzkill.
- My dear readers roll their eyes, but slowly start reading the labels on the products they use and looking more into what these chemicals really are and what they can do to us, and our environment.
- Are you still with me?! Eventually, people stop buying those toxic products, voting with their dollars to send these companies a message. And maybe some quite literally send these companies a message asking them to stop using these harmful ingredients in their products. Or you write to your congressman and ask them to support bills that clean up our products, enforce stronger labeling and even ban the most toxic chemicals.
- In the meantime, you try a few of my easy DIY recipes–realize how quick and simple they are to make, and how effective they are. You lessen your toxic load, make your home a safer place and live happily ever after.
- Eventually, these big brands get the message and change their ways, ultimately making transparent products that we can trust to be safe and sustainable.
A girl can dream, right?!
Still not convinced? The EWG recently updated their cleaning guide and after analyzing over 2,500 household cleaning products, they found that almost half were rated “poor” and nearly 75 percent contain ingredients which may have worrisome respiratory health effects, particularly chemicals routinely found in all-purpose spray cleaners.
Many are also known to cause developmental and endocrine harm, not to mention the negative impact they have on our environment. These chemicals are only partly removed by wastewater treatment plants, don’t readily break down, are persistent in the environment and toxic to aquatic life.
Let’s take a look at some of the most harmful chemicals in leading all-purpose cleaning sprays currently on the market:
- Toxic Preservatives: Many household cleaners contain harmful preservatives, like 2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL (formaldehyde), which are known to cause cancer and are extremely toxic to aquatic life. They can also cause severe skin burns and damage our eyes–not exactly the kind of thing I want to be spraying all over my house.
- Ammonium Hydroxide: Likewise, many multi-purpose cleaners contain ammonium hydroxide, which can burn skin, damage eyes, cause asthma and hurt aquatic life.
- Colors: Artificial colors are so toxic that the FDA prohibits the use of this substance in cosmetics because it causes cancer in rats. But somehow, these chemicals are still allowed into our homes. Just say no!
- Bleach: Also known as sodium hypochlorite, bleach is a common disinfecting ingredient that can cause severe burns and eye damage, not to mention it can cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy people after frequent exposure to low concentrations.
Be wary of Greenwashing or Natural Marketing on Cleaners
Don’t be fooled by marketing. Even the all-purpose cleaners marketed as being natural or green often contain toxic chemicals, like Scrubbing Bubbles Nature’s Source All-Purpose Cleaner and Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner, which are both chockfull of hormone damaging ingredients like fragrance, stabilizers like Sodium Borate, and cleaning agents like Lauryl Pyrrolidone.
The latter even contains a chemical called 2-butoxyethanol, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found causes red blood cell damage and hemolytic anemia in animal studies via inhalation, skin exposure and ingestion (the exact way humans would be exposed to the cleaner).
Whatever you do, start reading your labels and researching the effects these chemicals can have. The EWG has a great cleaning guide–here’s a list of 127 all-purpose cleaners with ratings. They will likely surprise you! I couldn’t believe that it’s not even required by law that these companies disclose their ingredients. Please, never buy a product if they aren’t willing to tell you what’s in it. RED FLAG!
A note about homemade multi-purpose cleaners:
Now for the good news! This DIY homemade all-purpose cleaner is not only super safe and natural (it only contains 3 ingredients, one of which is water!!), but it’s super effective and smells AMAZING thanks to essential oils. I promise, the essential oils mask most of the vinegar scent, and even if any remains, it goes away after a minute.
I recommend using crisp citrus oils like sweet orange, lemon or grapefruit or refreshing green oils, like bergamot, tea tree, eucalyptus and basil, which all smell super clean and even have antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and germicidal properties.
One of my favorite places to shop online for home supplies (and healthy food!) is Thrive Market. If you have a Thrive membership, you can order the essential oils you need for this recipe on their site – check out their essential oils collection here. If you don’t have a Thrive membership, check out this review of Thrive Market + Shopping List of My Favorite Buys!
Just make sure you don’t use this on granite or marble countertops–the natural stone can be etched by the vinegar. But don’t worry, here’s a natural granite cleaning spray recipe. And in the meantime, you can use this multi-purpose cleaner on other kitchen and bathroom surfaces, cabinets, the inside of the fridge/freezer and some appliances.
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 20 drops essential oils
- Pour all ingredients into a bottle. Fit with a spray top. Gently swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients together. Use immediately or as needed.
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Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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