The Goods

Get a chemical-free clean with these all-natural DIY cleaners

Commercial brand cleaning products can be hard on your health and your wallet. Here are four chemical-free and cost-effective DIY cleaners.
Experts advise against concocting homemade sanitizer or disinfectant. Instead, they say, use bleach. (iStock/Getty Images)

Canadians spend about $275 million on household cleaning products every year! And, if you use commercial brands, you may be getting more than you're bargaining for. There is no Canadian law that requires manufacturers to list the full ingredient list of their cleaning products and many of them contain a ton of toxic chemicals! But, the good news is that you can clean your home and maintain your health without cleaning out your wallet with these simple non-toxic DIYs.

Multi-purpose cleaners

Environmental agencies say many multi-purpose cleaners may contain cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Now while companies don't have to disclose what they are putting into their cleaners, in general, commercial brands do contain ingredients such as MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), ammonia, phthalates, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and even Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats).

Instead, here's a DIY Multi-Purpose cleaner that has only natural ingredients.

DIY Multi-purpose cleaner

What you'll need:

  • 2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Essential oils of your choice for a natural scent + cleaning properties.


Combine all ingredients into a bottle and then shake to combine. For best disinfecting results, spray on surfaces and leave for several minutes before wiping clean.

Hydrogen peroxide is sold in brown bottles so that it doesn't absorb light – so, you'll want to store your solution in an opaque spray bottle. If you do use a clear bottle, you should store the bottle away from light, so under the kitchen sink would be a good place. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the best all-natural cleaners!

Most DIY recipes call for basic ingredients that don't have a lot of scent, so it can be pretty bland. But, you can add your favourite aroma with essential oils! We used lavender oil and peppermint oil – about 10 drops of lavender and 5 drops of peppermint. Lavender has antimicrobial properties while Peppermint is an antiseptic and mixes well with lavender.

In terms of cost-savings, conventional cleaners are anywhere from about $4-$10. Our homemade cleaner is approximately $1.50!

Cleaning wipes

A lot of people love pre-packaged wipes, but while they might be convenient, they're definitely not eco-friendly. Most of them also contain harsh chemical ingredients that are very harmful to your health including: MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), phthalates, sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate, and triclosan.

These wipes are also not great for the environment because they are disposable. We have an alternate solution – reusable cleaning wipes.

DIY reusable cleaning wipes

What you'll need:

  • 1.5 cups of distilled water
  • 1.5 cups of white vinegar
  • 5 drops of lemon oil
  • 5-10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 package microfibre cloths (cloths can be cut in half)


Mix together ingredients in a 1L jar. Then, just add in your reusable wipes. You can use anything for this – small towels, or if you can cut up old T-shirts. Or, just pick up a pack of microfibre cloths at any dollar store. Fold and place into the jar. And voilà – you've got reusable cleaning wipes. If your cloths start drying out, just add more water and vinegar to the jar. After using a cloth, just toss it in with your laundry – and then use it again!

We love to use white vinegar because it is a great disinfectant! It also acts as a deodorizer and kills bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli. You don't need to add in essential oils but they do offer a nice additional boost. Lemon oil has purifying and cleansing properties. Tea Tree oil is a natural disinfectant and it's antifungal. Pregnant women should check with their doctor before handling tea tree oil.

For our homemade cleaning wipes (not including the cost of cloths), the approximate cost for the reusable wipes are about 45 cents per jar. Store bought wipes can be between $3-$6 a pack.

Dishwasher detergent

Store-bought dishwasher detergent can be loaded with chemicals, such as glycol ethers, phthalates, phosphates, and even chlorine bleach! Our homemade detergent is free of phosphates, chlorine bleach and other toxic substances that are in commercial brands – toxic substances that can damage developmental and reproductive systems. And we all know that these cleaners are available in a variety of scents – but beware – the fragrance compounds used in detergents can coat plates, glasses and silverware, which ultimately become ingested when used.

DIY dishwasher gel

This recipe takes a bit of time to make, but an additional perk is that when you're making it, it makes your house smell lovely – naturally and without any chemicals.

What you'll need:

  • 3.5 lemons
  • 1.5 cups water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup salt


1. Cut up 3.5 lemons in quarter inch chunks (including the rind, but minus the seeds) and then boil that in 1.5 cups of water.

2. Then toss the entire mixture in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Add that blended mixture back to your pot.

4. Add in 1/2 cup of vinegar.

5. Add in 1 cup of salt – we used kosher but you can use anything you have at home.

6. Bring this mixture to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes so that it thickens. Once it's cooled, store it in a glass container.

The pectin in the rind and pith of the lemon acts as a natural thickening agent, which is how this becomes a gel. The citric acid in lemons helps clean mineral deposits and is a good de-greaser, whereas the oil in the lemon rind has cleaning and antibacterial properties. White vinegar is also an excellent de-greaser and the salt acts as a scouring agent.

This DIY cleaner should be stored in the refrigerator since this is made from all natural ingredients that will ferment. It should last you several weeks if you do a load of dishes every day!

In terms of cost-savings, a bottle of commercial dishwashing detergent costs about $10 for less than a quart. You can make this homemade quart yourself for about $4 – depending on the cost of lemons, it could even be less!

Air fresheners

Many air freshener ingredients contain a lot of harmful substances such as formaldehyde, naphthalene, toluene, xylene and phthalates. Some of these chemicals can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, liver and kidney damage and even reproductive problems. Instead, we've made something all-natural and so simple that you can keep it anywhere in your home!

DIY air-freshener

What you'll need:

  • A Mason Jar
  • Baking soda
  • An essential oil that you love
  • Cardstock and a pin or tack.


1. Add baking soda to the jar. It's totally fine to fill just a quarter of the jar.

2. Add in about 5-15 drops of essential oil – however much you prefer scent-wise.

3. Then for the lid, use a piece of cardstock in any colour that matches your decor. Next, poke holes in it with a tack.

4. You're going to use this as the new lid so insert it in the metal ring, twist on and give it a shake.

This will keep you room smelling fresh for 1-3 months. The cost of this is only about $1.50 – which again, is much cheaper than air fresheners that run from roughly $3 to $15 dollars.