“We need more Calgon!”. If you lived in the 70’s you undoubtedly remember this line from one of the decade’s most popular commercials. A quick trip to the corner store and you can pick up fabric softeners in a bottle, laundry detergent in a box, containers of air freshener, and spray bottles of cleaners – very convenient. By the 1970’s, convenient, ready-to-use cleaning products had replaced Grandma’s home recipes and product marketers were having a field day promoting boxed and bottled products that promised to get your “whites whiter and colours brighter”. Easy to use, effective, and widely available – why wouldn’t you use chemical cleaners for that “Downy Soft” feel and freshly-scented laundry?

40 years after the Calgon commercial, we have seen a flood of research warning of the dangers of chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and detergents. Rashes, allergic reactions, poisonings, and environmental damage are the results of our reliance on convenient, ready-to-use household cleaning products. As the evidence rolls in about the dangers of chemical-based cleaners, more people are choosing not to go down that aisle in the grocery store and are instead looking in the produce section, the spice rack, and the baking products aisle for their household cleaning products.

Yes, you can make dozens of daily household cleaning products – just like Grandma did – using simple ingredients from your pantry.

Doesn’t it take a long time to make your own cleaning products?

Why would I make them myself when I can pick them up at the grocery store?

Many people are intimidated by the thought of making their own cleaning products, but once they start they’re happy that they never have to walk down the smelly, perfumey cleaning products aisle at the grocery store again. Making your own cleaners is easy, it’s safe, it’s inexpensive, it’s easy on the environment, and it’s healthy for you and your family. And the products work!

By making your own household cleaners you have total control over the ingredients and you’ll be using products that are safe and non-toxic. Your cleaning products will cost a fraction of what you pay for store-bought cleaners and you won’t have to run out to pick up more detergent when you run out. When you make your own cleaners you’ll be using ingredients that are safe for the environment and don’t pollute our rivers, lakes, and streams.

What You’ll Need To Get Started

Containers: spray bottles, regular squeeze bottles, jars (try to reuse your old containers or you can find new ones at dollar stores or hardware stores)

Accessories: Natural rubber cleaning gloves, natural sponges, unbleached cotton cleaning cloths, natural bristle brushes, labels for containers


• Baking Soda – odour absorbing, deodorizing, mild abrasive

• Vinegar – cuts grease, dissolves mineral accumulation, dissolves gummy buildup

• Borax – disinfects, deodorizes, inhibits mold growth

• Washing Soda – cuts grease, cleans petroleum oils and dirt (slightly caustic-wear gloves)

• Sea Salt – mild abrasive

• Lemons/Limes – natural scent, cuts grease, anti-bacterial, preservative

• Olive Oil – lubricates and moistens surfaces

• Vegetable-based Liquid Soap – softens water for more effective cleaning

• Vegetable-based Glycerine Soap – removes stains

• Tea Tree oil – disinfectant, anti-bacterial

• Pure Essential Oils – gives added scent to cleaners

Most of the ingredients are available at your local health food store or grocery stores – you probably already have many of the ingredients in your pantry!

Here are a few recipes that you may find useful…

All Purpose Spray Cleaner

Ingredients: 1 tsp Borax, ½ tsp Washing Soda, 2 tbsp Vinegar or Lemon Juice, ½ tsp liquid soap, 2 cups hot water, spray bottle

Directions: Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until minerals have dissolved. Spray on, wipe off.

Heavy Duty Cream Cleanser

Ingredients: ¼ cup Washing Soda, Liquid Soap

Directions: Add enough Liquid Soap to make a creamy paste and put in a squeeze bottle.

The Best Window Cleaner

Ingredients: ½ tsp Liquid Soap, 3 tbsp Vinegar, 2 cups Water

Directions: Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Use the “double-cloth” method – wipe off cleaner with one cloth and dry thoroughly with second cloth.

Natural Drain Cleaner

Ingredients: Equal parts Baking Soda and Vinegar – I usually use 1/4 cup of each, Boiling Water

Directions: Pour Baking Soda down drain, follow with vinegar. Plug drain and any overflow drains if possible. Baking Soda and Vinegar will create a fizzing reaction – wait a couple of minutes for them to react then pour hot water down the drain.

Follow this routine once a month to keep drains clean and clear.

Tip 1: Always test out your recipes in a small, inconspicuous area before launching into a full application.

Tip 2: Always wear natural rubber gloves when mixing ingredients or using recipes. Many of the ingredients will absorb the natural moisture in your skin.

Tip 3: Make cleaners in containers and store as you would regular cleaners. Products will last for months and, in most cases, cost pennies per bottle.

About the Author

Rob Grand is a leading advocate, spokesperson, and educator on green lifestyle products and issues. Rob has appeared in every major print, radio, and television media outlet in Canada including CBC, the Globe & Mail, and Canadian House & Home. He has also served as a Director of over a dozen environmental non-profit organizations and is the Founder and Director at

Twitter: @GrasssrootsStore

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LinkedIn: Rob Grand