DIY Household Cleaning Alternatives

A few years ago, I decided to look for alternatives to my household and personal products because the strong fragrances and solvents from conventional products always left me with a headache. Many of the cleaners we use around the house contain harmful chemicals that can end up in our air and waterways. They can also enter our bodies through skin contact and inhalation that may result in short and long term health effects.

Making your own cleaners means you can be fully aware of which chemicals you are using around you and your family. As an added bonus, these DIY recipes are also much cheaper than their conventional alternatives! Remember to never re-use containers from conventional cleaners when making your own. Always label bottles and list your ingredients.

Not into making your own cleaners? The EPA Safer Choice website also has a great, comprehensive list on safer, more earth friendly products you can purchase either online or in stores.

All Purpose Cleaner:

  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup liquid castile soap
  • Optional: 25 drops of essential oil of choice

Add ingredients into spray bottle and shake until combined.

Glass Cleaner:

  • 1 tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 quart of water

Add ingredients into spray bottle and shake until combined.

Drain Cleaners:

Use a plunger or plumber’s snake for completely clogged drains. Use a hair trap to prevent clogs in the shower.

For slow moving drains: pour ¼-cup baking soda followed by ¼-cup vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit 15 minutes to one hour (depending on severity of clog) then carefully pour a quart of boiling water down the drain. Repeat if necessary.


Replace with cedar chips, rosemary, or lavender. Seal out of season clothing in garment bags or airtight containers.


Most stores now carry eco-friendly laundry detergents. Shop for detergents that are plant derived, biodegradable, and phosphate free. Concentrated bottles also help minimize packaging waste.

Fabric softener can be replaced by adding up to one cup of white vinegar to the rinsing cycle (don’t worry, the vinegar odor won’t linger on your clothing!).

Wool dryer balls cut down on drying time, reduce static, and prevent wrinkles in clothing. They are a one-time investment and I prefer them to perfume-laden dryer sheets that must be constantly re-purchased. Plus, it’s one less thing to add to the shopping list!

Personal Products

I check all of my soaps, lotions, hair products, and make-up products on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database. There, they rate and review the safety of each ingredient used in a particular product and give you an overall score.

Replacing all the products in your home at once for eco-friendly alternatives can seem a bit overwhelming at first. I recommend researching replacements as items run out and slowly incorporating them into your home and routine. Every small change helps make a difference in your health and the health of our planet!


By: Elizabeth Smith, published 9.6.2019

Elizabeth is served as an intern with Keep Smyrna Beautiful for the Fall 2019 semester. She studied environmental geosciences at Georgia State University with focuses on water science and sustainability. She is passionate about protecting and preserving the earth’s natural resources and hopes to share proactive ways that we can all contribute to creating a healthier, more sustainable planet.

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