Get The Green Clean: DIY Natural Kitchen Cleaners That Actually Work

Get The Green Clean: DIY Natural Kitchen Cleaners That Actually Work

7 minute read

These days, we're all trying to be a little more eco-conscious. We're finding ways to reduce household waste, especially in your kitchen, we're paying closer attention to the ingredients list on packaged foods, and we're reducing the use of toxic chemicals in our health and beauty products. 

While there are some "green" kitchen cleaners lining supermarket shelves, they're still a small market compared with chemical-laden and bleach-based cleaners. They also come with a heftier price tag than their chemical counterparts. While we'd all love to invest a little more for better and healthier outcomes for our families and the planet, many of us are a bit skeptical about DIY natural cleaners.

The big question is, do homemade kitchen cleaners work? Cleanliness, hygiene, food-safety, and sanitization are big buzz words these days. We're all doing what we can to protect ourselves, reduce the growth of mold and mildew, while also keeping our homes and kitchens spic n' span the best way possible. 

The problem with natural, homespun cleaners is that they don't inspire a lot of confidence. Many of us are reassured by the harsh chemical scent of bleach-based cleaners. They give us the sense that they're doing a better, more thorough job of eradicating germs and pathogens from all those grotty places in our homes: the kitchen, the bathroom, the kids toys, and more. The problem is that they're also killing off the good bacteria that help us fight against the harmful bacteria. 

Making your own natural kitchen cleaners has several benefits. It minimizes waste, reduces the need for chemical cleaners, can be customized to suit your cleaning needs, and it's more cost effective in the long run. And it's easier than you think. All it takes are a few simple ingredients, a little experimentation with ratios, and a few minutes of your time. And if you're going this far, consider replacing that nasty kitchen sponge with an alternative--here's why.

We've included 5 excellent recipes for DIY natural cleaners below. But first, we highlight key ingredients that are instrumental in getting that reassuring squeak in your clean. Follow the included recipes or use the basic ingredients to experiment with your own renditions of natural kitchen cleaners. Consider them the 007s of natural DIY cleaners.

Fundamental Natural Cleaning Agents

green kitchen

The Cleaning Squad Trio

Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, does more than just stand humbly in the back of your fridge absorbing odors. This natural deodorizer has multiple properties that make it an excellent natural cleaner, especially when combined with other substances. It is mildly abrasive so it's effective in scrubbing away grease and stains. Because it has a slightly basic pH, it has a neutralizing effect on acids. When combined with water, it dissolves grease and dirt. Combine it with vinegar and cut through that stubborn, filthy grease in your oven to a smooth, gleaming finish. 


All vinegars make good natural cleaners, but white vinegar is the most acidic. It undergoes laboratory processing, in which acetic acid is mixed with water, rather than natural fermentation. This contributes to its potency, which may prove too strong for some types of cleaning. Dilute white vinegar with water or use a milder apple cider vinegar for less intense cleaning jobs. Avoid using vinegar on marble or granite as it can eat away at the stone. 


Besides its lovely fragrance, there are many reasons to add fresh squeezed lemon juice to your natural kitchen cleaner. It's high in citric acid and has a low pH, so it isn't likely to damage materials such as wood, and it's effective for cleaning alkaline spots like rust and limescale--that chalky white substance that builds up around faucets and sinks. It also has antibacterial properties. 

The Extras: Essential Oils

Tea Tree

This potent-smelling oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to certain parts of Australia. It has antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, bactericidal, and insecticidal properties, making it an "essential" addition to homemade cleaners.


Often the choice for linen sprays for its warm, sweet, relaxing scent, lavender essential oil is also a useful ingredient in natural cleaning products. It helps fight against viruses, bacteria, and fungus.


Bugs be gone! Peppermint essential oil has antiseptic properties, making it ideal for keeping the kitchen clean. And the bonus is that it also repels creepy crawlies like ants, spiders, and cockroaches. If you don't like those guys showing up announced (or worse, announced!), spray some diluted peppermint oil into cracks and crevices in your kitchen, and that dreaded under-the-sink cupboard. It also has an invigorating quality that lifts and revitalizes the scent of a room.

essential oil green kitchen

5 DIY Kitchen Cleaner Recipes (That Aren't Just For The Kitchen)

The Everything Cleaner

½ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp baking soda

10 drops tea tree, lavender, or lemon essential oil

Mix the vinegar with a bit of water and the essential oil into a 12 oz. glass spray bottle. Then add the baking soda. Top up with water to fill the bottle. Shake gently to mix. To apply: spray, wipe with a cloth, and allow to dry.

The Scrubber

1 ½ cups baking soda

½ cup eco-safe liquid laundry soap

10 drops tea tree, lavender, or lemon essential oil

In a large bowl, mix the baking soda and laundry soap. Stir vigorously until a paste forms. Add essential oil and mix well. Store in an airtight container and add water occasionally if the mixture becomes too dry. 

On Dish Duty

½ cup warm distilled water

2 tsp salt

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds

1 tsp lemon juice

A few drops of lemon essential oil

Mix the distilled water with salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. In a separate bowl, mix the vinegar, Sal Suds, and lemon juice. Then stir it into the salt water until thick. Add a few drops of lemon essential oil. Store in a soap dispenser bottle of your choice.

The Wipe Down

1 cup water

¼ cup vinegar

8 drops tea tree oil

8 drops lemon essential oil

15-20 cotton squares (for example, old t-shirts)

1 container (such as a baby wipes container)

Fold the cotton squares and place into the container. In a mixing bowl, combine the water, vinegar, and essential oils and stir until well mixed. Pour over the cotton squares. Pull one out each time you need to wipe down a surface. When your supply is exhausted, wash the cloths and repeat the process to make a fresh batch.

Green Dishwasher Detergent

1 ½ cups baking soda

½ cup citric acid

⅓ cup extra-fine sea salt

10 drops lemon essential oil

10 drops lime essential oil

In a large glass jar, combine all ingredients and turn upside down to mix. Use 1 tbsp per load. If desired, add a splash of white vinegar to the rinse compartment.

Go Whole-Hog Green...

See how easy it is? You can find most of these ingredients in a snap and whip up some homemade kitchen cleaners in just minutes. Make as little or as much as you want and replenish as necessary. You'll reduce the chemical smell and the harmful impact those generic toxic cleaners have on the environment. They're also more gentle for people with sensitive skin and allergies.

Since you're almost there, why not go the full mile? Instead of using paper towel, which creates 254 million tons of trash every year, snip a few old t-shirts or towels into squares for DIY cleaning cloths. 

If you haven't seen our most recent free guide yet, find out everything you need for starting a zero waste initiative in your kitchen. 

For more great kitchen tips and awesome deals on exclusive kitchenware, join our Insider's Club.

From our kitchen to yours, enjoy a fresher, cleaner, more eco-conscious kitchen! 

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