My Favorite Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

The internet is a wonderful thing with its vast resource of free information. But have you found sometimes that all this wonderful information can be just so overwhelming? And now we have added Pinterest to the mix so we are even more overwhelmed!

Case in point – if you’ve ever searched for a homemade all purpose cleaner recipe you’ve probably discovered that there are a lot of recipes out there, all of which have slightly different ingredients in slightly different measurements. They all sound pretty much the same and yet none of them are alike. Which one is best? You keep reading and clicking, and clicking and reading, until finally your eyes glaze over and you are still wondering which recipe to try.

Well I’m here to tell you that I have looked at a lot of these recipes and tried some of them too, but I have found that my most favorite all purpose cleaners is really a very simple mixture –just combine equal amounts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. An essential oil for fragrance and/or antibacterial help can be a nice addition, but is not absolutely necessary.

I have been using this mixture for at least two years now and it works great! It has become my go-to cleaner for so many areas of the house. It can be used on counters (* but not granite – see note below), on sinks, windows, mirrors, floors, or toilets. It is truly a versatile cleaner!

Even though this is a simple 50/50 mixture, here is the recipe measurement I seem to use the most often.

Combine all ingredients in a clean spray bottle of at least a 16 oz size. Shake gently to combine ingredients. To use, spray on surfaces and wipe with a soft absorbent cloth.


Four Good Reasons to use DIY Vinegar Cleaning Spray

This homemade all purpose cleaner has found a permanent place in my home because it meets all of the following criteria that I look for in a homemade recipe:

Saves Money
If I’m going to go to the work of making a homemade cleaner or other recipe, I like to be able to save a few bucks in the process too. I buy my vinegar in the gallon containers and the price nets down to only 2 cents per ounce. For the above recipe which uses a cup of vinegar, I would only spend 16 cents! The essential oils will add a few more cents to the mixture, but the oils are an optional ingredient.

Natural and Non-Toxic
While I do not have any allergies and am not super zealous about using non-toxic items, I do like to eliminate chemicals where possible. This cleaner uses all natural ingredients, is safe to keep anywhere around the house, and has no nasty fumes.

Easy, Convenient, and Resourceful
If a homemade cleaner takes too much time and energy, I give serious thought to if it’s really worth it. Because this mixture is an equal parts “50/50” mixture, I can simply use the measurement guides on the outside of my spray bottle and mix this up quickly without getting out any measuring cups or spoons. I can also make as little or as much as I want at any given time without having to struggle over any math to double or triple the recipe. I always have vinegar in the house too so I can mix up a batch whenever its needed.

cleaning cloth 3

Performs Well
The bottom line with any homemade cleaner is it had better do the job. If it cleans poorly, then one of the other reasons above has to become a really motivating factor. However I have always been satisfied with the performance of this vinegar and water mixture and it leaves a clean smooth feeling on surfaces. For some dirty or greasy jobs soap can be necessary, however the vinegar and water mixture makes a great follow up as vinegar does an excellent job of cutting through any residual cloudy soap scum or film. Vinegar and water also makes a great follow up rinse to a homemade baking soda sink scrub as it also cuts through any powdery residue left behind.

(* Note – Vinegar is said to be too harsh for granite surfaces. Instead you can substitute rubbing alcohol in a 25/75 mixture ratio of 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1-1/2 cups of water.)

So there you have it . . . my favorite all purpose homemade cleaner! In the next post we’ll look at my favorite absorbent cleaning cloths to use with homemade cleaning mixtures.

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  1. So if adding soap, essential oil or antibacterial what is the formula for that and what soap, oils and antibacterial do you recommend/use ?

    1. Most of the time now if I want to make an all purpose cleaning spray with antibacterial essential oil and soap, I make this DIY Disinfecting Mixture that uses 1.5 cups water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 Tbl dish soap and 12 drops of tea tree EO.

  2. I just made this recipe and cleaned my bathroom. I love it! Glad I found your site. Can’t wait until this weekend to mix up the soft scrub.

  3. I just put 100% vinegar down in a tiny, low plastic cap where I have ants and they’ve now reappeared and are congregating to it as if I put down candy sugar. What’s going on?

    1. I’m not sure Carol . . . some other natural things to try would be peppermint oil (which worked pretty good for me) and I have also heard a lot of people have success with Borax. I think if you put down straight vinegar it might kill them more in the sense of drowning them than poisoning them.


  5. We live in Asia and the vinegar sold here is 25% strength. We have been diluting it to 5% strength whenever we use it for food purposes. As we look at making our own cleaning supplies we are wondering if we need to dilute it? Would the higher percentage actually give it a little more disinfecting strength or change the end product? Thank you for your thoughts.

    1. I would still dilute it. Vinegar is an acidic substance and if you can get good cleaning (which I think you will) with it in the lower percentage range, that will be the safer bet.

  6. I’ve been using diluted vinegar for light household cleaning since childhood, but I recently experienced an issue that I’ve never encountered until now: fruit flies. Yuck!
    P.S. I enjoy this website, and hope this comment isn’t perceived by anyone as negative! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog Coral {and your comment wasn’t negative ๐Ÿ™‚ } I wonder if you added certain essential oils to your vinegar cleaners (lavender or peppermint maybe?), if those scents would help deter any fruit flies. I’ve never encountered a fruit fly problem with my vinegar/water cleaner.

  7. This isn’t a comment or bright idea, but a question of the amount of essential oil to add? Thank you, and I am really enjoying your site.

    1. Glad you are enjoying things here Shawna. ๐Ÿ™‚ I add about 8 to 10 drops of essential oil to a 2 cup size batch.

  8. I am looking for a good stainless steal cleaner for my fridge, stove and microwave. Will your rubbing alcohol and water mix for for grante work ok or is there something else. Tried the vinegar and water and it works ok but not good.

  9. That looks like an old cloth diaper to me. Those are still my favorite cleaning cloths to use. I have a bottle of orange peel infused vinegar that we are using right now. My kids don't complain about "vinegar stink" when they are cleaning with it, and they weren't fans of the lavender smell.