Homemade All-Purpose Cleaners from Vinegar and Bleach

These two easy-to-make cleaners are cheap and powerful, too

Cleaning wooden work surface with organic cleaner from spray bottle
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Cleaners don't have to be pricey or chemical-laden to be effective. In fact, they don't even have to be store-bought. It's simple to create your own all-purpose cleaner -- all you need is some white vinegar and a spray bottle.

Vinegar, which is acidic, is a very effective disinfectant. The acetic acid in vinegar kills viruses, germs, bacteria and mold. It also dissolves tough mineral deposits and stains like those found in sinks, toilets and tubs.

How to Create Your Own Vinegar Household Cleaner

You'll need a spray bottle, plus equal amounts of white vinegar and water. You can use a new spray bottle, or re-use one from an old store-bought household cleaner -- just be sure to wash it out extremely well, since the vinegar will react badly with common cleaners like bleach, producing toxic chlorine gas.

Once you shake up your vinegar-water mixture, you're ready for your next cleaning spree.

If vinegar smells a bit, well, vinegary to you, it's possible to add a fragrance to your homemade cleaner.Here's how to do that

Benefits of Cleaning with Vinegar

There are plenty of reasons to clean with vinegar:

  • it's inexpensive
  • vinegar cleaners include no harsh chemicals
  • vinegar is an effective sanitizer
  • it's also an effective stain remover
  • vinegar is safe for most surfaces

Just make sure to heed these warnings:

  1. Do not use the cleaner on marble
  2. Test on a small area before using on finished wood surfaces or tile
  1. As with any cleaner, you should avoid all contact with the eyes and prolonged contact with the skin

Homemade Bleach Cleaner

If you like bleach-based cleaners (like the brand Clorox Cleanup) but you don't like the price, it's also pretty easy to make your own.

Here, you'll need a spray bottle (again, you can reuse one from a store-bought cleaner if you're careful to rinse it out thoroughly), plus water and bleach.

Unlike your homemade vinegar cleaner, you don't use a one-to-one ratio for a homemade bleach cleaner — instead, you'll be using one part bleach to nine or 10 parts water, since bleach is pretty powerful stuff. To translate, if your bottle holds 30 ounces, you should add about three ounces of bleach and fill the remainder with water. Mix it well and start cleaning.

Making Scented Bleach Cleaner

You may also want to have a scented bleach cleaner (Clorox Cleanup and other brands usually have a scent added to mask the powerful chlorine bleach odor). For this, you can use scented bleach, which costs a bit more in the store but does smell better.

You also can add a splash of laundry soap to your homemade bleach cleaner to make it smell better. However, make sure you don't add dish soap — laundry soap is intended to be used with bleach and therefore doesn't interact in a dangerous way, but some dish soaps contain chemicals such as ammonia that will produce toxic chlorine gas when mixed with bleach.

When using bleach-based cleaner, be aware that it, yes, contains bleach — it will discolor many fabrics and some other surfaces if you accidentally spray it on something that's not color-safe.

Finally, don't ever mix your vinegar cleaner with your bleach cleaner — the combination will emit chlorine gas, which is a health hazard.

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