I have started making my own household cleaning products.  I have been using this all purpose cleaner recipe, using vinegar and a few other items for awhile now.  I must say it works really well, I wish I tried this long ago and it’s kind to our budget, saving us money.  I use this cleaner in the kitchen particularly and general wipe downs around the home.

I have been using this solution for several years now, it’s extremely easy to make and very effective.  Place all ingredients into 2L jug and mix.  Fill jug with tap water.  Use a funnel to pour into spray bottle.  Don’t forget to label jug and spray bottle.

You will need:

JUG – That can hold up to 2 litres. I make up a batch of the ‘all purpose cleaner’ in the jug and refill the spray bottle when needed.

DETERGENT – preferably PH neutral, fragrance free and septic tank safe.  Will help lift dirt and grime. You can find it at your local supermarket, Earth ChoiceFragrance-Free Morning Fresh (ph neutral) and ecostore.

VINEGAR – mild disinfectant, cuts through grease, de-scaler, glass cleaner

SPRAY BOTTLE – these can be found at chemists, hairdresser supply shops, kmart or most grocery stores.

HOT WATER – I boil the kettle just prior to making this solution and allow it to sit to cool slightly.

BORAX – powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water. It is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Borax can be found at ‘some’ supermarkets, however I found mine at Bunnings.

ESSENTIAL OIL – optional, use if desired.  I like to add grapefruit essential oil as it’s a pleasant smell. However, there are many more benefits than just making your home smell nice, read more here.

b  SHOP THE LOOK: spray bottle | vinyl label for bottle | grapefruit essential oil


Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

My homemade All Purpose Cleaner is extremely easy to make and very effective, using mostly common ingredients from your pantry.

  • Author: Katrina - The Organised Housewife


  • 2L jug
  • spray bottle
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup detergent
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 4 tsp borax
  • 8 drop of essential oil


  1. Place hot water, detergent, vinegar, borax and essential oil into jug, mix to combine.
  2. Fill jug with water, stir.
  3. Pour into spary bottle.

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Rachael July 20, 2012 - 11:57 AM

Hi Katrina

3 Quick Questions:

1) Does this leave any type of residue? 
2) Also how does it work on hard to move stains such as baked on food on the top of the stove? 
3) Finally is there any odours associated with this home made product?

Thanks 🙂

Hazel Wade July 20, 2012 - 5:57 PM

Sorry to jump in here, hope you don’t mind.  Re: your 2nd query Rachael, for my cooker top when there is baked on food, I just use salt and lemon juice or white vinegar and it comes up a treat.  Pour salt onto the food debris once cold, pour some vinegar or lemon juice straight on top and rub with a damp sponge or cloth.

Hope it works for you xx

Rachael July 23, 2012 - 8:47 AM

Thanks Hazel – so regular salt is fine – that is I don’t have to use rock salt?  I’ll give it a try 🙂  Do you use the same to clean the inside of your oven also?

Thanks again! x

marie May 9, 2020 - 6:22 AM

how long does it last

Mel July 20, 2012 - 1:05 PM

Hi Katrina,

I am wondering if you could also use this as a floor cleaner? Or do you use something else for that?

Thank you


tanya July 20, 2012 - 2:30 PM

If you have a nut allergy, I have seen sunflower seed paste/butter in the health food section. I haven’t tried it yet but might get some for day care lunches as my little one goes to a nut free centre.

Hazel Wade July 20, 2012 - 5:23 PM

Hi Katrina,

I love homemade cleaners and thought you might be interested in this one as it is SO safe and SO effective (I know, I’ve tried it myself!) – http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/vinegar-orange-peel-homemade-cleaning.html

Rwect July 26, 2012 - 7:52 PM

So funny you should say that the jug you bought would also be good for drinks…my mum loves to tell me the story about my grandfather who came in from cutting the grass, saw a cordial bottle on the sink, glugged half of it down before he realised it was metho!!!

Katrina July 27, 2012 - 12:57 PM

Ooh no that’s awful. I have our jug clearly labelled and currently on the top shelf in the pantry.

Jacqui Pearson August 28, 2012 - 8:33 AM

Would it be a good idea to add a few drops of food colouring to the cleaner (like a blue) so that is not mistaken for water?

Katrina August 28, 2012 - 9:33 AM

No I wouldn’t, I used this on the carpet the other day the cat wasn’t well and marked the carpet, I used the all purpose cleaner and it didn’t leave any marks behind, if it had food colouring in it would limit what I would use it on.

Hayley 'Fame Excess' Rayfield August 28, 2012 - 3:36 PM

Hi Katrina, just getting organised for the 20 day challenge, however I have no idea what BORAX is or where i would get it… pls help!!

Elsp August 28, 2012 - 8:50 PM

I’ve looked in my local IGA, Woolworths and Coles and I can’t find Borax in any of them. Any ideas where I could get hold of some Borax?

Katrina August 29, 2012 - 10:07 AM

I found my Borax at Bunnings.

Elsp August 29, 2012 - 10:12 AM

I’ll look there today….Cheers!

Joy January 26, 2016 - 6:50 AM

Hi Katrina. I’m new to your site and I’m loving it. Thank you. I’ve been using vinegar, bicarbonate and eucalyptus oil for my cleaning for years. Is Borax safe for septic?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 28, 2016 - 10:28 AM

Hi Joy, I just found this page, it may help you: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5995012_effect-borax-septic-systems.html

Grace February 3, 2019 - 10:14 AM

i have tried clicking on the link you supplied Katrina. But it doesn’t tell me anything about septic systems

Karen Woodrow February 3, 2022 - 7:15 PM

Hi Katrina after you mix all the ingredients with the 4 cups of hot water do you then top up the 2 Lt jug with tap water to make it up to 2 litres.

Elle August 28, 2012 - 5:27 PM

Can it be used as a floor cleaner? Looking something that doesn’t make glossy tiles slippery…currently recovering from a torn Hamstring due to wet slippery tile.

Jodzadam August 28, 2012 - 10:53 PM

I have had trouble finding the borax, is there something else you could use to replace it?

Katrina August 29, 2012 - 10:04 AM

I had trouble too, I did find it at Bunnings.

Amy Reinhardt August 29, 2012 - 7:19 PM

I’m trying to get my cleaning kit ready to roll for the 20 day challenge, but couldn’t find Borax at Bunnings, Big W or Woolworths today. I looked with the cleaning products/chemicals at Bunnings… would it be in a different location?

sharon September 15, 2014 - 8:40 AM

I got borax from Mitre 10. It is used in gardening.

Amber August 29, 2012 - 3:25 AM

I may not be seeing it, but what kind of detergent?

Amber August 29, 2012 - 3:27 AM

A friend just ‘liked’ the 20 day challenge and i saw it today, glad i did, im going to do it too!!

Shireen August 29, 2012 - 9:02 AM

@ Elle. Put one cup of white vinegar in the bucket with hot water only and do the floors. Beautiful.

Amy Reinhardt August 29, 2012 - 7:30 PM

Hi Katrina, I haven’t been able to find Borax at Bunnings, Woolworths or Big W… is it essential for the all purpose cleaner? Thanks, Amy.

Emma Mills September 2, 2012 - 8:14 PM

I found some today at the IGA in the cleaning aisle

Katrina September 2, 2012 - 8:36 PM


Amy Reinhardt September 2, 2012 - 9:03 PM

Thanks Emma… I’ll try and get to IGA during the week to see if I can find it.

Kimberley Jane Fuss September 3, 2012 - 3:25 PM

I get mine in Coles, I asked in Woolies and they told me they had stopped that ‘line’…I make my own Washing powder and so use it all the time…In the 3 different Coles shops I have found it on the top shelf, next to Drain cleaner etc…

Dagmar Schnappinger January 3, 2013 - 10:45 PM

Hi Katrina,

can you – or someone else – please tell me, what Borax does within this recipe?
The reason of my question: I live in Germany and here it is forbidden so sell Borax to households … they say, it’s dangerous to newborn life …
So – if I know what function Borax does have, I could get something to replace it.



x October 3, 2021 - 8:14 PM

Borax is a natural compound that kills and prevents mold.

Meriam February 7, 2013 - 11:39 AM

Hi Katrina,

I’m just wondering why you add the Earth detergent; is it only for the nice smell?

Thank you!

Saskia Greis March 17, 2013 - 1:45 AM

Your home made cleaner ist the best cleaner I ever used!

TanyaTK May 16, 2013 - 9:01 AM


I looked up Borax in response to the comment from Dagmar. this is what I found on wikipedia

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve easily in water.

Borax has a wide variety of uses. It is a component of many detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. It is also used to make buffer solutions in biochemistry, as a fire retardant, as an anti-fungal compound for fiberglass, as a flux in metallurgy, neutron-capture shields for radioactive sources, a texturing agent in cooking, and as a precursor for other boron compounds.

However, I found this link as well.


Ann May 16, 2013 - 4:43 PM

Kat do you have a natural good cleaner for wooden floors?? Thanks

Katrina May 16, 2013 - 9:11 PM

Ann I use hot water with a splash of vinegar to clean my floors, does a great job. The vinegar smell does not linger but will pick up all dirt and germs.

Shannon Morgan August 3, 2013 - 10:47 PM

I can’t find the spray bottle or jug on HSW website. Any other ideas where I could buy a good quality spray bottle/jug similar to this? I don’t want the plain and boring plastic bottle. I like the one in your picture. Thanks.

Katrina August 5, 2013 - 3:25 PM

That’s the reason I really liked it too Shannon, sometimes Howards don’t stock all their products online, you may find it instore. I recently picked up a spray bottle from Ikea, it was cheap, bright colour and funky shape. Woolies also have some cute round shaped ones.

Katrina August 5, 2013 - 3:27 PM

That’s the reason I really liked it too Shannon, sometimes Howards don’t stock all their products online, you may find it instore. I recently picked up a spray bottle from Ikea, it was cheap, bright colour and funky shape. Woolies also have some cute round shaped ones.

sly December 12, 2013 - 5:00 PM

What type of detergent?

Katrina December 19, 2013 - 5:15 PM

I use the detergent you clean your dishes with : )

Anne February 18, 2014 - 8:49 AM

On a cleaning note – does anyone have any bright ideas how to remove a years-in-the-making calcium scale build up on bathroom floor tiles without damaging the tile surface with a paint scraper? Bicarb/vinegar, orange shower cleaner, a scourer and elbow grease have lessened it, but only the scraper chipped it away successfully. I’m just not game to scrape a large area in case I ruin the tile surface….

Leni February 18, 2014 - 10:10 AM

Have you tried eucalyptus oil?

Julie Dorbon February 18, 2014 - 1:16 PM

Try a spray of white vinegar, water and add some CLR clear (from hardware). You may have to experiment with strength.

Jules February 18, 2014 - 4:21 PM

You could try what I did in the bottom of my shower/bath. I put down a thin towel and soaked it in vinegar then covered that with a plastic bag. The cloth keeps the vinegar spread evenly rather than pooling in spots, and the plastic stops it drying out. Some hours later the calcium build up came away easily.

Tina February 22, 2015 - 1:25 PM

Yes- there’s a product you buy at Bunnings called “spot x” it’s a powder and comes with a special scourer. I got it for $20. It cleans the calcium residue right off glass shower screens and tiles and makes them sparkle. Also powdered sugar soap does a pretty good job. Spot x though does a 5 star 10/10 job.

Leesa February 18, 2014 - 11:41 AM

to make it smell nice I also add a drop of eucalyptis oil.

Katrina February 21, 2014 - 2:02 PM

great idea Leesa, or you can add in some lemon peel too

Nicole Forrest Johnstone February 19, 2014 - 2:04 PM

Hi there, I soak either lemon peel or orange peel in the vinegar for a beautiful smell and also extra tough removal. Soak for up to 2 weeks in the vinegar and strain off before adding to the mx.

Katrina February 21, 2014 - 12:20 PM

graet idea will give it a lovely scent

Loiki February 26, 2014 - 7:14 AM

Hi I have been using a vinegar and water mix for a basic cleaning mix. just wondering what the borax and dishwashing liquid adds to the mix?

Frankie Coldiron March 13, 2014 - 8:51 AM

Does this clean cabinets as mine look like they have a build up since I have a gas range?

Selina May 20, 2014 - 11:18 AM

I’ve been wanting to make this cleaner since I got the email. I FINALLY have used my usual spray cleaners so that I can use the bottles. Thanks for the recipe – so easy. Can’t wait to try it.

Kelly July 7, 2014 - 9:51 PM

Hi Katrina,
Firstly, I am so glad I found your website! It has inspired me with ideas for improvement and to fine tune some areas I wanted to do better for myself and our home. Secondly, this All Purpose Cleaner is amazing! I thought I’d give it a while and it breaks through some tough grease, residue, oils and all sorts! So thank you for posting! One quick question, inside our home we have an exposed brick bar in the dining room. We had an old puppy dog who used to rest on it, leaving a residue that might be oils from her skin. I thought I’d try a test spot with this all purpose cleaner and it did work, however before continuing, is this mixture harmful to bricks and grout? I’d hate to damage something.
Thanks! Kelly

Zorik September 12, 2014 - 6:48 PM

No this is just a mild cleaning solution – the potent cleaners that could do damage have either very high or very low ph and this is somewhat balanced.

Lee October 2, 2014 - 4:14 PM

This solution is also great for cleaning fly screens! 🙂

Kate - Kat's Assistant October 8, 2014 - 12:32 PM

Hi Lee, I have attached a link for you: https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/?s=cleaning+fly+screens

Matt Donovan December 16, 2014 - 12:24 PM

Great recipe! I made it up this week and it has been working like a charm – thanks!

Tina February 22, 2015 - 1:02 PM

This is great- but I make a different type of cleaner for the home called “thieves” you can google it to find out all about it- it’s very good antibacterial and all natural too which is great. And great story about its history.
All it is is lemon rind, Rosemary, whole cloves and eucalyptus oil. Very cheap. 1 batch makes 4L which is a years supply for me and my mums homes. Costs less than $5.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 23, 2015 - 8:50 AM

Hi Tina, ooh i might have to try your recipe, it sounds like it would smell lovely.

Georga September 17, 2015 - 9:57 AM

HI Tina, could I have your recipe please? I can only find references to an already prepared cleaner called thieves?? Thanks

Carey Jahn March 31, 2015 - 6:55 PM

Does this clean cabinets as mine look like they have a build up since I have a gas range?

Khadijah Luce May 12, 2015 - 10:25 PM

Yes. The cleaner makes it like new.

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Steve smith June 24, 2015 - 4:46 PM

Yeah its helpful me.
thanks to share it

Anita Mitchell September 14, 2015 - 4:03 PM

I’m reluctant to have this all purpose cleaner in my kitchen/bathroom as we have marble bench tops and can’t use vinegar or citrus of any sort. Not sure about borax. I do have some left over from a science experiment……
Any ideas?

Lynette Nigro September 22, 2015 - 1:49 PM

I am trying to print the recipe for the homemade all purpose cleaner, but the detail are not coming up to print (using the print button on the recipe). Please help! Thank you

Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 22, 2015 - 6:33 PM

Thank you for letting me know Lynette, I’m trying to fix it 🙂

Joyce Davey January 21, 2016 - 9:24 AM

Hi Katrina,do you use white vinegar or cleaning vinegar in your recipe for all purpose cleaner,thank you

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 28, 2016 - 10:27 AM

I use white vinegar, they are both the same, but some stores sell cleaning vinegar at a higher price. I just use homebrand 🙂

Jess March 13, 2016 - 12:34 PM

Hi Katrina,

How do you decide when to use your all purpose cleaner as opposed to vinegar or your 50/50 vinegar/water mix?


Kate Forbes July 17, 2016 - 9:33 PM

Hi Katrina,
Thanks for all your tips! Just wondering what brand of detergent you use.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 20, 2016 - 10:00 AM

I use Earth Choice Dishwashing Liquad as it doesn’t have any colour in it. Stay away from green detergents as the colour may not come out of some fabrics.

[email protected] July 20, 2016 - 5:27 PM

Lovely recipe, I love green cleaning methods and strongly recommend them! The questions and comments below are equally useful. Thanks, Kat!

Dimitar August 11, 2016 - 9:26 PM

Dear Katrina,

thank you for the recipe, I am sure my wife will be happy to try this. I will send her your blog post and will update you. We do love eco cleaning!

marilyn mayo September 27, 2017 - 6:39 AM

We live in Michigan in the US. When you say detergent, do you mean a dish washing liquid like Dawn(the one used in TV ads to wash ducks who were caught in an oil spill), or Tide (a laundry detergent), or some other liquid all purpose cleaner like Mr. Clean, Pinesol, Spic n’Span ?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife September 27, 2017 - 7:51 AM

Hi Marilyn the liquid you would use to washing your breakfast, dinner dishes in the sink 🙂

Veronica October 7, 2017 - 3:34 AM

Borax not available here at the moment. Can I leave it out or can you give me an alternative.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 9, 2017 - 12:16 PM

Hi Veronica, you can just it without the borax for now (until it is available) it may not be as affective

Faridah January 30, 2018 - 4:30 PM

Hi Katrina. I love your spray bottles and I can’t seem to track this style down anywhere. The only ones I can find are narrow on top and getting round and large towards the bottom. Could you tell me where I can get yours from?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 31, 2018 - 9:45 AM

Hi there, I purchased mine online and am currently trying to work out how to order these to have available in my shop. Stay tuned

Faridah January 31, 2018 - 11:55 AM

Great thank you.

Sheree Passmore February 2, 2018 - 11:13 AM

Hi Katrina,
I am just wondering how long does the all purpose last, to be effective..?? I know with some home made cleaning recipes last 24 hours..!

Beryl Newton February 8, 2018 - 1:14 PM

Hi Katrina,
Have you tried decanting half a bottle of vinegar putting it into an empty vinegar bottle then fill with water and leave for 2 weeks and it will gain its strength again.

Nikki May 17, 2018 - 7:43 AM

Is this mixture suitable for stone surfaces? Marble, granite, Caesarstone etc? I’ve read that vinegar ‘eats’ into it over time?

Michelle June 4, 2019 - 10:49 AM

Thanks for posting your cleaner recipe. I had a navy blue and a black shirt that had grease spots on the front of them. I read on a blog to use straight Dawn Dishwashing Soap and a soft brush. I poured a small amount on the spots and then used the brush. I laundered them and when I took out of the washer the spots were gone. I had almost decided to throw them in the rag bag until I tried this method. Worked like a charm for me.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 5, 2019 - 9:16 AM

Great advice Michelle! Thank you so much for sharing. Kat x

Wendy Inglis June 8, 2019 - 6:09 PM

I have a new ceramic cook-top, is the all purpose cleaner safe to use on it? I don’t want to damage it in any way trying to keep it clean

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 10, 2019 - 9:26 AM

Wendy I use this all purpose cleaner on everything! I would test on a tiny bit of the back corner for your own piece of mind though. Kat x

Angela July 3, 2019 - 4:31 PM

Hi Kat, I’ve been advised (and it also says so on the container) that Borax is harmful/can affect fertility. What role does the borax play in your cleaner and what do you think might be a sustitute. I’m currently pregnant and looking at more children, so I wont be using Borax (i’ve looked at the online articles and there are arguments either way but I wont risk it). Thanks heaps Ange

Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 8, 2019 - 11:16 AM

Hi Angela I understand, I would probably just stick to my Reusable Homemade Wipes if you’re concerned: https://theorganisedhousewife.com.au/cleaning-2/reusable-homemade-antibacterial-wipes-diy-natural-disinfecting/

Watson September 26, 2019 - 4:14 AM

Great products 🙂 thnx for sharing with us.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 1, 2019 - 3:49 PM

You’re welcome! Kat x

Joyce October 17, 2019 - 10:45 AM

Hi Folk,
if you are trying to avoid cleaning grime from your wall tiles in the shower or bath/shower, or from any of the water proof wall surfaces, include glass around the shower, how about you minimise the risk of build up of grime by DAILY removing the water after you shower (or after the last one showers each morning – or teach them to do the same)?
I use one of those handled wipers that you clean your car windows with at the petrol stations.

It will work a treat in removing remaining shampoo soap and water. And it is quick and easy to do.
All you are doing is removing whereever the water is obvious on the water proof surface.
You start from the top and do a swipe from left to right, then remove.
Do another left to right that overlaps enough to catch any water gravitating downwards.
And repeat until you come to the bottom of that wall or glass door etc.
Then do the same on the remaining waterproof surfaces of you bathroom tiled wall or glass shower doors etc.

This means the moisture never remains, so it dries quicker and reduces the risk of grime and mould.

So when it comes to cleaning day your job is much easier.
It is merely covering it with the anitfungal and soap agents (see the recipe that Kat provided.).

Katrina - The Organised Housewife October 18, 2019 - 10:04 AM

Fabulous advice Joyce! Thank you for sharing 🙂

Lisa Peach February 2, 2020 - 9:05 PM

Love it!! Have been using this for a couple of years now. Make big batches and supply my (grown up) kids as well 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 4, 2020 - 8:55 AM

I love hearing this Lisa! Thank you for sharing 🙂

Rho April 14, 2020 - 11:43 AM

does anyone have a homemade recipe for cleaning wooden floors?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 20, 2020 - 2:38 PM

I don’t have wooden floors in my home so have never had the need to create a homemade recipe for this. I have heard that a little Castile Soap in warm water is effective though. Hope this helps 🙂 Kat x

Getting Organised – Reusable Homemade Antibacterial Wipes – Country Housewives ABC August 29, 2020 - 7:02 PM

[…] be frugal and reduce our grocery bill I am trying to find cheaper alternatives, like using my own homemade all purpose cleaner. Over the past few months I have been using reusable homemade antibacterial wipes, although I do […]

Will December 31, 2020 - 1:29 AM

Ill give it a shot

Katrina - The Organised Housewife January 5, 2021 - 9:24 AM

I’d love to hear what you think of it if you do try it.

Jack February 16, 2021 - 5:47 AM

Thank you for the great article

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 19, 2021 - 3:01 PM

You’re welcome. Kat x

Harry Ray April 20, 2021 - 5:28 PM

Hi, I find reading this article a joy. It is extremely helpful and interesting and very much looking forward to reading more of your work.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife April 22, 2021 - 9:11 AM

Thanks Harry!

carpetcleaningforce September 12, 2021 - 4:58 PM

Homemade carpet cleaner:

Mix one teaspoon of translucent liquid dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn or Joy, into 1 cup of lukewarm water. Vinegar solution: Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of water. Ammonia solution: Mix one tablespoon of clear household ammonia with ½ cup of lukewarm water.

20 uses for vinegar around the home - Health February 3, 2022 - 7:21 AM

[…] your own cleaners – I use my own all-purpose cleaner in the kitchen and around the surfaces of the […]

Harry April 12, 2022 - 8:51 PM

Great article! Instead of essential oil, you can use lemon to deal with the vinegar smell.


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