The Best DIY Cleaning Ideas for Around the House

Looking for a quick way to clean up common household messes? Turn to these homemade cleaners.

Whether you’re looking to cut back on chemical cleaners or simply don’t have time to run out to the store, we have good news: You can repurpose kitchen staples to clean stubborn messes. Here are a few of our favorites:

White Vinegar

  • Window cleaner: Mix a quarter cup vinegar to one pint of water in a spray bottle. Spray on windows and wipe clean.
  • Coffee machine descaler: Fill the water chamber with equal parts vinegar and water, then run the machine as normal. Turn off when it’s halfway through the brew cycle and let it sit for an hour. Rinse and run with water 3 times before using.

Can’t get over the smell of vinegar? Here are a few ways to make your cleaning solution smell better.

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Kill mold: Mix apple cider vinegar with a few drops of tea tree essential oil. Spray on mold, and leave it to dry.
  • Clean the floor: Combine one cup of ACV to a gallon of warm water. Mop floor as normal.

Check out more uses for apple cider vinegar here.

Salt

  • Deep clean a cast iron: Sprinkle a tablespoon of coarse salt on stuck-on residue. Add warm water and scrub.
  • Solve a sticky stovetop: Sprinkle a layer of salt on sticky liquids, then wipe away with a sponge. The salt helps to grab onto the mess.

Baking Soda

  • Clean the slow cooker: Fill insert with water and add 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Set slow cooker to low heat and let cook for a few hours. Rinse. Scrub to remove any stuck on food.
  • Absorb household odors: Combine 1 tablespoon baking soda with water in a small spray bottle. Spray lightly around the house.
  • Fix a smelly trash can: Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into the trash can once a week to absorb odors.

Find 50 more clever ways to clean with baking soda.

Lemon

  • Steam-clean the microwave: Add the lemon pieces to the bowl, along with 1/2 cup of water. Nuke the water and lemon for three minutes on high, or until the liquid starts to boil
  • Freshen up the disposal: To nix the odor, cut a lemon and grind the pieces one at a time in the disposal.
  • Refresh a cutting board: Sprinkle some salt on it, then scrub with the cut side of half a lemon. Rinse, then repeat if needed.

Here are more ways to clean with lemon.

Ketchup

  • Polish copper: Slather the ketchup onto your copper-bottomed pots and leave it on for as long as you can. Then wipe and rinse.
  • Clean silverware: Same method goes for polishing copper. If your silver has a lot of detailing, use a toothbrush to scrub the ketchup into the grooves. Rinse immediately after scrubbing.

Find more unexpected ways to clean with ketchup.

Coffee Grounds

  • Deodorize the fridge: Place used grounds in a bowl and leave in your refrigerator overnight to absorb the smell.
  • Wipe away stuck-on food: Use coffee grounds as a mild abrasive to clean pots and pans. Add grounds and scrub with soap and warm water.

Don’t dump those coffee grounds just yet. Here are more ways to use them around the house.

Olive Oil

  • Polish furniture: Apply a small amount using a soft rag. To make it smell less like olive oil, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Condition leather: Wipe down leather with a dab of olive oil and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then wipe away the excess.

Find more household uses for olive oil here.

When Homemade Cleaners Just Won’t Cut It

When you’re facing the toughest messes, sometimes a homemade cleaner just won’t cut it. Our Test Kitchen experts tested the leading cleaning products to find the best brand in each category. Find our which product made the list of our Best Loved Brands.

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.