All purpose earth friendly cleaning fluid recipe

(First published November 2007, updated February 2010)

Do you have spray bottles full of various cleaning chemical concoctions – a liquid for this, a potion for that?

I’ve published a few articles on various common substances that you can use for different earth friendly cleaning applications around the home (check the links at the end of this article), but here’s a recipe contributed by a Green Living Tips reader for an all purpose environmentally friendly cleaning fluid that’s very easy to make and costs well under a dollar a bottle! Thanks to Maureen R. for sharing this!

Tip: While this is a tried and tested recipe made in green cleaning workshops, always spot test any cleaning fluid before going all out.

Ingredients and supplies

– 32 oz. (around 950ml) spray bottle – try to use a bottle made from recycled materials, or is recyclable. Maureen recommends #2 plastic

– water

– White distilled vinegar. It should be vinegar made from grain or plant material. Believe it or not, some vinegar is synthesized from petroleum – yes, crude oil!. It gives a whole new meaning to fuel as food.

Genuine lemongrass essential oil. Aside from helping to mask the vinegar odor (which dissipates naturally anyway), Lemongrass has anti-bacterial properties. For increased disinfecting power, you can use Tea Tree oil which also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Note: While we tend to get a little paranoid about bacteria these days thanks to marketing messages that basically paint the presence of any bacteria as being A Bad Thing, if it’s an important issue to you, lemongrass is a far more environmentally friendly option than chemicals like triclosan. These synthetic chemicals should really only be used in professional health care settings due to issues relating to bacteria becoming resistant when products containing chemicals such as triclosan are used excessively and/or incorrectly.

– Earth friendly dishwashing liquid. This can be found in just about any supermarket. The dishwashing liquid is necessary to clean mirrors and glass streak-free where commercial glass cleaners have been used previous. Many commercial window/glass cleaners have chemicals of a waxy nature in them; so when you switch to vinegar/water, there will be streaking unless you have the dish detergent in your cleaner. Once that build-up is gone, dishwashing liquid isn’t necessary.


1. Fill bottle half with water

2. Top it up with white distilled vinegar, but leave a little room for the additional ingredients and for shaking

3. Add 10-14+ drops lemongrass essential oil. Maureen says she uses around 30 drops, but started off with 14 to minimize the chance of skin irritability.

4. Add 2-3 drops of the earth friendly dishwashing liquid.

5. Cap and shake. There should be a thin layer of foamy bubbles at the top – but not too many.

6. Label container clearly. Shake before using and store out of direct sunlight.


Windows, mirrors, floors, some carpet/clothing/upholstery stains, chrome, as a rinse after using baking soda, cleaning stainless steel and porcelain, to clean toilet area. Also cleans car windows/mirrors, door handles, and much more. Maureen also keeps some in the car and uses it as a hand cleaner.

I whipped up a batch of this cleaner using tea tree oil and tried it out on stainless, glass and a bench top. It worked very well and smelled pretty good too!

Important notes from Maureen:

Do not use vinegar on marble. Before you use the cleaner on glass and mirrors that have been previously cleaned with commercial products, Maureen recommends washing the surface with warm soapy water once to remove any wax build-up that can otherwise cause streaking.

Pass this recipe on!

Maureen tells me that this recipe is part of a Pass It Forward Project. Those who use it are warmly encouraged to share the recipe with at least one other person (preferably more!). Use the “bookmark” button below to post a link to this recipe on your favorite social bookmarking service (StumbleUpon, Reddit etc.) or click the “email to a friend” link in the right hand menu!