How to make the best all purpose cleaner recipes using vinegar or castile soap! Made with simple ingredients that are cheap and easy to find. These natural cleaners, with their effective cleaning power, will clean your whole house, from living room surfaces to the bathroom sink and tub to door handles.

All purpose cleaner in a clear glass bottle on the countertop in the kitchen.

If you love making homemade products, you’ll also love these recipes : glass and mirror cleaner, tub and sink scrub, floor cleaner with vinegar, floor cleaner without vinegar, stain remover spray (for tough stains), and homemade laundry detergent

Two bottles of all purpose spray.

How to Make DIY All Purpose Cleaner (Two Recipes)

These recipes are wonderful natural cleaning solutions and are far cheaper than any store-bought cleaners. Here are the two best ways to make an all purpose cleaner without harmful chemicals…


  • 1 16-ounce glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar or homemade orange peel vinegar (vinegar infused with orange or lemon peels)
  • 1 cup distilled water (water with impurities removed; found at any grocery store)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (a detergent-based soap that may be mixed with vinegar and is tough on dirt, grease, and soap scum)
  • Optional: 15-30 drops of your favorite essential oil


  • Add the vinegar, water, and Sal Suds or essential oil (if using) to the spray bottle.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle and gently shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. You’ll want to do this each time you use the cleaner.
  • Spray the surface directly, then use a cloth to wipe and clean the surface.


  • 1 16-ounce glass spray bottle
  • 2 cups distilled water (water with impurities removed; found at any grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons scented or unscented liquid castile soap OR 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (a detergent-based soap that’s tougher than castile soap) 
  • Optional: 15-30 drops of your favorite essential oil

Make It

  • Add the water to the spray bottle, followed by the castile soap (or Sal Suds), and (if using) essential oil of choice.
  • Place the spray nozzle on the bottle and gently shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. You’ll want to do this each time you use the cleaner, particularly if it’s been sitting and the ingredients have settled or separated.

Watch: Recipe Video Tutorial

Q: Which recipe should I make?

A: That comes down to preference and also what you’re cleaning. Some things to consider…

  • Make the castile soap all purpose cleaner if cleaning sensitive stone surfaces, such as granite or marble. Do not use vinegar on these surfaces.
  • Make the vinegar cleaner if you don’t mind the scent of vinegar.
  • Make the vinegar cleaner if you want a solution that also cleans glass, mirrors, and windows.
  • Make the castile soap cleaner if you hate the smell of vinegar.
Cleaners in a cleaning caddy.

All Purpose Cleaner Ingredients

Natural products are usually made with very simple ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar, castile soap, and hydrogen peroxide.

To make a great surface cleaner, you only need castile soap OR vinegar and water. That’s it! You may also add an essential oil. Let’s take a look at each ingredient.

White Vinegar

Found at any grocery store. White vinegar is 5% acetic acid. The acid fights against bacteria. Vinegar can’t be used on every surface (like marble and granite). Even with these limitations, vinegar is an extremely versatile product that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces. Make it extra special and use orange or lemon rinds to create a citrus-scented vinegar for cleaning

More vinegar cleaning ideas and recipes…

Castile Soap

An ancient soap made from natural ingredients and comes from the Castile region of Spain, giving it its name. This soap doesn’t contain any animal fats or synthetic ingredients (including synthetic preservatives and fragrances). It’s made in two forms: liquid soap and bar soap. For this recipe, use liquid soap.

More castile soap cleaning ideas and recipes…


When making homemade products, filtered water may be used for temporary solutions, but for longer-term storage, use distilled water (found in any grocery store) or boiled water (boil for 15 minutes, then cool) to limit the possibility of bacterial growth.

Learn how to safely make your own cleaners… 

Want to add an essential oil? Here are the best options

Essential oils are NOT required ingredients to make effective homemade cleaners, but they can add a lovely scent and beneficial properties.

You’re welcome to add an essential to either all purpose cleaner recipe. Here are a few of my favorites.  

  • Tea Tree Oil: Known for its antibacterial properties, tea tree essential oil is commonly used to make natural cleaning products. 
  • Peppermint: Adds a fresh, vibrant, minty scent. 
  • Lavender: Adds a calming scent. 
  • Orange or Lemon: A fresh, citrusy scent. 
  • Germ Fighter Blend: This is a blend of individual essential oils. Each brand has its own name for this blend, some call it Thieves Oil, while others call it Germ Fighter. Usually a blend of lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, clove, and rosemary essential oils. 

What is an essential oil?

Essential oils are concentrated oils derived from plants. For those wanting a more scientific definition, here’s how Retha, a certified aromatherapist from Plant Therapy, defines an essential oil,  “An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam.

Learn more about essential oils…

Pro Tip: Always be cautious when adding essential oils to DIY cleaners, particularly when young children or pets are in the home. Some essentials oils may be toxic or harmful to pets and young kids. There are many lists online that breakdown safe and unsafe oils to use in these situations. 

Essential oil chart
Choose your favorite essential oil, or skip the essential oil. Completely optional.

How to Use Homemade All Purpose Spray

Use either of these natural cleaning recipes just like any commercial cleaner.

  • First, spray the surface directly with cleaner of choice. 
  • Next, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface clean (or a toilet brush for the toilet).
  • If you’re using the castile soap cleaner, go back over the surface with a damp cloth, rinse and repeat.

What surfaces can I clean?

Before using a cleaner on household surfaces, always spot test first before liberally spraying any hard surface. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use an all purpose cleaner.

  • kitchen surfaces: sink, cooktop, oven, counter tops, (do not use vinegar-based cleaners on marble or granite), inside the fridge, tile and grout 
  • bathroom surfaces: sink, tubs, counter tops (do not use vinegar-based cleaners on marble or granite), tile and grout 
  • kitchen table and chairs 
  • toilets
  • dusting surfaces (I recommend using a microfiber cloth)
  • dirty toys
  • door knobs
  • lightswitches
  • stainless steel surfaces
  • interior car surfaces
  • glass and mirrors (only the vinegar cleaner; the castile soap cleaner will leave streaks OR make your own glass cleaner with rubbing alcohol and vinegar)
All purpose cleaner on a wood table.
Use either recipe to clean a variety of surfaces in your home.

Best Natural Cleaning Recipes to Try Next

Learn how to make natural cleaners for your home

Two bottles of all purpose spray.
4.75 from 43 votes

DIY Homemade All-Purpose Surface Cleaner: Two Ways

The two best ways to make an all purpose surface cleaner. Use the spray of your choice to clean your whole house, from the kitchen and bathroom to living room. There's no job these homemade recipes can't tackle!
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course DIY, Homemade
Cuisine Cleaning
Servings 1 16-ounce bottle (per recipe)
Cost: $2


Castile Soap All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 TB liquid castile soap (scented or unscented) OR 1 teaspoon Sal Suds
  • 15-30 drops essential oil of choice (optional) lavender, peppermint, orange, or lemon, etc.

Vinegar All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 15-30 drops essential oil of choice (optional) lavender, peppermint, orange, or lemon, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon Sal Suds (optional) for cleaning grease, picking up dirt on surface


Castile Soap All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • Pour the water into a 16-ounce spray bottle (use a funnel, if needed). Add the castile soap and essential oil. Gently shake the solution to combine. Store at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.

Vinegar All Purpose Surface Cleaner

  • Pour all the ingredients (vinegar, water, and if using Sal Suds or essential oil) into a 16-ounce spray bottle (use a funnel, if needed). Shake the solution to combine. Store at room temperature for up to 4 weeks.
  • How to Use
  • Gently shake the spray bottle before spraying the cleaner on the desired surface. Spray the cleaner and wipe off the surface with a damp cloth (this is important when using the castile soap cleaner since it can leave a soapy residue if left to dry)! Do NOT use the vinegar cleaner on marble or granite.



Castile Soap Residue: Castile soap can leave a white residue on surfaces if not wiped down with a damp cloth. Also, hard water can cause a residue on surfaces when the soap interacts with the water. If this happens, just wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth. Rinse and repeat.
Lemon Juice Note: In the video, I add lemon juice (1/2 lemon, juiced) to the vinegar cleaner. If you plan to store the cleaner for a few weeks, I don’t recommend this addition. If you’d like to add lemon juice, you’re welcome to do so. Do not add lemon juice to the castile soap recipe as the acid will not mix with the soap.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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  1. 4 stars
    I have used the “Castile Soap Surface Cleaner” for a year or so. While it is effective, it is also frustrating to use. No matter how often I shake it, the soap seems to settle at the bottom so once the spray bottle is 1/3 full or less, the solution is MUCH soapier. I only use 2T of Castille soap, so that shouldn’t be a problem. I had this same problem with another soap-based AP I used. I may try just 1T or go back to my old AP cleaner.

  2. I am used to cleaning with a bucket of water that I dump a bit of a cleaning solution into and a soft cloth. Can I do this instead of making a spray?

  3. 5 stars
    I love making my own cleaners and these recipes are great! I’ve noticed however that a a few weeks after making them, the one with lemon essential oil is now sort of cloudy and it was originally clear. Is it growing mold or is this normal? It’s in an amber colored glass bottle so it’s sort of hard for me to see what is happening. It still smells great, so I’m very confused.

    1. Hey Jo, Did you use distilled water? If so, it could just be the essential oil making the blend cloudy, or another ingredient (castile soap will do this). If not, I would play it safe and toss the cleaner.

      1. I used bottled water for one of them, ironically the one with the castile soap, and the other I made the next day and just used tap water (completely forgot about using distilled). But basically, if the mixture starts clear – it should remain clear right? I think I will be tossing the cloudy, non-castile one.

        Thank you!

  4. Hi, I am looking to make my own cleaning products. I was wondering if you can use filtered water instead of distilled water? Thanks 🙂

  5. Hi Kristin ~ . I love your website! I was looking for a cleaner to use on my computer screen. Would you use your glass cleaner to clean the computer screens?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Hey Heather, I do! The recipe is in my cleaning book: 3 tablespoons distilled water (to prevent mineral deposits caused by tap water)+ 3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol. Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray the electronics cleaner on a microfiber cloth. Wipe electronic screens. Always test a small area first.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!