05 June, 2008

Peppermint All-purpose Household Cleaner

This is a recipe I've tested well. I've been using it in several variations for more than a year now and I wouldn't be without it. One of the first things I did when I got to this old house was make up a batch so I wouldn't have to use the commercial cleaners under the sink.

Why do I like it so much?

It cleans the sink, counters, kitchen table, toilet, bathroom tub, sink, furniture, stuff spilled on the floor, or anything washable. It smells great. It can even be used as a dishwashing liquid. In fact, if you have caked-on food or greasy things, a few spurts of this and a fill-up with water, then an overnight soak pretty much cleans up the problem. I even use this to clean cutting boards before giving them a good rinse, and I don't worry about getting off-flavours because this is natural and rinses right off. The vinegar helps to kill mold and disinfect.

It's biodegradable.

It's cheap.

It smells good.

It doesn't sting my hands, even if they happen to be a bit tender.

It's customizable. You can add a bit more detergent/soap or vinegar if you want more cleaning power. You can use tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, or peppermint extract as the active agent. Or, you could substitute something you like better.

There's one bottle instead of five or six cluttering up your cupboard or counter.

You can re-use that bottle.

Here's how:

Take a spray bottle. You can re-use one from a cleaner you already have. I'm currently re-using a Windex bottle. It works fine.

Put around three fingers in height of dish detergent in the bottom of the bottle. If you have a biodegradable one so much the better, but even using a regular dish detergent is good, because it will be diluted a bit by this method.

Put in around 1/4 cup of vinegar. I use white but it can be anything you like. Maybe a flavoured one is overkill, though. I'd save my rasperry champagne vinegar for the salad.

Put in a small capful of your favourite extract. Tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract is better for cleaning bathrooms since they have anti-germ properties, peppermint works for both dishes and the bathroom, so it's my current choice.

Fill the bottle with plain tap water and give it a shake.


To use it spray on, and scrub with a wet cloth. Or spray it on a wet cloth and scrub. Rinse with fresh water. To use it for dishes put a few squirts in the dish pan and fill with water or spray it directly on dishes, srcub and rinse.

Did I mention it smells good and it's cheap?

Best of all, it takes 2 minutes to make, if you stop for a swig of coffee in the middle.

Try it. Let me know how it works for you and what your favourite variation is.

Tell me how much money you save.


Ginger said...

i like the recipe and i'm going to try it...i'll let you know. i currently use just plain baking soda and/or white vinegar or a couple of the natural, vegetable based cleansers sold at the local healthfood store. ecover brand is my current favorite for laundry detergent and dish soap.

Alpa said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, I am always on the lookout for more natural cleaning products. The brands that are on the store shelves are so expensive! This is a really great alternative.

vegetablej said...

Hi Ginger:

ecover is reportedly good. I haven't tried it yet for dishes or laundry, just using this one for both right now (hand washing) and it seems to be working well. In Japan I used a brand from the local health store that worked well but was a bit pricey.

Now I'm definitely on a budget, so the homemade ones are better for me. But, shhhhh, they work better than the expensive ones. Shows how much of a profit margin there is in cleaners. :)

vegetablej said...


You're most welcome. I agree that the regular brands are more expensive than they need to be. A bit strange because most of the ingredients are really cheap. I think the fact that they are trendy just now accounts for some of the sticker price.

If you try this and it works for you, please let me know and if you have any personal tweaks I'd love to hear them.

One of the best things you can do is to let your friends and family know about natural cleaners. Sometimes there is a little initial resistance, so I've decided that a bottle of cleaner would make a nice little present for my family members. And, bonus, I can avoid the shopping trips.


Hari said...

I just made mine with Bronner's Magic Soap (Lavender), white vinegar (got it at costco!), a few shakes of tea tree oil, and water... it's cloudy and a bit solid in places. Is that normal?

p.s. eat my share of real (read:yellow) peaches and affordable watermelon, ok??

Dazed said...

I'm going to try this, I'm hoping the peppermint aroma will keep mice off the counters. Keep fingers crossed.

vegetablej said...


Sorry to be so long in answering; somehow I overlooked your comment.

No, it's not normal for it to be solid. I'm guessing it's because the Dr. Bronners is castile soap not detergent so it doesn't mix as well with the vinegar.

I love Dr. Bronners soap and use it for shampooing and showering and other things but maybe not in this.

Don't give up! Please try again.


vegetablej said...


I hope so to but having some experience with mice, I sort of doubt it. About the only natural, but not nice, remedy I know for mice is a cat.