Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Homemade cleaning products

A new booklet on cleaning for a healthier home and planet

by Amanda Kay

I started getting really interested in natural cleaning when my husband and I went overseas on a posting with young children. Aside from the wonderful cultural experience that the Philippines offered, living in a polluted city like Manila for three years can give you a true appreciation for reducing toxins in your life and reducing your impact on the environment.

I had been buying environmentally friendly cleaning products for a while but the high cost is a good motivator for finding alternatives. I started collecting information from other expats who were making their own cleaning products. Then I got a few books on the subject and started testing out some of the more complex recipes. Not that any of the products I make are particularly complex, but I wanted to replace everything in my cleaning cupboard with a homemade alternative.

In preparation for our return to Australia, I started preparing to establish a small business. It is primarily based around organic products, but I had a thought that people might be interested in learning about saving money and reducing their environmental impact by giving up their bleach, sodium lauryl sulphate, synthetic fragrances and other nasties. I wasn’t going to make any money out of it, although I’d love an income from home I’m really a lot more passionate about having a positive impact than building a business. So I figured by spreading information about simple things we can do could really have a positive effect.

I wanted to create a resource that was locally specific so that I could provide detailed information. That way I could make the switch to natural cleaning as easy as possible for people. If I could direct people to where they could get the raw ingredients I figured there’d be more people who would give it a go. It’s not that hard really, with baking soda and vinegar alone you can ditch the following long list of store bought cleaning products:

  • bench top spray and wipe
  • deodoriser
  • dishwasher rinse aid
  • drain cleaner
  • kitchen degreaser
  • microwave cleaner
  • glass cleaner
  • mould remover
  • all-purpose bathroom cleaner
  • toilet cleaner
  • fabric softener
  • carpet stain remover.

Add borax, washing soda, soap flakes and glycerine and you’ve pretty much replaced all your cleaning products. Not only does making your own homemade products stop you from releasing harmful toxins into the environment, it reduces your waste because instead of throwing out a bottle when a product is finished, you recycle jars and re-use spray bottles. And it’s so much cheaper than investing all your money in propping up the cleaning product manufacturing industry. In addition to providing recipes and instructions, the booklet also gives ideas on containers to use and precautions to take — even natural cleaning products need to be kept out of the hands of curious little ones.

As a back up to the booklet, I also decided to run small workshops for those who would prefer to see how it all works before they give it a go. The booklet I have developed is very simple and not exhaustive and the workshops are focussed on the interests of the attendees. I welcome all the feedback I can get to make information I provide more useful and user friendly. I’m happy for people to send the booklet on to as many people as they like. As far as I’m concerned the more people that skip the cleaning aisles at the supermarket the better.

Download a copy of the booklet.

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government