Home made multipurpose surface cleaner

On reddit recently I saw that someone in the r/zerowaste community had recommended the Reader’s Digest book, Homemade: How to make everyday products fast, fresh and more naturally. It looked like something that was right up my frugal, zero waste street, so I ordered it.

There are lots of great recipes and ideas in here for homemade housekeeping, beauty and even kitchen staples. Not all of them are vegan, however, so whilst this will be a great guide, we will be adapting a lot of these recipes (and hopefully, by trial-and-error finding ways to make it all work well whilst being vegan). It was actually this book that gave us the idea for the blog - originally it was just going to be a blog of us working our way through and veganising everything. And then it expanded…

There’s something particularly satisfying about making not just recipes, but staples (like ketchup, of which more soon) and housekeeping products and sprays. It feels like we’re learning how to be more competent and independent. It’s uncomplicated - I don’t need to rely on a bit supermarket or local store to have products I need to keep myself and my house clean, because I’m capable of making them myself. Also, it’s really, really cheap.

bottle of homemade household multipurpose cleaner

How cheap?

The costs work out like this:

  • Clear ammonia (we got this at a local hardware shop; one of those tiny places that seems to go on forever in an Aladdin’s cave of weird homecare products): £1.90 for 500ml. We used 2.5 ml so that’s 0.95p

  • Rubbing Alcohol - this was about £2.40 for 500ml, and we used 80ml so that’s around 40p

  • Washing up liquid - Ecover comes in at around £1.80 for 500ml, and again we used 2.5ml, so that’s again 0.9p

  • Lemon juice - 60p for 250ml but we used 2.5ml so that’s again 0.6p

Overall, this works out at 42.45p for 500ml.

The cheapest equivalent spray I could find in the supermarket was £1.00 so this is a pretty significant saving. Plus, because the other ingredients come in fairly large amounts I know I have enough to keep making household cleaning spray until it’s coming out of my ears…

Anyway, this is the book’s recipe for a homemade, strong multipurpose cleaner.



  • 0.75 pints of water (420ml)

  • 80ml rubbing alcohol

  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) clear ammonia

  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) washing up liquid

  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) lemon juice

  • Optional: add 1/2 tsp of essential oil of your choice


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a clean glass spray bottle. Shake vigorously.

  2. Shake well before each use.

  3. To use: spray onto the surface you want to clean; wipe it up. It works really well - as long as it’s a non-wood surface.

Does it work?

Heck yes. You spray it on the surface you’re cleaning and as you work it in with a sponge it foams up nicely but not excessively. Our’s doesn’t really smell much because in this batch I didn’t add any essential oils, but it takes up grime and dirt without leaving any residue and wipes away really easily.