How to Build a DIY Cleaning Kit

6 things you need for DIY cleaning and 5 reasons why you should bother in the first place.

At my bridal shower last spring, my soon-to-be mother-in-law gifted me a cleaning kit! It was a cleaning caddy wrapped in a tablecloth and filled with microfiber cloths, glass cleaner, all purpose cleaner, and much more. What a great idea! People don’t often think of gifting cleaning supplies, but they can really add up if you buy them on your own. Also, when you’re moving into a new place it’s so nice to already have all the cleaning things you need and not have to go out and buy stuff. I have since used up some of the cleaning products in the kit and have been making my own cleaning solutions with kitchen cupboard ingredients.

Before we get into how to build a DIY cleaning kit, here’s some reasons for why you might even bother in the first place:

DIY cleaning is cheap

Store-bought cleaning products are generally not super expensive, but clever marketing gets us to buy way more products than we actually need. At the grocery store, there’s an entire aisle for different types of cleaning products. Furthermore, laundry detergents, garbage bags, and paper towels seem to have their own separate aisles. This is madness! We don’t need a specific cleaning product for each and every item in our homes. (I use a homemade all-purpose cleaner to clean 90% of the surfaces in my apartment.)

You can make virtually any household cleaner from some combination of water dish soap, vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol. And you probably already have these in your home! (except the rubbing alcohol – that seems to currently be sold out everywhere…)

DIY cleaning is easy

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

When I hear the term “DIY” (do-it-yourself), I think of cumbersome crafts or labour-intensive home furniture projects. While I do partake in the occasional craft, I’m not really into DIY stuff. It often involves going out and buying stuff you don’t already have and then going home spending time and making a mess to build something you probably could’ve found on Facebook marketplace. I know some people love this process and I think that’s awesome! All I’m saying is it’s just not my cup of tea.

Anyway, DIY cleaning is wayyy different. I can whip up any household cleaner in under 2 minutes. No mess. No going out and getting stuff. Easy peasy.

DIY cleaning is gentle

There’s a lot of weird advice out there trying to scare people out of using “chemicals”, but this is misinformation. Virtually everything is a chemical. It’s impossible to avoid them because you are made of them, you eat them – they’re everywhere! That being said, I do believe in using the gentlest “chemicals” for the job. A lot of store-bought cleaners are overly harsh, give off unfriendly fumes, and probably aren’t great for the water system. These guys are often also filled with irritating fragrant chemicals to mask the scent of the active ingredients.

If you make your own cleaning products, you know exactly what’s in them. You’re not introducing anything into your home that isn’t already there. Please keep in mind that I’m talking about everyday cleaning here. From time to time you may need a specialty cleaning product that you can’t whip up in your kitchen.

It’s also generally a good idea to avoid products that claim to be antibacterial (outside of Covid times). These products can get rid of good, helpful bacteria in your home and on your skin. Please be kind to these critters, you can’t live without them!

DIY cleaning is eco-friendly

I’m really not an expert on environmentalism, but I try to be mindful of my household waste. Store-bought cleaning products tend to come in plastic packaging which is not eco-friendly to produce. We then throw away these containers when the product is used up only to buy more of them. Even though these containers may be recyclable, there is a high chance they will end up in a landfill anyway. In addition, all the extra “chemicals” that come in store-bought cleaning products are likely not environmentally friendly to produce and can end up harming wildlife.

If you buy your cleaning ingredients in bulk and make cleaning solutions in reusable containers, you can help lessen the environmental impact of the cleaning product industry.

DIY cleaning reduces clutter

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Having a couple homemade cleaners that work for a variety of things in your home takes up a lot less space than having 20+ products that all claim to have a specialized function. My trusty bridal shower cleaning caddy holds everything I need to clean my house (except for larger tools like my vacuum, mop and broom). This helps free up space in my apartment.

Ok, so those are my main reasons for DIY cleaning. Now let’s get to the juicy stuff. Here’s everything you need to build a DIY cleaning kit:

1. A cleaning caddy

It’s nice to have a designated, contained space to store all your cleaning supplies so when you need something, you know where it is. Cleaning caddies are also nice because you can carry them around your home as you clean. This will save you from running back and forth to get stuff (unless you like to combine your workout and cleaning routine, then by all means!).

Some people prefer a cleaning cart to a cleaning caddy. Depending on your health, it may be easier to push a cart around your home instead of carrying a caddy and bending over to get something from it. Either way, I recommend having a designated cleaning supply hub that you can take around with you. You can find lots of cart and caddy options at dollar stores, Canadian Tire, Ikea, Amazon, etc.

2. A recipe book

The hidden gem from the cleaning kit that was gifted to me was a copy of Melissa Maker’s Clean My Space. This book tells you how to clean every corner and item of your home in the most efficient way. My favourite part of the book is the recipe section in the first chapter. There are step-by-step instructions on how to make every possible cleaning solution for your home. These are the recipes I use over and over to clean my apartment.

The 2 recipes I use the most are:

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap

Laminate Floor Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar

All her other recipes can also be found on her YouTube channel. Just note that she no longer includes rubbing alcohol in her all-purpose cleaner. My guess is because the recipe dilutes it, rendering it unnecessary considering that the recipe also includes dish soap. When it’s actually available, I still like to include rubbing alcohol in this cleaner because it helps the solution to evaporate, but it’s not really necessary.

3. Reusable bottles

Photo by Canva Photos Team

You will definitely need something to store your different cleaning solutions in. The cheapest option is to save your current cleaning product containers, wash them out, and re-label them.

I purchased this set on Amazon which I like. I like that the bottles are glass because they will last a long time, don’t hold onto smells, and are more eco-friendly than plastic. They have increased the price since I purchased them last year, but it looks like they’ve also improved the spray nozzle. Also, Amazon prices are always going up and down so you may want to watch for a sale.

The amber colour of these bottles is mostly just a trendy feature. It can help preserve light-sensitive ingredients, but the only light-sensitive ingredient I use to clean is hydrogen peroxide. Even then, I try to make just enough solution for one use because it doesn’t store well when mixed with other ingredients.

Keep in mind that these bottles are heavier because they are made of glass. If you prefer, you can use regular plastic spray bottles found at a dollar store, Ikea, or an eco-friendly store.

4. Microfiber cloths

Photo by annca

In her book, Melissa explains all the benefits of using microfiber cloths and she even has her own line of them online. Microfiber is much more absorbent than cotton and is like a magnet for dust particles. I promise you microfiber cloths will make your cleaning much easier, but they are not all made equal. You can spend anywhere from 50 cents to $24 on a cloth, but either way they won’t last forever.

Try to find ones that you cannot see through and that are a comfortable size for you. I like a smaller cloth (11″ x 11″) because it doesn’t get in the way. Stick to a flat-weave for glass and mirrors and use the soft ones for everything else. You can even colour code your cloths for bathroom, kitchen, etc. if you’re feeling fancy! To keep your cloths lasting as long as possible, wash them separately from your other laundry on a cold or warm cycle and don’t use softeners.

5. Ingredients

Maybe this should have been #1 on the list, but anyway, you’re definitely going to need the ingredients to make your cleaning solutions. Your winning line-up is vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, tap water, rubbing alcohol, and maybe hydrogen peroxide. Some of Melissa’s recipes recommend castile soap. I’ve never needed this one but go for it if you want. Also, opt for bigger bottles of ingredients to get more bang for your buck and to contribute less plastic waste.

Melissa adds essential oils to a lot of her recipes. I understand certain kinds of oils can have disinfectant properties, but I’m not an essential oils person so I usually skip that step.

6. Spray mop

Ok, so a spray mop won’t quite fit in your cleaning caddy, but it’s one of my favourite cleaning tools so I had to give it a shout out!. I used to be a big fan of the Swiffer WetJet. Never had mopping been so easy and fun! However, like all Swiffer products, there’s a lot of disposable waste and the refills are expensive.

I currently love the Libman Freedom Spray Mop from Canadian Tire. It has a microfiber pad that can be removed and tossed in the washer along with your microfiber cloths. The liquid compartment easily comes off so you can fill it with homemade solution. There are similar models out there, but I vouch for this one because it has worked well for me.

Some extras

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

That covers the basics for your DIY cleaning kit. Depending on your needs, you will likely need some of the items listed below:

  • Vacuum. There is a whole world of vacuum makes and models out there and I didn’t want to get into that in this post. My parents gave us a Dyson V7 last Christmas and if our apartment caught fire, I would save that and my SleepyDoll (and check on Adam). In my opinion, vacuums are a personal preference thing although I don’t think you can go wrong with a cordless one!
  • Broom. Self explanatory (but if you want to go minimal you could skip it if you have a cordless vacuum).
  • Duster. I’m currently on the search for the perfect duster. In Clean My Space, Melissa recommends attaching a microfiber cloth onto the end of a broomstick. I think this is genius, but I’d rather something more lightweight, adjustable, and with a washable, reusable head. I do like having a little wool one for delicate things like plants.
  • Sponges: Ok, sponges aren’t great for a lot of reasons. They hold onto bacteria like nothing else and only last so long before you have to throw them out. But I do like using non-scratch ones to scrub my kitchen sink and shower tiles. To make them last longer without becoming a bacteria-fest, I boil them between uses.
  • Handheld scrubbing brush. These are multipurpose and great for laundry stains. If they make a non-scratch version then I could replace my sponges…
  • Magic Eraser. Yes, these guys are disposable but they’re also MAGIC. Recently, I’ve been cutting them into sections so I get more use out of one.

People’s biggest issue with DIY cleaning is that they miss the “clean smell” of the products they’re used to using. But I suggest using better methods to make your home truly fresh.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much! I know my list probably seems like a lot, but I guarantee it’s a lot less than having a specific cleaner for everything. I hope these tips will make your life easier in some small way!

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