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Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies

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To say that I have become obsessed with making my own DIY cleaning supplies is a bit of an understatement.  Each week I am trying out something new – hoping to come up with the perfect cleaner.

It is not that I love cleaning – I just love the results.  That said, over the years I have embraced the “good enough” method of house cleaning and household chores.  Still, if there is a better way that happens to be better or cheaper, then this frugalista is all eyes and ears.

So why is this important to preppers?  It is important because post crisis (disaster, collapse or what have you), maintaining a clean and sanitized environment will be key in avoiding sickness.  Not only that, but a clean environment will smell better and will have a calming effect on frazzled nerves.

Today I would like to share with you the DIY cleaning supplies and gear that I believe should be in every prepper’s survival closet. These are the recipes that I use and the equipment that gets the job done. Almost everything can already be found in your home or can be purchased inexpensively.

DIY Cleaning Supplies

Assorted DIY Cleaning Products – Some worked well and others not so much


Borax (such as Twenty Mule Team)
Washing Soda (such as Arm and Hammer)
Baking Soda
Bar Soap (plain old bar with no moisturizers such as Ivory or castile soap)
Vegetable Glycerin
Dawn Dish Soap
Rubbing Alcohol
Essential Oils (such as Peppermint or Tea Tree)
Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds


Microfiber Cloths aka Magic Rags
Old Toothbrushes
Scrubber Sponge
Refillable Spray Bottles
Refillable Pump Bottles
Refillable Juice or other Jugs
An Old Bucket
Hand Grater
Mobile Washer
Disposable Gloves (latex or nitrile)
Good Old Fashioned Elbow Grease


A word about these recipes.  These are the concoctions that I am currently using.  They are not the only ones that will work but to me, they are uncomplicated and do the job just fine with a minimum of ingredients.

Window, Floor, General Surface Cleaner aka Peppermint Juice

1/2 cup white vinegar
32 oz. (1 quart) cups water
1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. peppermint essential oil

Make up a batch of Peppermint Magic in a repurposed juice jug.  Fill your spray bottles from this master supply.  Using different essential oils, you can make Tea Tree Juice, Lemon Juice or some other scent.  I prefer peppermint oil or tea tree oil for their antibacterial and antiseptic qualities.

All Purpose Cleaner aka Sudsy Sal

1 Tbl. Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
32 oz. (1 quart) cups water

This stuff is terrific.  I have been using it everywhere around the house for the past two weeks and love it love it love it.  It works well on my granite counters and it gets the greasy crud off my sinks.  One of my favorite uses is to use my Sudsy Sal instead of running water to clean my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.  Okay, post disaster we won’t have a dishwasher but trust me, you will use a lot less water if you spray, swish, then rinse.

This stuff even removed spots from my clothing.  I am still discovering new ways to use my “Sudsy Sal” and am ranking this cleaner right on up there with my beloved vinegar.

Disinfecting Spray Cleaner

1/4 – 1/2 cup Rubbing Alcohol
32 oz. (1 quart) cups water

There are times when I want to go the extra mile to insure that germs are destroyed.  While not as pleasant to use as Peppermint Juice (with vinegar) or Sudsy Sal (with Sal Suds), cleaning with alcohol is the surefire way to take care of the nasties.  It also will brighten things up (such as granite countertops and stainless steel) by removing any left over film from other products.

And to tell the truth, I think it is good to switch around from time to time.  But that is just me.

Dirt Cheap Soft Soap or Body Wash

1 cup grated bar soap
10 cups water, preferably filtered
1 tbl glycerin
1 – 2 tsp essential oils, optional

The instructions for making Dirt Cheap Soft Soap can be found in the article DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap.


Since writing that article, I have also successfully diluted the homemade soft soap and used it as a body wash.

One other thing.  The type of bar soap that you use may determine just how much you will need.  Some bar soaps produce a very thick soft soap while others are a bit runny.  The secret is to let your batch sit for 24 to 48 hours and add an extra spoon full of soap flakes or an extra bit of water after-the-fact if needed.  Most of the time though, it will be fine just as it is.

You will never purchase soft soap again.  And by the way, the bars of soap you get in hotels when you travel work just great.

Better Than Good Laundry Soap

3 tablespoons Borax (such as Twenty Mule Team)
3 tablespoons Washing Soda (such as Arm & Hammer)
2 tablespoons Liquid Dish Soap (such as Dawn)
8 cups water – preferably filtered

Recently I have experimented with a DIY powdered laundry soap using a grated bar of Fels Naphtha soap plus the other dry ingredients.  The results, however, were marginal.  The investment in liquid dish soap is worth it in my opinion and is definitely a lot less expensive than using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps in the laundry.

DIY Laundry Soap_0

For instructions on making your own batch of Better Than Good Laundry Soap, read The No Mess No Fuss Method of Making DIY Laundry Detergent.  And as far as getting your laundry clean without a washing machine?  Try the mobile washer and a large bucket or even in a bathtub.  It works well with just a modicum of brawn.

Drain Cleaner

1 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
Hot or boiling water

Pour the baking soda and vinegar into the drain and let it sit for an hour with the stopper down.  Remove the stopper and add a kettle of really hot water (or boiling water if you are careful) down the drain.  If you do this every month of so, the drain will stay nice and clear.

This works great in bathroom sinks where hair, makeup and other particles can quickly create pesky clogs.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Baking Soda
Sudsy Sal (from above)

Empty the toilet bowl by turning off the water.  Spray the bowl with Sudsy Sal then liberally sprinkle the bowl with baking soda.  Let it sit for a few minutes then get out your scrubber sponge, and an old toothbrush and scrub away.  Yes, you may need some elbow grease too but isn’t this a lot better than a toxic chemical cocktail?


Now I am sure that many of you have a favorite DIY cleaner of cleaner recipe that I have not included.  I even have a few additional recipes of my own that work just great but seem irrelevant in a post SHTF situation.  Case in point:  DIY furniture polish.  I can clean my wood furniture quite nicely with Sudsy Sal but who the heck will care if my furniture is polished up nice and shiny following a SHTF event?

Another example is citrus cleaner made from orange peels soaked in straight vinegar soaked.  Yes, it smells nice but it is still just plain vinegar.  It seems wasteful to me to use straight vinegar when you can heavily dilute it with water and get the same or better results.  Besides, you have to wait two weeks.  Who has the time for that?

That said, if you have a tried and true DIY cleaning recipe, be sure to let me know.  Being obsessed, I will probably give it a try.


Old toothbrushes are the ultimate cleaning tool.  They are perfect for getting into all of those nooks and crannies including under the rim of the toilet bowl.  And the best thing is that they are 100% fee.

The one thing that I do recommend that you purchase are some microfiber rags. Some of mine are over 14 years old and still go going strong albeit a bit stained. For a modest investment, you will give up using paper towels and old tee-shirts as rags forever.Microfiber Magic Rags

I like to color code: yellow for general cleaning and green for glass and windows.


You don’t have to wait for a disaster to start making you own cleaning and laundry supplies.  The money you save will be substantial – certainly enough to purchase something more useful that a toxic brew of chemicals pitched to you by Madison Avenue.  I am convinced that once you start making your own cleaning products, you will never look back.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: A lot of products were mentioned in today’s article.  I won’t link to all of them but instead will highlight those that I have purchased online myself.  Other items (such as the borax and washing soda) can also be purchased online (search Amazon) but may be considerably less money when purchased locally.

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleanser: I know that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile soaps have a cult-like following but I prefer the Sal Suds.  I call my DIY cleaner “Sudsy Sal”.

Soft ‘n Style 8 oz. Spray Bottles: I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 3.  Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

NOW Solutions Glycerin Vegetable, 16-Fluid Ounces: You will need this for your Dirt Cheap Soft Soap.  I paid almost as much for only 4 ounces locally.  This is a great price and 16 ounces will last forever.

NOW Foods Peppermint Oil: I favor peppermint essential oil (okay, I like lavender too) so this is what I get.  But there are many types of essential oils to choose from.  Take your pick.  One thing you will find is that a little goes a long way.

Microfiber “Magic” Rags:  No list of cleaning supplies would be complete without these wonderful microfiber cloths.  They will last you for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever.  Truly.   I color code using green for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else.  I love these.

Mobile Washer

Mobile Washer:  This is hand operated washing machine.  Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub.

DIY Superpal Combo KitShop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

One really good special this month is their Do it Yourself SuperPail Combo.  It includes 8 x 6-Gallon Buckets with Lids, 8 x Metallized Storage Bags and a 10-Pack of Large Oxygen Absorbers.

Don’t forget that you do not need fancy equipment to seal the metalized bag.  A cheap hair iron will do the job.

Storing Rice in Mylar Bag_09

Conair Flat Iron 2″ Ceramic Straightener: I use a hair iron to seal my Mylar bags. Forget about a hose and a vacuum sealer. A cheap hair iron works great – just be sure to get one with 2” plates.


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8 Responses to “Prepper Checklist: DIY Cleaning Supplies”

  1. I have used several homemade cleaners through the years. I did housekeeping for many of my friends who had pets and did not want all the added chemical compounds in their environments.

    One of my favorites is equal parts white vinegar & 70% isopropyl alcohol mixed in a spray bottle or another container. This easily cleans windows & mirrors with no streaking, even removes hairspray film.
    I spritz this onto a cleaning cloth & disinfect door handles, light switches, cabinet & cupboard hardware.
    For hard surface laminate, tile or linoleum floors I sweep or vacuum first, then, I pour some onto cleaning towels & ‘mop’ using a towel as the sponge. Works very well to get up ground in muck, grease & even tar like gunk off floors. The alcohol helps it to dry quickly, even in Florida’s high humidity.

    I’ve also been using a homemade cleaner in the dishwasher.. equal parts of a coarse white salt & baking soda, mixed into a container with a lid. I keep a small bottle of Dawn dish soap with this.
    To use, put 1-2 drops of Dawn into the bottom of the dishwasher dispensing cups, then add 1-2 scoops of the mixture to each dispensing cup, close the dishwasher & hit ‘Start’. Since using this homemade recipe I no longer have any black mildewy gunk left in the bottom of the dishwasher.

    Will bookmark this article & try some of the cleaners described. Love the idea of the Peppermint cleaner for sure!

  2. What a GREAT website! I am trying to get back to the basics and this website is that and more! I especially love the essential oils used in the recipes for personal/home cleaning products. I just recently found out about the many uses for essential oils and now I am branded a ‘hippie’ by my family and coworkers. Plus I make my own kombucha, yogurt, and sourdough bread. Oh well… 🙂

  3. In our home we use Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide as our staple cleaning agents around the house.

    Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) has a wealth of medical uses in addition to cleaning.

    We buy food grade H2O2 at 30%, store it long term in the freezer and dilute it to 3% as required.

    Uses includes spraying on skin wounds, using it as a disinfectant around the bathroom/toilet, killing mold in the shower, via dropper applicator into the ear to kill germs, spray onto our wooden cutting board and kitchen sponges – especially after dealing with meat, spraying counter tops.

    Typically H2O2, when at work, will froth and make a sound not unlike rice pops after milk is added 🙂

    On our kitchen cutting board or an infected skin wound it will bubble up whitish – no more bubbling means no more germs to kill.

    It can also be used to sanitize water suitable for drinking.

    Under careful management it can also be taken orally – I’ve actually practiced this over a 3 week course. The Internet, at least at present, still has some great info on this fantastic healer/cleaner.

    • I am just starting to experiment myself with H2O2 so that I can write about it. I added a spray attachment to the bottle so that it is easy to use – especially on clothing stains. Some of the uses I have read on the internet, to me, have been less effective than tea tree oil. Others have been better.

      As always, I like to try things myself so I do appreciate your tips that come from first hand experience.

  4. I use the dry laundry detergent and in a large old cat litter pail I dump and mix 3 boxes each of borax and washing soda, 1 cheap (dollar tree) container of oozy gem cleaner and 4 bars of grated fels naptha. I use 1 scoop (from the oxygen cleaner) per load and 2 if its a nasty load. It helps to take the bar soap and slice it down the middle and make it thinner and set it somewhere it can air dry out. I buy the bars for the next batch when I make one so I always have them pre dried out. I wash everything in cold water and this detergent works great for us. A family of 6 with grubby lil munchkins and a hard working hubby.
    My all purpose cleaner for everything but glad is simply a tablespoon of liquid Castile soap in a 28 ox spray bottle and water. Add the soap last and shake gently.
    For glass I use vinegar and coffee filters
    Dishes I am a blue dawn lover, it is the one cleaner I can’t find a suitable substitute for.
    Fabric and upholstery I use the Castile spray bottle on. Toilets I use a squirt of dawn in. Tubs either Dawn or baking soda.
    Nasty stove tops and ovens I use a sprinkle of cream of tartar powder.

    They make microfiber cloths with a metal scrubby side that is great for pots & pans even non stick. Sham wow type towels are a fantastic SHTF or even everyday and camping item. I keep a small one in every BOB.
    The Castile soap is great on kids too for bathing especially the baby mild. My son has a lot of skin sensitivities and eczema, none of these cleaners bother him and he bathes with the Castile soap.

    • For the original article I actually got out my calculator and here is what I came up with:

      At $6.46 for 4 ounces, I probably overpaid for the glycerin since you can purchase a full 16 ounces online for a lot less ($8 at Amazon). No worries, that still works out to 80 cents per batch and next time I will purchase a larger quantity to bring the cost per tablespoon down. (Remember, there are 2 tablespoons to each fluid ounce).

      The 4.25 ounce bar of soap made up 1 1/2 cups of grated soap so with each batch I had some leftover for next time. Working the math though, I come up with .67 cents per cup of soap (assuming you paid a dollar), so the total cost for a full gallon using purchased soap was $1.47. Compare this to the cost of a one gallon jug of “Softsoap Moisturizing Hand Soap” at Costco for about $11.

      Here is a link to the original article: //

      I just love this DIY stuff! 🙂 🙂

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