The Optimist Cleaning Kit

April 6, 2015(updated on February 3, 2023)

Homemade cleaning products can be inexpensive and effective. The Optimist isn’t in business anymore, but their formulas are still great.

The Optimist kit front

For the last decade, I’ve kept an ugly, industrial-looking spray bottle of diluted white vinegar under my sink. I use it mostly as a simple, non-toxic countertop spray that’s good for quick clean-ups during meal prep. While it’s been effective enough, both the look of the spray bottle and the unadulterated scent of vinegar leave something to be desired.

The Optimist kit back

Enter The Optimist Co. Founded by Devin Donaldson after conventional cleaning products left her with a nasty asthma attack, they focus on simple, effective, non-toxic cleaning products that will help you keep your home spotless without compromising your health or the planet.

contents of The Optimist kit

Devin sent me The Optimist Co.’s Make Your Own Cleaning Products Kit to try out a few weeks back. It comes with two amber-colored spray bottles with the cleaning formulas printed on the labels, a small bottle of castile soap and three small bottles of essential oils to make your custom scents.

Add some white vinegar and flat club soda* from your pantry to the mix and you have everything you need to build both an all-purpose spray (Time to Shine) and a glass and surface cleaner (Bright Side).

Making The Optimist Bright Side cleaner

I made up both bottles the same day that the kit arrived. I followed the suggested recipes almost exactly, making only one change to the Bright Side. It suggests that you use plain white vinegar but instead, I used some of the lemon-infused vinegar I’d made during my Meyer lemon frenzy back in January (that’s what’s in the smaller measuring cup in the picture above). Bolstered with the enclosed lemon essential oil, every spray of that cleanser is an olfactory pleasure.

I’ve been using these sprays exclusively since they arrived and could not be more pleased with their effectiveness. I use them without worry around food, because I know that if a few droplets land on the contents of the fruit basket, no one will be harmed. Plus, they are far prettier than my old bottle of watered down vinegar.

The Optimist Bright Side

*When we talked, I asked Devin what the flat club soda added to the mix and she said that it helps the cleaner wipe away streak-free, particularly on stainless steel appliances. So clever!

Disclosure: The Optimist Co. sent me the make your own kit at no cost to me for review and photography purposes. No additional payment has been made and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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437 thoughts on "The Optimist Cleaning Kit"

  • My roommate and I spent a few hours infusing white vinegar with lemon and lime to use as a non-toxic, good-smelling kitchen cleaner. We’d love to be more organized about the process of making a cleaner!

  • I used cloth diapers (no, I didn’t use a service!) 27 years ago, and switched to using vinegar in my wash vs fabric softeners and fabric sheets, as I learned that made the diapers less absorbent. I have happily been using vinegar in my wash ever since, with great results!

  • I use essential oils in jars of baking soda as a natural air freshener! Also, reusable ‘paper towels’!

  • I’ve almost entirely given up using paper towels and have completely given up paper napkins, and I find I like using cloth a lot. Saves money, too. Makes me wonder why the paper products ever became so popular in the first place.

  • I use lemon and baking soda every where. I’d love to use a product with nice smells of essential oil too.

  • I recently started using microfiber cleansing cloths, which I absolutely love! I can’t believe it took me so long to make the switch!

  • felted dryer balls to cut drying time, vinegar on glass, and cloth towels for spills! Plus, taking your shoes off at the door just means less cleaning to do later.

  • I’ve been using DIY cleaners around the house for years. This kit is beautiful and anything that brightens up mundane tasks is a win.

  • It’s AMAZING that with just Vinegar, Baking Soda, Lemons Glycerine & Essential Oils, I can care for our home & family! From toothpaste to carpet teach our family responsible living, hoping they too will teach their families and so on.

  • I use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. I got them at an antique store. They are pretty and ere inexpensive.

  • I use baking soda instead of abrasive bleach based cleaners whenever possible, and recycle stained t-shirts and worn-out socks into cleaning rags

  • I have switched the family from using paper towels for cleaning up spills to using the cache of rags I have for this purpose

  • My latest green household item is wool dryer balls instead of toxic dryer sheets or fabric softener.

  • Most practically, we use washable “swiffer” type pads rather than the disposable kind,.. this saves on waste or electricity (instead of vacuuming).

    We are also working on identifying good houseplants for around our house, convinced that they make better “air fresheners than anything Glade makes. We have a dwarf lemon tree, a palm, and some succulents. We are aiming for at least 1 plant per room.

  • We are expecting our first child in August so I’m on a mission to increase our sustainability and decrease the toxic products we use…most of all I want to set a good example for our little one. Vinegar is a staple, I also use milk to clean the leaves on our house plants. I use lemon rind and juice in a variety of ways (remove stains, polish faucets, mix with salt and clean grill grates, remove fish odor after eating seafood).

  • I use microfiber cleaning clothes instead of paper towels. I also use them on my swiffer instead of buying swiffer refills. I have experimented with home made cleaning products but haven’t used them consistently.

  • I use mostly vinegar and Borax for cleaning, and we switched to microfiber cloths and wet/dry mop in place of paper towels and a swiffer.

  • I’ve started using microfiber cloths and I try to stick with baking soda and vinegar especially as a drain cleaner

  • Mainly using vinegar for an overall household cleaner. But we also reuse coffee grounds (and leftover coffee) for the blueberry plants, and reusing old towels as cleaning cloths.

  • Oh, these are so cute. Thanks for the opportunity to win a kit! I use old wash cloths to clean up instead of paper towels.

  • In 2001 I stopped using toxic cleaning products and replaced them with green cleaners and vinegar/water/essential oil mixtures. Now when I have to go down the cleaning aisle I feel my chest tightening up and have a difficult time breathing.