Homemade cleaning products can be inexpensive and effective. The Optimist isn’t in business anymore, but their formulas are still great.
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.
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.
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).
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.
*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.
I use a combination of vodka, wintergreen, and water for my dishcloths in the kitchen. Nice fresh scent and gets the bacteria away.
We also use diluted vinegar for cleaning most surfaces. There’s a bucket of old rags and washcloths under the sink to use for cleaning as well. Recently, I’ve gotten the ingredients to make my own laundry soap but haven’t tried it out yet.
I’ve started using white vinegar to clean the kitchen recently- so much better than tons of chemicals!
We make homemade gifts for Christmas – this year I made homemade chap stick, hand soap, photo thank-you cards, and laundry soap. I would love to try anything else new that smells good and is good for my house!
I also have an ugly spray bottle of vinegar under my sink!! I’ve been wanting to try some essential oils. Thanks
The non-profit I work for in San Diego has switched cleaning products in our group homes in order use the grey water to irrigate our organic orchard and urban farms. Essential oils are a great idea to add to our cleaning routines. Will take a look at The Optimist Cleaning products. Exciting stuff!
What a great idea for a company! I’ve made cleaning products in the past, but like you said, they’re never as pretty as that is!
I have started using organic / natural cleansers. I also have some of the essential oils, but have not actually made any of me own cleansers yet.
I love vinegar as a sustainable cleaner! I use a vinegar and water solution to clean my fruits and vegetables, in the rinse cycle of my washing machine, and to wipe down my counter tops and my computer keyboard.
I have been using vinegar and other natural products more but do still buy my cleaners.
I have been buying more natural cleaners for years, but it’s silly since I really should be just making my own!
I have been using vinegar for years. But I use anti-bacterial cleaners on the counters after cutting up poultry. It makes me feel safer.
Fabulous idea!!! Personally, I’ve been switching more and more to vinegar, baking soda, elbow grease, and steam to clean. 😉
I’m doing what my grandma does…using white washcloths/dishrags instead of paper towels or disposable cloths. She uses them to clean everything, and they bleach clean and hang dry beautifully!
I use a lot of baking soda and vinegar as well. We have a new baby and I want to keep things clean but safe!
Same as many people here, we’ve given up on using disposable paper products in lieu of rags cut from old shirts. We also do a lot of our cleaning with vinegar, baking soda and/or dish soap. I’d love to learn more about using essential oils as well.
I use ionized water for cleaning
I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washing machine. I make my own glass cleaner by the gallon. I also use vinegar to clean fruits and veggies. To keep the shower drain running free I use baking soda, white vinegar and the hot water after water bath canning process.
Purchased a large bag of baking soda at Costco and are using it for a variety of cleaning around my home.
I started making my own laundry soap a few years ago out of fels naptha bar soap, washing soda and baking soda. It’s way cheaper than the kind you can buy and works great. I won’t be going back anytime soon. A great book on the topic is: The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.
I have reduced my paper towel usage quite a bit. I use a cloth towel when cooking for wiping hands and spills instead of paper now (unless it’s something icky/gooey, like egg). And, the few paper towels I use are put into the compost.
I haven’t made my cleaning more sustainable – that’s why I’d love to win the kit. I need help!
we only use cloth in this house (except for toilet paper) and it makes such a difference in the money we spend and the amount of trash we make!
I am a big fan of using rags instead of paper towels. I have also invested in a steam cleaner. There is an amazing amount of things that can be cleaned with hot water!
I use baking soda or citrus-infused vinegar diluted with water for nearly all my cleaning. My mil is skeptical (she uses bleach on everything) so I would love something more “official” to keep on hand for her sake.
I just made laundry detergent from scratch
I made the lemon infused vinegar and have been using it (diluted with water) for the past week – love the fresh smell in my kitchen.
My favorite scrub for the bathroom sink is plain old baking soda and elbow grease. It cuts right through the soap scum without any harsh fumes, and as a bonus my hands get a little exfoliation.
I’ve switched to vinegar, water and essential oil mixture for my all purp cleaner.
we’ve begun ditching paper towels, for cloth! Switched to vinegar years ago, but interested in this!
I recently made my own granite cleaner using rubbing alcohol, water, a few drops of castile soap and essential oil. Am working toward all my cleaning products to be sustainable and chemical free.
What a great idea! I’ve always wanted to go more natural and this is easier and cheaper. Everyone above here has great ideas too. This sounds like a great opportunity to get rid of a bunch of ugly bottles!
I keep a stack of kitchen towels and microfiber cloths in my kitchen for cleaning. I use them in place of paper towels.
Neat! I do make my own laundry detergent. I would love to make more cleaners!
Yesterday I made orange vinegar cleaner. Peeled oranges, just the orange part, not the white pith. Almost boiled vinegar, poured that over the peels in a glass jar to cover and put the cap on. In 2 weeks I’ll strain out the peels and dilute when I use it, to 1/2 water and 1/2 orange vinegar mixture. Its already bright orange and smells delicious. I told everyone not to drink it, its a cleaner.
I use Theives essential oil blend in a spray bottle diluted with one cup water and one cup white vinegar. 99.6% natural disinfectant counter spray! Just love the fresh smell and no chemicals.
I cut up old t-shirts for rags and we use far fewer paper towels (although admittedly not zero, yet!)
I stopped cleaning! Just kidding – I’ve switched back to using just soap and HOT water on the kitchen cabinets and counters and vinegar and dish soap in the bathroom. I’m saving up to buy wool yarn to make yarn balls for the dryer, no more dryer sheets! These sound divine with essential oils!
I’ve started using vinegar and baking soda more often.
I purchased a large bottle of peppermint castille soap and use it throughout my home in just about every room: in my bathroom diluted to clean counters, sinks, tub, shower; in the laundry room using just a few drops in a gallon or two of water to soak and or hand wash items; on my porch diluted to clean my porch furniture; and my favorite….a few drops on a hand held scrub brush to scrub burlap coffee bean bags to rid them of dirt, dust, and remnants of their trek half way around the world. After they’ve been hosed down and dry in the sun, I then sew these bags into great pillow covers for inside/outside use, message boards, and tote bags.
I have long wanted to switch to healthier cleaning methods, but wasn’t in the position to buy the more expensive natural products. I am glad to see there a company that will walk you through the steps of making your own. Look forward to checking it out!
I make glass cleaner with water and vinegar.
I make our laundry soap and vinegar has become indispensable with small kids!
I’ve been using baking soda and vinegar and some drops of essential oil for routine cleaning. I find I still something stronger for really deep cleaning though.
I made meyer lemon vinegar cleaner for the first time this winter. I’ve been using it on everything.
I use orange peel and vinegar to clean kitchen counters. We need more a;;-purpose, non-toxic cleaners like this one!
Awesome! I just started dabbling with essential oils as cleaners.
I really like Mrs. Meyer’s products
I’ve been making my own laundry detergent. It’s been a whole lot cheaper and our clothes don’t have any heavy chemical fragrances on them and they seem to last longer.
White vinegar in a spray bottle with a dribble of dish soap. Hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle.
I was using soda water, vinegar, baking soda and dish liquid, until…. One lovely summer day I was walking through Heritage Gardens when I came upon a table with brown glass bottles on it, and beside the table, a smiling young woman. She happily explained her natural cleaning products. I thought they were great and bought them right away!! That was a few years back, and because I love the products so much, I give them away as presents. Chemical free; every little bit helps. Thank you Devin for making these products and for working so hard to get them out there!
I buy biodegradeable and earth friendly cleaners whenever it’s an option and I’m phasing out paper towels wherever I can (replacing with reuseable cleaning clothes).
baking soda, salt, spray bottle of vinegar, clean the microwave with lemons & water
then do the stovetop, microfiber clothes for almost everything. paper towel usage
reserved for true throwaway purposes; like raw food spills.
thanks for the giveaway.
What a good idea. And the packaging makes it nice enough to give as a gift. I have made my own cleaners for a long time and I don’t mind the smell of vinegar, but my husband does. I hadn’t considered using essential oils. Also your lemon infused vinegar has given me another idea. I sometimes use vinegar in my laundry’s final rinse instead of fabric softener, especially in things like duvets and sleeping bags that need to be washed cold but it can be hard to get rid of the sleep smell. The lemon vinegar will be a great option.
I use natural bio degradeable, dish & dishwasher soap, AP cleaners and laundry detergent
I try to use natural cleaning solutions when I can find them in the store as I really haven’t time to sit down and figure out what the best “homemade” solutions are. So this product sounds like it is right up my alley!
I’ve been using vinegar and baking soda to clear my drains and for some cleaning.
I use baking soda to clean my sinks and bathtub, instead of chemical abrasives.
I’ve been using microfiber cloths instead of going through wads of paper towels.
We use a water and vinegar mixture for windows and mirrors, recycle old clothes as rags and hang clothes to dry on the line when able.
We have stopped using paper towels andwe use Charlies soap for our laundry. a 5 gallon pail lasts us more than 5 years and there are 5 of us. No more plastic jugs!
After being invited to dinner at an Amish farm and watching the mom do a quick “sweep around” while dinner cooked, I invested in a corn broom and dustpan. Much easier to quickly sweep up the spilled crumbs from the floor without using electricity, and better than my current method of kicking them under the counter toekick and pulling out the vacuum cleaner……eventually…..
we use a solution of vinegar for most of our cleaning (we keep our big bottle of vinegar filled with citrus peels to try to keep the scent from being too aggressive) and we use cloths we bought in bulk at costco instead of paper towel.
i’m totally looking up some of the other ideas and products people have been mentioning in the comments!
I use old towels and cut up t-shirts, reusable sponges and scrubbies instead of paper towels.
I have not started making my own cleaning solutions yet, but would love to get started on that. Currently using “natural” products from the store made by Clorox brand.
I love using essential oils in my cleaning mixes, especially grapefruit and lime they leave everything smelling so clean and fresh!
I make a homemade cleaning fluid too from citrus peels soaking in apple cider vinegar, cut half with water when it seems ready. Don’t mind the vinegar smell at all, it disipates pretty fast.
In a home with three teenage girls, there is a lot of laundry! We use nature’s sun and wind to do as much of the drying as possible. We also use natural biodegradable phosphate free soap in the washer and everywhere else in the house.
The biggest thing I did was de-clutter, less clutter, less cleaning, less use of everything.
I learned from my mom “the original organic gardener” to use natural products, especially vinegar and baking soda. My co-worker taught me to use essential oils diluted in distilled water and vinegar as a natural insecticide.
I, too, use the beautiful generic spray bottle of vinegar for quick clean-up. I make my own laundry detergent which is definitely cheaper and just as effective as the store brands. Plus natural essential oils don’t make me sneeze. Like Jennifer M., cloths are reusable not to mention more sturdy than paper towels.
I’ve been using borax and vinegar more for the laundry.
I use a lot of vinegar and baking soda mixed with different things for different uses.
I’ve been making my own laundry and dishwasher detergents for awhile and cleaning with vinegar or peroxide. This would be a great addition to my cleaning routine! 🙂
I’ve used diluted white vinegar to clean my hardwood floors ever since I’ve had hard wood floors! After 15 years a flooring company came in to price adding wood to another room in the house and asked what I used on the floor they look so great ! Also use old wash clothes for cleaning and dusting.
These kits look amazing! I’ve been trying a vinegar cleaner myself, but the vinegar smell isn’t universally loved in my house. We also use washable rags instead of paper towels for wiping surfaces.
I love this! I also have an ugly bottle of vinegar under my sink. I’ve switched entirely to vinegar and baking soda based cleaners, and often add essential oils to mask the vinegar scent. I’d love to try this product!
Very cool. I don’t use much besides borax for the toilets and bleach for my cutting boards. I tried to make some citrus vinegar from a ceremonial citron (etrog) leftover from the holiday of Sukkot. It smells lovely.
I gave up paper towels years ago in favor of reusable towels and cleaning cloths.
We use vinegar or baking soda to clean pretty much everything in the house!
I have been making my own hard surface cleaner for awhile now, as I cannot tolerate the chemicals in most cleaning solutions. I would love to try these products because they also would look great on the countertop!
Pretty much done away with disposable anything – we keep a roll of paper towels around for a tiny handful of uses, but only when we can then compost them.
I have been using baking soda a lot lately and when we wash our hands, using paper towels instead of cloth towels.
We try not to use disposable products (paper towels, etc.) and make whatever cleaning products we can.
I’ve switched to most household products from The Honest Company, which also offers some concentrated products as refills, which I appreciate.
These look great! …can I say I made my cleaning routine by cleaning less often. ‘Tis true!
This would be SO much prettier than my current cleaning bottles!
I “marinate” my citrus peels in vodka for about 6 weeks, then strain, dilute 50:50 with water. I also add a bit of my personal blend of thieves oil.
I replaced my toilet bowl cleaner with a combination of borax, vinegar, water and essential oils. I also use a combination of baking soda and vinegar a lot.
We make our own liquid laundry detergent and reuse old laundry containers to store it in. Easy to make, much cheaper than commercial detergent, and I know what all the ingredients are!
I’ve been purchasing greener cleaners but love the idea of making my own!
I’ve been using vinegar for cleaning some things and looking for other solutions. This looks like a great option!
What a great model. I would love to try this. I’ve switched to handmade cotton washcloths for all but the most scrub-worthy jobs, but would really like to do more. This could be the instigation I need!
Instead of Comet, we mix baking soda + Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap — works great for scrubby cleaning jobs. Thanks for the giveaway!
baking soda + a few drops of tea tree oil makes sinks smell clean!
I knit cleaning rags out of cotton yarn and wash and reuse them.
I already use “green” cleaners, but hate all the packaging. This is a great alternative
I have recently added cream of tartar to my cleaning supplies to get rid of those “ghost stains” in stainless steel pots. Add a little with enough HOT water to cover bottom of pan, let sit couple of minutes, scrub around with brush, rag or sponge, rinse.
What a good idea to use the lemon infused vinegar!!!
I recently started in infuse my white vinegar with citrus peels, particularly orange. We have an old stinky garbage disposal and every other day or so, I grind a few peels to freshen up the kitchen and disposal. I use the infused vinegar in a spray bottle on my counters and everything smells delightful!
I started using a steamer to clean my floors. Nothing but water, and a washable pad.
I’m loving vinegar with some lemon and peroxide in the shower. I spray down every day, and I keep a jar of sea salt with baking soda to sprinkle as a scrub with the spray weekly!
We use all environmentally friendly cleaners and resuable rags. I’ve been thinking for a while of switching to homemade cleaners, so this would be perfect!
White vinegar FTW! We use it in lots of places, but I’m especially pleased with how it helps with the laundry.