Homemade vs. Commercial Cleaning Products

by Rachel Paxton


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The results are in! Homemade cleaners equal and even outperform commercial household cleaning products!

My daughter Amanda and I spent the good part of 2 weeks, including her Christmas vacation, working on a science project for school to find out which household cleaners work best.

We did three tests: one with window cleaners, one with carpet cleaners, and one with laundry stain removers.

Each test was performed six times with my husband and I each judging the results without knowing which product cleaned what. The results were very interesting.

We decided to try cleaning a mirror coated with a mixture of toothpaste and water with 409, Windex, and a mixture of ammonia and vinegar. The ammonia and vinegar solution far outperformed the other two with 409 second and Windex last.

Next we tested three carpet cleaners (Woolite, shaving cream, and Resolve) by staining some carpet samples with cola.

Overall, the cleaners all did a pretty good job of getting out the stain (it seemed at first), but the Resolve and Woolite were not successful in preventing the carpet from stiffening when the carpet dried. The stains also re-appeared slightly after drying. You could definitely feel where the stains had been. Believe it or not the shaving cream removed almost all traces of the stain every time. You couldn't even feel where the stain had been. I'm converted! Just rub a little shaving cream into the stain and wipe with a sponge. (Shaving cream also does a great job cleaning upholstery stains.)

Last we tested laundry stain removers. The only homemade version we could come up with was rubbing salt into the stain before washing. This is supposed to work pretty well on fresh stains, but didn't work so great on dry stains. Shout worked the best and Spray 'n Wash worked second.

All in all we were very pleased with the test results. We went into the project with no expectations about how things were going to turn out, curious to find out which cleaners really work best, and it's exciting to share the results with you knowing the tests were done in a completely scientific manner.

Amanda would like to caution, however, that you be careful with the ammonia and vinegar solution. The ammonia is very toxic and you should wear rubber gloves and be very careful not to inhale it.

Window Cleaner Recipe

  • 1 spray bottle (any size)
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar

Take your spray bottle and fill it up with the ammonia and vinegar, using 1 tbsp. vinegar per 3 tbsp. ammonia. Spray very slowly, and very lightly for safety.


Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of five. For recipes, cleaning tips, gardening, frugal living, holiday hints, and more, visit her site and sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.creativehomemaking.com

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