Grandma’s Cleaning Agents You Need To Have In Your Kit!

If you walk down any supermarket isle and you will be blown away by the amount of cleaning agents there are to choose from. Join any of the popular Facebook cleaning groups (follow this link to be invited to my group) and you will see hundreds of people hoarding the most popular cleaning products, like they are going out of fashion.  

If you’ve read a few of my cleaning related posts you will know that I prefer the good old-fashioned way of scrubbing things clean rather than trying to find different types of cleaners that only do one job. 

 I like multipurpose cleaners which don’t take up loads of space in my cupboards. So, I’ve decided to share with you some of the more traditional cleaning agents I keep in my cleaning kit! 

What is a cleaning agent?  

Cleaning agents are substances used to remove dirt, dust, stains and bad smells from surfaces.  

These traditional old- fashioned cleaners which you will probably have at home, will replace most of those toxic chemical cleaners you see on the supermarket shelves. 

Why not have some fun trying out some cleaning chemistry lessons with the kids, let them watch as you’re mixing your cleaning liquids and pastes and let them see the stains, limescale and soap scum disappear! 

The importance of cleaning agents. 

We need cleaning agents to keep our home healthy and free from dirt, germs and other contaminants to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and the growth of mold and dust. 

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Granny’s traditional cleaning agents

Pure Soap 

pure soap cleaning agent

Pure soaps can be made with either coconut oil or olive oil.  They are used for washing delicate items of clothes. They do not contain any animal products. 

You can make your own pure soap flakes by grating a bar of pure soap or you can buy ready grated pure soap flakes here or by the washing power, in the supermarket. 

To wash delicate items of clothing use: 

  • 1-2 tablespoons of soap flakes 
  • Large tub of water 
  • Dissolve the soap flakes in a small amount of boiling water then add to the tub of water.  

For an all-purpose cleaner use . 

  • 1 tablespoon of soap flakes 
  • 1 litre of distilled water 
  • Dissolve the soap flakes in a small amount of boiling water, add to the rest of the water and shake well. 
  • Store in a spray bottle and use to clean most hard surfaces can be used for toilet bowl cleaners too! 

To use as a scrub  

  • Dissolve some soap flakes into a small amount of hot water then mix with some baking soda to make a fluffy paste. 
  • Use the paste to remove any stubborn stains instead of using abrasive cleaners and other harsh cleaning chemicals.  

Cream of tartar. 

  • Cream of tartar is a mild acid cleaner and can be mixed with equal parts vinegar for a non-abrasive cleaner and as an alternative to household bleach.  
  • Mix it with hydrogen peroxide to remove stubborn grease from pots and pans. 

Hydrogen peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with other products in granny’s cleaning kit, such as bicarbonate of soda or used neat to remove stains from mattresses.


  • Salt has many uses in Granny’s cleaning kit, it is mildly abrasive and can be mixed with many things to form a poultice for stubborn stains. 
  • Salt (sodium chloride) is thought to kill bacteria and may have some disinfectant properties.  
  • When mixed with lemon juice it can be used for a wide range of cleaning tasks. 

White vinegar. 

  • Vinegar is one of my favourite cleaning solutions as it is so cheap and can be used for so many different cleaning tasks, it is one of the best all-purpose cleaners. 
  • Vinegar is a mild acid which helps to cut through grease, it can help to prevent the growth of mould and it is safe to use in food preparation areas.  
  • My favourite way to use vinegar is to heat it and mix it with dishwashing detergent to make a soap scum remover, read how I do it in this post, 
  • This homemade soap scum remover is one of my favourite non-abrasive cleaning agents for the bathroom. 
  • Neat vinegar can also be used to remove limescale from around your taps. 
  • White vinegar can be used as a glass cleaner and for cleaning stainless steel too, read how in this post!  


Who doesn’t love the smell of lemons? They are not just for putting in a gin and tonic you know! 

two lemon halves
  • Lemons are a natural bleach. 
  • Try making some mild acid cleaners by mixing lemon juice with baking soda or salt to form a powerful paste. 
  • Use the paste to remove most household stains. 
  • The paste is also effective as oven cleaner too, rather than using the highly toxic sodium hydroxide-based oven cleaners. 
  • Use half a lemon dipped in salt to clean and deodorize your chopping board. 
  • Using a lemon cut in half will remove limescale from the bathroom sink and tub.   


  • Borax is a natural alkaline mineral salt, which can be used as a water softener for hard water.
  • It can be used as a disinfectant and a stain remover.  
  • Mix borax with salt and vinegar and use a stain remover in carpet cleaning. 

Please be careful using any borax products around children or animals as they are highly poisonous. Gloves should also always be worn when handling borax products. 

Borax is one of the best alkaline cleaners. 

Washing soda or soda crystals.  

  • Washing soda is the base for many laundry detergents and cuts though greasy and fatty deposits.
  • It is perfect for putting down drains and sinks and plug holes.
  • It is also highly toxic so gloves should be worn at all times.  
  • Use washing soda to remove soil from laundry. 
  • Soda crystals are often used in commercial kitchens to remove greasy build-up from pots and pans, drip trays and oven racks. 
  • Soda crystals can also be used to clean your washing machine

Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate 

sodium bicarbonate cleaning agent
  • Baking soda is a mildly abrasive cleaning agent and it is really effective as an agent used to remove dirt and stains.  
  • Baking soda is great for deodorizing smelly pongs that might pop up on your mattress. 
  • You can mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 300mls of water to clean and deodorize the inside of your stinky fridge. 
  • It can be used for removing stains on granite find out how in this post!
  • It is safe for cleaning travertine tiles, read this post 
  • It is also great for cleaning blood stains off a mattress, read this post to find out how.  
  • Mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to remove mould and mildew from tiles, find out how in this post
  • It is one of my favourite ingredients for many of my homemade cleaning agents.  

Essential oils  

Ooh, I love the amazing smell of essential oils and guess what? They are not just to use when you’re practising five minutes of self-care! 

essential oils

My favorite essential oils for cleaning are:   

  • any Citrus oils 
  • Mint 
  • Tea tree  
  • Aniseed.  

 Some essential oils have antibacterial properties these are:  

  • Eucalyptus  
  • Lemon 
  • Lavender 
  • Tea tree oil 
  • Clove 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Thyme 
  • Oregano 
  • Rosemary 

 Some essential oils have antifungal properties these are: 

  • Lemon  
  • Tea tree oil 
  • Lavender 
  • Clove 
  • Thyme  
  • Cinnamon 
  • Citronella 
  • Geranium 
  • Lemongrass 
  • Peppermint 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Oregano. 

Fresh mint helps to keep ants away, so planting some around the doors of your home can help to deter them! 

Rubbing alcohol 

 This is truly one of my top 10 cleaning agents and I use it to clean so many things at work and around the home.  

As a qualified pharmacy technician, I spent many days inside an aseptic suite manufacturing chemotherapy and TPN feed bags. The aseptic suite was a sterile unit with HEPA filtered air so everything needed to be sprayed down with IPA (alcohol) before it went into the unit.  

We also cleaned everything inside the unit with alcohol, including all the stainless-steel trolleys and equipment.  


This silky-smooth product can be used to loosen sticky labels and to also remove some stubborn hard and set stains. 

If you prefer to clean without using bleach (sodium hypochlorite), you might like to read how I get my toilet clean without using a brush or bleach! 

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 grandma's cleaning agents

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