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This homemade all-purpose cleaner is comparable to the popular Thieves brand, but so much cheaper! Whip up this recipe in no time with a few essential oils and basic ingredients and have your home squeaky clean and smelling like Christmas all year long.

As a homesteading mom of seven, soon to be eight, I’ve been passionate about creating a safe and healthy environment for my family since before I brought home my first baby. This means not only growing our own food and raising animals but also making conscious choices when it comes to the products we use in our home. One of the areas where I’ve made significant changes is in the cleaning products we use. 

Store-bought, chemical-laden all-purpose cleaners are one thing I found hard to give up because of the lack of alternatives. Even the supposedly “green” or “plant-based” cleaners on the market often have a very long ingredient list filled with things I didn’t want to be sprayed all over my home.

What is Thieves Cleaner?

A few years ago I discovered Thieves Cleaner, an all-purpose cleaning solution from a popular essential oils brand. Thieves Cleaner is a natural cleaning product that takes its name from the famous “Thieves oil,” which has a rich history dating back to the Black Plague. According to legend, a group of thieves used a blend of essential oils to protect themselves while looting the homes of the sick and dying. Inspired by this tale, Thieves Cleaner contains a mix of essential oils known for their powerful cleaning properties and natural disinfectant qualities.

Unfortunately, there were two problems with continuing to buy “real” Thieves cleaner. First off, it definitely wasn’t cheap and we were on a tight budget. Second, I grew to dislike supporting that particular company.

Today I’m sharing the recipe I came up with, through a little trial and error, which has become my favorite replacement – DIY Thieves Cleaner! It will make your home smell like Christmas all year long, works great, is inexpensive to make, and is truly free of any toxins!

Even when my little ones grab the spray bottle of cleaner to “help mommy do some cleaning” I never have to worry about what they are breathing in, touching, or even getting in their mouths. I wouldn’t recommend letting them drink it, but it won’t kill them either.

Are store-bought all-purpose cleaners safe?

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s chat about why you should avoid store-bought commercial cleaners in the first place.  The harmful toxins and chemicals found in most all-purpose cleaners are extremely detrimental to our health.

Commercial cleaners may promise convenience and a spotless home, but they often come at a significant cost to your health and the environment. Here are some of the toxins and chemicals commonly found in these products, and why they’re bad for you and your loved ones:

  • Phthalates: Phthalates are commonly used to enhance the fragrance in cleaning products. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals can interfere with hormone production, potentially leading to a variety of health issues, including developmental problems in children.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs are emitted as gases from certain cleaning products, contributing to indoor air pollution. Breathing in these chemicals can lead to respiratory issues, headaches, and nausea.
  • Chlorine: Chlorine is often found in bleach-based cleaners. Inhaling chlorine fumes can irritate the respiratory system and exacerbate conditions like asthma.
  • Ammonia: Ammonia, present in many glass and window cleaners, can be harmful when mixed with bleach, producing toxic fumes. It can also irritate the eyes and respiratory system.
  • Phenols: These are used for their germ-killing properties, but phenols can be harmful when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. They have been associated with negative effects on the central nervous system.
  • Artificial Fragrances: Many commercial cleaners contain synthetic fragrances, which often hide the presence of other toxic chemicals. These fragrances can trigger allergies and respiratory problems.
  • Corrosive Ingredients: Some cleaners contain corrosive substances that can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation.
  • Environmental Impact: Beyond health concerns, these chemicals can have adverse effects on the environment, persisting in water systems and harming aquatic life.

The Benefits of Homemade Thieves Cleaner

  • Natural Ingredients: The primary ingredients in Thieves Cleaner are essential oils such as clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. These oils are known for their antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, making them effective at killing germs without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • No Harmful Toxins: Making your own Thieves Cleaner means you have control over the ingredients, ensuring that there are no harmful chemicals or toxins in your cleaning product.
  • Naturally cleans and disinfects with the power of essential oils.
  • Cost-Effective: Homemade Thieves Cleaner is not only safer but also more budget-friendly in the long run. A little goes a long way, making it a cost-effective solution for a large family like mine.
  • Customizable: You can adjust the concentration of your Thieves Cleaner according to your cleaning needs, from all-purpose cleaning to heavy-duty tasks.
  • Pregnancy-Safe: When you’re pregnant, it’s especially important to avoid exposure to toxins. Homemade Thieves Cleaner provides peace of mind, knowing that you’re using a natural, safe alternative during this critical time.
  • Eco-Friendly: By making your own cleaning products, you reduce the environmental impact of disposable containers and chemical runoff into water systems.

How to Make Homemade Thieves Cleaner

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of making your own Thieves Cleaner. Here’s a simple recipe that I use to keep my home clean and toxin-free. And don’t worry when it seems like a LOT of oils. This is for making a concentrate that will last a very long time. 


  • 40 drops Clove oil
  • 36 drops of Lemon oil
  • 20 drops Cinnamon oil
  • 16 drops Eucalyptus
  • 12 drops Rosemary
  • 2 tablespoon witch hazel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1/4 tsp. citric acid (You may leave it out for use on granite or natural stone. I use it on my quartz, but do not leave it sitting for a long time. See more on this below.)
  • 2 cups distilled water


  1. To a 16 oz. pourable container (dark is preferable), add the water, lemon juice or citric acid, witch hazel, and oils. Shake well. This is your concentrate solution.
  2. Add 2 T of concentrate to a 16 oz. dark spray bottle and fill with distilled water. 
  3. Store your concentrate in a dark cool place.

Your homemade Thieves cleaner is ready for use!

This DIY cleaner is safe for most surfaces, but I recommend doing a patch test in an inconspicuous area if you’re concerned about potential discoloration or damage. 

Is lemon juice or citric acid safe on my granite countertops?

Honestly, there is such a small amount that I don’t anticipate it being a problem, however, you may leave it out. I use it on my quartz countertops without issues, but please test it in a small area before using it in large amounts. 

Why is lemon juice or citric acid used in homemade cleaners?

Citric acid and lemon juice act as a chelating agent. In a nutshell, this helps the cleaner not leave behind any residue. You can just spray, wipe, and go!

Why is witch hazel used in homemade cleaners?

Witch hazel is a great emulsifier, which helps the oils mix in well with the other ingredients. It is also a great cleaner, and some research shows that it may be antibacterial as well. 

Does Thieves Cleaner really disinfect surfaces?

Yes! The oils in Thieves are both antiviral and antibacterial, making them great for disinfecting surfaces of all kinds. 

Incorporating Homemade Thieves Cleaner Into Your Routine

Making your own Thieves Cleaner is a game-changer for creating a safe and toxin-free home. Here are some tips for incorporating it into your cleaning routine:

  • Stock Up on Essential Oils: Keep a supply of essential oils on hand, as you’ll be using them not only for cleaning but also for other natural remedies around your homestead.
  • Label Your Bottles: If you have other homemade cleaning products, be sure to label your spray bottles to avoid confusion.
  • Adjust the Recipe: Feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your cleaning needs. You can make a more concentrated version for tougher jobs or dilute it further for everyday cleaning.
  • Teach Your Family: Educate your children and other family members on the benefits of using homemade Thieves Cleaner. Get them involved in the process of making it, too.
  • Use for All-Purpose Cleaning: This cleaner is effective for a wide range of surfaces, from kitchen countertops to bathroom tiles and even glass surfaces.

Making my own DIY Thieves Cleaner has been a transformative step in my journey towards a toxin-free home. It not only keeps our home clean but also protects us from the harmful toxins and chemicals commonly found in commercial all-purpose cleaners. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do and find it helpful in keeping your home squeezy clean, safely. 

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