Five Low-Scent, DIY Replacement Recipes for Household Cleaning Products

Many migraineurs are triggered by strong scents like perfumes, gasoline fumes, tobacco smoke, oil-based paints, nail polish, and paint remover. Exposure for even just a few seconds can mean we’re reaching for our meds and/or rushing to get in bed. Finding low-scent or no-scent alternatives to regular items, then, often becomes a priority. These five make-at-home recipes for cleaning products are a good place to start. I’ve personally made and used every one of them, and I’m a big fan. Bonus: They’re inexpensive and super easy to make! No DIY experience necessary.

Note: If you’re sensitive to the smell of white vinegar – or you just don’t like it – you can always add some peppermint or lavender essential oil to the recipes below (if the oil isn’t already listed as an ingredient). Most migraineurs find these two scents soothing. If you aren’t one of them, find an essential oil you can tolerate and use that instead.

Garbage disposal cleaner/refresher

There are few household smells as tough on a migraine-sensitive nose as the awful stench that regularly wafts from the garbage disposal - except maybe the harsh drain cleaner generally used to clean it. This cleaner is easy, cheap, and it works – no nasty chemical smell required.


(makes approx. 36 balls)

2 cups baking soda

1 cup salt

cup water

cup Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap

30 drops essential oil (recommended: lemon)*


  1. Combine baking soda and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add soap and oil.
  3. Add water slowly, 1 Tbsp at a time, while stirring, until mixture stays together when pressed by hand.
  4. Scoop packed, rounded spoonfuls with Tbsp measuring spoon and place on parchment paper to harden. (Hardening takes about 24 hours.)
  5. Place hardened balls into glass jar for storage.

To Use: Drop 1-3 balls in disposal, run water, and turn it on.

*Can substitute juice from 1-2 lemons for essential oil, if preferred. If mixture is too wet, add additional baking soda and salt until consistency is correct and mixture holds together.

Glass and mirror cleaner


1 tsp Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap

½ cup white vinegar

3 cups distilled water


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Store in a spray bottle.

Wood polish


1 part olive oil

1 part water

Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Combine ingredients in closed container.
  2. Shake.

To Use: Shake again, then pour a few drops onto cloth. Wipe across wood.

All purpose cleaner


2 Tbsp Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap

10-20 drops tea tree oil



  1. Fill spray bottle with water, leaving approx. 2 in. of room at top
  2. Add soap.
  3. Add oil.
  4. Shake gently to combine.

Bathroom soft scrub cleaner


¾ cup baking soda

¼ cup Dr. Bronner’s unscented or peppermint liquid castile soap

1 Tbsp water


  1. Combine baking soda and soap in a bowl.
  2. Add water, stirring gently to make a soft paste.

To Use: Scoop out with sponge. Start scrubbing.

That's it! Easy to make, easy to use. Want more? Check the Internet. If you have a specific cleaner-type in mind, Pinterest is a great place to start. An experienced DIY-er already? Please share your favorite low-scent cleaning recipes below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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