DIY Enzyme Cleaner!
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You may remember way back in July I decided to start some enzyme cleaner.  A homemade enzyme cleaner that’s supposed to have the magical properties of a thousand unicorns.

Basically it’s a combination of water, old citrus peels and some brown sugar.  You can see my original post on how to make it here.  It’s supposed to replace regular toxic household cleaners and do an even better job.  The catch?  It takes 3 months to make.  It needs that time to develop and ferment.

What happens is the citrus peels produce a small amount of yeast, which in turns eats up the sugar which somehow turns into enzymes.  I have no idea how.  I don’t really care either.  Enzymes are known to be great cleaners and any products that are used for getting rid of pet urine stink are usually made of enzymes.  So homemade enzyme cleaner is good.

Of course I had to try making it because why wouldn’t I?  It’s what I do.  Try things.  And this was looking especially appealing for some reason.  The 3 months was a pain in the ass but I’ve waited much longer for far less so I figured I could tough it out.

Besides.  If this enzyme cleaner was as good as the people of the Internet were professing 3 months of waiting was a minuscule price to pay. According to the tribe of enzyme Internet people, once it’s done, this stuff will clean bathtubs, mirrors, toilets, food, pet urine, remove brown spots from your skin and of course, warts.  Yes.  That is what they say.

The last thing to get people this worked up was snake oil.

Here’s how it all turned out for me …

July 6th I started my batch of enzyme cleaner.  3 months later it hadn’t done a thing.  No fermenting, no gassing up, no nothin.  All instructions for making this stuff warned you about the fact that so much gas will be produced in the bottle while it’s working it’s magic that the lid might explode off.  No exploding.   3 months later it was the same as it was from day one, with a little extra colour and stink.

I also knew the enzyme cleaner wasn’t ready because it was incredibly sticky.   Any of the sugar I put in there was still there.   If the enzyme cleaner had  properly fermented there wouldn’t be any sugar left in it.

So after 3 months of nothing happening I added a teaspoon of yeast to my concoction.  This did the trick and within a few days the bottle was bubbling and fermenting and producing more gas than Honey Boo Boo at a chili eating contest.

About 2 weeks later it stopped producing gas and wasn’t sticky at all, so I knew it was done.

I measured out the recommended ratio of Enzyme Cleaner to water.  All the sites that extoll the virtues of this cleaner say to use it straight for pet accidents, one part enzyme to 5 parts water for cleaning glass, and 1 part enzyme to 10 parts water for general cleaning, like in bathrooms and kitchens.

And then I started cleaning.  And what did I think?

DIY Enzyme Cleaner is stupid.

I started off by cleaning some sticky windows.  It didn’t work.  Windex did.

Then I moved onto a mirror.  It worked.  So did Windex and so did plain water.

Then into the bathroom I went.  It did a fine job on the sink and bathtub.  Just like my regular cleaner only not as good.

Off to the kitchen.  Again it did a fine job on the counters and windowsills but a terrible job on the baseboards (which had some kind of grease on them).

That’s where I stopped my experiment.  It seemed pointless to continue because I knew … I was never going to make this again.

It wasn’t that it was completely terrible, it just wasn’t worth the effort and really didn’t clean nearly as well as commercial cleaners.  Yes, I know … if you lick it though, you won’t die!  You won’t die if you lick Windex either so don’t worry about it.  Neither will your baby.

If you’re worried about that sort of thing there’s a myriad of products out there that are safe for you and your baby and your curious licking problem.

I don’t know if was just me, or my particular batch but after reading what other bloggers had to say about this stuff I was expecting rays of sunshine to come exploding out of my toilet after I cleaned with it.  They did not.

I’m kind of suspicous about these other bloggers and what they normally use for cleaning products if they’re so impressed with this.  I suspect prior to making enzyme cleaner they’d been trying to clean their homes with roadkill.

And that’s basically my assessment of this DIY Enzyme Cleaner.  It’s better than roadkill.


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124 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    Thank you for your test, glad I didnt have to go through those grueling months of waiting…and for nothing, ugh. Basically it sounds like homemade vinegar but even more lame right?! I will stick with good old white vinegar for my cleaning, those internet people you speak of sound wacky 😀

  2. Lemurific says:

    That stinks, but thanks for doing the legwork. For pet stains and smells, the Equalizer Carpet Stain & Odor Eliminator is the best thing I have found. Much better than natures miracle. It cleans my neurotic cat’s messes from rugs and couches without that lingering smell. It is easy to apply too. Fricking cat.

    • Karen says:

      Good to know! I’ll look for the Equalizer. I too have a cat with questionable habits at times. SO frustrating. I think I tried to toilet train her too early. ~ karen

      • Lemurific says:

        FYI: I can buy it through my vet or via amazon. I have never seen it in a store. That is exactly what I did with my cat. I suppose I ruined her. Plus she hates skunks and marks by the windows.

        • vera wroe says:

          The remarks you made about your cat seem as if an excuse for it’s behavior. Whilst you obviously need to clean the smells I would suggest you deal with the behavior. Create an area outside (it can be small) after the cat has eaten inside put “it” out in the area. and walk away (without comment). If you notice it peeing let it back inside and give it a small treat/tickle. Don’t fuss if the cat goes to an area it likes to pee simply put it out in it’s area immedietly, after a while establish the outside routine. Fussing or telling it off etc. is rewarding the cat for it’s unwanted behavior. I hope you take my comment in the way it’s intended because many owners have similar problems, remember (you must replace a behavior with an acceptable on. Regards to all Vera in Australia.

    • Deb says:

      I’ll be looking for The Equalizer as well for my 16 yr old cat with kidney disease. His accidents are not entirely his fault, but are definitely a major pain.

      • Angela says:

        I also have a 16 year old cat with kidney disease. Must find this stuff!

        • Kathy says:

          And I have a 15 year old cat with kidney disease, most likely due to being locked in a foreclosed house for 21 days without water or food….she’s not the pisser, but her neurotic sister is…so off to Amazon I go.

          I love to use baking soda as a cleaner, too, in addition to vinegar. It’s great in drains (with vinegar) and well, has at least 1001 uses, according to my husband who composed an ode to Arm and Hammer….

  3. Lemurific says:

    Leave the homemade fermentation for making some alcoholic beverages.

  4. Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams says:

    So basically this is a Pinterest fail? LOL. Thanks for letting us know how it [didn’t] work…

    Gotta wonder if they do use road kill for cleaning…

    Jen

  5. Marti says:

    K- you have a political ad on your site. Is that a specific campaign that contacted you or did you join one of those ad groups (like Google Adsense, only something that will actually MAKE MONEY) and it’s coming through the group?

    • Karen says:

      No, I have nothing to do with the ad. Who the hell are they promoting? It’s either from Google or Glam. Either way, there’s a new ad network on my horizon. ~ karen!

      • Lisa says:

        I don’t see any political ads on my view. Of course, if it’s an American political ad, I cringe at putting it on a Canadian blog… but there ya go.

        • Shauna says:

          Yes, I saw a political ad yesterday at the bottom of the post telling me to vote for Romney. Thankfully, I had already voted otherwise this ad on Karen’s blog could have made all the difference;)

          • Candace says:

            Hi Karen,

            For what it’s worth, “conservatives” read your site, too. Considering our country basically is at a 50/50 split, it’s hardly surprising–and hopefully not too disturbing, assuming all readership is welcome by the writer.

      • Lindsay B says:

        I saw a political ad too and was very surprised! Mine was for crazy pants Michele Bachmann, a MN Congressional candidate that doesn’t even represent my district.

        • Shauna says:

          It all has to do with what you’ve been searching and reading. Yes, the internet bots know that. Today, I see an ad for party standups. And, you know what? I recently ordered a party standup. And, yes, I’ve been reading political crap lately – go figure.

          The scariest ads that are shown are the ones that pop up after I’ve been reading medical posts – like WebMD or something.

    • Jackie says:

      FYI I saw a huge ad that seemed to be part of your post at the end (there was no box or delineation between your words and the words of the ad) and it was advertising steam cleaning for my city (Calgary AB). Because of the topic of your blog, it actually seemed like part of your post.

  6. Marti says:

    As for “pinterest fail,” I tried the “ammonia and hot water in spray bottle, steam ironed with a white towel” for getting rid of rug stains. Worked. Worked great, matter of fact.

    Of course, that’s another “please don’t lick this” moments for you, isn’t it?

  7. Claudine says:

    “…your curious licking problem.”

    The best enzymatic cleaner I’ve used for pet mess is Anti-Icky Poo. Yes, it sounds silly, but it works very well. One of my cats was very angry with me (long story) and peed for two days on a futon mattress. There was some discoloration of the cotton, but the stickiness and smell went away very quickly. Anti-Icky Poo is recommended by veterinarians and can be purchased at pet supply stores, but is less expensive online.

  8. Rachel says:

    Baaah haa haaaa..I saw the pic and thought, Oh yum, that looks good! I’m thinking it was some kind of dietary cleanse. I’m so bummed.

    I have to agree with Lemurific’s sentiments. Good try though, and kudos on the patience!

  9. Trysha says:

    Skip the “OMG! This is the best cleaner. Mix vinegar and blue dawn dish soap”. No. It sucks and it stinks. I’d rather use straight vinegar and have my house smell like pickles than clean my bathtub with that gawd awful mix again.

  10. Danni says:

    I too, I have a disgusting pet that required the FREQUENT use of concoctions to pull urine out of wool carpets. Yes, wool. Ten years ago when I was still worried about such things as off-gassing in synthetic carpets — now I am worried about the organic stuff growing in the wool/jute/urine carpet in my house. But bc I have tried just about every product on the planet…. Woolite Oxy Pet works amazingly for me. It is enzymy and also works in my kids’ bath that also has a stray urine ‘situation’ that I don’t want to investigate too closely, but can spray with the Oxy and odors completely disapear. If that helps anyone… great. Pets suck.

  11. kate says:

    oooh – i have been waitng to read the results of your experiment. I was hoping it would work great. I have two citrus trees – one lemon, one orange – and we get lots of peels – especially in the winter. I was hoping i could maybe even earn some extra income by becoming a small scale enzyme manufacturer if this thing worked out. The one thing peels are good for is impressing people by lighting a match and then flexing a peel so as the oil spurts out it catches fire — poof!!!

    • Karen says:

      That *does* sound like fun! ~ k

    • Honey says:

      You can also make limoncello, orangecello (a word I’m fairly certain I just made up), or a combination.

      Take the zest and soak it in a bottle of vodka or Everclear in a cool(ish), dark(ish) place for 1-3 months. Strain and add simple syrup. Bottle, label, and sell! Or bottle and drink yourself. I don’t judge.

  12. Sam says:

    Ha! I wonder if the huge jar of kombucha I had the bright idea of starting could double as “enzyme” cleaner (so it’d just be a big jar of vinegar at this point)? I decided to put the creepy jar next to my pumkins and torture-looking tools for halloween, so it wasn’t totally wasted. Maybe you could let it ferment a little more and feed it to teenagers, I’m sure they’ll like it with some kool aid or something. Ooh, how about enzyme cleaner and coke?

  13. bex says:

    Hi i decided to do the two week wait with yeast which produced the ‘result’ of enzyme mixture it was suposed to… Then i heard that if it smells like wine, u got wine (which i believe i had been cleaning my floors, counters, etc with) but if it smells more like vinigar then its good to go. Hmm, good old water and vinegar does exactly that. Yep, that idea got tossed!

  14. I’ve made orange & vinegar cleaner, and it works great.. I shared how and why here:
    http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2012/04/natural-orange-vinegar-cleaner.html

    No offense, but that gunky enzyme stuff looks pretty nasty!!!

  15. sarah says:

    i made the cleaner too, i really looked after that bottle almost taking it on holiday with me to ensure it didn’t explode. It fizzed and burped for weeks. I was so excited when it came time to use it and nothing, it did virtually nothing. It might have helped a drain problem i had but i had to use so much of that stuff that took so long to wait for it wasn’t worth it. Back to vinegar and bicarb. Though the excitement whilst
    waiting was almost worth the disappointment.

  16. qtpuh2tme says:

    FYI –As a professional “Domestic Goddess” (my actual business name) for 40+ years, and for those of you that don’t mind terribly using OTC products…there only 4 you really, actually need for danged near ALL cleaning issues:

    Windshield Wiper Wash — you can cut it up to 50% w/water and it’ll still work wonderfully! Plus, it absolutely will not streak — unlike Windex. (Cost — maximum $1 per gallon.)

    Comet Cleanser — the plain ‘old fashioned’ mint-grit stuff your momma always used. (Cost — usually less than $1 per large can.)

    Fantastik (brand name) all-purpose liquid spray cleaner — here again, you can cut it w/water up to 50% and it will still work, well…fantastically! (Cost –

    And last, but never least — Quad-aught (0000) steel wool. (NOT the same thing as SOS or Brillo pads.) Four zero steel wool is your BFF when it comes to cleaning large expanses of glass (shower, car, window, etc.), mirror, chrome. (NO brass — it scratches!). Use it DRY — never wet. (Cost — about CHEAP!)

    I guarantee it will get rid of the MOST stubborn water spots from shower/bathroom glass…and even the outside window’s all-year-long layers of water spots/scum/dirt, etc. You may have to put a bit of “elbow grease” into those tougher jobs, but it will be SO worth it; cost wise and time wise. Just wipe or vacuum up the steel wool ‘dust’ after you’ve finished. Easy-peasy.

    ~:0)

  17. Kathy says:

    Karen,
    This question has nothing to do with enzyme cleaners or road kill. I noticed you have an ad for ollas. Have you used any in your garden? I’ve read about them but didn’t know if they would really work.
    Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy – Yes, that’s my latest advertiser. Lori from Texas has these to sell. I had never even *heard* of them! The concept certain seems plausible but I have never tried one myself. I’d love to though. I have a sprinkler system for my front yard vegetable garden, but there are other areas in the yard that never seem to get water even if it rains. ~ karen!

      • Lisa says:

        Ollas – which is spanish for “pots” – have to be dug up in areas where the ground freezes otherwise they break. If your ground doesn’t freeze, have at it.

        I’ve used 1/2 gallon milk jugs with a million pin holes, but only in my planters.

        • Kathy says:

          Freezing isn’t much of an issue in Houston…unfortunately. It was 88 here yesterday…ugh! I’ve seen instructions for making ollas using 2 clay pots, silcone to hold them together and copper tubing attached used to fill it with water. However, the homemade version probably doesn’t work as well as the ones Karen’s advertiser sells. Karen…I hope there is a post if you try them!

  18. Cindy Marlow says:

    I’m so glad you do these things so we don’t have to. You are like my best friend only I have never met you (unlike my real best friend…I met her 50 years ago). Thanks, Fake Bestie!

  19. Janie Farmer says:

    Odoban is the ONLY product I have found to eliminate pet odors or any odors, not cover them up like febreeze and, it also disinfects. The lady poured ammonia onto a cloth and had me smell it. Couple of sprays of odo ban and when she held it up to my nose the odor was completely gone. Sold on it every since.

  20. Brenda says:

    Well the BEST DIY cleaner I know is the DE-Skunk for Dogs one which we had to use last night..ugggg.
    Dawn dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, warm water and I use a bit of spectro-derm in with it….apparently works with kitty mistakes according to my lab friends as well.

  21. Suanne Jefferies says:

    “…produced more gas than Honey Boo Boo at a chili eating contest”??????????? Bwahahahahahaha!!!

  22. Mary Werner says:

    I never got any political commercial – why is she so special? I get 30 phone calls a day for Romney yet not one on the internet. Was it something I said? You know they can hear and see inside your home – at least that is what it said on the internet and so I believe it. Better get to cleaning before they send in the authorities to check my current level of dust bunnies.

  23. Rose says:

    I concur with you Karen. As the reader that suggested this to you, I have to say I’m sorry. I think I mentioned that this stuff stinks? Smells and it doesn’t work, yup this is a Pintrest fail. However, I’ve still got it stored under the sink. Just HOW do you get rid of it? I’m not sure that this stuff should be down the drain, or the real reason what happens if it DOESN’T go down? It’s alive!!!!

    • Donna T says:

      Rose… go ahead and pour your DIY cleaner down the drain… except for the peels of course… the enzymes are good for the drain and septic tank if you have one! Sound like a great use for it! 🙂

  24. karol says:

    Is that picture the end result?! Because it kind of looks like something you’d find in a hoarders bathroom, but not for cleaning. And I’m guessing it smells nearly as bad as it looks. eww

  25. Jeff Walker says:

    “More gas than Honey Bo-Bo in a chili eating contest.” This is why I read this blog. Well that and the antics of chickens.

  26. Marce says:

    Sorry it failed at cleaning but it made for great reading! you have a way with words! lol

  27. Lynnl says:

    The political ad showing on my screen is one for State Representative in my district. Pretty spot on, seeing how the street in front of my house is the border of my district. I’ve admired the candidate’s rival’s campaigning, but now I’m getting the heebie jeebies.

  28. Suzy says:

    here is something I found on the Internet that really works and you don’t have to wait 3 months. Heat up 1 cup of vinegar in the microwave and mix in 1 cup dawn dish washing (I used a little less Dawn) mix in a spray bottle. Spray your shower or bath toilet or sink. Walk away for an hour, come back and hose down. Your taps will be gleaming your tiles will shine and your tub will sing. We have an acyrlic tub that was gross because nothing would clean the scum but this works.

  29. Jodi says:

    Ha! when I read your tutorial on how to make the cleaner I ALMOST tried it and then thought it would be better to let you go first. YAY! I’m a lover of Clorox, ammonia, and anything that looks and smells toxic.;) I love the ease of spraying that noxious stuff on my tub and watching it eat the grime. I’m so glad this one failed! Back to sniffing bleach!Cheers.

  30. J9 says:

    Your honesty kills me, that’s why I keep coming back. Gosh I love Windex….

  31. Langela says:

    “Better than roadkill” HAH! High praise indeed.

  32. Lori says:

    Thanks for doing all the work for us! Now I know I don’t have to do it!

  33. nicola jones says:

    I have made Epic Fails a specialty… and much of science is spent discovering how things don’t work to find the one way they will. Who knows maybe the cure for acne or or squeeky hinges brews in that bottle…til then- try “pink” solution.: )

  34. Pat says:

    For any glass cleaning I simply use a “norwex” cleaning cloth….absolutely NO cleaner except water and the cloth. The cloth contains silver thread which does the cleaning. Check out their products as then you won’t need most commercial cleaners other than some vinegar, baking soda, borax for those heavy duty jobs. I am not a Norwex salesperson, just love the product. I don’t have any pets so am not an expert at pet mess. You know that build up of stuff you get on your gas fireplace glass, the norwex cloth and water takes it off. We used to use some expensive cleaner.

  35. Karen the Coffee Spewer says:

    I HATE reading your blog … while I am drinking coffee. What advise do you have for cleaning coffee off a computer screen! Honey Boo Boo at a chili eating contest! I am still laughing!

  36. cred says:

    Crap! When you started your concoction, I started one under my sink, too. If I waited 3 months for your experiment and then found out that this stuff was brilliant and then had to wait another 3 months to make my own, I would have been pissed.
    Mine did create gas- I used a balloon on top as a reader suggested b/c I couldn’t be trusted to release the gas often enough (although I religiously shook the bottle every day). But oddly after a week or so, the balloon collapse as though it was consuming air. Then the bottle was collapsing- I would release the balloon to give it air- WTF! I don’t know of a reaction/biological process that would create a vacuum. I wasn’t sure what I’d created so I hadn’t tried mine.
    Now I, too, have a batch of useless diy cleaner. However, I won’t bother with trying mine especially since I’m not sure what my experiment under the sink became.
    It might create a cosmic wormhole in the kitchen drain. Perhaps I have just completed some important work in quantum mechanics. I better go clean my sink, I expect that I may have some theoretical physicists knocking at my door shortly.

  37. DearTufy says:

    I do make a natural cleaner that’s known for it’s antibacterial, fungicidal, anti viral and germicidal properties — called Four Thieves Vinegar. It is a centuries old legend and recipe. Basically it’s vinegar infused (think Sun tea) with at least 4 of the following herbs along with crushed garlic (and make sure to bruise or mull herbs): Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Fennel, Peppermint, Melissa (Lemon Balm), Lavender. After the herbs have infused for several weeks, strain out the herbs and toss, dilute with distilled water in a spray bottle and use to clean bathrooms, counters, spray in sickrooms (like Lysol) and many other uses. There other other recipes you can find, some using more toxic herbs, but this is the recipe I use as it’s so safe.

  38. Brenda J. M says:

    Put all that in a hollowed out pumpkin and you’d have a home-made moonshine! Probably would have made you happier than all that double cleaning.
    I’m all for home fixins’ etc., but after cleaning my drains with baking soda and vinegar a number of years..and then breaking up the hardened mass of old baking soda in the down drain…well – BRING ON THE DRAINO!
    I do use vinegar and lemon juice on glass etc., but I’m all for modern science too.

  39. Patra says:

    OMGosh you are the funniest person ever. Stupid is my favorite word. Thank you for using it – and restoring my faith in Windex.

  40. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Glad I decided to wait and see how your experiment did..It looks totally gross..kinda like Honey Boo Boo when she acts rude and obnoxious..which is most of the time..

  41. Leslie says:

    I’d chalk up the glowing reviews from “the other bloggers” to the Bad Idea Syndrome. What’s the Bad Idea Syndrome? Think of it this way: However much Misery loves company, multiply that by the number of people on the Internet and that’s how much Bad Ideas love company. Bad Idea Syndrome … BIS … we can call it BS for short.

  42. Kate S. says:

    I have noticed a curious phenomenon among blogs–products, recipes, and DIY fixes are lauded as “better than the original” and “ZOMG amazing.” Sometimes they’re things I’ve tried and know to be inferior, sometimes I can look at a recipe and say, ‘there is no way that is edible.’ I am now suspicious of any blogger who lauds anything to the heavens. I think they do it for the Pinterest popularity, honestly. And I kind of hate them for it.

  43. Leena says:

    That is almost exactly how we make 1st of May drink Sima. But instead of cleaning with it we drink it.
    Enzymes?? seriously…. you made alcohol.

  44. Shana says:

    Brenda said “bring on the draino”. I had a plumber tell me to pore 1 cup of rock salt & boiling water down the sink once a month. Think Pop Rocks.

    I use RainX on my windows & mirrors. Works on eye glasses also for anti-fogging. (the wipes or spray)
    The paste I use on white erase boards. Wipe on then buff off. Makes the writing wipe off better.

  45. v says:

    Best glass cleaner for me thus far is windshield washing solution which I use for my car’s front window. I keep it in what used to be ordinary glass cleaner spray container. The reason I believe it works is because of its alcohol content. Adding yeast to liquid that also contains some sugar (the citrus peels) most likely results in alcohol formation. If you wnt to keep it simple..use windshield washing solution.

  46. Laura says:

    I look forward to your wayward thoughts that are always spot on!!:) I like your comment on windex vs natural regarding health benefits. I drive myself insane trying to go natural(especially on skin products)yet find that ‘science’ mixed in shows better results. In my biz, there’s always a sample being passed around hoping for a distributor, so I gotta try….
    Glad you tested this one for me.

  47. taria says:

    my mama was the queen of cleaning. she had the cleanest house and laundry was her specialty. her washing machine died the day she did, honestly and literally. 409, comet, tide were brands I remember. they were good enough for her and I use them too. btw, she judged women by the cleanliness of their baseboards. Apple fell far from the tree with all 5 of her daughters though!

  48. Jodie says:

    Hilarious! The info is much more appreciated with laughter!!!

  49. Janet says:

    Thank you, Karen….for spending all that time on your enzyme experiment…so that we, your faithful readers would not have to. You are amazing!

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