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Monday, August 11, 2008

Making-it-from-Scratch Monday

Today I am busy making up soap/cleaners, and though I’d go ahead and share that as my making it from scratch post. I’ve always used white vinegar for cleaning. I have read many blogs that not only do the same, but offered recipes for making your own cleaners. I think I should tell you that I try to use as many natural products as possible, but the reason is not the environment. I won’t blatantly wreck it, but my concerns are not headed by the health of the planet. My first motivation is my family. Not only just a general desire to see them kept as far away as possible from chemicals, but also because we have a daughter with PICA. This is the girl who ate the desiccant out of the shoe box from Wal-Mart and drank fluoride rinse in the bathroom. I get tired of calling Poison Control and then waiting to see if Child Services decides to follow up! My second concern is money. We have a very tight budget, and with the cost of everything going up, I’ve had to cut some corners. I’ve linked to the people who gave me the recipe if it was not my own.


• a jar of half Borax and Half Washing Soda
• a bottle of dish soap
• box of baking soda and sea salt mix
• jug of white vinegar

I think if I had to rate my appliances, the dishwasher would actually be first. We have very hard water and trying to wash dishes by hand leaves them with a slimy film. The advantages of the dishwasher are that it gets very hot, thus disinfecting the dishes and preventing the spread of germs (at least from dishes- they still find a way to share germs), it uses less water than I would to try and rinse and re-rinse to get that film off, and the washing soda and borax are both natural water softeners, so the dishes are actually much cleaner now than when I used the commercial dishwasher stuff.

I do add a few drops of dish soap along with the powdered mix because it helps to break the grease molecules. I used to buy the little gel packs that had a bit of soap in them for this reason. Dish soap is variable. Sometimes I like to try whatever the ladies at co-op are splitting for the month, but I often find these to be pricey. I have found some really great soaps and detergents that I just could not afford. White vinegar works great in the rinse aid dispenser.

The baking soda and salt are for my baking stones. Soap would be absorbed and then flavor everything made on them, so I just scrub with this mix made into a paste and rinse. Perfect!


• white vinegar
• baking soda
• homemade laundry soap
• ammonia
• bleach
• fabric softener
* Palmolive

This was the first post I found that convinced me I was not crazy to try and make things myself. Stephanie had it on her blog, and I tried it and loved it. Here is the recipe:

1 bar soap, grated (I use Lazy Bee)
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1/4 cup Palmolive (my addition that really helped with the work cloths and oil stains)

Put grated soapin a gallon of water on the stove. Heat until soap melts. Add two more gallons of water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and add Borax and washing soda. Whisk until completely dissolved. When cooled but not cold, pour into containers. I converted my large canning kettle into my soap kettle when it got one too many dings in it.

I use all-natural soaps for this because even Ivory breaks me out. This does increase the cost, but it is still much more economical that the allergen-free laundry products on the market. Another alternative for sensitive skin is to use powdered baby laundry soap (Dreft) when making the soap. But they charge a nice price for that as well! I am hoping this fall to try my hand at soap making. That would bring the cost back down and allow me to experiment with what works well. A batch of this lasts us about two weeks, so imagine the number of plastic bottles we are saving. That’s my contribution to the environment. ;)

Because of the smell of dairy cows that permeates clothing in the winter if a farmer does not turn his cows out, I do keep ammonia on hand for the really bad barn clothes. I have found, though, that white vinegar works on the regular work clothes. So does pre-treating with liquid dish soap for oily spots. I also bleach whites because it cuts down on body acne, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot (TMI, I know). When someone sweats a lot it can cause all kinds of problems, and if the clothing isn’t treated just right the ailments can be near impossible to treat. I read somewhere that lemon juice works as a bleach alternative, so I’ll get a big bottle of that to try next shopping trip. For the vinegar, I saved a large laundry soap dispenser, which holds 2 ½ gallons, and it is so much more convenient for dispensing than trying to pour from a gallon jug. I also have a canister for the baking soda. I buy both of these items by the case at the discount grocery store. Once the cashier looked at me funny, like I was a terrorist making a bomb. The only thing I know you can make that explodes from 6 gallons of white vinegar and 24 boxes of baking soda is a science fair volcano. Wonder if the FBI is watching me.

I haven’t yet found an alternative to fabric softener that I like. I tried Ecover’s, but like their non-chlorine powdered bleach, it was way too expensive. Most of the alternative I have read about would break me out, so I use what works (which doesn’t cost a lot).

Hand Soap

• bottle of baby shampoo

My kids use soap like it’s going out of style. I found this giant shampoo pump bottle at a salvage grocery store and it has worked great, but they empty it in about a week! I decided to dilute the soap when I realized they were using so much because then the sink was always full of suds that would never go down (because someone is washing their hand every 20 minutes in a house this size). I also had trouble with my daughter eating the soap because it had pictures of almonds of cucumbers and melons on the front. I figured baby soap was a very safe choice. I pour one bottle into the pump and add water to the top. Then mix vigorously and done. It still cleans perfectly well. It’s a lot cheaper than soap refills or bars that get dropped and melt in the water.

Spray Cleaners

• Household Traditions
• Holy Cow cleaners
• Homemade concoctions
• Anything interesting

This one is wide open, because I make some, buy some, and am always changing it. I bought a plain spray bottle to put bleach solution in when we’re battling sickness. I also have one with a vinegar solution for general cleaning. I don’t have a picture of them, but Bren introduced me to the Holy Cow cleaners which are wonderful! They’re pretty, too, which can help when the kids are cleaning. Well, let’s be honest- color inspires adults, too! I also use some of the Household Traditions made by Tropical Traditions, which is one of our co-op suppliers. They have a bug spray that is so safe, you can spray it right on produce in the garden. I also use Ecover toilet bowl cleaner, which is comparable in price to the store stuff. For furniture polish, mix olive oil or grapeseed oil with a little lemon juice or essential oil (though you don’t want to make large batches and let them sit since the olive oil could go rancid).

I also believe some of the best disinfectants are the ones Yahweh has provided free- sun, wind, and rain. If the material will hold up to it, I put bedding (including the frame) outside after illness. It always amazes me that the free and natural products work the best, and yet man thinks he can improve on the Creator's design!


laurie said...

1 more use for vinegar: if I forget and leave clothes in the washing machine overnight, I run a rinse cycle that includes vinegar it cuts that smell.

I too prefer cheap, healthy cleaners. I've used several of the same concoctions as you, but another good alternative is basic H2 from Shaklee. It costs about 12 bucks for their organic super cleaner concentrate and it makes 48 galllons of cleaner. I've been using the same 16 oz. concentrate bottle for a long time now

a soldier's wife said...

This is probably a really silly question, but how good is the homemade laundry detergent on whites? I have to be careful what type of detergent I use because my son is sensitive, but he'll be wearing white shirts to school and I really want to keep them fresh and White. Sometimes even with the good brand detergent, whites can start to look grayish, and as he's a bit of a messy boy, white is so not my color of choice for him. I can't use bleach because of course the logo is blue.

Stephanie said...

Yes, making from scratch is almost always waaay cheaper and waaay healthier. Thanks for the link to my blog and for the CD...the CD was a total surprise! lol You didn't have to do that, but it's much appreciated :-)

God Bless You and Your Family!

Tracy said...

thanks for the very informative post... I love learning about how I can make things myself from scratch!!!