Making your own green cleaning supplies is surprisingly easy, cheap and totally non-toxic! Here are my favorite cleaners with free printable labels so you can save the trouble of looking up the recipe again! Back in March, I posted about the green household cleaners I’ve been making and using around the house, complete with a guide on how to get started making your own at home. Now that I’ve been using them consistently for a few months, I thought I’d pare down the list and share with you my favorites, as well as a free printable for each, which you can print out and use as a label on the bottle! (I find they stay on best with packing tape, covering it completely with it so the label doesn’t get wet.)
All-Purpose Household Cleaner
This bad boy really is ALL purpose. I use it to clean practically every surface in the house except for upholstery, including the bathtub, toilets, counter tops, sink, messes on the floor, car dashboard, and more!
Why I Love It:
It takes less than five minutes to make and really works.
I love how it leaves my bathroom smelling like a health food store because of the tea tree oil!
It’s non-toxic so I can actually clean my bathroom when the kids are awake and I don’t have to freak out if they get some of the cleaner on their hands!
It’s green so when it eventually comes out of my septic tank, it doesn’t pollute the ground and make it’s way into streams, harming wildlife.
Recipe (for 32 ounces)
UPDATE – DO NOT MIX VINEGAR AND CASTILE SOAP: Some of my followers have informed me that mixing vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap renders the both of the ingredients powerless. I wrote the Dr. Bronner’s company and asked if this was true – here is their response:
It is true, it is not good to mix vinegar and castile soap because it will unsaponify the soap. As Lisa states in her blog, “In great part it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.” https://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=292
My Solutionis to make this cleaner is to remove the vinegar. After cleaning, I spray the surface with my disinfecting spray and wipe down or leave to disinfect. Recipe at the bottom of this post.
(NOW REMOVED – see above) 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp. of baking soda (I buy this 13 lb bag since I use baking soda so much!)
1/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (green, fair-trade & organic soap!) (this one in Citrus is perfect for cleaning)
20 drops of any of the following essential oils: Lavender, Tea Tree, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Purification (a blended oil of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Citronella, and Lavandin) or Thieves (a blended oil of Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus) (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Mix the baking soda and some hot water and lightly shake to dissolve the baking soda. Then, add the remaining ingredients and slowly fill the rest of the bottle (slowly because of the soap – it will get bubbly!) with filtered water (especially if you have hard tap water).
Get Your Free Printable Label Here – this is the old label, so it does not reflect the new recipe above!
Baking Soda Freshener
This is my favorite upholstery and fabric freshener, as well as extra scrubbing power in the bathroom. It’s just baking soda and essential oils – can’t get easier or cheaper than that! And if you’ve been potty training for six long excruciating months like us (not a success story over here!), then you’ll definitely want this around. We couldn’t live without it!
Why I Love It:
Easy to make
Super duper cheap
Smells amazing and really works to remove stank nasty smells from upholstery and carpet
Great to use in the bathtub and toilet bowl to remove yucky scum
Baking Soda (enough to fill whatever container you’re using – for me, it was about 2 cups) (where to buy)
20 to 30 drops of any of the following essential oils: Lavender, Tea Tree, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Purification (a blended oil of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Citronella, and Lavandin) or Thieves (a blended oil of Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus) (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Save your Parmesan cheese container the next time you empty it on a plate of spaghetti (anyone guilty out there?) because it makes a perfect shaker container for our Baking Soda Freshener. Fill it halfway with baking soda, drop in 10 drops of each oil (unless your container is bigger than my 16 oz. one) and shake. Then, fill the rest up with baking soda and lightly shake again. Done!
A non-toxic and green disinfectant – who knew it could be done? If you’ve read anything about hand sanitizers and the antibacterial chemicals in soaps and other products like I have, you’re probably searching for a non-toxic alternative. Well, here it is and it’s WAY cheaper than what you’ll buy in the store!
Use this to spray on counter tops (and you don’t have to wipe off!), all over the bathroom, cutting boards and any other non-porous surface that needs some germ smothering. It also works very well on mold and mildew. I sprayed it on some mildewed window casings and the mildew wiped right out. I was amazed!
Why I Love It:
Yep, you guessed it, CHEAP!
Also easy to make and use
Cruelty-free cleaner – and that includes humans!
Depending on what you have in your cabinet or want to buy, you can use both hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, or one of each. Both have powerful antibacterial properties that won’t harm ecosystems or your organs.
20 to 30 drops of any of the following essential oils: Lavender, Tea Tree, Lemon, Eucalyptus, Purification (a blended oil of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Citronella, and Lavandin) or Thieves (a blended oil of Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus) (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Note: Tea Tree has a very strong scent and if I use too much of it in a cleaner, it really irritates my lungs. So, start with less as you can always add more! *10 drops for an 8 oz. bottle, 15 drops for a 16 oz. bottle, 20 drops for a 20 oz. bottle In a 16 oz. container, fill it with either vinegar or peroxide or half of both for the most power. Then add your essential oils. Lightly shake and done! Green Disinfectant – Free Printable Download
Click here to see ALL of my green and natural homemade cleaning recipes!
Tired of buying baby wipes that are expensive and unhealthy for your baby’s skin? Well, here’s an easy tutorial to make your own at home, using just oil and water and fleece fabric. They actually work much better than disposable wipes and are oh-so green and non-toxic!
Now that we are cloth-diapering, cloth-toilet-papering, green-living crunchy folks, it only makes sense to continue down the green mile and check another thing off the list – cloth baby wipes. This was super easy to do since I’d already made 6-inch square toilet cloth (as I call it – it replaces our toilet paper). See my tutorial on toilet cloth if you want more information that you probably care to read (smile) about cutting the squares.
But for this post, I’ll break it down for ya real quick-like (gotta start talkin’ like a Georgia girl since we’re gonna be movin back home this summer!). These homemade wipes work just as good, if not better, than disposable ones because they are thicker and, therefore, have more fiber to grab the fun bits off those precious little chubby buns.
Optional drops of lavender or another yummy essential oil (like sweet orange, rosemary, and cedar wood or a blended oil like Gentle Baby (Geranium, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Rosewood, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Lemon, Lavender, Palmarosa, and Coriander) to fill your nostrils with something other than stank-nastiness. These oils also aid in reducing harmful microorganisms and softening the skin, all of which lead to happy bums. (where to buy high quality essential oils)
1 yard of fleece fabric (or jersey cotton, but it’s not as fluffy)
Old baby wipes container or a container that closes so the wipes stay moist
I bought three yards of fleece fabric on sale at JoAnn’s for $6-ish a yard and cut it up into 6-inch squares with pinking shears. The pinking shears aren’t totally necessary since fleece doesn’t unravel – the number one reason I bought it because I didn’t want to do any sewing what-so-ever! Jersey cotton would also work, but it’s not as fluffy as fleece. As I mention in my toilet cloth post, fleece is NOT a green fabric, which I didn’t figure out until I’d already bought the darn stuff. But, you can buy organic bamboo cotton fleece at Amazonfor the same price per yard as fleece at JoAnn’s (when it’s not on sale, about $12)! You get 60 wipes out of one yard of fleece, which lasts for about a week for us! A lotta bang for your buck there!
Cut the fleece into 6-inch squares, and oil up those bad boys one of two ways – by dunking them like a Southern Baptist (I grew up Southern Baptist so I’m allowed to poke fun) into a holy pool of your oil of choice (I already had mineral oil, but learned later it is not green or even healthy for the skin. I no longer use it!) and filtered water in a brownie pan (hmm, ironic brown reference there).
OR Keep a glass spray bottle (essential oils destroy plastic, where to buy) with a solution of three parts filtered water to one part oil and spray it on the poop cleaners each time you use them. I did the first method because I figured it would be the easiest way to do it – my Little G-Dog wrestles like a baby alligator when we try to change his diaper, so I need wipes quick, like yesterday. There is NO time to spray them and sing sweet songs and listen to birds chirping, By then, he’d have taken a nose dive off the table and be running around his room with poop stuck to his chubby little butt (and yes, the latter part of that has actually happened!).
I soak all the wipes at one time and store the extras that don’t fit into our poop cleaner container in a plastic zip-lock bag so they stay moist. Then I dump the dirty ones in the cloth diapering pail we already have in the bathroom, along with the stank-nasty cloth diaper. And that’s it! Voila!
Now it’s time to get personal and gross. I haven’t been happy with store-bought deodorant for years now, but didn’t realize there is an alternative until I jumped on the green bandwagon. The store-bought ones just don’t work well for me, and when the weather warms up and the pits are exposed, I get nauseating whiffs of BO and the artificial fragrance of the deodorant. Blech! It’s way worse now that I have the nose of a bloodhound after having been pregnant a few times. But this one is a deodorant I’ll keep in the bathroom a long time because it actually really works, contains no scary chemicals and I’m crazy about the fragrance that the lavender and tea tree essential oils, and coconut oils leave behind (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Stinky Pits Research
If you are a little nerdy like me and enjoy some cold, hard facts, then keep reading. Otherwise, skip down to the recipe! I decided about a month ago it was time to make a change, especially after reading of the aluminum in commercial deodorants that has been linked to endocrine disruption in the body, as the chemicals mimic estrogen. What the heck does that mean? Here’s what wikipedia.org states:
“Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body (including limbs); sexual development problems, feminizing of males or masculine effects on females, etc. Any system in the body controlled by hormones, can be derailed by hormone disruptors. The critical period of development for most organisms is between the transition from a fertilized egg, into a fully formed infant.“
Wow, now I understand why pregnant women are shying away from deodorant and buying all natural options. But I still had to check for myself, to see if the levels of aluminum are actually hazardous, and because I can be nerdy and enjoy research. I checked the handy dandy EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (my new best friend!) and the National Cancer Institute to find out. According to the database, my go-to deodorant, Secret Powder Fresh, gets a score of 3 for hazardous on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most hazardous. At first, this appears not so bad, right? But a closer look reveals that out of 8 ingredients, only one ingredient has good data to back it up. The rest have limited to no data at all to test the hazard level of each ingredient. A look at Lady Speed Stick, my other go-to stink reducer, shows the same results. The National Cancer Institute reports in this article that:
“Because studies of antiperspirants and deodorants and breast cancer have provided conflicting results, additional research is needed to investigate this relationship and other factors that may be involved.”
A scientist I am not, so my conclusion is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, I found the easiest recipes I could find online and whipped up my own. My recipe is a combination of one from How About Orange and Passionate Homemaking.
5 drops of of tea tree oil and 5 drops of lavender (where to buy high quality essential oils) (I’ve used other combinations of essential oils and none work as well as these two!)
Or, for a man’s version, you could include these essential oils: 5 drops of organic Tea Tree Oil and add one of the following: add Cedarwood Oil, Eucalyptus Oil or Sage Oil. All of these smell woodsy and manly, in my opinion. There’s really no right or wrong, it’s whatever scent you (or the man in your life) will agree to wear! (Where to buy high quality essential oils). Combine the baking soda and cornstarch in a bowl.
Stir in the coconut oil. It is difficult at first, but will start to soften after you put in some elbow grease.
Add your essential oils of choice. I added Lavender and Tea Tree Oil specifically because they have antibacterial properties and I use them a lot in my homemade cleaning products.
Stir it all together and you’re done! It took me less than five minutes to make this, and it is so cheap, too! You only need a smidgen on the tip of your finger to spread over the pits.
The mixture does harden after a few hours and becomes a deodorant-like texture, but it’s still possible to smooth it on with da finga because it softens with body heat. I store mine in a tiny rubbermaid container that holds like 1 strawberry (honestly, what is supposed to go in it?). I never use it otherwise, so it made a perfect pit stink preventer.
Does the Baking Soda Bother Your Skin? Still smelling and sweating?
Then an armpit detox might be in order! A WHAT? Sounds weird, right? It might, but it works Many readers have shared with me that they have problems with skin irritation with natural deodorants and I did as well. My underarms hated the baking soda after I used it for a few months UNTIL my pits had completely detoxed off the conventional deodorant! Your pores get clogged up with the aluminum that blocks your sweat glands, and bacteria can linger. Here’s how that’s done. You’ll need:
1-2 drops of Essential oils (optional, where to buy) I’d use Purification or Tea Tree oil for this
Make a paste out of the clay and ACV and apply to your underarms. Leave for 20 minutes, then either wipe or wash off in the shower. Do this once or twice a day for several days and try the natural deodorant again. Continue to do this until you feel like your skin is handling the baking soda well, and is no longer smelling or sweating too much. You will sweat some, but it shouldn’t be an embarrassing amount.
I am in love with my new homemade, organic body lotion. It is divine, decadent, and so rich. It looks and smells so good I wanna eat it and it is doing wonders for both my skin and hair! The coconut oil gives a refreshing coconut smell that always reminds me of the beach, and the almond oil and shea butter give it a wonderful, full-bodied nutty smell.
I wanted to make my own because not only is it fun to make, but it is full of all natural, organic ingredients that all come directly from trees! So, I don’t have to worry about chemicals that are being absorbed into my skin, then distributed all over my body. Take for instance the lotion, CeraVe. My mom gave this to me for Christmas because it has worked really well for her and my dad, and it’s thick, creamy and works well on my dry, eczema-prone skin, too. However, I looked it up in the EWG Skin Cosmetics Database and found it has a moderate hazard for endocrine and organ system toxicity, some contamination concerns, and it is not known whether or not they test on animals. Ack! I also looked up Aveeno, and it has a much better rating, so it is less toxic than CeraVe, but they do test on animals. And, to make matters worse, for many of the ingredients on both products, the data is limited, so it’s hard to know how toxic they really are.
I’ve also been using it on my very curly hair (see my natural curly hair regime here) as a mousse and have been very happy with it! I’m so excited because now my entire hair care regime is organic, homemade, and cheap. I make my own shampoo and conditioner from baking soda and apple cider vinegar. See the post on that here. My hair has never looked healthier, shinier and felt softer.
UPDATE: When I wrote this post, I had been using it as a hair cream and did for several weeks. But I no longer do so, bummer, I know. I wanted it to work, but it made my hair so tangly it was completely unmanageable! Wish I could give you a different report.
About the Recipe
So, onto the fun stuff. I got the recipe from Rawmazing, and followed it almost exactly, except that I added 10 drops of lavender oil. I will probably add more next time, as the lavender is barely detectable. The lotion contains only three ingredients (unless you add an optional essential oil for fragrance), all of which I bought on Amazon.
Like most natural/organic products, they take some getting used to because we are so accustomed to processed, un-pure things. So it honestly took me several days before I liked the way it felt on my hands, as it is quite oily, but now I’m in love because it not only heals my dry skin, but protects my hands from the rigor of washing up after little human beings.
Each batch makes 32 ounces of lotion – that is a ton! It will last a long time.
Organic Coconut Oil – Buy at (where to buy) (hand made and organic!)
$8.49 for 16 oz. and you only need 4 oz. of it to make 32 oz. of lotion
Making it $2.12 for 32 oz.! You also get free super saver shipping on Amazon.
Also doubles as a great face lotion all by itself! I love the way it feels on my face.
$11.50 for a pound, and you only need 8 oz. of it to make 32 oz. of lotion
Making it $5.75 for 32 oz.!
It’s much better if you get unrefined, organic raw shea butter. The refinery process removes many of the nutrients from the butter that make it so good for your skin.
The price per 32 oz. batch is $9.62 (if you buy from the links above). Cheap! That’s even cheaper than CeraVe, which is $7 for only 16 oz. Let’s compare our lotion to another lotion on the market that is organic and half full of pure shea butter. I found one from Organic Essence which contains mostly organic shea butter, and also has other organic oils like lemongrass and mint. It is a whopping $17.24 for just 4 oz. Wow, way more expensive than the homemade option! Our’s cost just $1.06 per 4 oz.! Now, their jar is biodegradable, so bonus points for that. But I up-cycled two old lotion jars, which is even more earth-friendly.
5-10 drops (or more if you want) of your favorite essential oils – I have a lot I love some of which include – Lavender, Rosemary, Carrot seed, Frankincense (not the greatest scent but it works so well when I get eczema!), Stress Away (a blended oil – just because it smells amazing!), Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang…I could go on. (where to buy high quality essential oils)
So, onto the making of the lotion! Grab a trusty assistant like the handsome fellow I found crawling around the kitchen, and let them satisfy their curiosity with the mixer, which we’ll use later.
Have fun scooping out the shea butter – it’s like playing with very sticky play dough, or dense cookie dough. And the nutty fragrance is divine! It really stuck to my hands. I felt like I need flour, like I was baking cookies!
Just like the recipe says, put all the ingredients in a double boiler on the stove until the coconut oil and shea butter melt. Then, store it in the fridge until it chills and hardens. That took about 2 hours for me and will look like this: Then whip it up in a mixer, which took about five minutes for me to get it nice and whippy. This is a necessary step to create emulsion, which is a combination of two or more liquids that will normally not mix (immiscible). Several readers have reported that they skipped this step when making my other lotion and diaper rash cream and the ingredients separated when it hardened, making the lotions unusable It will look just like whipped cream and it will not be thick, but runny. I thought there was something wrong at this point, but after it settles a few hours later, it turns back into a more hardened state in the jar.
You can make your own all-natural shampoo and conditioner just from baking soda and apple cider vinegar! It’s super cheap and easy, and actually works. Learn all about it here!
I can only imagine how much money I’ve spent in my lifetime experimenting with all different types of shampoos, conditioners, mousses, and hair gels to tame my unruly curls (see my other post on how I care for my curly hair). Since switching to baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioner a year ago, I haven’t tried another product and haven’t even wanted to! If you think this sounds like a gimmick, I can’t blame ya, but I promise it’s not. Just start browsing the comments on this post and you’ll see one success story after another.
I’ve tried Nexxus, Frizz-Eaze, Kérastase, DevaCurl, Matrix Biologe, Redken, and Bed Head to name a few. I’m 30 years old now, and until a year ago, I still hadn’t found the perfect products to keep my hair soft, manageable, moisturized and most importantly, tamed. After using no-poo (no sodium laureth sulfate) shampoo and conditioner from DevaCurl for a couple of years and only washing my hair every 3-4 days, it was only fitting that I take the full plunge and make my own Baking Soda shampoo!
You Can Wash Your Hair Less Often
So ewww, that’s totally gross! Wash your hair every 3 to 4 days and not use real shampoo? Well, at first it is gross because your hair has to go through a 2-4 week transition period (mine was about 2 1/2 weeks) as it adjusts how much oil it produces.
See, regular shampoo has harsh sulfates in it, which are synthetic detergents. These sulfates clean the hair a little too well and end up stripping it of its natural oils, which causes your scalp to produce more oil than is actually needed. Baking Soda doesn’t strip your hair of its natural oils, but simply removes dirt from your hair.
I was determined to try it and stick it out – especially because it’s so incredibly cheap, gentle on my hair and 100% green! My hair did continue producing excess oil for about two weeks, even after having used a poo free shampoo for several years prior! I was very surprised by this. After that period, however, my hair felt softer than ever and started to actually lay flat! This works for all types of hair, not just curly. In fact, most bloggers who’ve written about it have straight hair.
UPDATE – If you’re not sure if you are ready to make the switch but still want to use more natural cleaners for your hair, check out my No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda post. I use an aloe vera and glycerine shampoo and talk about it there.
Testimonial – Removes Cradle Cap
One of my readers, Deanna, has been using the diluted baking soda on her five month old baby and says that her baby’s skin is much softer and it is helping to remove her cradle cap. Wow! It’s really not necessary to spend ten times the money on natural baby soaps when you can make baking soda shampoo and soap for pennies!
Approx. Ratio for the Recipe: 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup water OR make a paste with baking soda and a small amount of water and store in an old lotion tub. Just rinse thoroughly if you make a paste. The ratio for this recipe is flexible – there’s really no right or wrong way to do it. Add more baking soda if your hair is thick and long or oily, and less if it’s short and thin or dry. I use a little bit more, because my hair is so thick and long. So, for a 32 ounce container, I use 5 tablespoons of Baking Soda and 4 cups of cool water. I use the funnel to get the water and baking soda into the container. I’ve used warm water before (so I could use the shampoo right away and it wouldn’t be cold), but warm to hot water causes the baking soda to break down and clump, rendering it ineffective.
It’s so easy! Takes me about 5 minutes to complete it.
I take the bottle, flip my head upside down, and squirt the shampoo onto my scalp (the mixture is usually colder than room temperature, so it’s COLD to just pour on the scalp, which I why I flip my head over!).
Then, I take my fingers and rub my scalp in a circular motion, adding more shampoo if it feels like I need it, and rinse very thoroughly.
It’s very important to rinse thoroughly or your hair will feel grainy and dry.
Make the recipe with cool to lukewarm water, but not warm or hot. Warm/hot water reacts with the baking soda and causes it to clump up.
Water (see tips below for scented, herb-infused water in the “Worried About the Smell?” section
Ratio for the conditioner is one tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar to one cup of filtered water. My hair is so dry, thick and long that I use a lot more and it works wonders for my hair – about 1 cup ACV with 1 cup water.
I shied away from using this as a conditioner for a long time because as I used it in the shower, my hair did not feel soft and silky like it did with commercial conditioners, so I thought it wasn’t working. Then, I bit the bullet and decided to try it without any commercial conditioner just to see what would happen. The result? After my hair dried (and I ignored that it didn’t feel soft while wet), it was softer and smoother than when I had used commercial conditioner! I was amazed and now I’m HOOKED.
Worried About the Smell?
Don’t be – I promise you will not smell like a walking pickle jar! If I did, believe me, I wouldn’t be using this. I may be into green living, but I do have pride (smile). Once your hair dries, the vinegar smell disappears. In fact, it starts to dissipate right after rinsing and I don’t notice a smell at all. However, I have been doing this method for a long time, so I am used to it.
If you are just starting this method and just can’t stand the smell of it in the shower or while it’s drying, here are several ideas:
You can add essential oils like lavender, rosemary, sage, or citrus to freshen it up. However, if you get the raw ACV like I do, the essential oils will make the raw material (aka “the mother”) clump up. (where to buy high quality essential oils)
You could also make your own scented water to mix with it by steeping some herbs in hot water (like making herbal tea) in a pot on the stove, strain the herbs and use that water to mix with the ACV.
A reader wrote that she uses just a little bit of rose water (where to buy) and orange blossom water (where to buy) and a few drops of her favorite essential to make it smell heavenly.
Tips for Application:
When starting this method for the first time, be careful to pour the ACV on just the ends of your hair so it doesn’t get on your scalp. It makes my scalp feel oily.
However, if you are dealing with psoriasis, dandruff or dry skin on your scalp, ACV does WONDERS for healing dry and damaged skin and I recommend applying it to your scalp until your skin heals. I have had a few spots of dandruff in the past and the ACV has cleaned it up after one application!
Trying this Method and Still Dealing with Frizziness?
I’ve gotten quite a few comments from curly girls who are dealing with frizziness while trying this method. I highly recommend reading my other post on my Curly Hair Regimen and follow all the steps when it comes to washing your hair and applying a product afterwards – each step counts. If you find it is drying your hair out, I have had the same issues (after using it for a year and a half, but many have been happy with it long-term). I wrote another post to address this issue – No-Poo Alternatives to Baking Soda. To be clear, I do still have to use a hair cream or mousse with this method or my hair would look terrible and frizzy. I know that may sound strange, but that’s just how coarse and curly my hair is. Before this method, my hair was frizzy, unruly and really dry even with hair products on it. Now, my hair feels soft and lays much more nicely and isn’t nearly as dry. Not only that, I’m saving tons of money as gentle shampoos and good conditioners are very expensive.
Another idea is to use coconut oil as a pre-conditioner. I get my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions and love it! Apply it BEFORE washing your hair, preferably an hour before and let it sit. Then, wash and rinse like normal. Do this on an as-needed basis until you hair feels like you want it to! I have been doing this since having my third baby as the hormonal changes made my hair very dry. The coconut oil has worked wonders to moisturize it!
Making your own cleaning supplies at home is really very easy and there are so many benefits – it saves a ton of money and if you use the non-toxic ingredients I suggest, will also benefit the environment, save your health and make your home much safer, especially for children and pets.
I was inspired to start making my own cleaning supplies when a good friend of mine, Tana, introduced me to this fantastic book, (affiliate link) “Clean House, Clean Planet.” The author, Karen Logan, does an excellent job of explaining the toxic chemicals in store-bought cleaners and makes a very convincing argument for making your own alternatives that won’t send you or your children to the emergency room if ingested. So, if you’re a book person and like to have physical paper in front of you as you mix away, then “Clean House, Clean Planet” is for you. Otherwise, if you’re cheap like me, here are my online recipes that are very similar to the ones in the book that I have used!
First, Start Collecting Containers
A shaker container (like an empty parmesan cheese container, or large spice container like minced onion or oregano)
8 oz and 16 oz. Spray Bottles (Hardware stores like True Value, Ace, Home Depot and Lowe’s, and there’s always Amazon (buy here). sell ones of very good quality, which is important so your hand doesn’t tire as you squirt and so they last a long time).
Squirt Bottles (I use old shampoo and conditioner bottles)
For Laundry Detergentsave your old laundry detergent container so you will have the measuring cup for each load.
Liquid Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s) or all an natural liquid dishwashing soap
Essential Oils with Antibacterial and Antiseptic properties like: Tea Tree Oil, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus, (or these fabulous blended oils) Purification or Thieves (where to buy high quality essential oils)
*Can be purchased at any grocery store, but I like to buy the 13.5 pound bag from Amazon **In the laundry aisle of grocery stores
Borax – Safe or Not?
Borax is a naturally occurring compound that is mined directly out of the ground. It can be harmful if ingested, but is still green and doesn’t harm the environment or ground water (Crunchy Betty has a great post about Borax if you want more info.). So, my suggestion is to keep your cleaning products that contain Borax out of reach of children and if you use a cleaner containing Borax on countertops or food preparation surfaces, just wipe clean afterwards with a wet washcloth, then rinse it clean. UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, I have ceased to use Borax. I’d rather air on the side of safety, so now I use just baking soda or super washing soda to replace it. It’s also important when using Borax to mix it with hot water first so it dissolves, then add the rest of your cleaning ingredients.
Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca) This amazing oil has a reputation for having antibacterial properties, and has been proven in recent medical studies that show that it has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic qualities. It was even shown in recent trials to be more effective for treating head lice than prescribed drugs! It comes from the Tea Tree of eastern Australia, and was used by the indigenous people to treat cuts and wounds, inhaled to treat coughs and colds, and used as an infusion to treat sore throats (for more info, visit wikipedia.com). It is your secret weapon in natural cleaning products to kill bacteria!
If you have asthma or are very sensitive to strong smells, add as much as you can handle to your cleaners or do without it all together. Vinegar and Borax also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
White Distilled Vinegar (where to buy) also has a long history and reputation of fighting bacteria and diseases (going all the way back to Hippocrates, according to wikipedia.org!) According to care2.com, the Heinze company (which makes vinegar) says that straight vinegar (like the kind you buy in the store that is a 5% solution) kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80% of germs (viruses), but they cannot print that on their products because the company has not registered its vinegar as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s hard to argue with it’s 2,000-year-old reputation as an antibacterial!
Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used baking soda (where to buy) as a cleaning agent, like soap? It has countless uses and is really a magical organic compound. I use it as shampoo because it is an effective cleaner, but is so gentle and doesn’t dry my hair out.
A Note About Green Cleaners
I’ve found that green cleaners work just as well as commercial ones, but sometimes they do take more time to work. So, for hard, dirty jobs, let the cleaner sit on for several hours or even overnight and wipe clean. I’ve done this countless times with Castile Soap and it works wonders to remove hard water stains and stuck-on food! Also, experiment with your recipes. You may find you need more baking soda, for instance, if you have a job that needs scrubbing. Or you may want to add more Tea Tree Oil or Vinegar to clean something containing bacteria, mold, or mildew.
Label Your Containers
It really helps to label your containers with the ingredients and recipes so you don’t have to look them up every time you have to refill them. Many of my recipes contain free printable labels with the recipe so you’ll never have to look them up again! This also makes it safer when there are children around so you know what’s inside.
A two-part series on how to go green with your household cleaning products. Not only can you create safe, non-toxic cleaners in just minutes, they are also super cheap!
(If you’re just getting to this page for the first time, first check out the Getting Started page before reading this for some very helpful info!)
The great thing about green cleaners is because they are non-toxic, you can use them all over the house, which means you need less cleaning products!
See my new post on my top 3 household cleaning recipes, along with a free printable label for each of them!
All Purpose Household & Bathroom Cleaner
I use this cleaner all the time to clean messes off the tile and wood floors including urine (that’s what happens when you’re potty training!). I also use it to clean smudges off the walls, kitchen countertops and the bathroom. You can use it on every surface of the bathroom, but may want to add more Tea Tree Oil and Vinegar if you want it to be a stronger antibacterial/anti-fungal cleaner. When I use it on eating surfaces, I am careful to wipe the surface clean with water after I use it because of the Borax (go back to the Getting Started guide to read about Borax).
Add 1-2 tablespoons of liquid Castile Soap (this will scrub the surface clean) (where to buy)
Add 1 tablespoon of Baking Soda (for scrubbing action) (where to buy)
Add 20-30 drops of any of these oils, or a combo: Tea Tree Oil, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus, (or these fabulous blended oils) Purification or Thieves (where to buy high quality essential oils)
I hope you’re not scared of the smell of vinegar, because it is a powerful cleaning agent! The smell dissipates when it dries, I promise! I use it in my house all the time.
The best thing about this disinfectant, especially if compared to nasty harsh ones like those made by Lysol? YOU DON’T HAVE TO WIPE IT OFF! Use it on toilet seats, diaper changing pads, toys, furniture, countertops, cutting boards – use your imagination! Wherever you want to spray it!
Optional: Add 20 drops of any of these oils, or a combo: Tea Tree Oil, Lavender, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus, (or these fabulous blended oils) Purification or Thieves (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Fill a spray trigger bottle with straight White Distilled Vinegar (Heinz brand is popular because it supposedly has less of a smell, but I use store brand). The reason the essential oils are optional is because of vinegar’s strong reputation as an effective antibiotic. The oils just add a big extra boost.
Supplies: Microfiber cloth and water I like to use a damp microfiber cloth (where to buy) to wipe the surfaces in my house clean. It works really well, and is as cheap and non-toxic as it gets! You could also make your own using olive oil and Lemon essential oil (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Supplies: Steam mop (where to buy) & microfiber cleaning pads, or a mop and bucket Ingredients: Water or Liquid Castile Soap (where to buy) (or an all natural dishwashing soap)
My favorite way to clean the floors is with my pretty red Haan Steam Mop. You pay for it once and never have to pay for mopping supplies again, unless you count paying for the water to clean the microfiber pads. It uses just plain ole water to clean the floor, but sanitizes as well at 212 degrees. I use it on our wood and tile floors, so I know it’s safe on wood.
If you’re a mop and bucket enthusiast or just don’t wanna shell out $100 right now, then try using a tablespoons or two of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (where to buy) in a two gallon bucket and that will be an effective and green way to clean the floors. You won’t have to worry about any chemical residue.
All-In-One Upholstery/Carpet Cleaner & General Deodorizer
Supplies: an empty shaker container (parmesan cheese or spice container works well) Ingredients: Baking Soda (where to buy), and optional Tea Tree Oil (where to buy high quality essential oils)
Baking Soda makes such a good paste for scrubbing, and it’s gentle enough that it doesn’t scratch countertops (even granite) or stove tops! This recipe can also be used as a deodorizer and bacteria-killer by sprinkling inside diaper pails, on carpets, rugs and upholstery! The only downside about this cleaner is that it must be vacuumed thoroughly or wiped down with water. It will leave a chalky residue on non-porous surfaces if not wiped down. It has killed poop and pee smells out of our carpets like a charm. I highly recommend this one!
So, in a shaker container, fill it halfway with baking soda. For some germ killing power, squirt about 50 drops of Tea Tree Oil, or a mixture of Tea Tree and Lavender or Lemon Oil (25 drops each) to make it smell less of Tea Tree Oil.
Supplies: A 16 oz. spray trigger bottle (where to buy) Ingredients: White Distilled Vinegar (where to buy) & Water or Club Soda Fill the bottle with 1 part filtered water and 1 part White Distilled Vinegar (or 8 ounces (a cup) of each). Or, fill it with straight club soda. I’ve been using the for years and I love that it has no vinegar smell! It takes a few more seconds to dry, though, but leaves no streaks on my windows.
I’ve heard wonders about this stain remover, but haven’t tried it myself, but it’s next on the hit parade! It’s featured in “Clean House, Clean Planet” and fellow blogger, Keeper of the Home, also has a great post about it. Both the book and the other blog mention using Ivory Soap, but I want to try it with Liquid Castile Soap since it’s totally organic and safe for the environment, and Ivory Soap isn’t as earth friendly (although, it’s not bad, either)
An Overnight Dish Cleaning Soak
Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (where to buy) is AWESOME at getting hard water stains, stuck on grease and food off the bottom of pots, pans, glassware, and baking dishes. I just squirt enough straight out of the bottle to cover the bottom of the pot or pan and let it sit overnight. The next morning I rinse it out and voila! Every time I’ve done it the stains are completely gone!
Making your own laundry detergent from home is surprisingly easy and cheap, and with this recipe, there is no soap grating necessary! It uses just three ingredients and works like a charm – I know because I’ve been using it for nearly a year and my clothes always come out clean and soft. I provide two versions here – one with and one without Borax.
Making your own detergent also just makes logical sense if you want to save money. Why? When you buy a cleaning product, especially laundry detergent, you’re mostly paying for WATER. $18 for a gallon of mostly water if you buy Tide. Here’s a way to save those dollars and make it yourself at home in just five minutes!
So, once my gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap arrived in the mail from Amazon, I went on a mission to see how many green cleaning products I could make myself using my new, supposedly magical, soap. One of the items on the list was homemade laundry detergent! I wanted something that would be safe for the ground water, environment, cheap and gentle on my clothes. I scoured the internet to find a great recipe, because to my disappointment, there are no laundry detergent recipes in my handy “Clean House, Clean Planet” book (except to use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds in an undiluted form – NOT cheap). So, I came across this recipe, from the Backwoods Home magazine website, and after two months, am still very happy with it! And I even have very hard water (oh the fun of living in the Marcellus Shale!)
According to their article, this homemade recipe costs a tenth of the cost of store-bought laundry detergent. I’m too skeptical to believe things like that without checking it out for myself, so I set out to see if they are correct!
How Cheap is this Homemade Detergent?
1 box of Super Washing Soda (where to buy) (55 oz.) = $2.69 (at Wegman’s)
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax (where to buy) (76 oz.) = $3.99 (at Wegman’s) or 4 lb. Bob’s Red Mill
Super Washing Soda (you get 13.75 uses out of one box) = $.20 a batch
Borax (20 Mule Team ) (you get 19 uses out of one box) = $.21 a batch or $0.66 a batch with Baking Soda
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (you get 21 uses out of one gallon) = $2.47
Add it all up, that’s a mere $2.88 for two gallons, or 96 loads if you use the suggested 1/3 cup a load.
Compare that to Tide 2x Ultra Concentrated: 1 container of 150 oz. (or 96 loads) of Tide costs = $17.99 And Tide is not green or safe for the environment. Not only can you help the environment and wash clothes that are safe for your little ones (i.e., hypoallergenic & gentle), you can save $15.11!
You save even more if you compare it to a green (eco-friendly) laundry detergent.
A Note About Borax
Borax is controversial in green circles and I have found arguments for and against it. When I originally wrote this recipe, I did not know that the EWG gives Borax a rating of F for reproductive and organ toxicity – yikes. Apparently, it does not harm the environment, though, which is good. I use the EWG (Environmental Working Group) to research the safety of many products, so this was quite a find. I have decided not to use Borax any longer based on the EWG’s rating. The good news is that baking soda and super washing soda or a combination of both are excellent substitutes for borax and are readily available in grocery stores.
If you do decide to use Borax, please take proper precaution and use gloves and a mask for your nose, as the particles can be considered very irritating to some. I no longer use it in this recipe.
2 one-gallon containers in which to store the detergent (I recycled an old laundry detergent container and a vinegar jug)
A measuring cup or two
A two-gallon bucket or larger (I used my old mop bucket)
Funnel to pour the detergent from the bucket into the containers (not necessary but certainly helpful!)
1 hand blender or immersion blender
The Secret? Mix with a Hand Mixer or Immersion Blender!
I have experimented with how to keep clumps from forming for years with this recipe and I finally figured it! I used to boil it down on the stove, make the powders dissolve with hot water (doesn’t work at all!), and stir like crazy. I finally got smart and decided to try my immersion blender. Perfect!
Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is the BEST – it is organic, pure, contains no SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) or any other sulfates so it does not dry out the skin and is gentle on both skin and clothes. I love the company – they are uber crunchy and fight for things like the environment and animal rights!
How Long Does it Last? How Many Loads?
This batch lasted about two months for a family of four, and even included a three day visit from four girls in my family who love to wash clothes (and have lots of them!). I find it works for about 96 loads, which for us is about 2 1/2 months, so I don’t have to make it very often!
I find this detergent works just as well as Tide, All, and Arm and Hammer’s detergents, all of which I’ve used. The website suggests using it as stain remover as well and I tried that with no luck at all – stains didn’t budge a bit, even after soaking for days in the detergent.
How Much To Use in the Washer:
I use 1/3 cup like the website suggests (and I do have an HE washer) and find it’s important to mix the detergent before each use. I swish my container around so it doesn’t get too sudsy, and it works like a charm.
Overall, I love this detergent and how much money I’m saving on it, while doing my part to be friendly to nature and our health.