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posted by [personal profile] lauraredcloud at 10:09pm on 25/08/2013 under ,


I basically used this recipe, only I made a quarter recipe so that it would fit in an empty soap pump which held about 1 cup of liquid.

* 1 cup distilled water
* 1 ounce bar soap (approx; I grated about 3/4 inch off a 3.5-inch, 5oz bar of Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Castile Soap)
* 1/4 tsp liquid glycerin
* 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (I'd like to use pure vitamin E, but I used a CVS product containing palm oil because we had it around the house. no scary chemicals detected in ingredients list)
* 2 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (I wanted to go light on this, but next time, I will use more - this is currently undetectable over the general scent of soap)

Grate the bar soap and add to water. Bring to a boil. Simmer until the soap is fully melted, about 5 minutes (more if you do a bigger recipe). Remove from heat. Add rest of ingredients. Allow to cool. At this point, you will have what amounts to liquid with a few soap bubbles in it. Bottle and let rest overnight. It will turn into a luxurious pearly gel.


I haven't tested it on truly grimy hands, but it seems to work fine for everyday handwashing, and leaves hands feeling soft.


Distilled water is $1 per gallon, or 6 cents per cup. (I used distilled water rather than tap because this recipe has no preservative - the usual suspects, vinegar, salt, or baking soda, would dry out the skin.) A bar of castile soap costs $4, or 80 cents per ounce. My $7 bottle of glycerin contains 14 ounces, which comes out to about 2 cents for a quarter teaspoon. We had the vitamin E just lying around and I don't remember how much it cost, so I won't count that (you could easily leave it out). The essential oils were about 5 cents for 2-3 drops; make it 10 cents because I plan to use twice that amount next time.

All that comes out to 98 cents for an 8-ounce bottle of hand soap. This is about half the cost of buying equivalently-sized bottles of CVS brand hand soap or Softsoap, and competitive with buying hand soap refills in bulk.
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This weekend we did two more loads of laundry with our DIY detergent and experimented with frugal, green ways to clean the kitchen. These also work for the bathroom.


Scouring Powder Sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp microfiber cloth. Scour kitchen and bathroom surfaces to get up stains.

All-Purpose Spray Fill a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water. Add a 1-2 drops of essential oil to neutralize the vinegar scent, add a nicer scent, and boost the antibacterial power. This also works on surfaces and mirrors (it's streak-free as long as you use a microfiber cloth, streak-free rag, or newspaper!)

For this experiment, I used tea tree oil. It's supposedly the most antibacterial/antifungal of the bunch, great in bathrooms. It has a fresh, vaguely medicinal scent. At the dilution we used, the scent was not strong, but it was very effective in reducing the fish-and-chips scent of the vinegar.

Tile/linoleum floor cleaner Pour half a gallon of warm water into a bucket. Add half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of baby oil, for polish.

For this experiment, I did not have baby oil on hand, so I used coconut oil. This was a bad idea, as now the kitchen smells like old coconut oil. I would not recommend adding essential oils to this since the vinegar hardly smells at all when it's that diluted and it's sort of a waste of expensive oils - you're going to dump the mixture down the drain once you've used it for mopping.


Overall, I'm satisfied. Baking soda as scouring powder is pure magic. I got up all the food stains on the oven with just a few firm swipes of my powdered cloth. Microfiber clothes are worth buying - definitely easier than attempting the same thing with a tea towel. One caution, be sure to rinse up with water or vinegar spray so as not to leave a powdery residue. I am not sure if the vinegar solutions worked a lot better than plain water would have, but I have discovered one reason that the green diy solutions are better, for me, at least, than using cleaning products. I drag my feet about cleaning a lot less when the prospect doesn't involve drying out my skin, burning my nostrils, and making the house smell like toxic chemicals.


I used Peapod to judge how much things cost at an ordinary grocery store.

Baking Soda is about $1 per 16 oz box. I'd say about an ounce (2 tablespoons) is enough to clean the whole kitchen and bathroom. So about 6.25 cents per cleaning session.

Vinegar is $3/gallon. Assuming you mix up half a gallon of floor cleaner and use about a cup of all-purpose spray per cleaning session (probably a way overestimate), that's one cup of vinegar per cleaning session, or 18.75 cents.

Baby oil is $5 for 20 ounces. You use only a few drops in a floor cleaner batch. There are apparently about 600 drops in an ounce. Let's say you use 10 drops each time. You're still only using 1/1200 of the bottle, or less than a cent.

Essential oils are expensive. I paid $10 for an ounce of tea tree oil. We'll say you use 3 drops per cleaning session (an overestimate - you only need 2-3 drops each time you *mix up* the vinegar solution, and it keeps indefinitely, so you can mix it up one session and use the rest the next). That means you use 1/200th of the bottle each time, or five cents.

Microfiber cloths, sponges, etc.: can be used again and again. It's hard to quantify how much wear and tear they get per cleaning session. I'll leave that out of my estimate for now.

Total cost per cleaning session (to clean all kitchen and bathroom surfaces and floors): about 30 cents.
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posted by [personal profile] lauraredcloud at 08:17pm on 10/08/2013 under , ,
I am re-entering a new obsession with gentle, nontoxic, green, frugal, diy cleaning products, and I've bookmarked a ton of recipes. My first adventure: homemade laundry soap.


It was sort of hard to find one that didn't have borax. I find borax to be a skin irritant and the whole point of this was to create something that would be friendly with my extremely sensitive skin. I also wanted liquid because I don't know how to load powder into our washer. I got this from Livington Family Adventures and remeasured to scaleable ratios:

3 parts liquid castille soap (we used Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild)
3 parts baking soda
1 part coarse sea salt
10 parts hot water

Dissolve salt and baking soda in hot water. Stir. Add castille soap and stir.

Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry (in our machine, this filled perfectly up to the thing that says "MAX")

Homemade laundry soap


The clothes look clean. Colors have not faded. There are no visible stains, though, note that I didn't test this on majorly stained things to being with (fyi, I've heard you should pre-treat stains with vinegar!)

If I had to characterize the scent, it would be "nothing! nothing! in fact it smells like nothing at all!" (tm Dr Cox) Which is perfect. I don't like the fakey "fresh" smell of detergent. If you inhale deeply, you detect a faint, not unpleasant baking soda scent. The musty scent of some old attic rescue shirts was totally eradicated. Some traces of body odor were still detectable when inhaling underarms of cotton T-shirts that had been sweated in, but I'm not sure it's any worse than normal - I don't typically subject laundry to this level of scrutiny.

Clothes fresh out of the dryer felt soft and nice. I haven't worn them yet, but I don't anticipate any itch problems considering the ingredients.


Start-up costs were sort of high because we had to buy liquid castille soap. We got 32 fl oz for $13.99. Since we only use 1 oz for every 24 oz of water, this is enough soap for 800 ounces (100 cups) of laundry detergent, or 200 loads of laundry. Doing about a load of a laundry a week, we're set for the next four years. Assuming the baking soda and salt also lasts that long, following this recipe has us spending under $5 a year on laundry detergent. Why wasn't I doing this in college??


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