home made cleaning supplies

Lately I have received many questions about my home made cleaning products and thought it was worth revisiting.

I restarted making my own cleaners years ago, 19 to be exact. This is when my youngest son was born with asthma and allergies. Since then it has been a struggle to control these for him and our house has changed A LOT since then. Keeping the dust down is key for us as is all irritants out of the air. Also at the same time I became aware of all the nasty ingredients in at that time ALL of the cleaning products on the store shelves.

My mother came over one day to help me take out all of the carpets for him, and we needed to clean the floor, she looked at all the bottles and picked every one of them up and threw them in the dump! She saved 4 bottles with spray tops, rinsed them out well. She then went to the baking cupboard took out the bottle of vinegar and the box of baking soda, handed them to me and said now clean the floor, smiling and shaking her head in wonder.

Hows that for a gently tap up side the head! Meaning “Hello, what are you thinking?” She also told me stop waisting your hard earned money on store bought junk and clean the house the way I had been taught and the way we always had done it.

Fast forward to today and I only venture into the unnatural smelling cleaning isle of the grocery store to buy 4, yes FOUR things. Washing Soda, Borax, amonia and plain old steel wool pads.


My basic whole house cleaning ingredients:


Washing Soda: also called sodium carbonate or soda ash, is made from common salt and limestone or found as natural deposits. You can check for yourself at Skin Deep and at Green Foot Steps. Washing soda is different from baking soda. Washing soda is found in the cleaning isle of many grocery and department stores. You can also order it on line from Arm and Hammer.

Borax: Is also called sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, disodium tetraborate. It is a naturally occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. You can find 20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry section of the grocery store. Borax is an ingredient in Mrs. Myer’s and Seventh Generation laundry products and many other brands. Here is the information on its safety: Skin Deep, About.com, and Greenfootsteps.

Grated soap:  This will depend on what brand and kind you choose to use. I have used Ivory in the past with good results but lately I LOVE Kirk’s Castile  soap and Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile Soap. I buy the bars found in the health and beauty section of the store. I have also seen both at our local health food store but the cost is better from the grocery store. I use my cheese grater to grate the bar of soap. I have seem many suggestions to use Fels Naptha, this soap has petroleum in it and not choice for my family.

One question I always get when I mention using my kitchen utensils in cleaning product making is the wonder if it is safe to use for food preparation again. My answer is this, the products are safe so yes with a good washing with soap and hot water cleans them good as new. Grating soap with the cheese grater, well it’s soap, natural soap how could that be bad? What do you wash your dishes with?

Vinegar: Is a food and has so many wonderful uses it could take several posts to discuss all of them. I typically use the less expensive white vinegar and buy it at the grocery store in gallon bottles. It also is usually on sale only once a year, in the fall around here for canning season. I am known to buy 20+ gallons when it is on sale.

Baking Soda:  Another food and also has so many uses. I look for this on sale year round. I will buy the biggest boxes I can once I check the unit price per pound and so far have always found the larger boxes to be the better buy for my money. One thought, the cost of these from the warehouse stores is NOT a better deal than buying one pound boxes off the grocery shelf. I can find it on sale just after the holiday season.

Ammonia: This can be a tricky one for me. While it is one of the harsher ingredients I use I find it very useful in small amounts and it is a natural ingredient found in nature. There is some information here about it. I only use it in a very diluted form, and NEVER, NEVER mix it any thing other than clean water. This is for tough and hard to clean jobs. Ammonia I buy at the hardware store. It is also in the cleaning isle of the grocery but more expensive there.

Salt: well it’s salt. It is a good abrasive for hard to clean areas that need a good scrubbing but I use baking soda first as it’s also an abrasive only less harsh.

Essential Oils: These are usually organic and always natural. I don’t use synthetic essential oils. They are to add a nice fragrance to the cleaning supplies, but oils like lemon, grapefruit, lavender, pepermint and Tea Tree also have their own beneficial properties. I purchase my oils from Oils By Nature, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Wholesale Supply. I would like to mention that essential oils are not the same as fragrance oils. Essential oils are made from a plant and fragrance oils most times are synthetic, chemicals.


Liquid Laundry Soap
  • 1/2 bar Kirk’s Castile Soap, grated fine
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda-Sodium Carbonate- (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 oz. lavender essential oil (or your favorite scent)
  • 5 gallon bucket with lid
Using a cheese grater, the larger hole side grate, your bar soap.
In a pot add 4 cups of water and grated soap and heat to a boil, continue until soap is melted. to this add the washing soda and borax, continue to stir until dissolved well and remove from heat and pour into your bucket.
Add 4 cups HOT water into the bucket and stir until everything is mixed well. Add 1 gallon plus 6 cups cold water and stir, stir in essential oil well, cover bucket and let sit 24 hours.
In 24 hours remove cover and your soap should be a thin gel. Use 1/2 cup per load to wash. Stir each time before using. Store covered.
I use a downy fabric softener ball with white vinegar for the rinse cycle.
We have a septic system and powderd soaps in general aren’t good for it. The original recipe called for soap flakes but here in the US soap flakes are not easily available. There are other recipes that call for Fels Naptha soap, but this has petroleum in it, so I choose to use pure castile soap. If I made my own home made soap I would use the soap scraps from that.
Powdered Laundry Soap
Small batch
This recipe works well for front loading machines.
  • ½ cup Borax
  • ½ cup Washing Soda
  • ½ bar of grated Castile soap, grated fine
  • 8 drops of lavender essential oil or your favorite scent
Grate the bar of soap using a cheese grater, grate as small as possible. I have used the large holes in the grater and processed it further in my blender. Worked great.
Mix the soap, Borax, and Washing Soda together in a sealed container.
Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on top of mixture, recover and shake. Continue until you like the smell. For this size batch I wouldn’t use much more than 8 drops. You aren’t going to get a stronger scent so it will waste your oils.
Use 2 tablespoons per load. For extra large loads or really dirty loads use 3 tablespoons.
Now for Q & A time 🙂
Q: should my batch of liquid laundry soap be gloppy and gel like? What did I do wrong?
A: You did perfect, this will gel a bit. A quick stir before using is all that is needed.
Q: Can I use either of these recipes in my front load washer?
A: The quick answer is yes you can. Neither of these will produce very many suds. But we all know it’s not the suds that does the cleaning. Commercial products have ingredients added to make the suds. It’s the soap that does the cleaning and the Borax and Washing Soda that help the soap clean better.
I have many tell me the powder works just perfect in their new energy efficient front load washers.
Q: Is it really a cost savings compared to the store bought when on sale.
A: Yes it is. I haven’t done the math lately but it’s about 10¢ a load. What is the cost of commercial soap per load when it’s on sale?
Q:How does this recipe work compared to others on the Internet?
A: I guess I don’t really know, I have never tried the others. If you do I would love the hear about it and what you decide.
If you have other questions I would be happy to try and answer them for you.

Posted on May 30, 2009, in Natural Cleaning Recipes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I too have made my own laundry detergent and homemade products my whole life. There is a product that I have come across called Soap Nuts at http://www.naturoli.com/index.html. I wonder how well they work because there is no Borax in this product which is a hard chemical on the skin.
    Just a thought.

  2. Mitchell Webster

    Very interesting recipes I will try!!!
    Here we always take a spray bottle and fill 1/3 Ammonia, 1/3 rubbing alcohol, and fill with water!!
    This is great for kitchen counters and range top, inside the microwave and for non streaky windows, and mirrors. just about anywhere and every so cheap!!


  3. lizzylanefarm

    Your recipe is the one I was trying to post. I like it very much. Guess I’d better go back and fix it! You are so right it works on EVERTYHING.


  4. lizzylanefarm

    I have seen them at the health food store. They are a bit pricy for me though. Let me know if they work.

  5. Does any one know where i can buy the Castile soap? I have been looking every where and can’t seem to find it. any suggestions

  1. Pingback: Home Made Laundry Soap Revisited « Lizzy Lane Farm

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