DIY Cleaning Products

For the last year or so, I’ve been making an effort to move towards greener, chemical-free cleaning products. I made my first attempt with homemade all-purpose cleaner last December. It was pretty much a fail. The spray bottles I purchased at Target were crappy and quit working and the recipe I used left residue behind. I then went on the hunt for castile soap so I could experiment with some different recipes.

In the meantime, I decided to wait it out and finish using up the chemical-laden products I had on hand so I could reuse the better working spray bottles I already had. What’s greener than reusing something I already have? It took awhile, and truth be told I’m still working my way through the old cleaning products. We received many as gifts from our real estate agent when we moved and then my parents left more behind when they moved out of country. I don’t have time to drive them over to the chemical disposal place for our county, so I’m just trying to use them up. I’m not a total hippie afraid of what the chemicals are doing to me. After all, I’ve survived over 26 years of their use. I’m just trying to clean up (get it? Haha!) my act and phase out their use in our home.

I finally finished up the product in one of my spray bottles, so it was time to experiment with DIY all-purpose cleaner again! Previously, my recipe consisted of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. It certainly smelled strong and left me craving salt & vinegar chips every time I wiped something down. The next time, I added baking soda to the mix and it just left everything a bit streaky. Now that I finally got my hands on some Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap (in almond scent), I was ready to have another go!

This time I combined directly in my spray bottle:

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Dr. Bonner’s Soap
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

(slightly modified from recipe found on

Immediately the combined ingredients foamed up letting me know this mix would have some cleaning power! After it calmed down a bit, I filled the bottle up the rest of the way with warm water and gave it a shake.

I’ve been using this cleaner for the past couple weeks and I love it! I use it on pretty much everything: granite counters, wood dining table, Tristan’s toys, cleaning up cat yak, and it does a beautiful job on it all. It has a fantastic, light scent that’s not overwhelming and definitely doesn’t reek of vinegar. I don’t have to worry about wiping stuff down again with water after I use it, because it is already food-safe. I am a definite fan!

Our tighter budget with Tristan on board combined with some Pinspiration led to my latest projects: homemade dishwasher and laundry detergents. I made these both this past weekend inspired by similar projects seen here and here.

Dishwasher Detergent:

  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda!)
  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Lemi-Shine

Laundry Detergent:

  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda
  • 1 Bar Fels-Naptha, grated

I have yet to actually test out these recipes as I’m just about finished with both my store-bought laundry and dishwasher detergents. I will update y’all once I’ve tried them out.

I do have a couple notes about making the detergent. I usually use Purex Free & Clear for my laundry because I have sensitive skin and I’m not a fan of fragrance at all. I didn’t realize the Fels-Naptha was scented until I was grating it for the recipe. The scent was really strong in my opinion, so I’m a bit nervous about how my laundry will smell. I only made half the detergent I intended to since hand grating the soap is a pain in the butt. I’ve read you can use Ivory soap in the detergent and will try to find some unscented soap next time. I also plan on using a food processor to grate it.

On the other hand, the dishwasher detergent was super easy to make! I just measured my ingredients, dumped them in the container and mixed them together. I will try this one out tonight and I’m excited to see the results!

Making my detergents at home also gave me an excuse to make some pretty containers to store it!

I found the glass candy jars (less than $10 for both) at Walmart when I purchased my detergent-making supplies. (I’m not the biggest Walmart fan, but I’ve searched high and low at Target for the same supplies and couldn’t find what I needed). I also picked up some spray paint – Krylon in Sea Breeze – for a personal touch. I simply took the stainless steel lids to the backyard and 3 coats later (plus drying time) I had these pretty containers for countertop display.

I love that I can keep the detergent on the kitchen counter for easy access and it looks pretty too! Previously, I was storing the laundry detergent in the stair closet and it wasn’t all that convenient to get to every time I started another load. I picked up a couple stainless steel coffee scoops (also at Walmart) for easy measuring and keep them right in the jars.

I’ll keep y’all posted on how the homemade detergents work out. I’m hoping it will save us some $$$!

Note: I am continuing to use our BumGenius detergent for our cloth diapers. It is specially formulated for their use and I’m not 100% sure if the ingredients I use for the homemade stuff contain enzymes that are a big no-no for cloth diapers.


One thought on “DIY Cleaning Products

  1. Pingback: DIY Detergent Update « Home By Hanley

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