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Recipes for Homemade Cleaning Products

February 5, 2011

I hope you’ll indulge me on this one and give it a full read then try one of these recipes, not for food but for homemade, Earth friendly cleaning products. Please write back with other ideas you have and how these worked for you.

Having just watched the 2009 film No Impact Man and needing to replenish my cleaning supplies I thought I’d do a little research on making my own. Back in December, I bought a bag of laundry soap made by Kelli of greenie bean recycle at a cool Handmade show and love how it cleans our clothes. Ideas build on one another and I found myself thinking, why can’t I make my own dishwasher powder and other general cleaning supplies that are less damaging to the environment and my bank account? Ponder that one, or better yet, see the movie/documentary yourself and see if you, too, are motivated to make some simple changes that have a big impact. I have no intention on going whole hog as No Impact Man did, but I was inspired. For a fraction of the cost of buying these products, I can make them from supplies I already have, re-use the existing containers I would have recycled anyway and customize the fragrance using essential oils. Seems too simple to be true.

All you’ll need, and more, for homemade dishwasher powder

Here goes… Buy a box of Borax (as in 20 Mule Team Borax for $2.99), if you don’t have baking soda, pick up a box of that for a whopping 79 cents. Forgo buying citric acid unless you grow sprouts or make beer and buy 2 packages of sugar-free Lemonade flavored Kool-Aid for 25 cents per. You’ll also need table salt and if you want a specific fragrance, get a bottle of essential oil. I lucked out and had a few bottles on hand but also scored at Whole Foods today with many of their Aura Cacia oils on sale so added to my collection. I used lavender since it’s calming and if I have to unload the dishwasher I need to be soothed.

Dishwasher/Scouring Powder

from Lynn, editor of  The New Homemaker

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1/4 citric acid (or 2 packets sugar-free Lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid)
  • 30 drops essential oil (optional)

Put all of it in a tight lidded plastic container and shake it up. To use, put a tablespoon or so into the wash and prewash containers of your dishwasher.

The author writes this: I’ve found I no longer have to use the scrubbing cycle but can get by fine with the short cycle, thus saving even more money. On average, it looks like this is about 8 cents a load compared with Cascade at 22 cents a load. Compare it with EcoVer or Seventh Generation and it’s a steal. I have also started putting some of this in a shaker canister–the one I have we got at a restaurant supply, it’s aluminum and was made for popcorn salt. I use it to clean my sink and anything else that I’d normally use Bon Ami on. Works great, and the essential oil makes it smell fantastic.

I’ve discovered it makes a decent no-scratch scouring powder as well, more like Bon Ami than Comet. What I’ve discovered is that it doesn’t work as well as some of the commercial detergents; however I have found that it works just as well as the major ” green alternative” dishwasher detergents, if not a little better, and at a fraction of the cost. If you don’t like scraping your dishes and rinsing them off, you won’t like homemade powder; I found you had to be diligent about getting all food particles off your dishes because the dishwasher powder will not do it for you. Of course, many dishwashers require you to do this anyway, but oftentimes people are lazy. Like, uh, me. But this is so much easier on the environment and the pocketbook it’s worth taking the time to properly prepare the dishes I’ve found.


As luck would have it I received a post today to Flourish, a blog to which I subscribe and its’ author Linda posted her recipe for a homemade general cleaner/disinfectant.. I’m listing it here but check her blog out as well. I mixed some up having had all the ingredients on hand, tried it out on my granite counter & stainless steel cooktop and they are gleaming.

Homemade Household Disinfectant

from Linda at Flourish

  • 1 Tbsp liquid dish soap
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol
  • ½ c water

Mix and put in spray bottles. Linda says this is a great all-purpose cleaner that leaves surfaces super shiny.


If you want to try out Kelli’s great Simple Vegan Laundry soap, you can buy it from her Etsy site, just click here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2011 4:26 pm

    Hi Amy, I just watched the trailer for No Impact Man – thanks for the referral. I haven’t heard of it before now and I’ll be watching the film soon. I make my own laundry soap too. I just calculated my laundry soap cost for the past year, and it was 14.00. Thanks for mentioning my recipe and my blog. I sure appreciate it. Linda

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