Sunday, March 28, 2010

Homemade Cleanliness!

I am very much into making my own cleaning products and lotions, lip balm, etc.  I have been doing this for a number of years after realizing that I needed to ventilate my bathroom and wear rubber gloves while cleaning the bathtub.  On a common sense level- this did not seem good.

Once I began searching the internet for information about this, I found that a lot of people had the same concerns. Many sensitive populations, including children and any person with immune deficiencies are not capable of living comfortably in a house where common and popular modern cleaning products are used.  This has led to a grassroots movement to create safer alternatives.  Ultimately, this usually involves asking grandma what she used!

I have mentioned that I was further convinced to make my own cleaning products after learning that no products were approved by the Green Seal- that is, no popular "Green" brands had volunteered to let the Green Seal test their product and determine it to be environmentally safe.  Since then, I believe Simple Green has been added to the Green Seal list of household cleaners.  Perhaps there are more, but I've really come to enjoy making my cleansers, particularly since I can change the scents to whatever I'm in the mood for!

I have mentioned my like of Annie Berthold-Bond previously- and will do so again!  I have two of her books, and they are full of great recipes.  More than that, she gives good explanations to why certain ingredients are chosen, what her experimental process was, and how she came to like the recipie's she chooses.  Her foray into the market was driven by her child's immune system intolerance to available household cleaners in the market.  So, you know that what she recommends really is non-toxic and safe. Besides that, you can look up all the ingredients online and read about their interferences.  It helps that they're all words you can pronounce!

So last weekend I made a fresh batch of bathroom cleaner.  I got the recipe from her book Better Basics for the Home- which I highly recommend.

Bathroom cleaner:
1 tsp borax
1/2 tsp liquid detergent
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
2 C hot water

Then I add:
1-2 tsp essential oil of your choice

Borax is available in the laundry aisle of any major store.  I like to use Dr. Bronners liquid soap as the "detergent" phase.  Dr. Bronners is environmentally safe, non-toxic, biodegradable, and cheap.  You can buy unscented, but I bought tea-tree oil infused because tea-tree oil is a known anti-fungal agent.  This is ideal for use in a bathroom.  I bought one large bottle at a healthfood store 5 years ago, and am still using it!  It's also fairly cheap, very comparable to any other large bottle of soap you would buy.  It is very important to use HOT water, otherwise the borax does not dissolve properly, and may clog your sprayer if you are using a spray bottle- which I do.  I actually found "green" spray bottles at wal-mart, they are recyclable!  I typically will add a small bit of the hot water, often brought to boil in a hot-pot first, just add enough to begin dissolving the borax.  Then give the bottle a good shake, then slowly add the rest of the water, shaking the bottle intermittently.

I have tried a number of different scents for the cleaner.  I started with Tea-Tree- for it's anti-fungal (read: GO AWAY MOLD!) properties.  It's a strong scent, and not for everyone, though I didn't mind it.  My husband hated it though, so I switched to peppermint.  Also kind of a strong scent- but I found it invigorating and cheerful.  Again, not a huge hit with the hubby.  He's recently been on a huge "orange" kick, and after a failed attempt at using orange essential oil in a candle (DO NOT use citrus oils in candles!  Their flash point is very low, and they are flammable- the whole candle catches on fire!), I put orange in our Every Day Household Cleaner.  Well come to find out he voluntarily cleaned the toilet with that stuff because he REALLY liked that scent!  One of the first rules of living with someone- anything you can do to get them to buy into helping you clean something- YOU DO IT!  I immediately made a batch of bathtub cleaner with orange scent!  Now, I still like to add an anti-fungal oil, and it turns out clove is a good one.  Oranges and cloves go quite well together (think poking an orange with cloves at Christmas!), so the overall cleaner is/was a big hit!

I also decided to make my own lotion last weekend.  I do this a lot, typically just making unscented versions.  I always use the Cinnamint lotion recipe (without the cinnamon or mint oils) from

But the website wouldn't load last week!  So I googled around and found this gem of a blog:

I made the lotion and it is awesome!  It has the consistency of body cream from bath and body works.  I bottled a bunch of it unscented, then I tried to re-create the Bath and Body Works Orange-Ginger scent in the remaining amount.  Word of advice- ginger is surprisingly strongly scented!  And B&BW doesn't really scent their product with much ginger.  I had to compensate by adding a lot more orange, but it all worked out.  I might add a little less glycerin next time, as it has a bit of a sticky feel to it.  Also, unless you want to make at least 4 large bottles of lotion, I would recommend cutting that recipe in half.

By the end of the weekend we had a very citrus-y household!  It's a delightful way to go!


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  2. I also have found that putting the lotion in a wide mouth jar works much better than a pump-style bottle. The pumping action seems to separate the lotion into liquid and solid, leaving you with a really weird concoction. No separation takes place when used in a jar. I just made a new batch and plan to compare the jar to a squeeze bottle with a flip lid. Will keep you updated.