Natural All-Purpose Cleaner ~ Dana


After I started making my own laundry detergent, the homemade, all-natural bug bit me.  I researched basic kitchen and bathroom cleaners and found that the chemicals used for the production of non-natural cleaning products include neurotoxins, carcinogens, heavy metals, and depressants.  They are great at cleaning up messes, but can also cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, cancers, trigger asthmatic attacks, and reproductive problems (   Ew.  I don’t want that stuff in my home, around my kids, and touching our food.

An easy non-toxic cleaner I use every day is this simple all-purpose cleaner from   It’s a great kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and can it even disinfect toys after the kids have been sick.  And unlike its commercial counterparts, you do not have to rinse it off of the countertop. That little-known nugget is in the fine print on most cleaners.  Yikes.

If you’ve made the laundry soap that we posted last week, you already have a couple of the ingredients.

In a spray bottle, mix:

1 tsp borax

1/2 tsp washing soda

1 tsp liquid castile soap

Essential oils – I use 4 drops lemon (antiseptic), 4 drops lavender (antiseptic and anti-viral), and 10 drops orange (antiseptic)

Add 2 cups of warm water.  Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed.

The essential oils can be purchased at most health food stores, like Clarks Nutrition or Sprouts here in Southern California.  Sometimes if I’m not going to make it to one of these stores for a while, I order the oils on, too.

One thing that I am discovering with most of my homemade cleaners is that I need a bit more elbow grease when using them than when I clean with chemical cleaners.  And that makes sense, doesn’t it?  So by using it, you’ll be healthier and your arms will be toned.

For tougher jobs like the stovetop and microwave, I keep a spray bottle filled with half distilled or boiled water and half white vinegar.  The acidity of the vinegar breaks down grease better than the all-purpose cleaner.  And don’t worry; the vinegar smell doesn’t last long.  I promise.

Footloose and Chemical Free ~ Dana

Since cancer has stricken both of our families with such great force, Jen and I decided, almost at the same time, to begin eliminating chemicals from our homes.  One day last summer she mentioned that she was making her own laundry detergent.  I had been researching it too, but just hadn’t gotten it all together to make the leap.  I think part of me was afraid that it wouldn’t work, or that my clothes would smell funky or get ruined.  I smelled the shirt she was wearing at the time, which had been washed in homemade detergent, and it smelled just fine.  And it didn’t look funky.

Not only is making your own detergent simple, it’s also cost-effective.  The recipe that I use gets mixed up in a 5-gallon paint bucket from the hardware store, which cost me $1.99.  I purchased 55oz of the super washing soda for $3.24 (lasts 6 batches) and 76 oz of borax for $4.53 (19 batches).  The bar of Fels-Naptha cost $.97.  Grand total:  $10.73… for 10 gallons of detergent! This bucket has lasted me about 3 months so far and I’d say I’m less than half-way through.  Jen’s niece Teresa made a bucket of it to take to college in August and is still using it.  That beats buying a 100oz of Tide for $16.49 every month or so.

As I’ve branched out into other soaps and cleaners, I’ve found that many natural cleaners and soaps don’t suds up as much as their chemical counterparts.  But more suds doesn’t mean cleaner, despite advertising that persuades us that they do. In fact, manufacturers have to add more chemicals to make more suds.

And we know that it’s not safe to inhale or ingest cleaners, but there are more imminent dangers associated with using these products.  Many cleaners and air-fresheners are specifically linked with respiratory disease and cancer.  You can read a report from the American Lung Association here and a report from the Organic Consumers Association here

So making my own is cheaper and healthier?  I’m in.  The recipe that I use is a little bit more time consuming to make.  It probably took me about 20 minutes.  The other two recipes we’ve listed are simply combining ingredients and stirring.

Cheaper, healthier, and easy to make?  You could be in, too.

Laundry Ingredients

Laundry Detergent Recipes

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap #1 – via


4  Cups  hot tap water

1  Fels-Naptha soap bar

1 Cup  Super Washing Soda

½ Cup 20 Mule Team Borax


1.  Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

2.  Fill a 5-gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

3.  Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

4.  Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

Yield: 10 gallons.

Top Load Machines use 5/8 Cup per load

Front Load Machines use 1/4 Cup per load

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap #2 – via


2 1-gallon containers in which to store your finished detergent (old laundry jug, or vinegar jug)

3/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (For laundry, I like to use the lavender, almond, and citrus varieties)

1/2 cup Super Washing Soda

1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

20-50 drops of lavender, tea tree, or citrus essential oil (optional)


1.  Add baking soda and super washing soda into a two-gallon bucket.

2.  Cover with hot tap water and stir until dissolved.

3.  Once dissolved, fill to the top with water (2 gallons).

4.  Add the castile soap at the end (or it will get very bubbly).

5.  Stir with a large spoon to mix in the soap and add the essential oils if you desire.

Yield:  2 Gallons

Top Load Machines use 1/3 cup per load

Free Printable Label:

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent  – via my cousin Donna Lawrence


1 bar Fels-Naptha or a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap (all-in-one hemp lavender smells really nice!)

2 Cups of 20 Mule Team Borax

2 Cups Super Washing Soda

1/2 cup Oxiclean Free.


1.  Grate bar of soap

2.  Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Front Load Machines use 1 Tbsp. per load

Top Load Machines use 2 Tbsp. per load

Note:  Donna adds that she uses just 1 Tbsp. per load, but that she has very soft water.

With all of these recipes, we add a glug of white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser!  Keeps clothes soft naturally!