Borax-Free Homemade Laundry Powder

We stopped using commercial laundry detergent for most of our laundry a while ago.  We’ve been using just liquid castile soap for everything except cloth diapers.  While we haven’t had problems with this method, we haven’t been amazed by its results.  So I decided to make up some laundry powder and see how that works for us.  There are a lot of recipes out there that use borax, but I’m not convinced on the safety of borax, so this recipe doesn’t use it.

Laundry Powder

1 bar Dr. Bronners tea tree oil soap

1 cup washing soda

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup citric acid

1/4 cup pickling salt

Grate the bar of soap and mix that with all other ingredients.  To use, put 1-2 Tbsp in washing machine.  You can supplement with white vinegar.  Store in glass jar or bucket depending on how much you make.  This recipe is safe for HE and front loading washing machines.


I think it cleaned our cloth diapers even better than castile soap or Dapple laundry detergent.  It does take a bit more work to make this powder, but cleaner diapers might just be worth it.  It does clump pretty bad though.  This is due to moisture and you can make a desiccant, or moisture absorber, with a cloth bag of white clay.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any white clay.  I’ll get on that.


Shades of White Garland

You may remember the rainbow garland I made for the minion’s first birthday party.  Well, I also made some in shades of white for the winter holidays.


Happy Solstice!

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

We use felted wool for many things at our house.  It’s especially great to make mattress pads for our and the minion’s bed.  We get this wool for just a few dollars by buying 100% wool sweaters and blankets from thrift stores and felting them in our washer.  I’ll do a tutorial on that soon.  But my most recent project is these wool dryer balls.

To make the dryer balls you need to use felted wool.  Cut a piece of felt that’s twice as long as it is wide.  3 inches by 6 inches is a good general size, but it doesn’t have to be exact.  Sew the two short sides together wrong sides together.  Your seam will be on the outside.  If you want you can do this on the machine, but if you do it by hand it will look nicer.  I did mine on the machine, but if you’re making these as a gift or have too much time on your hands, feel free to hand sew the whole thing.

Next is the part that’s going to be hard to explain.  Sew each of the ends together in opposite ways.  One side fold the circle of fabric with the seam in the middle and one side with the seam on the end.


Leave a little opening on one of your seams and stuff with random felt scraps.  Then just close up your seam and you’re done.


A quick few minute project that will reduce static on your clothes and help them dry faster.  These are also safe to use with cloth diapers unlike most commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

Last Weekend’s Yard Sale Complete With Tips

The minion and I have been battling a serious cold this week so forgive my late post about last weekend.

Anyways, last weekend we had a yard sale.  We ended up making over $200!  I was amazed.  Both that we did so well and that we had so much stuff we didn’t need.


Yard sales are surprisingly eco-friendly.  There’s a lot of energy and materials that go into making new goods.  If you can share the use of an item with one or more people, that’s one less new item that has to be made.  Plus it’s budget-friendly!

I know a lot of my tips seem basic and obvious, but no matter how much I knew that we needed signs, I still didn’t have signs the night before.

A few tips:

  • Be prepared before, have signs, change, and of course your merchandise ready
  • List your yard sale online, look for local websites as well as Craigslist
  • Price things in 25¢ increments, then you only have to deal with bills and quarters
  • Have good signs, bright with clear letters, just use the words ‘yard sale’ and arrows
  • To elaborate, don’t put hours on your signs, what if you want to close early?
  • Keep your money on your person, I have a little waiter’s apron that works great
  • Have an area of shade with chairs for you
  • You probably should still wear sunscreen or at least coconut oil

I had a friend join us for the sale and she has these great store-bought reusable signs.  I might invest in some of those myself.  Poster board is expensive and on-time use only.

Anyone have any additional tips or stories of yard sale success?

Natural Fruit Fly Trap

Recently we have been plagued by fruit flies in our kitchen.  A combination of summer and our habit of composting causes this.  We wanted a way to deal with them that was cheap and didn’t use toxic chemicals so I made this trap.


As you can see it was very effective.  Take a mason jar and pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar in.  Take a small piece of fruit, I used banana, and put it in, make sure part of it sticks out of the vinegar.  Put a drop of castile soap in to break the water tension.  I used our diluted lavender soap that we keep in the shower and it didn’t seem to cause a problem.  Then take a piece of aluminum foil and put it over the opening of the jar, poke a few holes in it with a skewer or fork and leave it near where the most fruit flies are.  It also helps to remove any other attractant, so our bananas are in the refrigerator for now.


Water Audit: Do You Have Leaks?

Today when we left the house we checked the water meter.  It read 0972020.  Then when we got back we checked it again.  It still read 0972020.  That means we don’t have any leaks.  Basically we tracked our water usage when we weren’t using any water.  If the number had changed, it would’ve meant that something in our house was leaking water when we thought everything was turned off.

Doing this periodically in your own house can save you money and help save the planet at the same time.  And we certainly don’t want to waste water or money!  When you do this, be sure not to forget your ice maker if you have one, the hero remembered ours at the last minute.

You can also check just your toilet by putting dye such as food coloring in the tank.  Don’t use or flush it and if the water in the bowl gets colored, then the tank is leaking.

Don’t forget to install low-flow faucets and when you brush your teeth, never let the water run.  Thanks Barney song!  You can also turn your toilet into a low-flow model by filling a plastic bottle with water and rocks and putting it in the tank.  This displaces some water in the tank so that with each flush there is less water that needs to be replaced.

We plan on doing a similar thing with electricity to see what our vampire electronics are costing us.

What other water saving tips do you have?