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.


UU Natural Bug Spray

For the summer, our Unitarian Universalist church has a program after their Sunday service called second hour where they have a variety of eco-friendly projects that people can do.  This past week they had container gardens and natural bug spray.  We chose to do the bug spray project.

They had three different recipes that were basically different mixtures of essential oils.  They each start with 2 cups of water.  We used water bottles, it’s just about measured perfectly. They each also have 20 drops of citronella essential oil.   Then you add the mixture of other two essential oils you want.  The three different recipes are lemon basil, geranium lavender, and eucalyptus lemon.

All varieties: 2 cups water and 20 drops citronella essential oil

Lemon Basil: 5 drops lemon essential oil and 10 drops basil essential oil

Geranium Lavender: 5 drops geranium essential oils and 10 drops lavender essential oil

Eucalyptus Lemon: 5 drops lemon essential oil and 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix everything together in a spray bottle (or water bottle and pour into smaller spray bottles).  Don’t forget to shake the bottle up before you use it each time.

Homemade Bug Repellent

The minion and I went to a dog park the other day and almost got eaten alive.  We both walked away with so many bug bites that I was spurred on to stop procrastinating and make our own bug repellent.  Then I had to put it in a comically large spray bottle because that’s all we had.

Homemade Bug Repellent

1/3 cup witch hazel

15 drops eucalyptus essential oil

20 drops citronella oil

Mix in a spray bottle and spray on clothes and hair before going out.  It is safe to spray it on the skin, but it will last longer on your hair and clothes than your skin.  Be sure to shake it up before you use each time.

I want to plant some citronella plants near our garden because we get eaten up when we’re out there too.


Apple Cider Vinegar Homemade Mouthwash

The hero recently ran out of mouthwash and instead of buying another expensive bottle I decided to make my own.  I used apple cider vinegar, some peppermint from our garden, and water.  Simple.

Apple Cider Vinegar Mouthwash

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon dried mint leaf (or amount to taste)

about 12 oz. water.


I used an empty glass soda bottle with a twist off top to keep it in so first I put the apple cider vinegar in the bottle.  Then I heated up some water and poured it over the mint in a coffee cup.  I let it steep for a few minutes then added it to the bottle.  Then I filled the rest of the bottle with water and put the top on.  It’s not water tight anymore, but it will keep the dust out.


We both tried it after brushing our teeth this morning.  It seemed to work.  I had been a little afraid it wouldn’t leave that minty fresh feeling but it did.  The hero said he was a little concerned about its effectiveness, but he’s going to keep using it and see how it works.

A Quick List of Things We Use Coconut Oil For

  • diaper rash cream (works great with cloth diapers)
  • spf 4 sunscreen (for the minion plus keeping her in the shade)
  • popcorn on the stove (and other cooking oil uses)
  • vapor rub (a few drops of clove and eucalyptus oil in about 3/4 of a cup coconut oil)
  • first aid ointment (a few drops tea tree oil in about 3/4 cup coconut oil) *do not use on burns
  • aftershave
  • skin lotion

Shaving Surprise

Surprise! It’s shaving soap!  As an anniversary present for the hero, I made him some shaving soap to replace his old variety that had who knows what in it.  I had originally bought it as part of his wedding present before we knew anything about the harmful chemicals in personal care products.  So I thought it only right to replace it with a healthier version for our anniversary.

I made it with a simple recipe using olive oil, castile bar soap, and cosmetic clay.  I ended up changing it a bit as I went and here is the result.

Shaving Soap Recipe

a bar of castile soap, here I used almond scented

2 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP green cosmetic clay

I crushed up the bar of soap using a knife, it crumbled easily.  I then heated the soap and oil over medium low heat in a non nonstick (not a typo, don’t use nonstick cookware) pot and stirred it occasionally.  If it starts to burn or gets dry, add more oil.


I heated it for about 5 minutes and then added the cosmetic clay.  I stirred it over the next couple of minutes and then took it off the heat.  It would mush together but was not liquid yet.  I ‘poured’ it into my waiting containers, a couple of pieces of pottery I had made.  You could use any type of mug or bowl.  Last I took a clean dish towel and pressed it down with my hand inside a couple of layers of the towel.  The towel was to protect my hand because the soap is hot and the ceramic container gets hot.  Now I have to leave it to cure for a few days and then we’ll see how it works!


It did make the kitchen smell a little soapy after I heated it up, so you could open a window and turn on a fan if that would bother you.

Healthy Hand Sanitizer Recipe

The minion is right in the stage where everything goes in her mouth.  She also loves animals, anytime the pavlovinator is anywhere she can see, she desperately tries to get to her.  If she does she pets and then sticks her hands in her mouth.  I don’t have much of a problem with her doing this with our clean, healthy, indoor cat.  Goats however, I’m a little more wary.  We went to Zoo Atlanta a few days ago and we knew there was a petting zoo before we went.  We thought that if we let the minion pet the goats there, we would want to wash her hands afterwards and the zoo would probably either provide industrial soap or alcohol based hand sanitizer.  Neither of which we wanted to put on our daughter’s skin, much less have end up in her mouth.

My solution was to make ‘crunchy’ hand sanitizer before we went.  I dissected an aloe vera leaf for the first time, a messy but very fun experience, and scraped the juice out.  If you use a leaf instead of buying the juice on its own, put a towel down under your workspace.

The variety of essential oils in this recipe give it antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties.  The vitamin E oil and aloe vera are good for your skin.  The witch hazel includes 14% rubbing alcohol to kill microbes.  You can substitute other essential oils for the clove and eucalyptus oils, it was mainly what I had on hand.  Lavender, rosemary, sage, and/or peppermint essential oils could also be used and probably many more that I just don’t know of.

‘Crunchy’ Hand Sanitizer

1 cup aloe vera juice

1 Tablespoon witch hazel

3 drops vitamin E oil (optional but extends shelf life to 6 months)

30 drops tea tree essential oil

5 drops clove essential oil

5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix everything together in a sealable container.  Shake well before each use as oils will separate.  It goes on very slimy but will evaporate/sink into your skin in a few seconds of rubbing.

The minion loved petting the goats and the rest of the zoo.  Here’s a picture of some of the goats cuddling up.