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.


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.


How to Wash Diapers of the Cloth Variety

We separate the dirty diapers from the wet diapers.


The wet diapers and diaper covers go in a cloth laundry bag that I made from the bottom of an old t-shirt.  The bag is held up by two clothespins so that it doesn’t fall into the plastic trash can that it is in.  Then we have the ‘baby bathtub’ that they gave us at the hospital when the minion was born that we put the dirty diapers in.


We have a diaper sprayer (basically a high-powered kitchen sink sprayer that attaches to our toilet) and we spray the poo off the dirty diapers daily and just throw the whole bag of wet diapers into the washing machine as is.  We also use cloth wipes and they go in with the wet diapers.  We wash them on a sanitize setting on our washing machine using unscented castile soap at full strength if there are no diaper covers and Dapple laundry detergent if we are washing diaper covers.  The castile soap will build up on the diaper covers and make them less waterproof.

Every so often (about every 6 months so far) we have to strip the detergent from the diaper covers.  If we used castile soap we would have to do it more often.  To do this, we wash the diaper covers on high heat in the washing machine with no soap or detergent.  We do this for 2 cycles and then air dry the diaper covers.

So far this method has worked great.  We also do part-time elimination communication.  Basically we offer the toilet to the minion at each diaper change and when she wakes up from a nap.

Do you have any tricks for dealing with dirty cloth diapers?

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.

A Quick List of Things We Use Castile Soap For

  • body wash (diluted)
  • hand soap (diluted)
  • baby soap (diluted)
  • the hero and the minion use it as shampoo (diluted)
  • laundry detergent (full strength) but only when we’re not washing cloth diaper covers
  • dish soap (1:6 strength and in a spray bottle)
  • house cleaner (diluted)
  • bubble soap for fun! (recipe TO COME)
  • bug repellent (just using it as body wash repels bugs)
  • this fruit fly trap
  • shave soap (same dilution as body wash for legs, recipe HERE for face)
  • vegetable wash (same dilution as dish soap)
  • pet shampoo (we don’t wash the pavlovinator regularly, but when she gets into something sticky or dirty we will)

Simplifying the Shower

Before the minion was born, when I was still pregnant, the hero, the pavlovinator, and I lived in an apartment in the city.  The apartment building was built in the 1940s and it had it’s quirks.  One of them was the plumbing.

Early when we moved in, the pavlovinator started refusing to drink tap water and whining around her water bowl.  We didn’t know why, but we decided to try getting a filter for the tap and that seemed to make it all better.  She went back to drinking plenty of water and stopped whining.  So the rest of the time we lived in that apartment, we either used tap filters or bought bottled water.  I know, horrible for the environment, but we thought it was preferable to lead poisoning or something.  We bought the 2.5 gallon ones and recycled the bottles at least.

Anyways, anytime after it rained, our tub/shower water ran brown.  It was probably just mud, and we weren’t drinking it so we weren’t too worried, so we stilled used it.  I quite enjoy taking long baths to relax.  I take showers to get clean, but baths to relax.  There’s something not terribly appealing about steeping in mud brown water though.  So I would cover it up.  I had all sorts of bubble baths and bath milks, even some of those tablets that color the water for little kids.  All of this stuff, along with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, shaving gel, and scrubbers lived in a corner shelf in the shower.  This was all before we learned about harmful chemicals in personal products.

After I learned more about the harmful chemicals, endocrine disruptors, and phalates, I got rid of a lot of these products, but there were still some scrubbers and a few assorted bottles of things I didn’t use anymore in the shelf.  So when we moved to our house I decided to simplify.  Now our shower has three things in it.

  • Castile soap
  • Nature’s Gate Shampoo
  • A Safety Razor

That’s all we need now.  I know a lot of people can use castile soap as a shampoo and I tried but I have long and thick hair and it stayed greasy even after the recommended ‘adjustment period’ for my hair to get used to not being stripped of it’s natural oils.  So I buy shampoo again.  I don’t use much and don’t wash my hair everyday so I’ve had the same small bottle for almost a year.  Here’s a quick list of things we do use castile soap for.

We also switched to a safety razor, one of those old metal razors that just take a double edge razor blade.  I tried to find any information about the ‘moisturizer strips’ that are on ALL plastic razor blades.  I assume there are harmful chemicals in them, but I couldn’t find out for sure.  So I decided I wanted a metal safety razor. I absolutely love it.  I’ll go into more detail in a future post.


So that’s it, we simplified our shower.  Now we just have to keep all the minion’s bath toys to a minimum.