adventures in homemade cleaners

January 21, 2009 at 10:31 pm 8 comments

A few weeks ago, I told you that I was making my own laundry soap and dishwasher soap because of my son’s possible allergy to detergents.

homemade laundry soap

I found several recipes on-line for making liquid laundry soap. They pretty much all involved a grated bar of soap, or a fraction of a bar melted in a pot with some water and boiled for a few minutes. Sometimes borax and/or washing soda were thrown in for extra cleaning power. Seriously, it seems like anything goes and the measurements depend on water quality and how concentrated you want to make your concoction. A 5 gallon bucket was usually involved plus lots and lots of water to fill the aforementioned 5 gallon bucket.

Well, I don’t have a 5 gallon bucket or maybe I do and I don’t know about it. I would have to ask Todd if he has one in the garage that he can spare. But I do have an extra 2 gallon soup pot. So I used that instead and added enough water to fill my pot (this would be 3 gallons less than most recipes I had been reading.)

I wondered if I had done something wrong.  Nothing like the thick  stuff you buy in big plastic jugs at the store.  My “detergent”  looked like cloudy water. Not thick at all. I put it under the sink to let it cure overnight as instructed, not holding out much hope that my concoction would thicken.

Boy oh boy, was I wrong. I was both pleasantly surprised and worried at the same time. I was surprised that my liquid had thickened to the consistency of softened butter. And I was worried that now I had a product that was too thick to use as is. I thought I’d have to put it back on the stove and divide it out and start adding more water and find more containers.

Nope.  That wasn’t necessary!  I keep my pot of laundry soap on top of my dryer with a 1/4 cup measuring spoon and just put one scoop into each wash load. First,  I put  a little bit of hot water in the bottom of the machine to help melt the soap before changing the water temperature and adding the clothes.  I’m not sure if this is necessary, but I’m doing it and everything is working well.  Stains are coming out and my clothes smell like nothing.  I love that. They’re clean and there is no odor. No dirt, gunk, or grime and no perfumes either.

I love my new very economical homemade laundry soap that was a lot easier to make than I thought it was going to be.

homemade dishwasher soap

I found a few places on-line for homemade dishwasher soap. All it is 1 tablespoon of borax and 1 tablespoon of washing soda. Easy enough. The first week was OK. I was pleased.  My dishes were clean and there were no more spots than usual on my glasses. Then I started seeing spots. Not water spots, but little bitty spots of soap. I was having to wash my glasses by hand after they came out of the dishwasher.  Then there were more spots with each passing day until the spots all melted together into a film. Then it wasn’t just on my glasses. It was all over my plastic cereal bowls and I could feel it on some of my other dishes too.


I tried vinegar. I tried running an extra rinse. I used an old box of fruit gel to clean out my dishwasher (I read that citric acid was good for this.)  But still I was seeing spots and film. YUCK.  So I used up the rest of my Electrasol.  I’d be happy to hear what works for this. Am I using too much of my stuff? It is possible that the first week when I didn’t have the spots, I was using less than I was when I started getting the spots (I stopped measuring.)  But then I started measuring again and still got the dry powdery feeling film on my glasses.

What’s a girl to do?

homemade dish soap

I had laundry soap and dishwasher soap (at the time, this was still working for me and I was happy with it.) Now I needed something to replace my dawn dish detergent. Something to cut grease on pots and pans and something to wash my hands with several times a day, also to cut grease since I’m always coating Jackson with Vaseline, cocoa butter, Shea butter or aquaphor.

I only found one recipe for liquid hand soap. It’s just hard to make something to cut the grease, I guess.  My advice: stick to bar soap. That doesn’t solve the cleaning of pots and pans problem but it’s great for hands.

I found this recipe at for liquid hand soap. All I can say is that I tried it and is she nuts???? Did this tip nut person even make it herself before posting it on her blog for everyone to see? And how about the picture there–definitely the product pictured is not the recipe here.

This recipe says to use the blender. Duh. All I can say is I should’ve known better. Don’t believe everything that I read.  So I followed the ingredients and started whirring.  STOP, turn the machine off. The ingredients which really only filled the first couple of inches in my blender immediately foamed and bubbled and went straight to the top of the container and would have overflowed had  I not turned the blender off.

So what kind of soap did the tip nut use?  Or maybe she didn’t actually use soap and only used water and honey.

I poured most of the soap out and whirred again. And again, it immediately shot straight to the top. Then I added some vinegar (not in her recipe) but I wanted to make something that would cut grease.  The blender started making a different kind of noise and the pattern of whirring liquid changed. Very cool chemical reaction.

So I filled my empty dawn bottle up and also a soap dispenser.  This stuff does not do anything to cut grease. So its not the kind of product I’m looking for. It will do for basic hand and dish washing until its gone.

Back to the blender. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed that baby. Lots of scrubbing. It had soap in it, why wouldn’t it come clean?   I put it in the dishwasher.  Big mistake. The soap got all over my dishes.  So I had to run another cycle to get the soap scum off my dishes.  My blender eventually came clean after a few doses of dawn.

Don’t try this at home!!!


Entry filed under: eczema. Tags: , , .

4th grader asks, “doesn’t the government know there’s no lead in books? an amazing, specific answer to prayer

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephanie  |  January 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Guinever, I use a dry recipe from the Duggars at They have more than one recipe. I double it, and it is still less than a gallon, but you use only 1 tbsp, so it lasts forever. You can replace the fels-naptha with Ivory. (My friend does that because her son has terrible exzema and other skin problems and is at the dermatologist every single month.) I do about half and half now. The trick is to cut the soap into about 6 pieces and pulse it in the food processor with the other powders. Once it is broken up, I just whir it all up until it is tiny and smooth, and then wash my food processor in the dishwasher. I think it is so much faster and simpler than the cooked kind. Did I already say this? If I did, sorry. I haven’t heard of anyone who doesn’t have that problem with homemade dishwasher soap. I wish it worked. Anyway, here’s the recipe.
    Powdered Laundry Detergent- Top load machine

    1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
    1 Cup Washing Soda
    ½ Cup Borax

    -Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

  • 2. Bobbi  |  January 22, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I’m so glad you’re liking the homemade laundry detergent. My family loves it! We don’t have a dishwasher (unless you count the 16 yo) but I’d like to try a homemade dish soap – thanks for telling me which one to NOT try!

  • 3. Alexis Cinnamond Pullen  |  January 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    What about on diapers? Do you use the homemade laundry soap on them too? Noticed any build up or other issues? Thanks for the tips!

  • 4. Guinever  |  January 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    hi Alexis,
    yes, I’m using this on diapers right now. I’ve always done a final vinegar rinse on my diapers even when I was using regular laundry detergent. The vinegar helps to cut any soap or detergent and softens them. I’ve got more about diapers on my birthing website.

  • 5. suzie  |  February 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Guinever, I use the powdered laundry soap recipe mentioned above and we love. I made the liquid stuff for many years but found it cumbersome to make and I used a lot more of it than the powdered. Only use 1 level tablespoon of the powdered per large washerload. Also, I get my Fels Naptha from Ace Hardware. I have to buy a case at a time, which lasts me about 1 1/2 years but it’s only $30.00 or so and no shipping costs. They can order it for you and have it in a couple days. Blessings, Suzie E.

  • 6. Michelle  |  August 26, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Guinever, I use the powdered laundry detergent and it works great. I am currently using Fels-Naptha (which none of us have trouble with–unlike some name brand detergents) but am thinking about mixing with either Ivory of one of Dr. B’s castile soap bars. I prefer the powdered. I also tried the homemade dishwashing detergent and couldn’t get it to work for me. I haven’t tried the liquid dishwashing soap recipe yet. Thanks for mentioning this. I know mine is a little different, but if it is very much like this one, I’ll be skipping it. 🙂

  • 7. Melissa  |  October 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I have a good hand soap recipe on my blog, we use the foaming hand pumps. I usually buy dial hand pump soap and then refill with my recipe. Here’s my blog:

    I’ll have to give the powdered laundry soap a try. I already make my dishwasher soap.

  • 8. Kelly C  |  October 6, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    We just tried the laundry detergent today and it worked! Really well.

    I added a little borax to mine, mostly because our kids can really get their clothes dirty. Aside from that it was just soap and water, pretty easy.


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Welcome to my personal blog about my life as a wife and homeschooling mother of a few energetic children! You'll find my favorite recipes, all kinds of reviews, the occasional rant, and whatever else I feel like writing about.

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