Holding overflowing washing basket at laundrette

Homemade cleaning products: 5 fantastic recipes

13 Nov 2017
Try some of these DIY recipes for a fun, resource-saving and cost-effective approach to keeping things clean.

Cleaning up doesn't have to mean cleaning out the planet of its natural resources. Make a softer footprint on the Earth by following these top tips.

1. Make your own dishwasher liquid

Pile of dishes with cloth
Get a natural shine on your dishes
Credit: iStock

Dishwashers can be very handy. But dishwasher liquid or tablets are often expensive and may contain phosphates that are hazardous to water supplies. Make your own natural dishwasher liquid and enjoy plates that sparkle for less.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap (try Dr Bronner’s)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 drops tea tree extract
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Method

Stir the water and soap together. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until blended. Transfer into a bottle for storage. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

2. Make your own laundry detergent

Laundry hanging outdoors on line
Have you tried borax on your blouses?

Many commercially available washing powders and detergents contain toxic chemicals like bleach that can lead to skin irritation. Ditch the detergent in a few easy moves.

Ingredients

  • 1 bar of shaved bar soap, this can be oil-based castile soap (Dr Bronner’s) or chemical-free laundry soap (Sunshine, Ivory, Fels-Naptha or Zote)
  •  1/2 cup of soda crystals (Dri-Pak)
  • 1/2 cup of borax (US) or borax substitute (UK) – optional

Method

Perfect for all front-loading washing machines. Stir together soap shavings and soda crystals until well combined. Decant into a container and store. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavy soils). 

Tip: For a simpler alternative seek out multi-purpose, biodegradable soapnuts. Soapnuts are a natural detergent source grown in India. They produce mild soap suds when in contact with water, and can be used as a shampoo or soap alternative

For use as a laundry detergent, place 5-7 soapnut shells into a sock or cotton bag, tie securely and wash with clothes. Soapnuts can be used for more than one wash, though it's better to use them on the same day. 

3. Make your own glass cleaner

Clear wine glass
Vinegar works wonders on wine glasses

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 4 cups warm water

Method

Blissfully simple. For glass cleaner combine the white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle. Use to clean glass or mirrors with a dry cloth or piece of newspaper.

For a quick-fix carpet stain remover mix equal parts of white vinegar with water in spray bottle and apply to stain. After soaking for several minutes clean with a brush or sponge with warm, soapy water.

4. Make your own furniture polish

Antique wooden tabletop
Lemon oil makes great furniture polish

Ingredients

  • Lemon oil (essential oil)
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Method

Add a few drops of lemon oil to the warm water. Mix well and spray onto a soft cotton cloth. Wipe furniture with the cloth, and then wipe again with a dry soft cotton cloth.

5. Make your own general purpose cleaner

Bathroom, with tiles, tub, taps and window
Don't worry, the vinegar aroma doesn't last long

For use on tiles, bathroom panels, mirrors, windows and hard bathroom and kitchen surfaces.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 litres water

Method

Mix together all ingredients in a bucket of water. Decant into a spray bottle. Store and keep.

Natural cleaning cupboard must-haves

Essential oils - eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree
Yes, they really are essential
  • Bicarbonate of soda (buy a large container from the chemist, rather than small pots from supermarkets. Also available in bulk online)
  • White vinegar (available to buy in bulk from supermarkets)
  • Lemon juice
  • Essential oils (especially tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil and lemongrass oil)
  • Castile soap - chemical-free vegetable-based soap (Dr Bronner’s is available online in hard and liquid forms)
  • Soapnuts (available at Friends of the Earth shop, Budgens stores and online)
  • Soda crystals (washing soda). Find in the laundry section of large supermarkets
  • Spare jars and spray bottles.

Not enough time to make it yourself? 

Visit Friends of the Earth Shop for Ecozone and other cleaning products. Alternatively, Earth Friendly Products specialises in cleaning products made from simple, organic, natural ingredients. Available from health food and wholefood shops across the UK.

 

Look out for more tips in our series on tackling overconsumption.