I started making my own cleaning products around three years ago. The main reason at the time was to avoid the nasty synthetic chemicals found in most conventional shop-bought cleaners. Synthetic fragrances, for example, typically contain phthalates which can affect our hormones and have been linked to other health issues. No thanks! As a result I started minimising my single-use plastic and saving money. Win win!
Here’s what you’ll need to stock up on to make my three favourite recipes, and loads more:
- White vinegar
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Sodium carbonate (Soda Crystals)
- Citric Acid
- Fine Salt
- Essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus and lavender
Most of the above can be bought online in bulk or at your local zero waste shop — my fave is Scoop Wholefoods in Bristol and Bath.
Plastic free laundry booster:
Whether you’re dealing with stubborn stains or stinky gym clothes this laundry booster is a great all-rounder. The combo uses essential oils so you can ditch the fabric softener if you like.
- Large jar
- Sodium carbonate (enough to fill half the jar)
- Bicarbonate of soda (enough to fill half the jar)
- 30-50 drops of essential oil
How to make a plastic free laundry booster:
- Choose the jar that you want to fill (I keep big coffee jars for this reason)
- Fill half the jar with sodium carbonate (soda crystals) and the other half with bicarbonate of soda
- Pour into a mixing bowl and add 30-50 drops of your favourite essential oils — I like to use lavender, lemon or eucalyptus, but don’t be limited by my suggestions. Use oils that fit your budget, or those that you already have in your collection
- Decant back into the jar
- To use, scoop around ½ a cup and pour directly into the drum of your washing machine. If washing dark colours (especially jeans) turn them inside out as the bicarb can sometimes leave a white residue.
Natural fabric softener:
Conventional fabric softener can contain nasties which aren’t great for us or the environment, irritating skin and polluting our waterways. If you love soft fluffy towels and your clothes smelling tip top try this simple natural fabric softener recipe instead.
- 1 litre glass bottle with lid
- 1 litre of white vinegar
- 30-50 drops of essential oil
How to make a natural fabric softener:
- Fill the 1 litre glass bottle to the neck with white vinegar
- Drop 30-50 drops of your favourite essential oils and mix — lavender, lemon and eucalyptus all work well
- To use, pour the desired amount into the usual softener compartment of your washing machine. I just add a good splash but you could recycle the lid off an old softener bottle to help measure.
I was dubious about this recipe to start with and worried that my clothes would come out smelling like a chip shop but the clothes don’t smell of vinegar AT ALL when they are dry.
Fragrance-free dishwasher tablets
- 300g sodium carbonate
- 250g citric acid
- 100g fine salt
- 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil
- A mixing bowl and small moulds (chocolate moulds work well)
How to make fragrance-free dishwasher tablets:
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until combined
- Spoon the mixture into moulds and press down firmly until full
- Leave to set for 12-24 hours in a cool dry place. After this time, turn moulds upside down and gently tap the bottom — the tablets should fall out easily
- Place on a tray or sheet of baking paper and leave to dry for a further 24 hours before storing in an airtight container.
Alternatively, if you don’t have moulds or would prefer to use a powder, simply make the mixture, spread it on a tray and leave it to dry. Break the mixture up and pop it into a blender for a quick blitz. Then store in a sealed container.
Bonus: You can also replace your usual rinse aid with a ramekin/mug of vinegar on the top shelf.
A word of warning Some washing machine and dishwasher brands advise using particular products — it’s therefore up to you to decide whether these formulas are suitable for your appliances. We can’t take any responsibility if your appliance doesn’t agree with these recipes.
I hope these recipes inspire you to give DIY natural cleaning products a go. You’ll reduce your plastic waste and your exposure to harmful environmental toxins. Oh, and did I mention you’ll save money as well?! If you’re looking for more recipes for natural cleaning products I’d recommend taking a look at Krissy Ballinger’s site (where I got the inspiration for my dishwasher tablet recipe) and Low Tox Life.