Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Clean Challenge

Have you seen those Pins floating around Pinterest about making your own laundry and dishwasher detergents with simple, nontoxic ingredients? Me too! I've never really bothered to explore them because I always thought, "Wow, that seems like a big waste of time," being that I have always been partial to my "clean" smelling scents of laundry, and the ease of adding a tablet to your dishwasher.

If it's not broke, why fix it?

Of course, Allen and I have been leaning to the "green" side for some time... And when I say "leaning," I  mean just that. We always attempt to weigh the benefits when we come across a decision to be more eco-friendly or organic, but neither one of us want to seem too granola-esque.
We just want to do what we feel is best for our family.

Honestly, it all began for me when we decided to start a family.
I could swear that Allen was born with this frame-of-mind...

At the time, I worked in a PICU- full of children born with life-altering congenital defects- and Allen was {and still is} "Captain Planet"-- which is what I always called him when he called me out for throwing a soda can/plastic bottle/{insert recyclable item here} into the trash can.

When these two people decide to procreate... You get panic.

I started paying attention to everything that my body came into contact with! Literally everything.
I remember attempting to hold my breath around the nitric oxide tanks that I used at work, not to mention the aerosolized antibiotics I used to treat patients...
And what I didn't think of... Allen did.
So, we switched to organic produce, Method soaps, etc, etc, etc.
 Yes, this was all before we even started TTC.
About a month later, we were expecting!
... and little B started her journey into a house of anti-granola Granolas. Ha!

We started using Seventh Generation diapers {and still do}, I continued to eat mostly organic while I was nursing her, and when we switched to formula, we went with Earth's Best. 
As time went by, it was just assumed that she would eat organic solids...
{for moms starting solids-- I always used Momtastic's Wholesome Baby Food website for recipe ideas}
And now, here we are.
Maybe a little crazy... But at least that gives us a little peace of mind?

That's just a little bit of the background that has finally thrown us in the mix of making our own detergents...  I will attribute this decision to the documentary Chemerical- which my very own Captain Planet convinced me to watch the other night. I guess it was the final push we needed.
Hmmmmmm. Of course, I'm always the skeptical one...
So, you can switch to toxin-free cleaners and save money... Really?!
Well, whether or not you believe half of what the documentary claims, I thought it was worth a try...

After an hour or so of online research, I came up with the following recipes to potentially replace the household cleaners that we currently use... Not to mention, I discovered there are a ton of people that already do this!
Much to my surprise, not only are these detergents composed of the most simple ingredients, they are also so inexpensive, it is fairly ridiculous to compare it to what we already paid for the Method laundry supplies and dishwasher tabs-- which we pay $$$ for because it's toxic-free!
 That was enough motivation for this momma...
So, I had to share with all of you! 

Here are the "recipes" that I decided to go with after a little research:
{Disclaimer: None of the below is reflective on Method soap being unreliable in any way... Nor is it comparing these two very different detergents. It is simply to show what we were using and what we are using now. The only reason for our decision to switch is solely financially related. IF we were to buy a product, it would be a Method product. I have never been anything but happy with ALL of their products.} 

 Recipe as follows, via Yellow Brick Home:

1-cup Borax
1-cup Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, finely grated

 Use 1 tablespoon per load.
All of these ingredients you can find in the aisles of your local Supermarket or Superstore!
The kicker? A bar of Fels-Naptha is like $1.
The other kicker?! 
This batch will last you 40+ loads, and both boxes contain enough to make almost 5 batches!
This comes out to be about 4-cents per load!  'Nuff said.

Oh, and we just upgraded to a high-efficiency washing machine, and multiple resources claimed this detergent is just as good, if not better, than other high-efficiency detergents...
A. It's much cheaper.
B. It's toxin-free!
C. It doesn't create "suds"

Recipes as follows, via Simply Designing
 {I love how she cut vinyl to put the recipe on the back of her container too!}
2-cups Borax
2-cups Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda
1-cup Lemi Shine {due to lack of ingredient}
1-cup Citric Acid
1-cup Kosher Salt  
{I've seen other variations with sea salt and Epsom salt as well}
 Mix all ingredients into a container 
{we found these great glass air-tight containers at Wal-Mart for very cheap}

Use 1 tablespoon per load

You may also wish to use distilled white vinegar as a rinse aid if you have extra-hard water like we do!
Add 3 drops of dish soap per load for greasy dishes.

Multi-Surface Cleaner recipe, via New Nostalgia

1-cup distilled white vinegar
2-cups water
1/2 teaspoon dish soap {I absolutely love Seventh Gen's Lavender Floral Mint}
15 drops essential oils of your choice

Mix and store in spray bottle.
This can be used for glass and counter tops, etc.


Shower Cleaner recipe, via Life, Crafts & Whatever

1-cup distilled white vinegar, heated on stove {do not boil}
[about] 1-cup of dish soap

{she uses Dawn, but I used Seventh Gen's Lavender Floral Mint and it seemed to do the trick-- our shower has NEVER looked so good!}

Spray warm mixture onto shower/bath and let sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour {but you can wait a little longer if you like}, and then just spray it off with our portable shower head, or wipe it clean with a sponge or rag.
Our results were nothing short of amazing!

 Being that I was on a roll with my Pinterest "recipe" finds, I decided to make my own bath and shower scrub too that I had Pinned some time ago...

 I usually use Nature's Gate products in the shower, but they don't make a scrub...
My latest and greatest find is New Harmony Soap company's Rosemary Mint face bar!! I have tried everything for my problematic skin, and this does the trick in one step... :)  
BONUS: The company is located a block from our house!

Here is the recipe for the scrub, via deliciously organized
{which I tweaked a little}

3/4-cup Sea Salt
1/2-cup Organic Raw Sugar
1-cup room temperature Coconut Oil {liquify to add to scrub container}
40+ drops of lavender essential oils

 Most of the time, I don't even have to use lotion after my shower... Not that I usually have the time or energy to apply lotion, but it does wonders for dry skin!

If lavender isn't your thing, you can try these scrubs...

If you would like to explore a few other options to switch to toxic-free cleaners, check out this post by Keeper of the Home.

happy mixing!


Amanda said...

wonderful post!! now that i am off work for the summer i hope to use one of your recipes and make some homemade goodies! thank you :)

xo, amanda

Rebecca said...

I've been wanting to try a few of these for some time. Similar to you, I am "somewhat green", especially since having a baby (and also using Earth's Best formula, etc!). Thank you for the post! -Rebecca www.BusyModernFamily.com

Meagan said...

This is so wonderfully helpful! I've thought about making my own soaps for a while now, but it seemed so daunting! You've made it seem almost easy! I might start with the laundry detergent. Do your clothes still smell good? Do you use anything in your dryer?

I really want to be "greener" and I worry so much about chemicals around my kiddos, but it seems kind of overwhelming.

Thanks for this jump start! :)

Stephanie McCall said...

I've been THIS close to making my own laundry detergent- I think I'm going to do it!!

Kristen said...

I've been wondering about this myself, but I thought to buy the ingredients to make the stuff would be somewhat expensive. But when I was at the store the other day and saw that the Borax cost less than $4, it got me thinking about trying it out. The laundry at least.

How does the dishwasher detergent compare to the regular brand as far as how well it cleans?

Natalie said...

That is so cool about the laundry detergent and dish washing soap. We are the same way...we're not all hugging trees but we do realize so many foods and other stuff contains so much chemicals. It's more about just being healthy and knowing what you are eating. I'm very interested in trying this detergent especially for my cloth diapers!

Katie said...

This is very interesting and something I may be willing to give a try! We too would not categorize ourselves as "granolas" but attempt to be as green as possible. This seems easy enough:)

Kate @ Green Fashionista said...

Oh wow! I've been wanting to try this (Pinterest is seriously the best invention ever!) Great post! :)