Green cleaning and body products

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In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd post about the natural cleaning and body products I've been making and using. I first got into making natural products last August when I had my "I'm not a Dirty Hippie" party and got together with friends to make many of these for the first time. Most of the recipes are here, in my follow up post. And anon, my friend, I finally noticed that I've been misspelling deodOrant forever. It took me a while to pick up on it, but thanks for helping me out there.

Okay, first the body products: (The photos include both the ingredients and the finished product.)


Lotion (above): I used to think lotion would be super complicated to make, but it's no different from cooking. You melt some stuff and mix some stuff. That's about it. I've tried making a couple of different recipes now, one (Rosemary's Perfect Cream) from Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and this Creamy Smooth Body and Hand Cream that I found at RecipeZaar (pictured above). I don't have a picture of Rosemary's Cream since I made it this past winter and have since used it up. I really liked it and used it as both a face lotion and body lotion. The body and hand cream shown is very rich and goes on oily but soaks into the skin relatively quickly. I love it so far.


Deodorant: I LOVE Angry Chicken's deodorant! I've used it since last August and am still in love. It works perfectly for me. I finally used up the batch we made at the party and made a new batch this past weekend. I was excited to do this (ha! excited over deodorant!) because the first batch was too hard and I had to use a spoon to gouge out a piece then rub it between my fingers to warm and soften it before applying it. We missed Amy's note about adding vegetable glycerin to make it softer. This time I added a tablespoon of the glycerin and now I think it's perfect.


No Shampoo: I've also been doing the no shampoo thing since last August and love it. I was inspired by Angry Chicken (she talked about no shampoo in her deodorant post) and followed the link she mentioned for instructions. Basically I rub baking soda (about 1 tsp for my short hair) into my hair when wet, rinse it out, then follow with a rinse of diluted apple cider vinegar (1 Tbsp per cup). It smells vinegary for an hour or so, so if I'm going to go out or see people, I usually follow the vinegar rinse with more water or skip the vinegar rinse altogether. People probably think I'm weird enough. I haven't tried this on Maia yet as it's a struggle enough just to get her hair washed occasionally. I don't know if baking soda would mean more struggle or less.


Lip Balm: I'm still using the lip balm we made last August. I like it okay but it's a little grainy–maybe from the herbs we used. I'm looking forward to trying a new recipe soon, maybe this one at Not Martha.

Now for the home cleaning products:


Laundry Detergent: This might be my favorite recipe, just because it is SO cheap to make versus buy. Again, most of the recipes (including the laundry detergent) are here, in my follow up post to the natural products party. The ingredients are just washing soda, a bar of glycerin soap, borax, and water. The recipe makes a LOT, and I end up filling an assortment of recycled glass bottles (juice bottles like the one above work great), containers that used to hold store-bought detergent, and old nalgene bottles.


Dishwashing Detergent: This is easy and quick to mix up whenever I'm running low. Just mix together equal amounts of washing soda and borax. Again, we've been using this since last August and are happy with it.


Dish Soap: I haven't actually made any liquid dish soap yet, but as soon as ours runs out, I plan to try this recipe. And I've started using my new dishcloth! I made a few mistakes, but it'll just be used for scrubbing dishes so I'm not upset about it. It was a good practice piece for a beginner like me.


Alice's Wonder Spray: This stuff is great! I found the recipe in a pamphlet my Mom sent me from her co-op and love it. There's not much I can't do with some wonder spray and my new stash of cleaning rags.

General Kitchen and Bathroom Cleaning: For just about everything else I use baking soda and/or distilled white vinegar. For sinks, I sprinkle on the baking soda, drizzle some vinegar over it, watch it fizz (Maia likes to watch this part!), then start scrubbing. Easy, cheap, and nontoxic — a combo I like.

Do you have any other recipes to share? I haven't tried making soap or toothpaste yet, but would like to one of these days. Also some sort of facial cleanser. I've been using Cetaphil since I was a teenager but am ready to try something different and more natural.

I was going to make a bad joke about getting off my soapbox now, but I'm no good at jokes, good or bad. So I'll just say Happy Earth Day!

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  1. octavia orca says

    great post. any one have any good ideas for rug cleaners. between potty training and a dog who has seizures we’ve been doing A LOT of scrubbing these days. i usually use club soda and my general spray cleaner (your recipe plus tea tree oil) to do the trick but i was sort of wondering if there was another idea out there.
    and can i complain about the grating of the soap for the clothing detergent??? aiy! if anyone has a good idea for that one i would love it!

  2. says

    Nice round up! I make my own cleaners, too and I LOVE them! I also make my own toothpaste and like it much better than the store bought. I put 3TB baking soda, 1/2tsp peppermint castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s) and 1tsp glycerin in a jar and mix up with a chop stick. I usually make about three batches in one jar at a time and it lasts a good while. Even my little boys like it!
    I’ve been thinking about making my own deodorant but was scared – I think I’ll give it a try!
    Octavia Orca – I made THE BEST carpet cleaner. It easily cleans everything my boys, cat and dog can do to the carpet. It’s a mineral cleaner with a touch of Seventh Gen detergent. 1/2 tsp each of Borax, Washing Soda and liquid detergent into a spray bottle, pour 2 cups of hot water over to dissolve. You can add a few drops of Tea Tree oil or other essential oil if you’d like. Hardened playdough, some weird dried caramel thing, crayon, paint, potty training accidents were no match.

  3. Emily says

    Thanks soo much for this! I have been wanting to try making my own products, but have been having trouble finding good recipes.
    Octavia Orca, if you have a food processor, you can chop the soap into smaller pieces and chop it up in there. I have done it and it works really well–super fast!

  4. says

    You might want to check out Rhonda Jean’s blog Down—to—Earth. Here’s the link to her recipes for cleaning the kitchen. She is a wealth of wonderful and inspiring information…http://down—to—
    I too am an non-shampoo, using baking soda and water to wash and diluted apple cider vinegar to rinse and going 3-4 days with just water with lovely results. I also use equal parts baking soda and organic corn starch in a jar with a few drops of essential oil sprinkled onto a damp washcloth and dabbed on as deodorant. Very easy to make and the ONLY thing that has EVER worked for me. It is truly wonderful!
    Thanks for the great post

  5. says

    Hey! Great minds think alike. I posted a lip balm tutorial for today and tweaked Amy’s deodorant recipe to use coconut oil which makes a spreadable version. Will be posting that later this week.

  6. says

    Oh and I just remembered – I also use vinegar and BS for all purpose cleaning but I also have a bottle of hydrogen peroxie to which I’ve added a spray trigger that is great for cleaning and disinfecting counters (spray a spritz of hydrog. perox. then another of vinegar). There was some kind of research done that those two worked better than even bleach.
    I also have a steam cleaner (not a rug machine but a vapor cleaner) that is great for bathrooms kitchens when deep cleaning.

  7. says

    Thanks everyone!
    Kate – I think I’ll try your toothpaste. Thanks.
    Marie – I couldn’t get your link to work so looked it up. Here it is again: http://down—to— Hopefully this works. I’m leery of ammonia and bleach but generally love the posts of hers that I’ve read.
    Rebecca – I love the idea of making your own deoderant then putting it into an old deoderant stick for rolling on. Thanks for the link. I might try that next time.

  8. says

    Thanks for sharing these great recipes and links! I’m excited about the laundry detergent and dish detergent.
    I sometimes wash my 3-year-old’s hair with baking soda. He doesn’t really enjoy having his hair washed, so to speed things, I dissolve the baking soda with a splash of hot water. The only drawback is that somehow the soda seems to cool the water, so when I pour it over his head, he usually cringes at the chill. I suppose I could just dab in the powder, but it seems like it would be more time-consuming to get it thoroughly spread around. And the shorter amount of time we spend washing hair, the better.

  9. Amy says

    Thank you for your wonderful post about making your own body and cleaning products! I have slowly been replacing my own with ones that I make at home.

  10. ellielaveer says

    Thanks for posting this, I’m going to get back to this one for sure. I recently read a post about making a basket of homemade cleaners and recipes for a wedding or shower gift. I think that would be great.
    I have heard that you can get a cleaner rinse in the dishwasher by adding some actual dishwasher soap. I do equal parts dw soap, borax, and soda, but obviously, dw soap isn’t all natural. I do it more for the cost savings though.

  11. says

    Jean thanks! I found the lipbalm tubes on Mountain Rose Herbs but have seen them on many of the body care ingredients sites too.
    BTW, I’m also in NC although in the Piedmont.

  12. says

    Kari – Thanks for the input about baking soda on your son’s hair. I’ll try dissolving it in hot water first before washing Maia’s hair with it — Maybe I’ll use a squirt bottle or something so it’s more fun. She doesn’t mind getting wet at least.

  13. says

    I bought empty chap stick tubes on Etsy: (SaharasSupplies if the link doesn’t work.) I make a lip balm with coconut oil, sesame oil, beeswax, aloe, a touch of glycerin and a bit of grapefruit seed extract. My family is prone to dermatitis and sensitive skin and this work WONDERS. I put a bit in a chap stick tube for my little boy, too, to rub easily on his face when he gets a dry patch. I rub a bit under my eyes at night for extra hydration.

  14. says

    It is so much fun making your own products. I started making soap when my daughter was about a year old. She’s a redhead with sensitive skin and commercial products weren’t cutting it. I use the cold process method and have never gone back. I haven’t experimented with lotion too much….I thought it might be kind of difficult too. Thanks for all the household cleaning tips.

  15. Becky says

    Josh Dorfman has come out with a great book titled, “The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget ” which offers a wide variety of inexpensive “green” products that has been incredibly helpful.

  16. Amy B. says

    Marielle, the hydrogen-peroxide and vinegar duo (don’t mix them, and make sure your hydrogen peroxide is in a dark, opaque bottle) is explained well in the book Organic Housekeeping, which I like a lot! I bought a used copy last year.
    Jean, I do the no-shampoo routine too and I always dissolve the baking soda first in a little hot water. Makes it much easier to apply to my long hair. I just keep an old plastic cottage cheese container in the tub and a (sealed) container of baking soda too.
    I didn’t like smelling faintly of pickles so I follow up the diluted vinegar rinse with plain water, and I think I use much less vinegar (~2 tsp in 32 oz water)

  17. says

    Amy yes I love the combo of those two cleaners. I find that a 32oz bottle of hydrogen peroxide is threaded just right for a trigger spray and the opaque bottle keeps it active like you said. I’ll have to check out that book, thanks!

  18. says

    could it be that easy?
    i tried marie’s trick of baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oils for a deodOrant. after searching and failing for one that works for me (natural, unnatural – whatever), THIS finally did the trick.
    wow! thanks for the wonderful tips!
    i’m planning my “i’m not a dirty hippie,” party now…

  19. says

    Thanks for the post! I used baking soda and acv on my hair for a while last summer, and so did my husband, but I have longer, darker hair than yours, and I noticed that my hair was getting a lot lighter and more brittle the longer I used it. I had to discontinue that so my hair wouldn’t look/feel so damaged, but I still use my homemade deodOrant a lot.
    Another tip I LOVE, that a lot of my friends use: wash your face with honey. Put about a teaspoon on your dry face, rub it in, and then just rinse it off. It seems like it would be a sticky mess, but it really isn’t. It’s naturally antibacterial and really helps to balance out your skin, so it’s not zapped of its moisture like it can be with store-bought products, especially ones with alcohol in them to make them foamy. If you buy raw honey (unprocessed, like you’d get from a local bee farmer), it starts to crystallize after a while, but mixing a tiny bit of water into it helps, as does warming it up in warm water before you use it. I buy mine in quart jars and then just periodically fill up a little squeeze bottle that I keep in the bathroom, so it’s easy to mix in a teensy bit of water if I need to. I’ve been using honey for almost a year now, except for the occasional exfoliating face wash every week or two, and I love it. I have a lot less trouble with acne than I used to. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

  20. Tracy says

    I’m really late finding this post… had a busy spring. I didnt see anyone offer you a natural facial cleanser so here’s mine. I use plain jojoba oil mixed with some essential oils good for my skin type. Just put a few drops in my hand and massage in. Then i wet and use one of those rough wash cloths you can get at places like body shop (I’ve had the same one at least 8 years?!?!?) gently to exfoliate. Depending on your skin type you may not even need to moisturize beyond this. I’m not so lucky as that but I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now and I always get compliments on how nice my skin is for my age. I use this same oil combo for shaving. If you are acne prone there is a whole protocol using warm salt water then jojoba. If you google it you’ll find it. I only wish I could get my teen to try it instead of the stuff she uses that is so caustic it BLEACHES THE TOWELS!.Oh well maybe someday.

  21. Wayne A says

    I learned a lot from reading this blog post. It is possible to make many hould cleaners from items that would tradionally be thrown away.

  22. Carol Campbell says

    Honestly, this has been my most favorite blog so far! I love this! I am learning a lot from your tips especially that of your “no-shampoo”. I will really follow this because I love my hair that I don’t want to make it damage.

  23. Rhonda Knowles says

    I always feel glad when reading some things that are concerning with the mother nature. It is only so rare that we find people who are in this mind-setting.