Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Homemade Cleaners Road Test

Road Test Number 1 - Laundry Liquid

A couple of months ago I made laundry liquid for my front loader washing machine. I was a little sceptical that it would work effectively, especially on my boy's socks, so I only made half a batch. Some people had said that after a while the whites don't come out as well and that Napisan is then required to rectify. I am pleased to say however that I am thrilled with the result. There have been no complaints from the kids that the clothes have not been clean, and I have not noticed any stains not being removed. An added bonus is that my daughter and I are both prone to allergies and the home made laundry liquid has not caused any reaction. In two months I have saved about $30 on this product alone.

So, with my stocks running low, I decided to make a full batch this time. I used Rhonda Hetzel's recipe from Down to Earth (Laundry Liquid). I now have ten litres of Laundry Liquid which will last several months and cost about $3 to make. I found with the front loader that less than 1/4 cup per load is sufficient as it uses less water.

Rating 10/10.

I then decided to spend some time concocting other home made cleaners and giving them a test-run on my dirty bathroom. These are my results:

2. Floor Cleaner

Since I had an excess supply of laundry liquid I thought I would use some as a base for a floor cleaner. I added about one part laundry liquid to six parts water and a capful of eucalyptus oil. To wash the tiles I then added about half a cupful of my laundry liquid to a bucket of warm water. It cleaned the floors very effectively, removing all dirt and grime and was not too soapy. It did not add a sheen to the floor though, which I did not mind. Other suggestions for homemade floor cleaner include vinegar which I will try next time I clean. Overall I was very impressed and it cost next to nothing.

Rating 8/10

3. Rhonda's Creamy Soft Scrubber

This is one of my favourite cleansers. Bicarb soda and a small amount of my homemade laundry liquid was all it took to make a creamy scrub. What a great idea! I added a teaspoon of glycerin as suggested and now have a jarful for later use. I found this scrub to be great in the bathroom as a substitute for other abrasive cleansers. It was perfect for the sink, walls and tile grout. I also found it to be very effective as a polish for my stainless steel bench top in the kitchen. I'm sure I will find many more uses for it.

Rating 10/10

3. Citrus Cleaner

Several sites including Down to Earth suggest a concoction made from citrus peel and vinegar. I put mandarin and lemon peels in a glass coffee jar several weeks ago and then transferred this liquid to a spray bottle. I have a glass shower and there was a build up of soap residue (I know, slack of me!) so I sprayed the cleaner on and left it for half an hour or so. It had dried up by the time I got back and did not seem to lift any of the soap residue. I resprayed and used an abrasive cloth which did move some of the soap but ended up spreading it everywhere. I then had the bright idea of using my creamy scrubber to lift the soap....what a brilliant move that was. It removed the soap residue beautifully. I then finished off with my citrus cleanser and wiped it off with paper towelling (cloth just did not do it for me). The shower is absolutely sparkling and I have resolved not to let it build up again!

Rating 9/10

4. Dishwasher Liquid

I trialled several recipes before I formulated one that works for me. It is pretty watery so I use a sauce bottle to dispense and store. It works effectively and I place vinegar in the rinse aid compartment which also assists with cleaning the dishwasher. The beauty of this liquid is that it uses the ingredients I already have available.

Place the following in a jug and pour two cups boiling water in to mix and dissolve:

1 Tbsp Washing Soda
1 Tbsp Borax
2 tsp Lux Flakes
10 drops lemon essential oil

Once dissolved, add two litres of warm water and pour into storage bottles. I have found that I only need to half fill the detergent compartment of my dishwasher and that the dishwasher works more effectively when it is clean. You may need to experiment depending on your dishwasher if you decide to make this. Overall I am pleased with the results. It works just as effectively as the tablets I was buying and saves about $4/week.

Rating 8/10

5. Spray and Wipe - All purpose Spray

Once again I decided to experiment with the ingredients I had so I just quarter-filled a spray bottle with my homemade laundry liquid, filled it up with water and added a few drops of Dettol which I had in the cupboard. When the Dettol runs out I will use the Eucalyptus oil I have. This spray is amazing! It cleans the toughest grime off my gas cooktop and does not leave any residue. It is also effective for wiping down my stainless steel bench and for cleaning the sink and taps.

Rating 10/10

So, my road test for the cleaning products I made in about an hour on Monday morning, has been successful, with a little trial and error. I then decided to try my hand at making Cold Pressed Soap. I decided to follow Rhonda's recipe once again as so many of hers have turned out effectively. This process was trickier than I had expected it to be. I decided to use Copha instead of coconut oil to reduce the cost ($2.50 vs $8). I did not realise that by the time the copha melted my oils would be too hot. The recipe suggests 50 degrees celcius and mine rose to 80 degrees so I had to wait for it to cool. Then when I added the caustic soda to the water and stirred until dissolved, it too was higher than 50 degrees. So the whole timing thing was a little tricky but I finally got them both to 50 degrees.

The other thing I found was that I did not know how much Oilve Oil would be required for 1000 grams. The 750ml bottle I had only allowed me to make half of the mixture, with some left over for cooking. The process of trace was unusual to me as well. I just waited until the mixture appeared thick enough and had a few ripples on the surface as suggested, then I poured it into my plastic cake container. When I am confident that I can make a decent soap I will invest in some moulds.

I then covered with a clean tea towel and the next morning I turned it out onto a board. It stuck a little in the middle even though I sprayed the container with cooking spray. It also appeared a little damp in the centre and I don't know if this is usual or whether it needed longer to set.

I then proceeded to cut it into blocks. If I used this container next time it would be better to make a full batch as my soap is a little thin. It also leaves a few lines on the soap. I did find the knife stuck to the soap a little so I wet it before cutting the rest and this worked fine. I did not get a really clean edge to my soap though.

This is my finished result. The soap has a thin white layer on the side that was facing up in the container. Not sure if this is what they call 'ash' or not. If so, apparently it will wash off. If you make your own soap I would appreciate your advice regarding mine. It's hard to know whether it is a success when you have not made it before and are not sure what it should look like.

I did not expect a perfect result first time around but if I have the process correct then I am keen to experiment and make more soap. I guess I will know more in two weeks after the curing or perhaps on the advice of homemade soap makers out there. My husband did say my 'cake' did not look very tasty haha.

The money I have saved and the satisfaction I had in producing and using my cleaners made my exercise so worthwhile. That, and the fact that I am using less chemicals has to be a good thing, right? Whatever the reason for my jubilation the fact remains that yes, I am turning into that 'greenie' the kids tease me about....and I am loving it!

Melting Moments

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