If you are wanting to start your own simple living journey then the best place to start is by making your own cleaning products. I started with laundry liquid first, and once I was sure it would be just as effective as the store bought ones, I then experimented further. Basically any product that you buy from the supermarket to clean with, you can make at home yourself for a fraction of the price. My last batch of ten litres of laundry liquid cost just $3 to make and has lasted me for six months. It has no nasty chemicals and does an amazing job of cleaning the kids clothes....it also does not irritate my sensitive skin like some laundry liquids have done in the past, and my daughter's dermatitis is now non-existent.
I use the recipe from Down to Earth and thought I would include it in this post so you can see how easy it is to make!
1 cup of Lux soap flakes
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1 1/2 litres of water
Add the above ingredients to a medium sized saucepan and heat, stirring, until all ingredients are dissolved.
Add 8 litres of water to a 10 litre bucket, pour in the hot soapy mixture and stir. The mixture will thicken into a gel as it cools, and you then place it into plastic containers for storage.
How easy is that? I bought the ingredients and it was a while before I got around to making it, so I kept my laundry liquid bottles to re-use, and for the rest I stored it in empty water bottles. You do need to give the liquid a shake before using as the mixture does separate, so leave some room in the top of the bottle to allow for this.
Once you have made this laundry liquid you can use it as a base for so many other cleaners. I use a watered down version with a few drops of eucalyptus oil as a spray for my benchtops. There are also home-made cleaners you can make using vinegar or bicarb soda as a base ingredient to clean anything from showers, toilets, floors, dishwashers etc. I made a few and did a road test of the cleaners on this post Homemade Cleaners Road Test.
I have also experimented with making homemade soap. It turned out okay, and is totally natural, but I found the oils quite expensive to buy...and we don't use alot of soap. My family prefer the shower gels, so I buy organic homemade soap from the markets and turn it into Home-made Shower Gel instead. I am still avoiding the chemicals, saving money (cost about 20% of store-bought product), and am adding to that reduction in my carbon footprint.
So, there are no hard and fast rules. You do what works for you...and experiment as you go along. Do you make any of your own cleaning products?