I have 8 inside furbabies. Yes, you read that right. Eight! 4 cats & 4 dogs. Needless to say, when it comes to products that make my house smell nice – I am a fan.
Carpet powder is one product that I can’t do without. Even though it is a reasonable price, I buy so much of it that it works out to be pretty expensive. Plus, it doesn’t always work as well as I like.
Homemade carpet powder to the rescue!! It’s cheap & it has not met an odor that it doesn’t take care of.
All you need is baking soda & orange essential oil. You can use other essential oils if you like, but I like the orange because of the great clean smell that it gives off. Some readers have also suggested using cloves instead of the essential oil, and while I haven’t tried that personally – I’ve heard some great stuff about it!
It is also nice to have an empty Parmesan cheese container, or some other shaker.
Mix the baking soda & several drops of the orange essential oil (or other essential oil of your choice) together in a bowl using a whisk. Then, spoon the mixture into your shaker. OR… you can do this the lazy way like me and just put it all into your container & do the hokey pokey & shake all around…
Sprinkle onto your carpets – let it sit for about 15 minutes, then vacuum up.
Simple & thrifty – and works like a charm.
- 45+ Every Day Uses for Essential Oils (naturemoms.com)
- Homemade Cleaning Products! (raddestmom.com)
- homemade dry shampoo (instructables.com)
- Clean Green: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products (apartmentguide.com)
- Using Essential Oils in the Laundry (earthelixir.ca)
- DIY: Make Your Own Natural Air Freshener with Essential Oils (fibronomore.wordpress.com)
- Laundry Day! Homemade Powdered Detergent. (thestartuphomestead.wordpress.com)
- Homemade Carpet Deodorizer (endlesstimeout.wordpress.com)
- Homemade Mattress Deodorizer (endlesstimeout.wordpress.com)
How To Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
We live in a niche world, where there’s seemingly a product for every single task. But it wasn’t that many years ago that people used little more than a handful of simple substances and some elbow grease to keep houses spic and span. They relied on these substances because they worked. And they still do.
Making your own products costs about a tenth as much as buying ready made cleaners off the shelf and keeps your home free from some of the most toxic chemicals used in product formulation. Gather up the following ingredients, and you’ll be on your way to a healthy home that will look great and smell great, too.
White Distilled Vinegar
In the world of natural cleaners, vinegar is a superpower, as it can be used for so many things. And it’s incredibly cheap. No matter where you shop, you should be able to find a big bottle of it for pennies. (Always use plain white vinegar for cleaning purposes — not cider vinegar or malt vinegar or balsamic vinegar or anything else. It’s the cheapest, and the other stuff can stain).
Vinegar gets its cleaning power from a weak form of acid — in this case, acetic acid — that is created when sugars or starches ferment. Vinegar’s acidic nature also means it has antibacterial properties. Worried about germs? Ditch the antibac wipes and sprays (and the toilet bowl cleaner, too) and get out the vinegar instead.
Vinegar is so versatile that it makes sense to have it ready to use at all times. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, or simply use it straight out of the bottle for jobs like…
Odor zapping. You might not like the smell of vinegar, but if you need to get rid of another smell in your house, simply set out a small bowl of vinegar in the vicinity of the aroma. Just sliced up an onion and your hands reek? Wash them down with a little vinegar, rinse them thoroughly, and then wash with soap and water.
Soil testing. Since vinegar’s an acid, it reacts with substances that aren’t; e.g., alkalis. You can use this chemical knowledge to see what’s in your soil. Just grab a little dirt and drip vinegar on it. If the vinegar starts to fizzle, you’ve got alkaline soil.
Mold and shower scum zapping. Have a corner in your shower that’s looking a little dark? Spray it with vinegar. To prevent future buildup, spray shower walls and doors daily, either straight or mixed 50/50 with water, if the smell gets to you. If you’ve got a ring around the bathtub, simply fill it with hot water and add a couple of cups of vinegar. Let it sit for a few hours and then drain. The ring won’t be gone, but it will be a lot easier to remove.
Window shining. Wash your windows with a 50/50 blend of warm water and vinegar for streak-free glass.
Water-ring removing. Remove water rings from wood furniture by rubbing them with equal parts of vinegar and olive oil. Work with the grain and polish when done.
Fabric softening. Just add half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Baking soda is as much of an all-arounder as vinegar, and it’s used in many of the same ways. It’s a fantastic all-purpose cleaner, and especially so when you need a little extra oomph, as its slightly gritty texture makes it a mild abrasive.
Because of its chemical composition — it’s an alkali or a base rather than an acid — it’s the substance of choice when you need to attack dirt and grime that is oil- or fat-based. It’s also a great odor eliminator — a box of Arm & Hammer in the fridge or freezer is almost ubiquitous; sprinkling some on your carpet before you vacuum will help get rid of pet or other odors that might have settled in.
Go up a little higher on the pH scale and you’ll find washing soda (sodium carbonate), which weighs in at a pH of 11. This makes it more caustic than baking soda. It also means it’s even more effective at doing the same things that baking soda does, but you also have to be more careful when using it. If you were to work with it without gloves (definitely not the recommended approach; gloves should always be used around washing soda), your fingers would start to feel slippery as the washing soda literally dissolves the oils in your skin. Also be sure to keep it away from no-wax floors and aluminum surfaces and products, as it can discolor them, and don’t use it on fiberglass sinks, tubs or tile.
Washing soda is a great product to have on hand for tougher cleaning jobs, especially outdoors where grime can really build up. Mix up half a cup of it in a gallon of warm to hot water and use it for…
Cleaning plastic and/or wrought iron outdoor furniture. Simply sponge it on, let it sit for a few minutes (longer for really dirty jobs), and then rinse thoroughly. (Note: washing soda can remove the finish on wooden decks and painted surfaces, so wash furniture on the lawn or the driveway instead).\
Grill racks. Remove racks and place in utility tub or other container large enough to hold the racks (a large plastic trash or leaf bag works for this too). Cover with the washing soda and water mix and let sit overnight. Wash with soap and water, and then rinse thoroughly. (Do not use on aluminum racks, as it can discolor them.)
Garbage cans. Washing soda will clean and deodorize. Wash surfaces inside and out and rinse.
Recipes and Applications
For counter tops, windows, mirrors, shower doors, etc., mix equal proportions of vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and use as necessary. Add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender to fight bacteria and leave a great scent behind.
For no-wax floors add 1cup vinegar for every gallon of water.
For laminate wood floors, 1/2 cup vinegar for every gallon of water. But be sure to check manufacturer’s guidelines first; some recommend against using vinegar.
For glazed tile, substitute baking soda for vinegar, as vinegar can etch tile and grout — some experts say it should never be used on any stone surfaces (like marble and limestone) or grout, as it can react with the minerals in both. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water. Rinse thoroughly.
For natural stone, mix a squirt or two of liquid soap with a gallon of warm water. Wash and rinse.
To clean and deodorize the toilet, pour a couple of cups of undiluted white vinegar into the bowl. Allow to stand for several minutes, then scrub and flush.
To keep drains flowing freely, pour in 1/2 cup baking soda, then add an equal amount of vinegar. You’ll see a lot of fizzing — this is caused by the release of carbon dioxide gas that happens when you mix the two ingredients together. When it stops, pour boiling water down the drain. Do this at least monthly to keep clogs from forming.
To tackle mildew, mix 2 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon tea tree essential oil and 1/4 teaspoon lavender essential oil (about 25 drops of each) in a spray bottle. Spray everywhere mildew is a concern and let dry. Don’t rinse; you want to leave the essential oils in place so they can do their job. You’ll have to shake this blend before use as the oils will separate from the water.
Excerpt used with permission from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Organic Living by Eliza Sarasohn with Sonia Weiss.
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Truly, I haven’t touched a bottle of either, and I don’t plan on using them anytime in the foreseeable future. My hair is as clean as a whistle, and to be honest, I don’t know if it’s looked this healthy in years.
A few months ago, I started reading around the web about going shampoo-free, and I was intrigued. But like many of you right now, I was also perplexed. Why would you bother? What’s the harm in using shampoo? And isn’t your hair greasy and smelly?
So I read for a few weeks, just taking in info, and one night, after reading about the shampoo-free concept on like the twelfth blog I enjoy, I decided to give it a shot. If I hated it, then no harm — I’ll just keep to my shampooing ways.
But if I liked it as much as everyone else seemed to, then I’ve found a frugal, easy, toxic-free way to care for my hair. So I took the plunge.
Why Go ‘Poo-Free?
Before I go in to the how of no shampoo, it’s a good idea to tell you the why. There’s a lot of valuable information on the Internet, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. But here are the reasons that spoke most to me.
1. Shampoo is a detergent.
Shampoo cleans your hair, but it also strips it of all the healthy oil your body naturally produces. These oils protect your hair and keep it soft and strong.
Shampoo was only introduced in the early 20th century — before that, people relied on good-old soap, which can wash hair just as well without removing important oils. But soap doesn’t work well in alkaline water, and when water in civilized areas started becoming more mineral-heavy (read: alkaline), soap became a challenge. It made the scales on hair stand up, making it weaker and rougher. So shampoo was introduced, marketed with its only benefit of working in both hard and soft water.
Detergent is harsh. I doubt we’d use the same type of stuff to wash our bodies as we would our dishes, but that’s essentially what we’re doing with shampoo.
2. Shampoo has all sorts of chemicals.
Our family typically goes out of our way to not eat boxed chemicals disguised as food — we stick to the natural, whole foods that either come from the ground or once ate things that came from the ground. But skin is our largest organ, and it’s extremely porous — substances can easily enter the bloodstream directly through our skin, and they can stay for a long time.
Since we try to avoid food that has unpronounceable ingredients, we thought it only made sense to adhere to the same standards for the stuff we slather on our skin. Since this includes shampoo, we sought out an alternative.
Most shampoos also contain mineral oil, which is a byproduct when gasoline is distilled from crude oil. It’s added to shampoo (along with hundreds of other products) to thickly coat the strands, giving hair an artificial shine. And since it can’t absorb into skin, like the other ingredients, it acts as a barrier on our scalp, preventing oil from being released — thus requiring more shampoo to strip away the grease. This is why the more shampoo you use, the more you need.
3. Shampoo is an unnecessary cost.
So because shampoo isn’t really necessary, using it creates this cycle that requires a dependence on the stuff, along with other hair products. In order to combat the stripping of protective oils, we need an artificial protectant called conditioner. And because now my hair is coated with unnatural substances, it requires more unnatural substances to keep it styled, strong, and workable. The list of hair pomades, waxes, gels, mousses, and detanglers available could take up pages on this site.
Since we’re a frugal family, seeking a simple life, it made sense to eliminate something we didn’t truly need. We’d rather spend our money elsewhere.
There are plenty of other reasons — shampoo caused my husband’s dry, itchy scalp, and we had another added expense of buying a tear-free type of shampoo for our kiddos. While this wasn’t a life-or-death situation for us, by any means, it made more and more sense for us to give a shampoo-free life a shot once we read about it.
How to go ‘Poo-Free
I don’t like writing doom and destruction on this blog — I’d rather give you useful, practical information that might make your life simpler. So that’s enough on the why not to do something — here are helpful tips for how you can give going ‘poo-free a shot.
Baking Soda is Your Friend
Like many natural cleaners, the recipe isn’t static — it can be tweaked to suit your needs. The standard amount for hair care is one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water. Those with curly or thicker hair might need a bit more baking soda, and those with thin or fine hair might need less. Experiment, and see what works for you.
I use a simple 8-ounce squeeze bottle, pour in a tablespoon of baking soda with a funnel, then fill up the rest with water from the kitchen sink. I give it a good shake to dissolve the baking soda, and it’s ready to be used.
In the shower, I soak my hair with water, then I squeeze a bit of the baking soda mixture on my scalp, starting at the crown. I massage it in as I go, squeezing a bit more here and there, concentrating mostly on the scalp. I include my hair as well, but since most of the oils originate from the scalp itself, the hair will naturally get cleaned once the scalp is clarified.
After a few minutes, I rinse it out, just like I would shampoo.
For my husband and I combined, this amount will last us about a week or week and a half. He has fairly short hair, and mine is just below my ears.
Apple Cider Vinegar is Your Next Friend
Apple cider vinegar is a mild acidic, working well to counteract the baking soda, and thus acts as a great replacement for conditioner. It detangles the hair folicles, seals the cuticle, and balances the hair’s pH balance.
A little goes a very long way, just like the baking soda. The standard recipe is also one tablespoon apple cider vinegar to one cup water. For this, I use an old conditioner bottle, and fill it with the vinegar and water via funnel, then finish it with a shake.
My hair tends to rest a little on the oily side naturally, so I don’t use much of this. I pour a little on just the ends of my hair, let it rest for a few seconds, then rinse it out.
And that, from start to finish, is my current hair care routine.
• You might have a transition period that lasts from a few weeks to a few months, where your hair reacts with excess oil to the lack of shampoo. This is perfectly normal. It’s used to having its oils stripped, so it might take time for the oil to stop producing so heavily in protest. My transition period only lasted about two weeks, and it wasn’t any big deal, really.
• I hear that eventually, you can wean off baking soda and vinegar all together, relying only on water in the shower to remove dirt and oil. I haven’t gotten there yet.
• If you find that your hair is too oily (after the transition period), try using less vinegar, or not using it all together. Some people also use lemon juice instead of vinegar as their acidic clarifier.
• If your hair feels too dry, use less baking soda, or try using honey instead of vinegar.
• I don’t need anything else for my hair. I stopped using pomade, which I previously used religiously to cut the frizzies. My hair is amazingly pliable, and can hold styles without my needing to do much of anything. I’m thrilled with the results!
• We also use this mix on our kiddos’ heads, though we only use it once a week or so. Sometimes we’ll even go two weeks, since their scalps don’t really produce much oil at this age. We clean more ketchup and oatmeal out than we do oil.
For more information:
- Megan of Simple Kids wrote about her no-poo experience on her other blog, Sorta Crunchy.
- Stephanie of Keeper of the Home has some excellent info on going shampoo-free.
- Babs of Babyslime has a veritable wealth of information on the topic.