Monthly Archives: September 2016

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

If anyone who knows me in real life is reading this post today they probably read the title and literally laughed out loud (I‘m talking to you mom). You see, I’m not exactly known for my sparkling clean home or being fastidiously clean. I’m definitely not a germaphobe and when you hear those people talk about how they are so OCD that they can’t live with dust or crumbs on the counter I cannot relate to them. At all.  That said, when I do take the time to really deep clean my home I make it count and in spite of whether or not messy people like myself should be dishing out cleaning advice I’m going to anyways.
I started making some of my own cleaning supplies about a year ago. I haven’t bought Lysol or Windex in a very long time. Making your own cleaning supplies is fun, environmentally friendly, economical and easy! This is the recipe that I started using to wash my dishes but as you will read soon enough you can also use it for other household cleaning needs as well.

The Ingredients:

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
½ cup salt
½ cup citric acid

What the heck is all this stuff???.

Washing Soda is similar to baking soda but they are not the same thing. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and washing soda is a sodium salt of carbonic acid.  Baking soda is very easy to find at the store but washing soda can be more difficult to come by. I went to 5 different stores in my area looking for washing soda and couldn’t find it. It was only after I bought some off eBay that I randomly stumbled upon washing soda at Fred Meyer. Go figure. Although it wouldn’t hurt to mix the two up when it comes to making cleaning supplies you definitely don’t want to use washing soda for cooking.  Washing soda comes in a yellow box whereas baking soda is in an orange box. The laundry section of the grocery store or a hardware store are your best bet for tracking this stuff down. You can also buy it online if they don’t sell it in your town.

Borax is also know as sodium borate and is derived from the same stuff as boric acid. Don’t use boric acid for this recipe. Boric acid is nasty, nasty stuff used to kill cockroaches and other bugs. Look for the box in the laundry isle that says 20 Mule Team Borax. It has household cleaning as one of its uses listed on the side of the box so you know it’s safe.

Salt. I think we all know what salt is. Regular table salt will do just fine but purists may prefer to use finely ground sea salt or kosher salt. These will work fine as well. Moving on…

Citric Acid
is a weak organic acid. Its used as a preservative, cleaning agent and a TON of other things. You can also use it to make bath bombs! (recipe coming later this week!) I have no idea where to buy citric acid except the Internet. I bought a big 5lbs pail off Amazon. Citric acid is your secret ingredient in this recipe. It helps to cut grease and residue.  Apparently you can also use unsweetened Kool Aid or Lemonade mix instead of pure citric acid though I have not tried this.

Mix the ingredients together and store in a reusable container. Add two tablespoons per load. Swap out your regular rinse aid (Jet Dry)  for regular distilled white vinegar.

Because everyone’s dishwasher and water hardness are different you may have to tweak things around until you find the right ratios for your homemade detergent. Try making smaller batches at first until you find the right mix.

You can also use this mixture to clean your toilet bowl. Take a bucket and fill with water and dump it into the bowl. This will flush out the water and leave it empty. Wearing gloves, (obviously) rub the powder on the inside of the bowl thickly and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Scrub it with the toilet brush and flush. Voila, sparkling toilet!

In a pinch your can also use this as laundry detergent. The homemade laundry detergent recipes I have read usually don’t include the citric acid or salt but I have been adding a couple tablespoons instead of laundry powder and it seems to be working just fine.

For the shower, take an old spray bottle and add two teaspoons of the mixture and fill the rest with water. Spritz on the bathtub and shower walls and scrub like you normally do. You need to use a little more elbow grease but it does work.

Do you make any of your own cleaning supplies? What are some of your favorite recipes?

How to Make Seed Balls

A few years ago I went to the natural cosmetic store Lush in downtown Vancouver.  As I was browsing the aisles the beauty advisor informed me they were giving away seed balls to help promote Earth Day and gave me a packet of  marble sized red brown dirt balls. I had never heard of seeds balls. The lady told me the balls were loaded with wildflower seeds and I should toss the balls anywhere I would  like to see some flowers grow. I thought this was a fun idea and when I used up the seed balls I was given  I decided  to make my own. This is a fun project you could do with kids to help teach them about gardening and the environment. It’s also a good way to use up any extra seeds you may have.
1 cup Seed starting mix/ potting soil
1 cup Crayola Air dry Clay. You can also use red art clay or potters clay. Available at an art supply store or garden center.  If you can get your hands on some of powdered clay  I have read it works better but in a pinch the Crayola stuff will work too. You can find it at the craft store.
1 cup Compost

Mix all ingredients together except for the seeds in a large bowl. Because my clay was starting to dry out I used my food processor. If you use a food processor don’t put the seeds in because it will grind them up and ruin them. Add water to the mixture as needed until you get a good consistency. It should look like this

You can now stir in your seeds. I used a couple cups of wildflower seed mix. Form the mixture into half inch balls and set them aside to dry.  This part gets messy so make sure you have lots of old towels on hand for clean up! In a few days your seed bombs should be dry. You can put them in little baggies to give away as gifts or favors or just start tossing them anywhere you would like to see some flowers grow.

Make a Compost Bin out of Pallets

I  wanted to buy a compost bin and saw some  for sale at the Home Depot. They cost $50-100 and up depending on how fancy you want to go. I decided to make my own after seeing some online tutorials. Why pay for something you can make for free?
This is a project you can do for free or very little money.  You can get shipping pallets for free from shipping companies or any place that receives freight.  Go take a look behind a big box store and you will probably find some pallets. The stores will be happy to give them to you.  I work for an international shipping company and we receive freight that comes on pallets. The pallets are a pain for us to get rid of. I got my husband to bring his van to my work and we loaded it up with the pallets.  Wear gloves and be careful. Pallets are usually full of splinters and many have old rusty nails sticking out.  Try to choose sturdy looking skids that are all the same size.

I propped them up in position and secured with rope. I just twisted the rope through the slats and tied the loose ends together. You could nail them together or use old wire coat hangers to secure. For the front, I only secured one side so I could still open the front to get out the compost. You could use a bungee cord to help secure the front for easy access.

If you live in a dry climate you may want to line your bin with plastic to help keep the moisture in.  Moisture isn’t really a problem here in the Pacific NW.  So I didn’t bother with that step.
The slats on the pallets help to increase airflow. You could have an additional pallet on the bottom to help with airflow from underneath

Compost tips:

  • Alternate brown and green layers in the bin. Brown= vegetable and kitchen scraps and manure. Green = yard waste and grass clippings
  • Chop the scraps up as small as you can, they will break down faster
  • Water the compost to keep it moist, but not so wet that it gets rotten and stinky, turn often with a pitchfork.
  • Consider adding composting worms to your bin to help things break down faster.