Singing the Dishwasher Blues + Homemade Cleaning Products

Sometimes, in life, you learn things the easy way. Other times, you learn things the hard way. On Thursday night I learned things the hard way.

It all began innocently enough. I had run out of dishwasher detergent – but I remembered that I had an old sample of Sunlight somewhere under my sink. I dug it out, popped the little packet in the soap dispenser, and started the dishwasher while I washed the pots and pans by hand. Normally I prefer to use greener dishwashing products, but when someone sends a free sample my way I’ll use it, especially when I’m out of my regular detergent. No biggie, right?

Once I finished up with the handwashing, I turned around to wash the kitchen counter. That’s when I saw it: a big soapy puddle spreading out beneath the dishwasher. It was huge. Had I accidentally put regular dish soap in the dishwasher? I’d always heard that doing that would lead to a mess like this. But the soap had come in a neat little packet. Dish soap for handwashing doesn’t come in packets. I grabbed the bag the sample had come in, and that’s when I saw the words LAUNDRY DETERGENT in all caps across the top. This is when I learned – the hard way – that you should never put laundry soap in the dishwasher.

I called for my husband, who came running with towels. We sopped up the mess and drained the dishwasher, then ran the rinse cycle. Then I ran a super-hot wash with baking soda, and another rinse cycle with vinegar. At the end, my dishes had never been cleaner. However, they smelled like ‘Spring Splash’, whatever that means. I don’t use artificially-scented laundry soap anymore, and I’d forgotten how strong they smell, and how long that scent lingers.

I recently attended a local blogger event put on by Aspen Clean. Aspen Clean is a Vancouver company that sells green cleaning products and offers green home cleaning services. The evening featured yoga, food and the chance to try making our own homemade cleaning products. We made all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner and tub and tile cleaner. I don’t love the all purpose cleaner – for most of my cleaning around the house I just use castile soap, and I found that it works just as well or better than my homemade spray. The glass cleaner was good, and I’ll likely keep using it. However, the tub and tile cleaner really knocked my socks off. I normally just use baking soda for any scouring I do, but this worked much better. I am sort of smitten.

green living homemade cleaning products tub and tile cleaner

Here’s the recipe for the tub and tile cleaner:

Tub & Tile Cleaner

Ingredients:
2 cups baking soda
1.5 Tbsp castile soap
20 drops essential oil (I used lavender, but you could choose whatever you enjoy)

Method:
Mix the ingredients well and store in a reusable container. Aspen Clean was kind enough to provide me with a shaker bottle, and I find that it works very well, but failing that I’m sure a glass jar or even an old yogurt tub would work well.

After my dishwasher fiasco, I’m considering making my own dishwasher detergent. I found some recipes online, but I’m still debating which one to go with. This is where you come in. Have you ever made your own dishwasher soap? I’d love to hear what worked. Or I’d be happy to hear your stories of dishwasher disaster. I can’t be the only one who’s managed to flood their kitchen floor with soapy water, can I?

Adventures in Homemade Deodorant

My One Green Thing for February is trying homemade deodorant. Never one to do today what I can put off ’til tomorrow, I just mixed up my first batch last night. While I experiment with it, I thought I’d share the process with you.

I did my research a few weeks ago, and found two recipes that looked promising: this one and this one. Because I like to complicate things, I combined them and improvised a little bit to create my own recipe. Here’s what I used:

  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp beeswax
  • 4 Tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking soda
  • 10 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 old, clean deodorant tube

homemade deodorant diy ingredients

First, I put the coconut oil and beeswax in a small saucepan over low heat to melt. While that did its thing, I combined the arrowroot and baking soda in a glass bowl.

homemade deodorant diy melting

Once the oils were melted and combined, I mixed the whole thing together and added the oils and grapefruit seed extract. Then I mixed it together as well as I could, because lumpy deodorant does not seem like a good thing. Finally, I poured as much as I could into the deodorant tube, which is sitting in my fridge hardening right now. The rest went into a glass jar, that I put upstairs in my room. The theory is that the beeswax should make it hard at room temperature, but we’ll have to see.

homemade deodorant diy results

The whole process took about 10 minutes or so, and the cost of the materials was pretty small. I bought my stick of beeswax at the farmers’ market for $2. I already had the tea tree oil, arrowroot, coconut oil, and baking soda on hand. I bought the grapefruit seed extract and essential oils, and they weren’t cheap, but I used a really small amount. I would say that my DIY deodorant is quite a lot cheaper than the real thing. Now, the only question is: will it work? I’ll report back next week and let you know.

One Green Thing: DIY Deodorant

One Green Thing Strocel.comIt’s the first Thursday of the month, so today I’m tackling my One Green Thing for February. This month I’ll be taking on a DIY project. But first, I’ll talk about my pledge to do some gardening research last month.

So, how did my efforts to read up on gardening and come up with a good plan for my 2013 garden go? In short, they didn’t. Oh, I went to the library. I took out a bunch of books. I put those books on my desk, filled with good intentions. And then the books sat there. And sat there. And sat there. I didn’t even crack a single one before I got the email from the library letting me know that they were due shortly. At that point, I realized there was no way I was getting through them, and I declared defeat. Sometimes, you just have to concede your failure and move on.

deodorant

Image Credit – Tiffany Terry on Flickr

This month, however, I am once again buoyed by optimism. And buoyed by that optimism, I have decided to try making my own deodorant.

I try to avoid using traditional antiperspirants, because I’m concerned about the ingredients they contain. In particular, I am worried about phthalates and other chemicals in artificial fragrance, and about parabens. I would prefer not to use a product that’s strongly-scented and that contains a number of chemicals with long names that I can’t pronounce.

For a few years I’ve been on the hunt for a good natural alternative to commercial antiperspirants, and I’ve mostly come up empty. I’ll find something that works, but usually after a few weeks its effectiveness seems to diminish, and I find myself back at square one. It recently occurred to me that I wash my face with honey, and I wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. So why not try one of the many recipes floating around the internet for homemade deodorant? If it doesn’t work, it’s still cheaper than most natural options, and I’m no worse off than I am now. If it does work, I’m saving money, and ensuring that I know exactly what I’m slathering on my underarms.

The fact that I’m trying this project during the winter does give me something of an advantage, and perhaps makes the test a little bit unfair. But the truth is that the natural deodorants don’t work for me at this time of year, so I don’t think the seasonal impact will be too high.

At the end of the month I’ll let you know how it went. In the meantime, if you’ve ever tried making your own deodorant, I’d love to hear from you. Any tips, ideas or suggestions are very welcome! Also, if you’d like to get in on the act and take on One Green Thing of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to grab the button from this post if you’re blogging about it, and spread the enviro-love.

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