Seems like more and more people are getting interested and getting started in avoiding commercial cleaning, beauty and health products and making their own at home. When you start seeing all the nasties hat go into the products you used for years unaware, it can be pretty scary! Hormone disruptors are particularly common…and we wonder why there’s so many hormone disorders around!
So I’m going to give you a recipe for one of the easiest (IMO) homemade cleaning products (actually, most of them are very simple to make)…washing/laundry powder. But first I’ll give you some info on where in Australia to source a lot of the ingredients you’ll see in DIY recipes like these.
Shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils, carrier oils, clay powders like bentonite…these are things you’ll likely see called for in DIY recipes. But many of them are not things you’ll see on the supermarket shelf. Sometimes they’re at the health food store, but often not at prices you’d be willing to pay!
I think it was originally in my search for cocoa butter that I found N-Essentials
I’d checked the health food store for cocoa butter, and it was $30 for this itty bitty package of it that would only make a double batch of the recipe I was hoping to try! So I looked online and found N-Essentials had organic unrefined cocoa butter at $33 for a whole kilo! Much better. And then in looking around on their site, it appeared they also had a bunch of other unusual ingredients I needed like essential oils, shea butter, castor oil, bentonite clay, jojoba oil, argan oil etc
Essential oils in particular, are used in SO many DIY recipes (including the one I’ll share later in this post). They have so many useful properties like being antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antidepressant…and the list goes on. Exactly the types of properties you want when making your own kitchen sprays, washing powder, air fresheners and the like.
For medicinal/healing grade oils, we use doTerra, because they have GRAS status for internal use and are triple tested for purity, safety and more.
But they’re costly, and when making things like soap, DIY cleaning products and some of your beauty products, you often want to opt for oils that are quality and pure, but not necessarily therapeutic grade. What do I mean by pure? Essential oils can unfortunately be labelled as ‘100% pure essential oil’ and yet still have carrier oils added, or be chemically manufactured, or have other additives thrown into the mix. Some say only 10% of the contents of the bottle have to be the actual essential oil to label the bottle as 100% pure essential oil. It’s madness.
If you’re going to be making your own products at home, usually it’s because you’re wanting to avoid all the nasties commonly added to commercial products, and if the essential oils you’re getting are impure, it’s kind of defeating the purpose of making these products at home.
So here’s where N-Essentials can help. I’ve used their eucalyptus, bergamot, frankincense and sweet orange essential oils in a variety of applications in the past and recently I’ve corresponded with Kacie, the company Director and found out more about the purity of their essential oils. The oils they stock have nothing added. No carrier oils or additives of any kind, and I noticed especially with the frankincense oil I bought from N-Essentials that the scent was identical to the doTerra frankincense we had. Scent is important, as often if there’s additives present, it will be detectable by a quick smell of the bottle. Some ebay oils we tried were an excellent example of this. The scent was weak and clearly there were carriers present. But we didn’t have that problem with N-Essentials oils.
This company are Australian and based in Melbourne. All their oils are packed in amber glass bottles, or metal bottles for the larger quantities (you can buy one liter and five liter bottles of many of their oils). This is very important, as any essential oils packed in plastic will be compromised and any oils packed in clear glass are damaged by light.
They have something like 70 different essential oils to choose from.
It’s especially been for soapmaking that the oils at N-Essentials are handy. In looking through a soap recipe book I have, often 5ml, 10ml or 15ml of essential oil would be called for in a single batch recipe. Sometimes a recipe would call for three or four different essential oils at 5ml each! If you’ve bought and used therapeutic grade oils, you’ll realise following these recipes with therapeutic grade oils would be highly expensive! Like 5ml of therapeutic grade rose essential oil can cost about $350…there’s no way you’d pour all that into a batch of soap! That’s a pretty extreme example, and most therapeutic grade oils are under $100 for a 15ml bottle, but it’s still overkill for this type of application. Especially in soap where your oil is mixing with lye that has not yet fully completed the saponification process, and therefore could be damaging the viability of the essential oils you add.
I will mention two healing applications we used the N-Essentials eucalyptus oil for. We’ve diffused it when we’ve had sinus congestion, and it worked beautifully. We’ve also used it with great results in a homemade vapor rub.
So if you’re looking for quality, affordable essential oils to use in your DIY recipes, definitely check N-Essentials out. And it’s very handy you can get butters, carrier oils, clay powders and other supplies from the same place.
DIY Laundry Powder
Onto the recipe!
You will need:
6 cups washing soda. If you don’t use washing powder too often, just buy the washing soda from the laundry section of your supermarket. If like us you have a lot of people to wash for and need to work in bulk quantities, then I advise buying a 25kg bag of Bicarb soda from a rural supply shop like National Farmers Warehouse and converting in into washing soda. This is done by filling a baking dish or two with bicarb and putting in in the oven at 200 C for an hour. Then it’s turned into washing soda! Keep it in a sealed container, too much exposure to air will see it convert back into bicarb!
2-3 bars of soap Using homemade soap is great, especially if you are aiming t make a non-allergenic washing powder. But if you don’t make soap and don’t have someone to supply it to you (If you are in the Toowoomba area, I sell plain soap for laundry powder), you can use something like sunlight soap.
10-15 drops of essential oil. I usually use a citrus oil (like bergamot), because they have grease-cutting properties which means a lot in our household!
Ideally, you’ll also want to use a food processor to make this. You’ll get a much more even consistency.
First of all, grate your soap. I use the grating blade on my food processor. It can be done by hand on a grater if needed. If you do the latter, make sure it’s a fine grate.
Now pull out your grating blade and put in your regular mixing blade. Add 2 cups of the washing soda and give it a blitz. Try not to breathe the dust in. Though this is a safe washing powder, that doesn’t mean you’ll want it in your lungs! The reason I don’t add all the washing soda at once, is because giving this initial blitz makes it easier to be sure any lumps of soap that didn’t grate properly are broken up.
Add the remaining 4 cups of washing soda and your essential oil. Blitz until you have an even consistency.
In this photographed recipe, I used salt bar soap, which grates VERY finely. If your soap is a little chunkier than this, that’s fine. Just wanted to point that out so you don’t think there’s something wrong with your mix if it looks a bit coarser than the photo!
Now you need something to store your washing powder in. Make sure it has a lid with a good seal. We prefer to use glass over plastic, especially as essential oils are involved. Large moccona jars are great. There’s just about always suitable jars at op shops too.
I also find using a canning funnel makes getting the washing powder into the jar so much easier!
And it’s done!
How much to use? When we had a 7.5kg front loader, I used 2Tbsp per load. We now have a 10kg front loader (and children who are really hard on their clothes!), so I use 4Tbsp per load.
When buying bulk bicarb for washing soda and using homemade soap, this recipe costs about $4 to make almost 2kg.