Soap and water are a time-tested duo against dirt and germs, and homemade cleaners can carry away grime without added chemicals or perfumes.
All it takes are a few, simple ingredients to make laundry detergent – liquid or powder – and fabric softener. Then cut down on drying time and static cling by tumbling wet clothes with homemade dryer balls.
Faith Goguen Rodgers’ switch to homemade cleaners began a few years ago after she used a commercial-brand cleaner on the bathtub.
“I’d cleaned it, and then I really didn’t want to get in it. The bleach smell and feel – it didn’t feel good,” she says.
“Then when I had kids, it didn’t make sense at all. It feels a lot safer knowing what’s in my cleaners.”
Rodgers is an herbalist with three young children who creates all the cleaners she uses in her Lafayette, Colo., home – even the toothpaste. Though the health piece is “really big” for her, she’s also motivated by cost.
“You save a ton of money making your own,” she says.
Homemade cleaners lack much odor, but a pretty scent can be added with essential oils. This lifts the laundry-detergent-making project up a notch – adding some olfactory fun.
“You and your family can get creative and come up with your own signature laundry scent,” Rodgers writes on The Little Herbal blog, where she posts her natural-cleaning recipes. “Our laundry comes out clean and smelling fresh.”
Her favorite combinations of essential oils for laundry detergent include lemon and eucalyptus, orange and geranium and grapefruit and lavender.
Sherri Griffin’s foray into homemade laundry soap began when she got a rash and wanted something gentler than store-bought laundry detergent. She started researching alternatives and recommends checking out what’s in commercially made products on the Environmental Working Group’s Web site.
An Orlando, Fla., nurse, Griffin started a blog, Overthrow Martha, to educate people about natural cleaners. Besides sharing a fabric-softener recipe, she recommends simple-to-make dryer balls. Dryer balls reduce drying time and wrinkles and eliminate static cling, she says. Essential oils can be added to them every few loads to scent clothes.
“I often hear that people can’t give up the fresh smell they get from using dryer sheets, but what people don’t understand is that smell comes from – chemicals,” Griffin says.
Karyn Siegel-Maier shares laundry and other “green” cleaning formulas in The Naturally Clean Home. The publisher recently posted her recipes for liquid and powder laundry detergent at its blog, Inside Storey, to “sanitize, soften and scent clothes and linens – naturally.”