Many of us are already busy making our own face masks and natural remedies for minor ailments. We are keen to discover the tricks that our grandparents used – making useful household products from natural ingredients that we can find around our homes and gardens. We are beginning to see that these homemade versions of household chemicals are not only better for us and the environment but work fantastically as well.
Here you will find simple methods for making a homemade clothes (fabric) detergent, a fragrance and a stain remover that actually works!
What’s so good about natural detergent?
The advantages of natural detergents can be summed up as follows. They’re:
- cheap – you can make this detergent from very cheap ingredients and are not paying for expensive packaging and transport costs
- simple – you don’t need a degree in chemistry! Just follow some simple instructions using everyday substances.
- organic – these recipes are biodegradable and don’t damage the environment.
- anti-allergenic – these recipes do not contain harmful substances that can trigger an allergic reaction and so are especially useful for people with allergies and young children
Ingredients provided by nature
You probably have most of these natural ingredients at home but didn’t realise how useful they could be! Sodium bicarbonate is a natural product that is both a deodoriser and disinfectant. It also neutralises the pH of your fabrics which makes them softer.
Added to this, the soap that you will be making is natural soap which has been used for thousands of years. It was commonly used when clothes were washed by hand. This soap has been traditionally made from natural fats, coconut or glycerine.
Ingredients for natural soap
To make the soap you will need:
- one or two soap bars for washing (natural soap if possible)
- 2 cups of borax
- 2 cups sodium bicarbonate
- lemon or lavender essential oil (optional)
- 1 bucket
- 1 medium pot
- 1 wooden spoon
Natural soap method
- Start by grating the soap bar until you have two full cups.
- Bring 1 litre of water to boil in a pan and add the two cups of soap. Allow it to simmer on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon.
- In a separate container, mix the borax and baking soda together then add the water and melted soap mixture. Mix this well with a wooden spoon until all the solids have dissolved.
- If you wish to add a fragrance such as aromatic essential oils or lemon then do so now.
- Cover the pot whilst you collect the bottles.
- Store the natural soap in water bottles or empty detergent containers. Make sure that you label each one carefully to avoid accidents.
- Shake well before use.
Natural fabric softener
You have a fantastic, inexpensive and totally natural fabric softener in your kitchen cupboard – vinegar. It is a multi-purpose product which can clean clothes as well as soften them. It even helps to prevent fuzz and the build up of static.
Vinegar is known to soften overly hard water and cleans out the pipes and hoses in the washing machine. They can get very clogged up with a build up of soap scum, lime and moldy residues. If you want to mask the vinegar smell and get a more pleasant aroma you can add one of the following:
- Citrus (this could be lemon, orange or mandarin). The fruits help to rid the clothes of contaminants giving them a deep clean and removes oily residues. The aroma on the clothes after conditioning with this product is delicious.
- Lavender: this provides a lovely cleansing aroma. It also has disinfecting properties whilst having a soothing and relaxing affect. The clothes feel lovely and soft when it has been applied.
- Tea Tree Oil: this is great for eliminating molds and has a lovely fresh aroma.
- Eucalyptus: another refreshing aroma and very good at eliminating germs.
Remove those tough stains
This may require a bit of effort! Before you start to wash the clothes – apply a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate and a little vinegar. Then rub this mixture well into the stained area with a brush. You complete the stain removal by washing with the natural detergent that you have made and using your homemade fabric conditioner.
You will need to take care with delicate fabrics and should test the products on a small area first.