Hi friend! If you’ve been here before welcome back! If you’re new here, thanks so much for stopping by! Today I’m talking about DIY kitchen cleaners.
If you’ve been here before, you already know that I am a natural purist (mostly). It all started with my natural hair & it’s love affair with castile soap. And has since morphed into everything from personal care to all things home & garden.
I have shared a lot of DIY cleaning recipes here on the blog, but most have them have changed over the years. I’ve learned more, gotten a little lazy on some things, & started doing new things.
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Since even the smallest change can make a huge difference, I decided it’s time for an update. The 2 major things that have changed are:
- I stopped using borax. Completely.
- I started making soap!!!
These 2 things totally changed my original cleaning recipes from this post, specifically the DIY kitchen cleaners & laundry detergent. Here’s how…
DIY Kitchen Cleaners
DIY Dish Soap:
Did I mention I started making my own soap?! It’s really quite an amazing (science) project. I started out with hot process soap (because I’m impatient) & have since moved on to cold process & castile soap (because… did I mention I love castile soap?)
To make it, first head over to this simple lye calculator & enter the basic infomation:
- Type = liquid
- Select ounces, grams, or grams = percentage – 16 oz
- Superfatting level = none (because we want a cleansing soap NOT a moisturizing one)
*Note: This recipe yields 16.16 oz of soap paste. When properly diluted, I end up with just over 64 oz of liquid soap. This works out perfectly in our home because we use it to clean 3 bathrooms & the kitchen.
Also, since castile soap takes quite a while to make & is more labor intensive than cold or hot process soap I try to make a double batch at a time so there’s always extra paste on hand for whenever we need to refill.
- 6.3 oz coconut oil
- 2.7 oz olive oil
- 2.21 oz potassium hydroxide (KOH)
- 4.95 oz distilled/filtered water
- Glass or stainless steel jar, bowl or containers
- Measuring cups
- (An insanely accurate) Digital Scale
- Crock pot
- Immersion (stick) blender
- Spoon and spatula (I use wooden & silicone)
The process is almost the same as making hot process soap except instead of ending up with a liquid to pour into a mold, you end up with a paste to store & dilute as needed.
- SAFETY FIRST – COVER UP!
- You’re working with lye with is caustic, so cover your skin & mouth.
- Protect your work surface.
- Work in a well ventilated area (I mix my lye water outside).
- NO DISTRACTIONS PLEASE. That means children, pets, spouses & anyone else shouldn’t be around. AND this is NOT the time to be baking cookies or cooking ANYthing other than soap!
- Measure out all your ingredients separately & set aside.
- Add your oils to the crock pot to heat up.
- Pour the water into a glass or stainless steel bowl container with a wide mouth.
- Slowly add the lye to the water (NEVER the other way around) stirring VERY gently as you pour. It will crackle & pop & be cloudy at first – this is okay, it’s the nature of the KOH.
- Slowly stir the lye mixture into the crock pot with the oils.
- Use the stick blender to bring the mixture to a “trace” – pancake batter consistency.
- Let the soap cook a few minutes, then come back & blend some more. Do this for about 30 minutes or so until the soap mixture gets too thick to use the stick blender.
- Walk away & let the soap “cook” covered in the crock pot on high heat for a few hours.
- Check on the cooking soap every 30 minutes or so & stir it up.
- After about 3 hours check the soap for “done-ness”. It should look like a thick translucent brown gel. If not, let it cook a while longer. This could take up to 4-5 hours.
Check for done-ness
When the soap paste looks like a thick translucent brown gel, take a small chunk (think meatball sized) & add it to about ½ cup of hot or boiling water. Stir to dissolve.
If it’s done, it should be mostly clear with a slight brownish color. If it’s cloudy, opaque, or you can see particles floating it needs to cook a while longer.
At this point you can scoop the paste into airtight glass jars & store it for later. If you need it right away you can dissolve it in the container of your choice. I start out with a hot water to paste ratio of 4:1 & adjust as needed to the consistency I prefer.
Tip: The paste will take a while to dissolve. Because of this, I try to always keep 1 jar of paste diluted 1:1. That way when I need to dilute an entire bottle, it goes much faster & easier – just add the semi-diluted paste to the bottle, add more water, shake it up & go.
In the kitchen I like to reuse a liquid dish soap bottle with a spray top attached & in the bathrooms I reuse my Dr. Bronner’s castile soap bottles with spray tops attached. But I also absolutely LOVE these spray bottles from Grove Collaborative.
Castile soap is great for everything from cleaning to washing clothes to bathing & washing hair. However there are some things to keep in mind when making it for different uses.
Tips & Notes:
- Completely (historically) pure castile soap is saponified olive oil (but these days it can be any combination of oils with no animal fat or synthetics). BUT olive oil is a conditioning oil NOT a cleansing oil. That’s great for your skin & hair, not so much for cleaning house.
- Basic coconut castile soap (like the recipe I just shared) is a saponified mixture of coconut & olive oils. The amount of cleaning vs moisturizing you get completely depends on how much of each oil you use. You can start with a 50/50 mix of oils to see how you like it & then adjust based on what you like. Just run through the lye calculator with 50% of each & then follow the recipe & process above.
- Coconut oil is a great cleansing oil that lathers up pretty well but can be drying on the skin. A good thing to do if you like castile soap for everything is to make a pure coconut castile soap & a pure olive oil castile soap and then experiment with combining them in different ratios to for cleaning vs personal care.
DIY Dishwasher Detergent:
Dishwasher detergent is 1 of those DIY kitchen cleaners that’s tough to get right. And when I finally found what worked well, it was too much work & waiting around for me (either that or I just got lazy)… nah… I’m blaming it on the work & waiting.
But after DH kept bringing home different brands of dishwasher tabs, I decided to revisit that original formula that worked well for us. I just made it simpler so when we’re running low or run out, I can make more quicker than he can grab his wallet & keys!
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup epsom salt
- 1/4 cup citric acid
Combine ingredients in an airtight container like this, close the lid then shake, rattle, & roll to combine well. Put a measuring spoon inside or adhere it to the side with a command hook & it’s good to go!
I normally use 1 tablespoon per (full heavy) load & add vinegar to my rinse aid dispenser.
You can also make these dishwasher tabs. These are super convenient, especially for children & husbands. But they take extra time to set up in the mold – I use an empty egg crate or ice cube tray to get the perfect size. Bonus – they look pretty sitting on the counter.