31 October 2011

Cleaning your home with laundry liquid

I like using one product for many different things. It saves time and money. It saves fiddling around with too many ingredients. It's simple. It's been a long time since I cleaned the modern way - using a different product for the various household cleaning jobs. I use my home made soap for showering and for washing my hair and hands. It's also a horticultural soap so if any garden potion requires soap to be added, my homemade soap fits the bill perfectly. Soon I'll be using it exclusively for washing up, but that's another story and I'll write about it at another time.

Another good all rounder, and a great base for other cleaners, is homemade laundry liquid. When I make up a new batch of laundry liquid, I always make up one smaller glass bottle that I use for various cleaning tasks around the home. But today I want to write about making up a cleaner that is perfect for cleaning metal - including stainless steel, porcelain baths and sinks, and spot cleaning on painted walls. It also does a good job on appliances - like white fridges and food processors and painted cupboards. The recipe for making laundry liquid is here.

Add about half a cup of homemade laundry liquid (soap, washing soda and borax) to a small container and add enough bicarb to make a thick paste. Stir until it's combined. Adding 6 - 10 drops of tea tree oil will make the mix an effective antiseptic cleaner. If you stir this mix with a tea-stained spoon, by the time you've finished stirring, the spoon will be shining like a star. Use the tea tree version in the bathroom and laundry and the tea tree-free version in the kitchen. You don't want to wipe out your normal kitchen flora.

I keep this little jar of cleaner on my sink and use it for my new sink and stove, as well as for spot cleaning in the kitchen.  It's gentle but effective and it doesn't scratch the surface of the metal. My guess is the jar would cost less than a dollar to make up and it will last at least a month of constant use. It's definitely a better option than buying Jif, Ajax powder or any of those cleaning gels.

I use laundry liquid straight on a rag to spot clean and sometimes, when the floor is particulary dirty, I add half a cup of laundry liquid and half a cup of white vinegar to my bucket and mop up. It works well.

Laundry liquid is also an excellent stain remover. Just take a tablespoon of liquid and rub it onto the stain. Rub it in well with your fingers, and leave for 30 minutes, then wash the item in with the normal wash. Most of the time, this treatment will remove the stain.

But now I'm really interested in finding other uses for laundry liquid. How do you use it? Do you use it only for laundry or have you tried it on other jobs in the home? What laundry liquid recipe do you use?



  1. Hi Rhonda, I have used my homemade laundry liquid in my carpet steam cleaner. After reading the ingredients on the bottle of cleaner at the store, I decided to forgo the chemicals! We also dilute the laundry liquid with water and use it to give our chicken coops a good scrubbing occasionally.

    Thank you for the additional tips. I am going to use laundry liquid next time I wash our kitchen floor.

  2. Good morning. I am wondering though is this liquid effective in hard water areas? I truly like the idea of using less toxic and complex cleaners.

  3. It is funny you did a post on laundry liquid today. i use your recipe..and yesterday was standing in the pantry 'admiring ' all my neat rows of liquid ready to use and save me money!!I have been using it in the laundry for about a month now and it even gets the stains out of D's farm work clothes!
    Great to see another use for it too.I think manufacturers have convinced us we need a different bottle of 'stuff' for every thing we do.

  4. Hi Rhonda, great idea, I have been using the laundry liqiud for about 3 months and have found my towels seem to dry softer than before. I will definitely be making this paste as I use bicarb frequently for cleaning but have never made a paste to keep for storing.

  5. Thank you for this formula. I've been trying different ways to better clean my stainless steel kitchen sink. We have very hard well water here, and white vinegar plus baking soda seems to do a fairly good job if I allow it to sit on the area for awhile and then use a lot of elbow grease! I never thought to try laundry liquid on the sink, though. I bet your concoction plus some vinegar will really make my sink shine :)

    I use vinegar and a drop of laundry liquid to clean the wood floors and tile, and laundry liquid to spot clean furniture. I also fill a small bucket with water, a couple drops tea tree oil, and a little laundry liquid to presoak cloth diapers.

    Any tips for getting rust stains (from the iron in our well water) out of the shower/toilets/sinks? That's one thing I haven't has luck with cleaning naturally.

  6. I spent some time in Syria and this was how I basically cleaned everything. It gets extremely dusty in the city not matter what you do to keep the dust out. I figured this was the least toxic way/ and cheaper way to keep things clean.

  7. This sounds great - I'll be sure to give these recipes a try!

    I currently use Dr Bronners + washing soda + vinegar in the washing machine and truly love it. Smells amazing. I also use Dr Bronners as a body wash and as hand soap. It's pretty effective as a shampoo too - perfect thing to take camping as one product can be used for just about everything.

    I use vinegar and water plus bicarb and/or borax to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. It's really effective, really inexpensive and I like using the same products for many uses too.

    I'm keen to try out your recipe though - sounds fantastic! Thanks for the info.

  8. Hi Rhonda,Thanks for giving us yet another use for the laundry liquid....i too like seeing them all lined up in the cupboard and thinking about the money saved.
    I am getting great results with the liquid and find that the girls cloth nappies wash up much softer now and the smell on the line is just clean and fresh!For some reason i love seeing clean cloth nappies drying on the line, lot of friends think i am wierd!
    Looking forward to using the bi carb paste now too. Have a good day
    Jode x

  9. Hi Rhonda, we use a similar base for the dishwasher and add white vinegar to the finishing rinse to get the glasses sparkling. I've been meaning to make up a batch for other purposes around the house as we transition to using all natural products. I'll be checking your recipe out!

  10. I use your laundry liquid recipe using a plain lard/coconut oil soap I made. I also just rub a bar of that soap on a washcloth and clean the bathroom with it. It also cleans the door frames well. I like this soap and it does not seem to leave a film, but sometimes I just spray a bit of vinegar and wipe everything down with a dry rag. I use the laundry liquid to wash the floor. I will have to try making some of your paste.

    I have been trying some different recipes for bar soap. Your soap is good but I consider it fancier and more expensive, so I won't be using it for cleaning! The plain lard soap is good enough for that and very cheap. I do add some coconut oil in the recipe as I have heard that it is good for cleaning. But I am trying to keep it as low cost as possible. I don't know if I will get the tree tea oil, I don't worry so much about germs, soap and water is good enough for me. I think people worry too much about germs:)

  11. This is great! I'm moving into a house with three other people and we're always looking for new ways to clean. Thank you!

  12. Hi. This is off topic, but when I visited your blog just now, I am unable to see the entire width of it. It no longer fits in my monitor screen like it did before. I don't seem to be having trouble with other sites, so I'm wondering if it's a change you made or something I should look into further on my end. Thanks.

  13. I've been using laundry gloop which is basically the same recipe but with 4 litres of water. I use third to half a teacup of gloop in the drum of my front loader, with napisan in the powder dispenser and vinegar as conditioner. I scrub gloop into the collars of DH's shirts to remove stains but, as he has lots of dark colour shirts, sometimes the collars have a white bloom. I sprayed them with vinegar and re-rinsed and spun them and the bloom disappeared. Next time, I was going to make your liquid, but I see you said it was a bit too runny, so I'm going to experiment with more water than I normally use but less than the 10 litres in your recipe. Yesterday I did try spraying the collars with vinegar to remove the stains and it worked well, so maybe that's the answer.

  14. Hello Rhonda, Oh! how I enjoy reading your posts. This is only the second time I have placed a comment, but I read every day. I wanted to tell you that I have started to source the ingredients to make some laundry liquid for myself. I am excited to start using it (to start saving £££)and have my laundry smelling of the outdoors and not synthetic perfumes. Thank you so much for all of your genuine and interesting posts.

    From a chilly England on a dark Sunday evening
    Bev x

  15. Good morning, good evening and good afternoon ladies!

    Thanks for your input. I'd like to have a a better understanding of how we all use our cleaners.

    Suze and NGO, I've never had hard water in any of the places I live so I can't help you with your problems. Sorry.

    Annie Jones, I did fiddle with the widths but have changed them back.

    Bev, I hope you have the fire going. It would be nice sitting there with a cuppa.

  16. I started out using your recipe, but I think the borax was disagreeing with my skin, so I did a bit of search and have replaced the borax with bi-carb and use less washing soda - so far so good. The only issue with the home made stuff we've had is that Miss Teen thinks the clothes don't smell fresh enough, so I compromised and bought an eco-powder (which wasn't cheap at a little over $8 for a box!!)and I will add that to the home made stuff to stretch it out and hopefully keep her happy.

    I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle, and I've personally found that as long as you hang the clothes out straight away, they are just as lovely and fresh as they were when I used toxic stuff to do the laundry. Convincing teens of this is a battle I've given up on though!

    I use the laundry detergent in my vinegar spray to clean the toilet - you can use it anywhere really, if something needs a scrub, I've started using that over anything else.

  17. Ngo family farms... there is a product here in the US called Lemishine, It is supposed to be a powder to add to the dishwasher. It uses natural citrus in it... It worked cleaning up the dishwasher... the inside is beautiful and white all the rust stains have gone. I use it else where in the house. It is a little expensive, but it works.

  18. Mel, I too have a teen who thinks clothes should smell like commercial washing powder. She threatened to buy her own but its never happened; lack of funds may have been the issue. Recently a friend of hers stayed here and washed her work clothes with my homemade liquid. Her friend was impressed at how clean her aprons came up especially as she didn't use a stain remover. Miss teen is a bit happier now with homemade laundry liquid but still misses her artificial fragrances. I might add some essential oil in a batch just for her. I think clothes should smell fresh from the wind and sun not perfumed.

  19. Thanks, Moran Family, I'll check that out. Makes me think I should start playing around with lemons in my homemade cleaners too ;)

  20. NGO, I think it would be worthwhile playing around with Citric Acid too. It's the main acid in lemons and it is used in some old fashioned remedy books as a stain remover. You can get it at the supermarket here and it's fairly cheap.

  21. Ah-ha! Citric acid, that's a great idea too. Thanks Rhonda Jean.

  22. I use a homemade laundry powder...soulemama's (http://www.soulemama.com/soulemama/2010/05/on-the-laundry-line.html) recipe. But for ALL other cleaning, I use Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap (I like the peppermint scent). I mix it with hot water and use it with a microfiber cloth everywhere (including mirrors). The only other cleaner I use is a Clorox toilet wand. I prefer eco-friendly cleaners...and I know the toilet wand doesn't fit that bill...but I hate having a germy toilet brush sitting in my bathroom...I like that I can throw away the nasty sponge when I'm finished cleaning and then I wipe off the wand. It's just a personal issue :).

  23. I haven't tried using my own laundry liquid yet. I'm currently using soap nuts which work well, and for general house cleaning I use a mixture of bicarb, vinegar, eucalytus and dishwashing liquid. Cleans everything!

  24. I too have been using your laundry powder for quite a while now and I love it. I had the ingredients hanging around so I thought I would make the liquid this morning. Can't wait to see how it compares to the powder. I confess that I like my laundry to smell nice and if I leave the clothes in the machine for too long before I hang them out, which I do all the time, they will start to smell a little. I have started using a few drops of water soluble lavender oil in with the vinegar that I use instead of fabric softener and it helps. When I do sheets and towels I use water soluble eucalyptus oil instead as I read somewhere it can help with fleas.. Not sure if this is correct but I like the smell and we don't seem to have fleas in the house!

  25. I make a laundry powder with equal parts grated Fels Naptha soap (laundry bar found in most parts of the US), borax and washing soda. Then, to that powder, I add about 15-20 drops of Tea Tree oil, cover the container and shake like mad. I use 1 tablespoon in my front loading washer. It gets all the laundry clean and even if I forget to switch the loads for awhile, they stay nice and fresh.

    We use the laundry powder for washing cars, floors, garbage cans, whatever.

    I never thought of washing down the chicken house with it but that is definitely going to happen next time- no worries about residues and such then.

    I have just recently decided to make a "scouring powder" for tubs, sinks and such. We have been using straight baking soda (bi-carb) but I haven't been completely happy with the results. I'm mixing 2 cups baking soda and 3-4 tablespoons laundry powder. I'll have to report back on how well it works.

    [I am reluctant to use "liquid" recipes because my minions are all sloppy boys who dribble liquid cleaners all over. Also, we live in a small home and the liquids are bulky.]

  26. It must be the time of year for cleaning! I sat down this morning to read your blog to discover I had posted the same recipe on my blog yesterday - http://dellsdell.blogspot.com/ . I have used this recipe for years its fantastic. But now we are on a bio cycle and rain/dam water exclusively it is a must. As usuall a fantastically relevant posts, thanks.

  27. Thanks for the tip on the floor mopping. I mix up my laundry powder in a big tin, so I always have some onhand. Hadn't thought to use it in the sink though. I often use bicarb and table salt for the sink.
    By the way I was most flattered by the mention. Thanks :)

  28. Yesterday we had the task of washing out the water trough for the cattle, it was green with algae. In went some laundry powder, a bit of a scrub and it came up as good as new. I was impressed. A good rinse and the cattle had lovely clean water, no residues from nasty chemicals.

  29. I too have followed your blog for a long time living in Canada. Now we moved back to Australia I thought it was time to subscribe and tell you how much I love all the ideas and recipes. I have used the laundry powder for a long time and love it. Now I have a high efficiency washer I just made the liquid for the first time today. Someone else mentioned 'gloop' which is what mine ended up being. I couldn't get my head around that it made 10 litres so made less which ended up thicker of course. Guess I should believe you :) It's so rewarding having the jugs of homemade laundry liquid cooling on the bench.
    I too have used it to mop floors.
    thanks for all your tips and the time you must put into writing down all your experience.

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