Finding an alternative Laundry soap

I have tried not to use commercial laundry detergents for a few years now. First I tried soap nuts, little dried fruit shells that contain a lot of saponin (soap). They are supposed to be hypo-allergenic, can be reused several times and are compost-able. The grey water can be used in the garden too, which was something that we were interested in (although haven’t actually got round to implementing a grey water system). The downside was that they don’t grow in the UK and so have to be shipped in from much hotter countries. Once I started using them in the washing machine, I found that I needed to use a higher temperature to get a good clean and at the time, my washing machine took about two hours to wash at anything warmer than 30 degrees! I liked the fact that you used them 3 or 4 times before they were ‘used up’ and they then had a 5th use in the compost. Unfortunately, sometimes the little bag they are used in would come open and then you’d have little pieces of the shells all over your clothes. This was easily solved by using a reusable bag clip (the sort you might reseal your loaf of bread with) to hold the top of the bag closed. I had also tried making hand soap out of it by boiling the ‘nuts’ to extract the soap. The hand soap was OK, but I REALLY hated the smell of the soap nuts boiling. So the box I had went under the sink and has stayed there ever since.

Around that time, I was given some ‘eco balls’ as a birthday gift (maybe a strange gift to some, but exactly the sort of thing that I like!). These had little ‘pellets’ (refillable) contained within a hard plastic ball and a foam ‘cushion’ around that to stop them making so much noise in the machine and possibly damaging clothes. These were really easy to use – just throw in the machine (there were two of them in the pack) and away you go. These I used for much longer than the soap nuts (in fact I’ve been using them for most of the last 2 years), but again, they seem to work better at hotter temperatures and whites certainly need something a bit extra to keep looking good. And if anything was heavily soiled with perspiration, mud, etc then I would often end up putting these things through at least 2 wash cycles to get clean. So, I would often end up being tempted to buy a small bottle of well known commercial washing liquid or powder for washing heavier soiled things, whites and towels. I think I just never really believed that things were getting very clean.

I had been getting more and more reliant on commercial detergents again, and I even bought a pack of the liquid filled capsules recently – ridiculously expensive and have more liquid in each one than you need so is quite wasteful in my opinion. I made the decision to change my ways, do some research and try to find some alternatives. Another Pintrest trawl put me onto this tutorial for a laundry soap made with castile soap and bicarb – as you know, 2 of my current favourite things! It seemed pretty simple and I was drawn to the limited ‘ingredients’ list. I have seen many other tutorials for home made laundry soap and most contain Borax or hydrogen peroxide and a whole variety of things, which is really not what I was after.

I had the necessary ingredients to hand so there was really no reason not to try it. It was very simple to make which is always a plus! I used the first dose on some bedding – it seemed to come out looking, feeling and smelling clean. I didn’t bother adding any essential oil as the castile soap I was using was scented anyway, so the laundry only had a very subtle scent which I prefer anyway. The following day, I went to put on another load of laundry, this time a coloured load with a fairly stinky t-shirt, and the liquid had completely separated and not even vigorous shaking of the bottle would mix it. I had to give it a really good stir with a spoon and was thinking that it was going to be very impractical if I was going to have to do that every time I wanted to use it. The second load again came out fresh as a daisy, even the stinky t-shirt. By the late evening, the liquid hadn’t separated like it did before, only slightly, and was easily mixed together by giving the jar a quick shake. This was much more what I was expecting, leading me to the conclusion that I didn’t mix it enough first time. I will keep using this for now, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Let me know in the comments if you use an alternative laundry detergent, what are your motivations for doing so?

Thanks for reading!

Cleaning scrub

cleaning scrubI’ve been on a mission for the last few days finding uses for Castile soap in my journey to swap from commercial, chemical loaded household and personal care products to the more natural and homemade. I’ve long used bicarbonate of soda to clean around the house, including the bathroom. I find that it’s great for scrubbing the bath and sink and does wonders on the tiles and grouting, yet is gentle enough not to scratch anything. Whilst browsing Pintrest (some of you may smell a theme developing here!), I spotted this tutorial for a soft scrub using bicarb, liquid castile soap and essential oil. I didn’t have any lemon essential oil and as I have lots of lavender scented castile soap, I used that with some lavender essential oil. I used it for cleaning the bathroom and have no complaints! I adore the scent (which I could change with each batch I make if I want to) and it’s easy to use. I think I will add a bit more of the castile soap to my next batch to make it a bit more creamy, but I don’t think it will change how it works. I’m not sure if the castile soap actually helps with the cleaning process, in fact I would imagine that it could leave a soapy scum over time if it isn’t rinsed off properly, but I like the scent and the anti bacterial properties of the oil.

Home made shampoo update

I used my homemade castile soap shampoo for the first time this morning. Read about making it here. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a good start! My hair does feel clean, although a little greasy at the roots. homemade shampoo resultsMaybe given my hair type I don’t need as much of the coconut oil (if any) but I’ll keep using this batch for now. I have read about people using apple cider vinegar to rinse their hair afterwards but it seems a bit counter-productive to put something like that on after using something nicely scented and moisturising. I usually only wash my hair every other day so I’d be interested in seeing whether or not I feel it needs washing tomorrow. My hair smells good, there is a slight scent of the essential oils I used (Rosemary and Lavender) but it’s very subtle. So far, I’m quite pleased and can’t wait to try more uses for this fabulous stuff!

Have you tried castile soap shampoo? How did you find it? Please leave your comments and suggestions below.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!




11th June Update…

homemade shampoo 2

The day after…

Definitely an ‘up-do’ day! In this photo, I haven’t actually brushed my hair yet, just quickly put it in a loose bun.

I think it might be a little more greasy than normal the day after washing, but not much more. I’ve heard that your scalp can over produce on the oil front when using harsh shampoos as you keep stripping away the natural oils so more is produced to keep replenishing it. So there is a chance that my hair will become less greasy over time (that’s the theory from the ‘no-poo’ believers anyway).  I really think that I’ll be using this shampoo for a while at least. I’d like to give it a month or so before deciding if it is or isn’t for me.

Green cleaning

Ashley and I have long tried to limit the use of chemical filled cleaners in our home. They are expensive, each one is supposed to be better than anything else (and they tend not to fulfil that promise) and most of us are becoming more and more aware of the detrimental effects that they are having on us and our environment. I have so far managed quite well in choosing chemical free cleaning solutions for the home – you’ve seen my love of bicarbonate of soda! This along with lavender and home made citrus oil based sprays clean my house from top to bottom. I do sometimes get seduced by marketing and end up with a bottle of Flash under the kitchen sink, but this usually gets offered out to friends or family or sits there for a year or two before being binned. I use Ecover products for washing up and the dishwasher and some ‘eco balls’ that were a birthday present a while back for laundry. I’ll get to these in another post but I don’t think that these are long term products for me – Ecover products are a bit on the pricey side and the eco balls need quite a hot wash to be really effective. I have tried soap nuts and I would like to try them again with a bit more knowledge.

My thoughts turned more recently to personal cleaning products; shampoo, body wash, hand soap etc. I have had a bottle of ‘Dr Bronners Organic Liquid Castile Soap’ under the sink for quite a while now. I forget what I originally bought it for (probably something I saw on Pintrest!) but it’s nearly all gone. I had seen that people use this stuff for all sorts of things so I thought I’d give it a go. I love, love, love all things lavender scented and it has antibacterial properties (very useful around the home and bathroom!) so I bought a ltr of the lavender fragrance Dr BrDr Bronners Castile soap for making shampooonners (there are other makes out there) and couldn’t wait to get started!

I found a simple ‘recipe’ for a shampoo here at Premeditated Leftovers. It requires very little and I had everything I needed for it. I used slightly less of the coconut oil than suggested as my hair tends to be on the greasy side anyway. The measurements are in cups (as with most american recipes) and at Christmas when I was making many Pintrest inspired gifts, found this quite frustrating trying to get accurate measurements. My (sometimes!) wonderful husband gave me these sweet measuring cupslittle measuring cups as a Christmas present. I think they were from Lakeland and I use them all the time now. Anyway, the ‘recipe’ was incredibly easy and in no time I had a jar of ‘shampoo’! I was going to put the liquid into a plastic bottle but have read that the essential oils can degrade the bottle, leaching chemicals into your chemical free product, so I have left it in the glass jar for now. I’ll do some more reading on that one. The shampoo mixture smells great and I’m looking forward to using it – I’ll update on how it worked later.




Whilst I had the soap and essential oils out, I thought I’d make a super simple handwash for the kitchen. Just a little of the castile soap (the old, unscented one I had under the sink) in a bottle topped up with water and a few drops of tea tree essential oil added. foaming hand wash We bought one of these foaming dispensers a while back (about £12 from Lakeland I think – I’m honestly not promoting Lakeland or anything!) and it’s very good. We had bought cheap foaming dispensers for making our own handwash in the past, but they broke really quickly. This one works reliably and foams up well, I only wish that the base was more stable – it wobbles about a bit when you press the top down and if it hasn’t got proper suction on the bottom it slides about. It has a little line on the back where you’re supposed to fill up to with normal handwash and another to fill up to with water. I only filled up halfway to the handwash line with the castile soap as it is quite concentrated and so you don’t need as much.

Now to find out more ‘recipes’ for other uses! I’ll keep you updated!

Thanks for reading!