Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Experiments in homemade cleaning products

The other day, I played with a shampoo recipe I found in a book.  It called for 1/4 cup herbal tea, 8 oz. liquid castille soap, and 2 tsp. light oil.  I used green tea and mint for the tea portion, added some honey, and I happened to have calendula-infused olive oil (heavier, but infused after all.)  The recipe said to simmer the combination over heat, which I did not do.  This may be the problem.

The shampoo smells great, but it's runny.  I added salt, which has thickened my castille soap products nicely in the past, but it didn't have any effect on this mixture.  I have it in a squirt-bottle, which allows me to apply it directly to my hair.  I was disappointed in my initial shampooing experience.  I felt like I needed shampoo to rinse out my shampoo.  There was a light stickiness while my hair was still wet, which is probably from the honey.

Once my hair was dry, it was fine.  In fact, it felt thicker and more controllable than usual.   I will try heating the mixture now and see if I can thicken it, plus I should add glycerin for moisture retention and easier rinsability and some tea tree oil for extra cleaning power.  I'll report back.  All in all, it was a good first attempt, but it needs some adjusting.

Yesterday, I followed a recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent.  This called for a 1-to-1 ratio of citric acid and washing powder, plus essential oils.  That's all.  I had citric acid, which I ordered online to make bath fizzies.  Washing powder can be found in the detergent section at any grocery store, and is useful for many cleaning products.  I added lavender and tea tree oils, which smell clean and fresh.  Both have antiseptic properties - good for cleaning, no?

My first load of dishes came out as clean as when I use any store-bought detergent.  The downside is that, when I went to use the mix this morning, it had stiffened.  I had to bust up the powder with a metal spoon, and it was flying all over the kitchen.  I suppose there is some chemical they add to commercial detergents to maintain the powdery consistency, and I'm hoping to figure out a solution.

Today, I need to make liquid dish soap, because I'm plum out.

"Why are you doing all of this, rather than simply buying it pre-made from a store?"  one might wonder.  Part of it is my stubborn urge for self-sufficiency.  Part is the fun of mixing stuff up, adding nice smells, and seeing what happens (reminds me of being a kid.)  My biggest goal has been to reduce the number of plastic containers we have to recycle or toss out.  Even if we manage to recycle all of our bottles, we send a ton of caps and dispensers to the landfill.  However, I have had to face the fact that all of the ingredients I use come in plastic containers with caps.  Eventually, I hope to find a source that will allow me to refill my containers.

I'll try to keep updating my progress as I play with these recipes and let you know what works and what doesn't.

1 comment:

  1. So, my attempts to make shampoo have been increasingly unsuccessful. When my husband asked why my hair has been so stringy and greasy-looking lately, I broke down and bought some shampoo. It's organic, and the bottle is made of recycled plastic. In my 20s, I didn't use shampoo. It took a couple of weeks for the oils to settle throughout the follicles, but after that, it looked just fine. I rinsed and brushed it, and didn't bother with shampoo. These days, I'm very attached to the hair-washing process though.

    Meanwhile, I did make lip balm last week, and poured it into an empty tube. It worked great! Next, I'm going to try solid deodorant, refilling those empty plastic containers I won't throw away.