Y’all. This week I branched out and made three household cleaning products and THEY WORKED. Like, they really worked. When the third experiment came off without a hitch I wanted to dance around because usually with stuff like this I wind up learning the hard way. In fact, these worked out so well I am waiting for one of them to explode or something because it seems just too good to be true.
I feel like with each overseas experience our family has learned a lot about ourselves and what direction we want to go with our lives. Our four years in Okinawa made us realize just how important it is to recycle. It also sparked our curiosity about eating healthier, paving our way to clean eating. When we moved back stateside it solidified that path and we became active with it. Being in Germany has kind of taken it to another level, somewhat out of necessity, but also out of intrigue.
Watching and experiencing aspects of the German lifestyle has definitely increased our curiosity of what it means to ‘live clean’, which to me means wasting less, exercising more, and using more natural than chemical in everyday household items. Although it may sound like a trend to us Americans, for Europeans it is quite a natural part of life to live this way, and slowly it is changing the way our family lives.
For instance, in Germany:
1. Groceries do not provide bags (plastic or paper). You can buy them, but you are expected to bring your own. Believe it or not, we felt embarrassed every week when we came home from the commissary with a million plastic bags. No one does that here. So I bought more recyclable bags and use those now. Did you know the BX gives you credit on your purchases if you bring your own bags? I didn’t either!
2. You are not allowed to wash your car in villages due to the threat of chemicals getting into the soil. There are certain areas you have to go to do it.
3. Every town has a bakery (Bakerei) and a butcher (Metzgerei), and a small farmer’s market on the weekend. Most people go to both once a day or once few couple of days to get what they need. When I take my son to the bus stop in the morning I am passed by many people with their shopping bags going to the little store in town to get what they need for the day.
4. German dryers do not use heat. Just like everywhere else in the world, they normally hang dry their clothes.
5. Germans (and most Europeans…and Japanese, for that matter) recycle EVERYTHING. I will be doing a post on just trash/recycling soon…
6. They love their plants. They are avid gardeners and use a lot of plants in the home to clean the air naturally.
Food for thought, eh?
Now, with the possibility of me not getting a job we have really tried to become more frugal. This is a very new concept for me. I like to shop. I like shoes. But overseas the pressure and temptation to buy stuff isn’t really there. You don’t have big department stores right down the street. Target doesn’t exist (I know…I went through withdrawals.). We don’t even get normal TV commercials (in fact, we decided not to even get the AFN satellite because we just don’t care that much). It kind of forces you into living modestly, which I secretly love. Once you get past the shock of not having, your eyes open to just how much you didn’t need in the first place. You start to notice how much you love just being at home with your little family, cooking together, enjoying the outdoors, just spending time together. This is the part of living overseas we love the most and the main reason we wanted to do it again.
Before moving to Germany I did a lot of research on living clean. I feel we made the transition into eating clean and now slowly want to roll it over into all areas of our lives. I felt that making my own cleaning products would be a good place to start. I saw a lot of DIY cleaners on Pintrest and began to seriously looking into it. Wow, are there some amazing DIY bloggers out there! In my quest to becoming more of a domestic goddess I came across the blog One Good Thing by Jillee (Click on her button on the right to peruse her site…be warned….it’s addicting). Welcome to DIY mecca city. I want to bow down to this lady. She IS the domestic goddess. Her instructions are easy to follow and she includes lots of pictures for visual people like moi.
So I chose three items I figured would be easy enough to make:
- DIY dishwasher detergent tabs
- DIY liquid laundry detergent
- DIY Glass Cleaner
Unfortunately, being overseas lends itself to some roadblocks when finding specific items you need. But thankfully Amazon is there to help! I was able to order a jumbo bag of baking soda, one box of Washing Soda, and one box of Borax and have it shipped here in no time. The only ingredient that would not ship APO was Fels Naptha soap, but I found that using plain ‘ol Ivory soap worked just fine, which I can find at the BX.
In addition to that you need:
- Jumbo size white vinegar (You don’t have to buy the large size, but a lot of cleaning products use it. In fact, I have one spray bottle that is filled with just straight vinegar because I now use it for basic cleaning purposes.)
- Rubbing alcohol
- gallon-sized containers (milk jugs/orange juice containers work)
- spray bottles (I did my research on these as well and found out that investing in professional grade spray bottles is best because some of the ingredients in homemade products can affect the plastic of the bottles if they use cheap material.)
- cheap cleaning cloths (optional) I was really getting tired of wasting so many paper towels when cleaning up after my 10 month-old. Then I had a duh moment and decided to start using towels instead, so I have a basket of clean ones (about 20) above my sink and when I use them they go in a basket under the sink. I just throw them in the washer when most of them are dirty with our other towels. You can get a pack of cheap ones at any dollar store. I got mine at the BX.
So here are my reviews of each product I made. If you want the step-by-step instructions, just click on the heading of each product.
This was ridiculously easy to make and they worked amazingly well! The only thing to be aware of is the size of your ice cube molds compared to the size of your detergent container. German dishwashers are smaller so my tabs came out much larger than what would fit in the detergent compartment. But I just cut them in half and it worked fine. I didn’t even use an entire tab and it still worked wonders on my dishes. Evidence:
Out of all three products this one has the most ingredients. Here is what I used (you can add essential oil, but since I didn’t have any, I didn’t use it. I have it on order from Amazon).
It will thicken over 24 hours and then you are free to use 1/2 cup with each load (you will need to stir/shake it up before each use). I read in the comments that if you have an item with a stain, you should pretreat it before washing. For more laundry items (homemade fabric softener, dryer sheets, super concentrated liquid, and MUCH more) just visit Jillee’s site. She has an entire page of DIY products devoted just to laundry.
I will admit that I did not use Jillee’s recipe for this glass cleaner, although I’m sure hers works wonderfully (if you click on the header it will take you to her recipe). I could not find ammonia, so I had to do some digging to find a different recipe using what I could get my hands on. All I used was 8 oz. of rubbing alcohol, 1 Tbsp. of Dawn and water. Just fill up the rest of a 32 oz. sprayer with warm water and you’re ready to go. I was skeptical because of the Dawn, but I SWEAR this works wonders! I used it on the soap scum on my shower door and in about 2 minutes it was all gone! I think it actually worked better than Windex. I was amazed. (Sorry, I know it is hard to see the soap scum…it’s hard photographing glass!)
So there you have three amazing cleaners that I will now be making on my own from now on. Do you make your own cleaning products? If so, tell me what works! I’m always looking for new ideas!