Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.

Kashi Cereal is Just Another Processed Food

A few days ago a picture of a sign in a grocery store went viral on social media networks.  The sign was on a shelf where the Kashi cereals used to be and said:

You might be wondering where your favorite Kashi cereals have gone.  It has recently come to our attention that 100% of the soy used in Kashi products is Genetically Modified, and when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be pesticides that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

Extremely angry consumers, after seeing this picture, have been attacking Kashi for selling products that contain GMOs and pesticides.

Kashi sells, among other things, “natural” cereals and they have a line of 7 cereals that they certify as being “officially Non-GMO Project Verified“.  Now, if I am reading this store sign accurately then they are accusing Kashi of lying on their labels.  A reader of My Healthy Green Family brought this article to my attention, which seems to be the source of all this ruckus, despite it already being half a year old.  The only difference between this article and the sign from the store is that the store is saying all Kashi products, which would include the “non-GMO Project Verified” ones, are also using GMO ingredients.  It will be interesting to see what comes of this.  I’ll be watching for more information.

On the other hand, if Kashi is only using GMO soy in their other products (ie. not the GMO-free line) then they are not doing anything wrong other than the typical “greenwashing”, making people believe their products are healthier because they are labelled “all natural” etc.  The label “all natural” or “contains organic ingredients”  and so on really mean nothing.  There is no regulation on the term “natural” so it could mean anything from containing 1 natural ingredient to being completely free of preservatives etc. If a product is labelled “USDA certified organic” then there is a strict standard those products must live up to, including not containing GMO ingredients.

Realistically, we all know we live in a dog-eat-dog world.  If it makes money, someone will sell it.  If labels such as “natural” or “contain organic ingredients” sell, people will sell it.  It is up to us to read between the lines and figure out what exactly is in our food.  And it isn’t easy.  In USA and Canada GMOs do not have to be labelled on any products.  Since many ingredients are GMO you can bet that most processed food, unless it is certified organic, contains some GMO products unless otherwise labelled.  And that is where Kashi seems to be running into trouble.  Kashi, by the way, is owned by Kelloggs.

Although seen by the general public as reasonably healthy, cereal is just another processed food.  There are healthier and less healthy alternatives, but when you read the ingredient list of most cereals you can tell that they are just as processed as a bag of chips. Many cereals are super high in sugar.  Keep this helpful little hint in your mind when shopping: 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 tsp.  Ingredient lists are based on a serving size which is generally a LOT smaller than you think.  If you eat, for example, a cup of cereal that has 1/2 cup serving size, with12 grams of sugar in it then you are eating 6 tsp. of sugar in your cereal alone.  And Kashi cereals are notoriously high in sugar.

If you are looking for a less processed or non-GMO breakfast or snack food item, try making them yourself.  You can make your own bran flakes and granola.  You can make cooked oatmeal and bread.  And you know exactly what is going into them and how it was prepared.  If you just don’t have the time to make them, go for local, organic bakeries and read, read, read your ingredient list!  Bread and granola should not have anything unrecognizable in it.  There is no need for it.  And watch the sugar content.

I hope that, after this big Kashi “scandal”, more people become aware of GMOs, pesticide usage, and greenwashing advertising.  If more people are aware of this they will be more likely to push for change in our food labelling, and change in the ingredients that we allow in our food.

 

 

Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

A pretty picture of a jar of oranges flew around facebook a few months back.  With it were directions to make an orange vinegar cleaner.  Of course I had to try.  Citrus works great as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener.  Vinegar is also a great cleaning agent, breaking down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria.  Combine the two and you have a great natural cleaner.

This cleaner is eco-friendly not only because it is biodegradable and safe to use, but because it is making use of products that would otherwise be thrown in the trash.  Here’s how to make it.

Squeeze the juice out of 6 grapefruits or 8 oranges (or 12 lemons or limes).  Drink it.  It’s good for you.  Place the leftover rinds into a glass jar.  Pour white vinegar over top of the rinds until vinegar covers the rinds.  Put a lid on it and let it sit for 2 weeks.  Remove rinds, strain liquid through a sieve, and store in a glass jar.  Use diluted 1:1 water to citrus vinegar in a spray bottle.  Cleans kitchens, bathrooms, floors and more!

Washing My Hair With Baking Soda

*UPDATE!  After 2.5 years of washing my hair with this method, I have since found something I like even better, and is just as easy!  Check it out here!  Homemade Shampoo With Rye Flour: All Natural Pro-V for Thick, Shiny, Healthy Hair!

I wash my hair with baking soda and I rinse it with apple cider vinegar.  I won’t call it No Poo because abbreviations have always annoyed me.  But I thought I would share my experience because every other green blogger and their dog has shared their experience.  Actually, my dog uses it too.

Why, why oh WHY would I do such a crazy thing?  Good question.  And I have good answers.  Do you know what is in your shampoo?  I mean, REALLY know?  Years ago I used Pantene Pro V.  Here is the ingredient list.

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamide MEA, Glycol Distearate, Dimethicone, Fragrance, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-10, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Disodium EDTA, PEG-7M, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

Whoa whoa whoa!  What?  I am good with water.  Everything else is a chemical.  I am putting THAT on my hair and expecting it to look natural and healthy?   Look ANY of those ingredients up on the safer cosmetics database  and see which ones ARE NOT carcinogenic or at best, an irritant.  Seriously.

OK, so you can use an all natural shampoo.  They are great.  And you know what?  Once I started using a TRULY all natural shampoo my dry, itchy psoriasis on my scalp that I have been plagued with most of my life, disappeared, never to return again.  But those natural shampoos are PRICEY.  And I still am not entirely sure about all those ingredients.

What if you could wash your hair using 1 ingredient?  And actually get better results than these shampoos?  Frizzies disappear.  Dry ends go away.  All are replaced with healthy, shiny, NATURAL hair.  I mean it because I have experienced it.   Now back to where I left off.

I have been tempted to try this method of cleaning my hair for years but was scared off by the horror stories of gross, greasy, smelly hair.  Of course there were lots of success stories too.  But scalp smell is one smell I really dislike.  I also shied away from it because, well, it screams of “hippie” and I have always been concerned about what others think of me.  Funny thing is, I am a self-proclaimed “green” blogger, and all my friends see me as being “crunchy” so I don’t know what the problem is.  Washing my hair with baking soda is certainly a conversation stopper.  But I am good at those.   You should see the effect I have on potty training conversations when I talk about elimination communication ;).

So one day I ran out of shampoo.  I was using Green Beaver shampoo and conditioner, an all-natural brand made from organic, Canadian ingredients.  It worked well but was $10 a bottle.  And you know me… I like to know ALL the ingredients in my products.  This time when I ran out I took the plunge and brought out the baking soda.

1 Tbsp. baking soda dissolved into 1 cup of water.  I scrubbed it into my hair.  I rinsed it well.
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s Organic) into 1 cup water.  I rinsed my hair with this as I would a conditioner and then I rinsed it well.

I smelled like apple cider vinegar.  I towel-dried and brushed my hair, shook out as much water as I could, and let it air dry.  It dried quickly (no oil from a conditioner) and felt smooth, shiny and CLEAN.  Like, really clean.  No greasy hair, no smell, no nothing.  The ACV smell disappeared after my hair dried.  My hair smelled like nothing.  Seriously.  I was thrilled!  I don’t know why I was surprised because I use baking soda to clean everything else, so why wouldn’t it clean my hair?

Things you need to know:

  • It doesn’t feel like shampoo.  It feels like water being poured onto your head.  And there is absolutely no lather because there is no soap.  Nevertheless, rub it  WELL into your scalp, for a few minutes, then let it sit a few minutes before fully and carefully rinsing.
  • ACV rinse does not feel like conditioner.  It feels like water.  So it isn’t thick and creamy, and is more challenging to spread into your hair.  Nevertheless it works well without adding oil to your hair.  Put it on, let it sit a few minutes, then rinse it off.
  • After your hair has been washed and rinsed it doesn’t feel like it does when it has been washed with shampoo and conditioned.  Wait until it is dry to give it a judgement.  My hair feels clean, smooth, shiny and healthy after it dries.
  • Many people take the plunge and decide that, after washing their hair with regular shampoo and stripping the natural oils out of their hair for their whole life, they will go one WEEK without washing.  Don’t do this.  Not only is it gross, but it is setting yourself up for failure.  Your oil glands are so used to producing excess amounts of oil to keep up with all the washing that your hair will get greasy quickly.  Rather than an all out attempt to force your scalp to immediately adjust, wash your hair again when you would normally do it, with baking soda.  Do this for a week or more until you are used to washing your hair with baking soda.  Then, once adjusted, stretch it by a day.  Do that until your hair has adjusted, and then repeat.  Or, just use baking soda to wash your hair whenever you want.  It is cheap, it is healthy, and you know all the ingredients in it, unlike your regular shampoo.
  • Every person is different and so oil production will be different.  Play with the amounts until you find what works for you.  If you find your hair is too oily increase the baking soda a bit.  If it is leaving your hair too dry decrease the baking soda.
  • Some people prefer to use the same amounts of lemon juice and water for a rinse, instead of ACV and water.  Your choice.  I find lemon drying.
  • Hair type will affect how this works too.  MANY people with very curly hair seem to love this method.  My hair isn’t curly.  It is long and straight but it works well for me.
  • I use this method to clean my children’s hair, and my dog’s hair.  My husband uses it too.  If it gets in children’s eyes it doesn’t hurt.  That alone beats regular shampoo!
  • Last of all, again, everyone is different.  This method may not work for you and that is fine.  There are lots of natural alternatives to regular shampoo for cleaning your hair.

My hair is healthier than it has ever been.  I grow my hair for a year and a half and then chop off 8 inches to be donated through my hair dresser for wigs for children living with cancer.  Waiting a year and a half without a hair trim is asking a lot of my hair, but I am closing in on a year now, and my hair is healthier than it has ever been.  I praise the baking soda/ACV washing, the lack of harsh chemicals and the fact that I am now only washing my hair every 4 days (instead of every day).  The natural oil in my hair is keeping it shiny and healthy instead of being dry and brittle as it used to be without trimming it.

I would love to hear your experience!  Are you a believer?  Are you sceptical?  Are you on the fence like I was?  Or do you think I am stark raving mad?  That’s OK!  Let me know how it works for you.

This post has been linked up to The Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #4, Natural Parenting Group’s Monday Blog Hop, Homestead Helps Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #23.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe that rises like white!

I have searched for and tried MANY 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I have ruined countless loaves, and wasted a lot of flour and money trying to make 100% whole wheat bread.  I have tried adding gluten, lemon juice, citric acid, soy lecithin and more to get nice-rising 100% whole wheat flour.  My family has eaten many a failed loaf.  Eventually, I gave up.  I accepted the “fact” that you cannot make 100% whole wheat flour that rises nicely without using strange ingredients and additives.  I settled for a recipe that was about 70% whole wheat and the rest white flour to make it rise.  The recipe never completely satisfied me though.  It was somewhat crumbly and just didn’t really cut it for a sandwich bread.

My mother-in-law came across a great recipe that made 2 loaves of bread, was made from 100% whole wheat flour, and it rose nicely.   I was very envious, but I didn’t want a 2 loaf recipe, I wanted an 8 loaf recipe.  And I didn’t think you could just straight out double (or quadruple) a bread recipe without using too much yeast/salt.  Since I couldn’t figure out how to double it, I started searching again for a good recipe.  I came across a recipe from Heavenly Homemakers that made 2 loaves, and called for soaking the flour first.  I was intrigued by all the good feedback she received and so I tried it.  I had to add significantly more water to the recipe but I was able to make it rise nicely.  My first success!

I contacted Heavenly Homemakers and she informed me that she had doubled it straight across with good success.  So I tried it and it worked beautifully.  I added some other good stuff like flax, hemp hearts and chia seed, and ended up with a recipe that works perfectly, every time.  I am still excited about it!  (Simple pleasures, you know!)  It makes 4 loaves, and I haven’t tried re-doubling it yet to make 8 but that is my next step.  I don’t want to be baking bread more than once a week.  ** I have now successfully TRIPLED the recipe!  15 loaves in one go!

Today my friend, who swears she has never been able to successfully make a yeast bread, white or otherwise, is visiting.  I had her make the recipe following my instructions.  The bread looks fabulous!

Here is the recipe:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Ingredients:
  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)
Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water (If you are using freshly ground flour cut back to 4 1/2 cups.)
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional)
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       If you are adding extra seeds or grains you may need to add up to 1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water ONLY as needed.
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes.

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :).

11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft.

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level.
  • Yeast amounts in a bread recipe can vary based on altitude. Click here for an altitude adjustment chart.
  • You can add 3 whole eggs to the ingredients to make the loaf more moist/chewy.
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
  • If you aren’t adding extra nuts or seeds then don’t add the extra 1 cup of water unless it feels too dry.
  • I now have TRIPLED this recipe with great success!  I can make 15 loaves at one go :D
  • Click here for a video tutorial on how to knead bread.

Please let me know how this recipe works for you!  Feel free to share the recipe, giving credit where it’s due :).  Enjoy!

This recipe has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #22, Our Simple Lives: Simple Living Wednesday Link Up, Turning The Clock Back: What’s Cooking WednesdayThe Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #3, Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Fresh Bread Fridays and The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.