Posts

How to Make Vanilla Extract at Home

By Polly Conner

This homemade vanilla extract recipe not only works well for cooking with but also makes a great gift idea!

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

When you go to the store to buy vanilla you are faced with a dilemma: do you buy the smaller, more expensive bottle of REAL vanilla or the larger, cheaper bottle of imitation vanilla?

It’s a battle of values, right? Save money or eat real foods (and pay a bit more for it).

Even though it is more expensive, I most often (painfully) opt for the real vanilla. I won’t pretend to be an expert on how imitation vanilla is made but from what I’m gathering, it’s for sure not natural. I am also convinced that real vanilla just tastes better (six baking experts agree with me too).

Because I get mad at the price of vanilla every time I buy it, I began a little project of making my own. I have since been reaping the benefits of my project and LOVE it. I also now have a great gift to give away at Christmas time!

Making your own vanilla really is SUPER easy. Seriously. It takes three ingredients:

  1. Vanilla Beans
  2. Vodka
  3. Patience

How to Make Homemade Vanilla

1. Prepare Your Vanilla Beans

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

For every 8 ounces of vanilla you want to make, you will need 4-5 vanilla beans.

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

Slice one side of each bean open to expose the inside. 

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

In order to fit them into my large mason jars, I had to cut and/or bend the beans in half. Do what you’ve got to do. My jars held about 3.5 cups of liquid so I put in about 15 beans per jar. 

2. Submerge beans in alcohol

Place your sliced beans into a glass storage jar of some type. Keep in mind that you want to keep the 8oz-to-5 bean ratio in your container.

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

Now, fill your jars with alcohol. My booze of choice was a cheap, unflavored vodka. You don’t need expensive vodka to make this work. Just as long as it’s 35% alcohol. Some use rum, brandy or bourbon. Since I wanted to use up my 50 vanilla beans I ended up needing 2 HUGE bottles of vodka. I felt as though I needed to explain myself to the cashier but she didn’t seem phased by my purchase.

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

3. Wait

Now for the hardest part of making your own vanilla, waiting!

You need to give the alcohol time to extract the vanilla flavor from the beans. (Get it, vanilla extract?) 

Every week or so, give the jars a good shake. Some say wait about 6 weeks. Some say 6 months. The longer the vanilla sits, the more complex the flavor will be so I gave mine a good 5-6 months.

4. Store Your Finished Vanilla

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

I searched long and hard for a good deal on amber colored bottles. I ended up going with some 8 ounce bottles but I would strongly suggest some 4 ounce bottles instead.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone with 4 oz so that I had more to give away as gifts at Christmas time. Hindsight is 20-20 right?

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

I added a little tag to my bottles and plan to give them away as little goodies in the future. (Spoiler alert–if you are a member of my family, you will probably see these on Christmas morning. Glad we had this chat.)

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home

The Cost Breakdown

So how much money does making your own vanilla actually save?

Here is a breakdown of my costs:

  • Vodka: $36 total ($18 each)
  • 50 Beans: $34.93
  • Bottles: $33.60

104.53 divided by 13:

$8.04 for an 8 oz bottle OR $4.02 for a 4 ounce bottle

Considering a 4 oz bottle of quality vanilla can cost anywhere from $10-20 online or at the store, I’d say I saved myself A LOT of money in the long run!

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea! | Thriving Home
Print

How to Make Vanilla Extract at Home

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 6 weeks
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 weeks
  • Yield: 8 oz bottle
  • Category: DIY
  • Method: DIY
  • Cuisine: American

Description

How to make vanilla extract at home. This homemade vanilla recipe is great not only for cooking with but also a great gift idea!


Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Prepare your vanilla beans (for every 8 ounces of vanilla you want to make, you will need 4-5 vanilla beans).
  2. Slice one side of each bean open to expose the inside.
  3. Submerge beans in alcohol (place your sliced beans into a glass storage jar of some type. Keep in mind that you want to keep the 8oz-to-5 bean ratio in your container).
  4. Now, fill your jars with alcohol. My booze of choice was a cheap, unflavored vodka. You don’t need expensive vodka to make this work. Just as long as it’s 35% alcohol.
  5. Wait. Every week or so, give the jars a good shake. Some say wait about 6 weeks. Some say 6 months. The longer the vanilla sits, the more complex the flavor will be so I gave mine a good 5-6 months.
  6. Store your vanilla extract for long-term use.

Dinged Up Dresser Finds New Life

By Polly Conner

Painting used furniture can save you loads of money! Here is a step-by-step tutorial of how an old dresser found new life for a little girl's room. Lots of other before and after projects on this site as well.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my life. I tend to paint things turquoise. I hadn’t really noticed this as a pattern until I finally got around to putting this post together.  When looking through past before and after makeovers to reference, I realized that I have a serious problem of branching out.

Regardless of the blue/turquoise repetition, I think this dresser for my daughter’s room turned out great.

When my in-laws asked if we wanted this solid wood dresser, I was all over it. Despite their warnings that it had been well-loved over the years, I was happy to take it off their hands. While in the before and after picture above the dresser looks like it was in good shape, allow me to take you a bit closer for an inspection.  Read more

DIY Scented Soap Bars

By Rachel Tiemeyer

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

by Jessica Ellingsworth of Mayvn, Contributing Author

A recent school family project assignment had my daughters and I wondering what to conquer. “Let’s make soap!” one of them suggested. What?! Jessica here, and after a little research I have a fun and easy Spring project to whip up with kids that is also great for end-of-the-year or Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gifts.

One of the first obstacles I found when researching soap-making with kids is the process of mixing oils with lye, a caustic substance. Even though there is no lye in the final product (if ingredient ratios are correct, digital scale required!), there is still the saponification process that has potential hazards when rookie moms and small hands are involved. Who knew I had two little aspiring chemists on my hands?!

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

Taking their ages and my inexperience into account, I found and purchased blocks of raw soap bases that have already been through this process for me, leaving the fun part of melting, scenting, and pretty packaging to us. Another pro for doing a melt and pour: there is no ‘curing time’, so soap is ready immediately after cooling–a win for kids! All three of my kids really enjoyed the process and love knowing they made something so useful. My husband and son even made a “manly” soap.

Depending on the costs of your chosen essential oils, I estimate a small bar of natural homemade melt and pour soap costs around $1.50.

Without further adieu, here is the 7-step process for making DIY Scented Soap Bars:

1. Assemble tools and ingredients. You’ll need:

  • glass measuring cups
  • sharp knife
  • a pot
  • soap molds (plastic or silicone work best so there is ‘room to give’.) I even used a clover cupcake mold I had stashed away and found an inexpensive soap mold at Michael’s craft store.
  • bars of soap bases–I purchased organic coconut oil bases at Bulk Apothecary, but they can be found a number of places.
  • essential oils and droppers–You can pretty much fragrance with anything you can dream of. For our maiden voyage in soap-making, we settled on batches of Rose Oatmeal, Sweet Orange and Eucalyptus.
  • Finely ground nuts, oatmeal and herbs for texture (optional). Chopped herbs like lavender are beautiful for Spring.
  • a small amount of rubbing alcohol in a small spray/spritz bottle
  • craft paper, tags and pretty ribbon if gift-giving.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

2. Cut blocks into cubes. Heat slowly in a pot over low heat until melted.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

3. Take off of the heat and add fragrance, colors and/or textures, to your preference. Natural soap colorants made with mica can also be purchased. Pro tip for fragrance: 5 grams of essential oil per pound of soap.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

4. Pour into molds.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

5. Spritz lightly with rubbing alcohol to dissipate bubbles.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

6. Let soap firm up in the molds for 2-4 hours. The soap will be firm to the touch and easily release from the sides of the mold.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

7. They are now ready for use, or package in paper and pretty ribbons for fragrant gift-giving.

DIY All-Natural Scented Soap Bars with safe, non-toxic ingredients

Happy Spring!

About the Author

JessicaJessica is a freelance writer, stylist, and recipe developer. She lives in Austin with her husband, two daughters, and son. She loves makeup artistry, interiors, travel, being in the kitchen with her kids, creative living, and exploring the streets of Austin for inspiration and the best food dives. She blogs at Mavyn.

Easy Homemade Playdough Recipe (+ FREE Printable Recipe Card)

By Polly Conner

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

A printable recipe for playdough is available at the bottom of this post!

I have such fond memories of making playdough with my mom and siblings. We’d watch in anticipation as my mom stirred up the mixture with our chosen colors. After it was done we would take turns tossing it around like a hot potato until it cooled off.

Today I got to do the same thing with my two year old (minus the hot potato game part). We made homemade play dough!

She picked out the colors and I threw together the simple ingredients and stirred up two batches.

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

It was fun to see her discover how to actually play with it. We used cookie cutters, utensils, toothpicks, and other miscellaneous things I found around the kitchen.

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

Making your own playdough is SUPER easy. I’m not just saying that. Just mix and stir. Your kids can help until you get to the end when it really thickens up. Want to make your own playdough??

Homemade Play Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • food coloring

Directions:

Mix all ingredients except the food coloring into a 2 qt sauce pan.

Stir over low/medium heat.

Once it begins to thicken a bit, add food coloring.

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

Stir until mixture becomes very thick and kind of balls up on its own.

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

Once it is the consistency you want, remove it from the heat and let cool.

Now let your little ones get their hands all over it!

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

Oh, and if they decide to eat or lick it, you won’t have to worry. You know what every ingredient in it is!

DIY homemade play dough is a cinch to make. Enjoy the process with just a few ingredients. Your kids will love helping you whip up a batch.

Thrifty Gift Tip: Our friend, Holli, makes several colors, puts them in small containers (think tupperware or small mason jars) and gives homemade playdough away as gifts as birthday parties. What a cheap and fun idea! You could even add in a fun cookie cutter or two and the recipe card below. I find cookie cutters at garage sales all the time. Just string it through a nice ribbon and tie it to the jar(s) of playdough.

To make this even easier for you to do with your kids or to give away as a gift, I’ve created a printable 4×6 card with this playdough recipe on it. It looks something like this (below) but can be downloaded as a pdf from here: Printable Play Dough Recipe Card

playdough recipe

If you like the style of this recipe card, you’ll probably like our Five Printable Home Run Recipes as well!

Enjoy!

Oh, and if you want, add glitter to the mixture to create an extra fun factor!

How to Make Homemade Freezer Jam {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

By Jessica Ellingsworth, Contributing Writer

Summer is arguably the best time for savoring seasonal foods, especially perfectly ripened fresh berries. As a child, the berries our family didn’t eat right away either got frozen for the long winter or made into freezer jam. If you’ve made freezer jam, you probably know what I mean when I say it is the gift that keeps on giving. Nothing on any grocery store shelf will even compare to homemade freezer jam.

I skipped making freezer jam on our move from Missouri to Texas about a year ago, and my children acted like I deprived them of an essential nutrient when our freezer was jam-less all winter. Well, I am back in the saddle this summer and I am sharing jam tips after getting my hands on these gorgeous raspberries this week.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

F.A.Q.s About Freezer Jam

Let’s begin with some basic questions you may have before moving onto the method of making it.

What is freezer jam?

Freezer jam is not cooked, so the flavor is like ripe fruit and the texture is chunky. Plus, no standing over a hot stove in the summer! Expect a softer set than canned jam with a fresh fruit taste.

Do I need canning supplies or to sterilize anything?

Making freezer jam requires no sterilizing or sealing of jars. Just clean your jars with hot, soapy water or run through the dishwasher.

How long does freezer jam last in the freezer and refrigerator?

Jam keeps well in the freezer up to a year or more. Once it’s thawed in the fridge, it will last 4-6 weeks.

What kind of pectin do you recommend?

My favorite pectin is Sure Jell. They offer low sugar or no sugar options, as well as their classic recipe. Ball brand also makes a no-cook pectin that some jam folks prefer.

Any tips on what kinds of berries to use?

I know this seems obvious, but I’ll say it: perfectly ripe fruits make the best jams. Don’t be afraid of combining two of your favorite fruits into one jam. Peach-Raspberry, anyone?!

How long does it take to make freezer jam?

Perhaps my favorite part of homemade freezer jam is you can have a batch of freezer jam done in 30 minutes.

Any other freezer jam bonuses?

Why yes! It is a lovely, heart-felt gift for a teacher, neighbor, or friend. Kids also love helping with the basic measuring, stirring and simplicity of freezer jam. My two-year-old son and I had a wonderful time making this together.

How to Make Freezer Jam

Here are the steps, complete with photographs, for the best jam every time:

1. Wash and measure out the fruit. The pectin comes with a guideline; follow it exactly so the jam will set well. I used 3 pints of raspberries for 7 cups of jam.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

2. Get out a good ole potato masher and crush the berries. Sieve out 1/2 cup pulp to remove some seeds, if you prefer. I skip this and go for full pulp.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!
3. Measure exact amounts (according to the recipe on the pectin) of crushed berries into a bowl.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

4. Add sugar (again, according to the recipe on the pectin) and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Sugar helps set the pectin and preserves the fruit.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

5. Now’s the time to add the pectin according to package directions. If using Sure-Jell, bring the package and 3/4 c. water to a boil for 1 minute. Pour into the fruit and stir for 3 minutes, making sure everything is incorporated. The two year-old stepped in and stirred for me.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

6. Fill jars. Using a basic funnel makes it really easy.

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is not hard to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!

Now your homemade freezer jam is ready for the freezer or the first piece of warm sourdough toast!

Print

How to Make Homemade Freezer Jam

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 jars
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Freezing
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Homemade freezer jam is a delicious treat that is easy to make! The batch makes a lot, so you can save some for your family and gives others away as gifts!


Ingredients

  • Fresh berries (I used raspberries)
  • Sugar
  • Pectin

Instructions

  1. Wash and measure the fruit. The pectin has a guideline; follow it exactly so your jam will set up.
  2. Crush the berries with a potato masher.
  3. Sieve out 1/2 cup pulp to remove some of the seeds. *You can also skip this step and have full pulp.
  4. Measure exact amounts of crushed berries in to a bowl (according to the directions on the pectin).
  5. Add sugar (according to pectin directions) and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Now add pectin according to the package directions. If you use Sure-Jell, bring the package and 3/4 cup water to a boil for one minute.
  7. Pour into the fruit and stir for 3 minutes, making sure everything is fully incorporated.
  8. Fill jars using a basic funnel.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:

To Freeze:
Prepare jam as directions state. Fill in glass, mason jars. Let jam cool completely. Store in freezer for up to one year.

To Prepare:
Thaw jar of jam in refrigerator overnight. Use on toast or in your favorite recipes. Store jam in refrigerator. Use within 7-10 days of opening.

About the Author

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 10.45.46 PMJessica Ellingsworth is the editor and curator of Mayvn.com. Mayvn serves as a lifestyle spot for stylish, yet simple homemaking. Jessica is the wife of a musician/composer, mother to two beautiful daughters and one dashing son. When she isn’t running around with the children, she can be found honing her photography skills in her city of Austin, Texas, experimenting with makeup artistry, and romancing her handsome husband with culinary treats.

Homemade All-Natural Carpet Cleaner

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Important Update as of 4/11/14: It has been over a year since using this on my carpet. The stains are still mostly gone, but my carpet is now lighter in those areas. I have old carpet so I much prefer this to the dark stains, but I want to give you fair warning that this concoction does have the power to bleach your carpet!

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

Warning: Umm, this post might gross you out. I wouldn’t recommend eating breakfast while reading this one. 🙂 But, I assure you it will come in handy if you have young kids or pets!

I’ve found myself Googling “how to get poop out of carpet” and even “how to get puke out of carpet” a few different times over the years, but without much luck.  When you have small kids around, these are the things you Google.

Last night, we had another one of these incidents when my 1-year-old had his diaper off for just 1 minute!  My husband and I were determined to get the poop stain (along with all the track marks!) out this time, yet we didn’t want to use any kind of harsh chemicals in our son’s room, especially before bedtime when he could inhale the fumes.

We ran across this site and discovered how to make our own non-toxic, all-natural carpet cleaner.  Before I worked on my son’s poop stain, I decided to really test this all-natural carpet cleaner recipe. We had a 7-month-old puke stain from my 3-year-old in the play room. Yuck! I gave it a try, but my expectations were low.

Check out how this homemade carpet stain remover worked to get this OLD stain out of carpet

BEFORE…

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

AFTER…

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

So, did this all-natural homemade carpet cleaner get out all evidence of the puke and poop stains in our house? Not every last bit. In the right light, you can still see a shadow of the stain. But, I would say this carpet cleaner got the poop and the puke stains out from both locations in our house as well as I could hope for. They are 90-95% gone and hard to see unless you look closely.  I’m satisfied with that, since it didn’t add harsh toxic fumes to our house. I suspect I would have had the same result with store-bought, chemical-laden carpet stain remover anyway, as I know from prior experience.

Last little perk, this all-natural carpet cleaner kills any germs left on your carpet due to the poop or puke! The vinegar and borax both have bacteria-killing power.

If you want to save money, kill germs, reduce chemical exposure in your home, and get poop and puke stains out of carpet effectively, I recommend trying this homemade all-natural carpet cleaner recipe below.

All-Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe

Adapted from eartheasy

1) Remove all the solid waste with a paper towel and throw far, far away.

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

2) Mix together:

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup borax* (I used 20 Mule Team Borax, which you can find at almost any grocery store in the laundry detergent aisle.)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

3) Rub the paste into the carpet over the stain and let sit for a few hours. I suggest using a rubber glove or Ziploc bag over your hand (like I did in the pic below) to apply. You know, so you’re not touching poop and such. (Gag.)

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

4) Vacuum up the dried paste on top of the carpet.

5) Get down on your hands and knees and scrub, scrub, scrub with a wet washcloth or rag. Rinse the rag out periodically and keep scrubbing until you don’t see any more discoloration on the rag. (I worked at this quite hard and it helped immensely!)

6) Let wet area dry and then vacuum one last time.

7) Give the stain a few days and it will dissipate even more.

* If you’re wondering what borax is and if it is safe, here’s a thorough blog post that explains more and can help you make your own decision. I feel okay with using it, personally.

Here was my nearly-miraculous result on the 7 month old puke stain in our play room. I couldn’t believe it! I thought we were going to have to call our carpet cleaner and shell out $50 or cover it with a rug forever…but no siree! Thank you homemade carpet cleaner recipe!!!

DIY All-Natural Carpet Cleaner - homemade and non-toxic

Like this homemade all-natural household product? Try another thrifty, non-toxic solution that’s worked for us!

All-Natural DIY Drano – Naturally unclogs your toilet or any drain with only 2 ingredients!

All-Natural DIY Drano

Make Your Own Non-Toxic Foaming Hand Soap – Incredibly easy and cheap!

non-toxic hand soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent – This will save you tons of money and leave your clothes clean without harmful chemicals.

how to make homemade laundry detergent

All-Natural Homemade Disinfectant Spray – Clean any and all surfaces in your home with this safe and effective all-purpose cleaner.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XoXp-M9plLI/TlAoJeocfJI/AAAAAAAAAtE/3qZHeoQFWrY/s1600/IMG_0561.JPG

Like this post? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email updates or follow us on Facebook to get more homemade household product tutorials, healthy recipes, and more.

We work hard to share good content and recipes with our readers. If you have benefited from this post, we’d love it if you’d pass it on in one way or another. This helps us keep Thriving Home, well, Thriving!

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.

Guest post by Jess from Twenty-Something and Not Counting

I’ve been making homemade laundry detergent for about 4 years now. Though I was a little nervous it might not work well or might take too long, I decided to give it a whirl. I made it once and never looked back! Seriously! I originally found the recipe on thesimpledollar.com, but I’ve also heard it’s similar to Michelle Duggar’s recipe among others.

Reasons you may want to consider making your own laundry detergent:

  • It’s cheap!
  • It’s environmentally friendly—no weird chemicals or dyes and you know what’s in your soap because you made it!
  • It’s easy. It takes about 30-45 minutes of hands-on time. You don’t need to be a chemist or a rocket scientist.
  • It has no perfumes or other skin agitators.  (I use lemon essential oils in mine sometimes, but otherwise it has no scent at all.)
  • It’s fun. Really! My husband and I make soap together. Yes, we’re nerds!

Supplies Needed for Homemade Laundry Detergent

You can find all of the supplies below in the laundry aisle of Wal-Mart or you favorite grocery store.
 
Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.
 
  • 1 cup Washing Soda–Not to be confused with baking soda. It’s the yellow Arm and Hammer box.
  • 1/2 cup Borax—You’ll most likely see 20 Mule Team Borax on the box.
  • 1 bar Fels Naptha bar soap—I’ve heard of people using other kinds of soap but this soap is actually made for laundry, so I stick with what I know works.
  • about 3 ½ gallons Water
  • 5 gallon bucket with a lid–We’ve used the same cat litter container for years.
  • Optional: essential oils of your choice

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Step One:

Grate down the entire bar of Fels Naptha. This part you can do while watching your favorite TV show or having a good conversation. I did find this awesome tool (see below) at IKEA when I visited recently and it has changed my soap making experience because it actually keeps the soap inside as you grate it—way less mess! You can use a large or small hole grater but I like the soap to be grated finer.

Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.
 
Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.

Step Two:

In a medium pot, boil 4-8 cups of water. I’ve found more water makes it easier to dissolve the soap into soap bubbles but doesn’t change the consistency. Once the water is boiling, gradually add soap and stir rapidly until all the soap is dissolved and you are left with soap bubbles.

Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.
 
Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.

Step Three:

Add three gallons of hot water to the storage bucket of choice. Then add borax, washing soda, and soap bubbles to the bucket. If you are adding essential oils, you’ll want to add them now. I would say add 10-20 drops or so. I don’t measure—I just go by how I feel.

Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.

Step Four:

Stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Put a lid on your bucket and let the homemade laundry detergent sit overnight to gel.

Step Five:

Open your bucket. The consistency will most likely be like a gelatin. Mix it all up—I use a handled grater or spoon. Mix until some of the gelatin is broken into easily removable pieces. It doesn’t need to be perfectly consistent the whole way through. It just needs to easily scoop up so you can use it.

Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you'll feel great about using safe, effective ingredients on your family's clothes.
That’s it! So easy!
 

Directions for Using Homemade Laundry Detergent

I use a cup in each load. I do think it’s important to put the soap in the washing machine first with the water and then add clothes, but I am sure when my husband does laundry he just throws it all in and I don’t know the difference. It works just the same.

How Much You Save Making Your Own Laundry Detergent

If you are wondering how the costs stack up, well, here’s the number crunching:

Tide = $17.97 per jug or 18 cents per load

All Free and Clear = $12.50 per jug or 12.5 cents per load

Homemade Detergent:

Borax—$4.46 for a box (.23 per batch of detergent)

Washing soda—$3.24 for a box (.48 per batch of detergent)

Fels Napth—$1.15 for a bar, one bar per batch

Total Cost of Homemade Laundry Detergent = $1.86 per batch or 3.3 cents per load

The savings! The savings, I say!!

FAQs about Homemade Laundry Detergent

1) Does the homemade laundry detergent work well?

It’s lived up to my satisfaction for years. I do pre-treat severe stains but other than that, it’s the only soap I use.

2) Does homemade laundry detergent keep color and the “new” feel to clothes?

I tend to think so. In four years, I’ve never noticed an issue.

3) Can you use it with an HE machine?

I have heard that you absolutely can but since I have an old-school machine, I would recommend talking with someone who’s done it or do a little online research before you try it.

4) Can you use it with cloth diapers?

You probably shouldn’t. It won’t irritate your baby, but it might add soap buildup to your diapers and you’ll have strip them.

I hope you get the drive to make this soap once and fall in love like I did!  You’ll save yourself so much money and know that you’re using a safe option for your family.  Suds up!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Washing Soda–Not to be confused with baking soda. It’s the yellow Arm and Hammer box.
  • 1/2 cup Borax—You’ll most likely see 20 Mule Team Borax on the box.
  • 1 bar Fels Naptha bar soap
  • about 3 ½ gallons Water
  • 5 gallon bucket with a lid–We’ve used the same cat litter container for years.
  • Optional: essential oils of your choice

Instructions

  1. Grate down the entire bar of Fels Naptha.
  2. In a medium pot, boil 4-8 cups of water. Once the water is boiling, gradually add soap and stir rapidly until all the soap is dissolved and you are left with soap bubbles.
  3. Add three gallons of hot water to the storage bucket of choice. Then add borax, washing soda, and soap bubbles to the bucket. If you are adding essential oils, do this now (approximately 15-20 drops).
  4. Stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Put a lid on your bucket and let the homemade laundry detergent sit overnight to gel.
  5. Open your bucket. The consistency will most likely be like a gelatin. Mix it all up—I use a handled grater or spoon. Mix until some of the gelatin is broken into easily removable pieces. It doesn’t need to be perfectly consistent the whole way through. It just needs to easily scoop. You’re ready for that laundry pile!

Homemade Disinfectant Recipe

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Simple and effective, this homemade disinfectant works wonders and saves you money!

In an attempt to reduce toxins in our homes and save money, we’ve  become official wannabe hippie pioneer women.  Well, at least I like to think I am.  Polly, have you been converted yet?

Below is my homemade disinfectant recipe, which I found here.  I use this on my kitchen counters and bathrooms.  I just spray it generously on the counter/toilet/etc and wipe with a damp cloth.  The tea tree oil makes it smell just like something that is clean and lends an extra antibacterial property to the concoction.  I would err on the side of putting a few more drops than you think needed, since the smell dissipates over time.

Simple and effective, this homemade disinfectant works wonders and saves you money!

Wondering where to get the products mentioned in the recipe? Borax is in the laundry detergent aisle at Walmart. However, tea tree oil and castile soap is cheapest on Vitacost. (If you use my referral code link when you make the purchase, you’ll get $10 off too!) You can also get it at a health food store, but it does cost more.

The best part?  Each 32 fl oz bottle only costs about $.20!  Be sure to rinse and save any of your cleaning agent spray bottles, since I’ve found that the ones from Walmart do not work.  I repeat…do not buy the spray bottles at Walmart.

Like this DIY all-natural household product? Try another thrifty, non-toxic solution that’s worked for us!

Homemade Disinfectant All-Purpose Spray

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons borax
  • 6 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 1/2 cups hot water (I use distilled water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid castille soap
  • a few drops of tea tree oil

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a pitcher, stirring well.
  2. Using a funnel, pour mixture into spray bottles.