Closet Hippies

I have no pictures for this post... don't want to show you the proof. ;)

Part of being in this lip balm business is doing research.  Now I can't say I've done tons of serious research, but I spend time online and find that I pick up bits of knowledge here and there.  Some would warn to be careful with just bits of knowledge... and I agree.  I am not writing this post to influence anyone.  Influence would require some major education and research efforts.  I will share that through the course of gaining these bits of knowledge, I have tried some things I would have never even thought of before.

This past month I attempted to make my own laundry detergent.  Why?  Well, I don't really know how to answer that question.  I found this post and found it intriguing.  I didn't jump right in an make it though.  I found lots of other recipes online and compared them and read the comments from those who attempted to use the detergent.  I finally decided to give it a try.  It was a combination of the mad scientist in me and my frugal nature.  This has nothing to do with chemical awareness or being green.

I bought 2 gallons of distilled water... probably could have used tap water, but I'd need the jugs anyway.  Plus who knows how the different minerals in the tap water would affect it... not that I don't use tap water to actually wash my clothes!
I bought a bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap and grated half of it with the cheese grater.  I like the smell of this soap.  It just smells clean.  I decided against using bath soap like Ivory.  Some bath soaps have added ingredients that just are not necessary and really aren't meant to be used on clothing... the things that help moisturize your skin, for instance.  The laundry soap has some added ingredients, too, but they are in there to help with laundry issues.  There is another laundry bar soap called Zote.  I could not find that brand at my local grocery store, but I'd be willing to give it a try as well.
I already had borax, so I bought a box of washing soda.  I learned from some of my research that washing soda is not the same as baking soda, but both come in a yellow box from Arm & Hammer :)
Even with buying the water, this all came to less than $6.  Minus the water, these supplies will last quite a while and who knows how many batches I'll be able to make.

I used my big canning pot to heat 1 gallon of water and the grated soap to a boil.  After the soap melted, I added 1 cup each of the borax and washing soda and kept stirring it with a spatula until it all of a sudden boiled up.  I removed the pot from the heat and then added the other gallon of cool water to it while stirring.

While it was still warm, I had my husband carry it to the garage where we tried to fill the empty gallon jugs without making too much of a mess.  Let's just say I need a bigger funnel.

We filled the two jugs right up until they bubbled over a bit.  I used the little bit that was left in the pot to wash the pot and my utensils and then I was done.  Super easy.

I was so excited to try it I did as many loads of laundry as I could :).  I am very pleased with how all the clothes came out.  I enjoy the scent despite not being a big fan of perfumes.  The scent is very subtle and very clean.

I imagine I'll need to be diligent on pre-treating stains and I'll need to add oxiclean to the whites in order to get some optical brightness in there... nothing I shouldn't already be doing!

And then...
About a week later, my husband announced he would be needing antiperspirant on our next trip to the store.  I was still pretty excited about the laundry detergent experiment and I since I had this recipe for deodorant already bookmarked, I offered the idea to him.  See, he's really not a sweaty person, so for the day to day stuff he really doesn't need antiperspirant.  He has also mentioned how aluminum is connected to Alzheimer's disease which concerns him. Aluminum is the active ingredient in antiperspirant... another tidbit of information.  Deodorant leaves out this ingredient because it's purpose is just to keep you from getting stinky and it doesn't keep you from sweating.

Just like the laundry detergent, I read through all the comments before I attempted it.  And I may have done a search on natural deodorants and anti-microbial essential oils.  My husband is not a big fan of tea tree oil ever since I mentioned it's link to enlarged breasts in pre-pubescent boys.  So I found that cedarwood essential oil is also microbial (and Dr. Oz may have mentioned its usefulness for acne as an alternative to tea tree oil, too.)

Now I use the term anti-microbial lightly.  Like I said, I have not done extensive research but only have a limited knowledge.  Microbes tend to include bacteria, fungus and whatever other nasties there are.  I tried to explain to my kids that the stink in their arm pits and shoes is from these little nasties having a party and eating too many beans.  Anyway, the coconut oil used to hold the recipe together is also anti-"nasties" and as most know, baking soda is a natural deodorant.  The corn starch is a soft powder to help absorb some of the sweat that will be happening since there is no aluminum.  All in all, the recipe really seems set up to do the job!

Some more tidbits:  Coconut oil is solid resembling Crisco when at room temp or lower.  In the summer, it's pretty much liquid.  Because of this you may need to keep your deodorant in the fridge.... refreshing!  Essential oils have very strong fragrances.  At first whiff, my husband thought his cedarwood deodorant smelled like a musty basement... think cedar lined closet.  The nice thing about cedarwood essential oil is that the strong scent disappears rather quickly leaving the very calming scent attributed to it by "those in the know" about aromatherapy.  If you don't want to use corn starch, you can apparently sub arrowroot powder.  If you have sensitive skin, the link includes instructions to lessen the baking soda.

How it's going:  Hubby got over the basement smell and has to admit that he has not been stinky even in the summer heatwave.  He does wish he didn't have to go to the kitchen to put it on.  I've been using the leftovers on a spoon and have to say that I really like it.  I used it a few days and then when I went to work I decided I'd better use the regular stuff, but I noticed that even though it's an antiperspirant I still got the same amount of moistness, but without the powder to help absorb it, so I'm giving up the antiperspirant, too!

So between the homemade lip balm, soap, laundry detergent, and deodorant; my husband wonders if the neighbors know they're living next to hippies ;)


  1. LOL! I'm glad that you're branching out to more homemade goods! It's so fun to be able to use a product that you made on a daily basis =)

  2. Anne-Marie, I just love experimenting with all these fun things! Always nice to have you stop by the blog :) thanks!

  3. My daughter's FFA Chapter kids tease me about the hippie thing. Actually, I like to think back a bit further to my pioneer ancestors making their own soap and such. Fewer negative connotations, right? ;) I love your recipe. Thank you!!