It is easier than you think, as our DIY-Expert Rebecca demonstrated in her latest workshop. If you could’t make it in person, here are her favourite recipes. From toilet bombs to fabric softener, she’s got you covered!
Most of you have heard of bath bombs before – part sodium bicarbonate, part citric acid, maybe a pleasant scent. These great balls of bicarb fizz in water, leaving our skin soft and our bathtub smelling fresh. A similar recipe, using just 3 ingredients, can be used to clean, disinfect and deodorize the least fun part of bathroom cleaning – the toilet.
1 cup baking soda
¼ cup citric acid
¼ cup cornstarch
A silicone ice cube tray
Add 1 cup of baking soda to a mixing bowl. Add ¼ cup of citric acid and ¼ cup of cornstarch. Press the mixture into the silicone ice cube tray. They will slightly expand while drying, and the flexible silicone will allow for that. Store at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight to dry.
Simply pop one toilet bomb into the toilet. It will start fizzing, which means it’s doing its job! Let sit for 5-10 minutes, feel free to scrub the toilet afterwards, then flush! Store the remaining toilet bombs in a container for future use.
Many commercial household cleaners contain synthetic chemicals and strong odors, and are sometimes not even multi-purpose, so we end up purchasing a bathroom cleaner, a countertop cleaner, a floor cleaner, etc.
The rise of the zero waste lifestyle brings “multi-use” items to the forefront as a means to reduce waste, simplify our life and save money. Many people use household soap or castile soap, among other simple cleaners, for tasks such as washing dishes and cleaning laundry. We love to use the most simple cleaner of all – white vinegar – which contains 5-12% acetic acid, making it very effective at breaking down grease, dirt, bacteria, and even mold. The acidity of vinegar also serves as a mild antiseptic. It’s true that vinegar has a powerful scent, that you can mask by adding flower petals, aromatic essential oils, or even simple orange peels.
Pro tip: the vinegar from NU Grocery is 12% acetic acid, meaning you must dilute it by half to match the conventional vinegar at 6% acetic acid before using it for cleaning.
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
The peel of 2-3 medium-sized oranges, or 25-30g of dried orange peel in bulk
Mix the white vinegar with water in a spray bottle at a 1:1 ratio. Finely chop the orange peels and put them in the spray bottle. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 weeks before use. The longer it sits, the more the vinegar will absorb the citrus scent.
Simply spray the cleaner where you see fit! Feel free to add any essential oils you have on hand, as some are even antibacterial and disinfecting, but it is not necessary. Let the spray sit for tougher jobs, then wipe the vinegar cleaner with an absorbent cloth.
NEVER mix vinegar with bleach as it can create a toxic chlorine gas. Undiluted vinegar can cause skin and eye irritation if contact occurs. Flush liberally for 5-10 minutes if contact with eyes, and seek professional medical help. Do not use vinegar cleaners on marble, granite, and other natural stones, such as those used in countertops and floors. The acids in vinegar can dull stone surfaces. Be careful when using vinegar cleaner on hardwood floors. Test it first in an inconspicuous area. Some finishes may be damaged by vinegar.
DIY Air freshener:
Many commercial air fresheners are filled with strong, synthetic fragrances and chemicals. For a product that is used only to freshen up a room, you might wonder why there are so many unknown or unnecessary chemicals written on the back of the bottle. Especially because there are easier tricks to brighten up a room without the use of conventional air fresheners. Diffusers and essential oils are a great natural way to freshen up any room with a lovely, aromatic scent. That being said, they can be quite costly. So here’s an easy recipe that you can use to substitute!
Spray bottle (for air freshener spray)
Any amount of bulk tea ingredients – I personally enjoy 10 grams of lavender, 10 grams of rose petals and 10 grams of chamomile.
Reeds (optional, for the DIY diffuser)
Mix the bulk tea ingredients. Add water and fill in a spray bottle. Let sit for 2 hours to overnight; the longer it sits the more the water will absorb the scents.
Once you like the scent in the bottle, simply spray into any room! Alternatively, you can use reeds in the bottle (without the spray cap), as the scents will get picked up by the reeds and deposited in the air, though this will create a more subtle scent in comparison to the spray or a regular diffuser. I enjoy using lavender, rose petal and chamomile in my air freshener as they are all relaxing scents. This being said, there are many different teas and bulk ingredients to use. Peppermint is invigorating, eucalyptus is de-stressing, etc.
Take caution if you have pets at home. If you are using essential oils, they are very potent for animals who have a higher sense of smell than we do. Essential oils may confuse and disorient animals, and even make them sick. While bulk teas are definitely not as potent and will not have the same effect as essential oils, it’s recommended to keep your pet in a different room than the one you are using the spray in!
Suzanne’s Laundry Powder:
Conventional laundry detergent are made up mostly of water and few active ingredients, meaning you are paying more and using more. On top of that, there are many chemicals and irritants that certain people aim to avoid, especially those with allergies and sensitive skin. So why not make your own? Making your own cleaning products means that you know exactly what is going in it and touches your skin.
This is a recipe perfected by Suzanne Laverdiere, the soapmaker and owner of Faveur Savons Bio, as well as supplier of many cleaning and hygienic products found at NU, from deodorant to castile soap to liquid laundry detergent! This is a very quick and simple recipe that definitely takes the weight off your shoulders in terms of household chores.
1 large cup (or 120 grams) of FAVEUR Grated Household soap
1 cup of sodium carbonate (washing soda)
1 cup of Borax
Put grated soap and sodium carbonate in and reduce to powder.
Wait 5 minutes until powder has settled and remove cover.
Transfer in a container and add borax.
Add 1-2 tablespoons in a high efficiency washing machine OR 2-3 tablespoons in a vertical load washing machine directly on clothes. Wash as usual. For best results, use warm water as Borax does not dissolve in cold water.
Pro tip: add ¼ cup of Sodium Percarbonate, also known as Safe Bleach, to your load! It’s a natural oxidizing agent.
DIY Fabric Softener:
For many, a zero waste lifestyle is synonymous with a minimalist lifestyle. In hindsight, fabric softener seems a bit frivolous. Do we really need to buy a large container of liquid that softens our clothing? If you are trying to reduce your waste, or your purchases, adding another container of laundry liquid to your errands list seems unnecessary. This being said, it is nice to have some soft sheets or a soft t-shirt every-so-often. It’s even nicer when you can do so using common household ingredients!
1 cup of conditioner
¼ cup white vinegar
3 cups hot water
Mix the conditioner and vinegar in a jar or container. Add hot water. Stir to combine Don’t shake as it will cause foaming.
Store the fabric softener mixture in a jar or a container and simply add 1-2 tablespoons for a smaller load, or up to 30 mL for a full load to a high efficiency or vertical load washing machine.
Pro tip: Add 3-4 wool dryer balls to your dryer for even softer laundry! Wool dryer balls reduce static electricity and help keep laundry soft and fluffy, naturally.
Suzanne’s Magic Scrubbing Paste:
We are so thankful for Faveur’s Suzanne and her helpful recipes. Her “magic” paste is something we use to clean our counters and islands at NU, and scrub grout and dishes in our own homes. The paste itself is very simple, made with only 2 ingredients in addition to water, but works amazingly as a household scrub for tough stains. It truly is magic!
1 large cup (or 120 grams) of FAVEUR Grated Household soap
2-3 cups of Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
1 cup of water
Put soap and water in a medium pot and heat slowly, stirring until the soap is completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and leave to cool until just warm.
Add the baking soda gradually, stirring constantly until the paste is smooth and thick like firm pudding.
Transfer in a container and let cool completely.
Use everywhere! Simply put as much as you need on any surface, using a dry cloth or your fingertip, then wipe away with a dry cloth. Scrub pots and pans, your grout or your bathtub!
Pro tip: Add a splash of white vinegar to rinse off soap residue.