Experiment Time!

Upfront, I am going to confess to having done very little housework in the last month so I’m only getting to these experiments now. As my back recovers I’m now slowly tackling the mountain of housework that had piled up. The ironing mountain was flattened last week but the laundry mountain will soon build it up again. The first lot of clothes finished off the last of the washing liquid. So choices

  1. Refill empty bottle
  2. Buy laundry powder in cardboard box
  3. Have a go at making my own
  4. Try soapnuts

I decided that the most interesting of these was the soapnuts given I’d only heard of them last year. 



They come in a cardboard box with s little muslin drawstring bag. You put a few in the bag and throw it in the wash. They can be reused  6-8 times. I’ve added a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil each time because I like the fresh smell and so far so good. My clothes don’t tend to get too dirty but I dropped some soup down my top yesterday and that’s come out.

The only downside (which is also an upside) is the box is huge and I probably won’t need to try any other options this year!

I’ve still some softener left so that’s still an experiment to come.

Next to run out was my dishwashing liquid. Here I decided my options were to try

  1. My Granny’s method
  2. Make my own
  3. Refill my bottle

I started off with Granny’s method – grating soap into a repurposed plastic container with some punched holes. (A colleague kindly donated a nail for the punching as my ones were too light.)


First results were promising with a nice frothy water but very quickly the holes clogged up and the soap coagulated together. I persevered and found that my rubbing my dishcloth in the soft soap, that I could clean things pretty well but it was laborious. And the soapy water drained out of the container and stained my stainless steel bench top (it wiped off but always looked dirty).

So onto the DIY washing up liquid recipes,  of which there are hundreds online. The first one I looked at seemed pretty straightforward. I didn’t have glycerine but went to the chemist but it was in a plastic bottle. In my mind that defeated the purpose of making my own to avoid using plastic. I then tried Commonsense Organics . They had a glass bottle but with a plastic cap so I opted to avoid  that too.

I had no choice but to move onto the second recipe which had glycerine but it did call for washing up liquid (?) or Castille soap. The only Castille soap I could find was Dr Brummer’s at $12.50 a bar which seemed a tad over the top for a first experiment.

The third recipe needed Borax, which Bin Inn in Petone only sells prepackaged in plastic. Then I found recipe four, all the ingredients for which I had at home.  I wasn’t sure about the soap being a neutral soap but I decided to use it anyway.  The recipe was easy enough to follow but the soap didn’t  really dissolve. I persevered anyway and added the baking soda and 

Oops (but great fun)! A much taller saucepan required! Once the fizzing died down it was obvious the soap hadn’t dissolved


I think this one can be called a fail. I nipped of to Commonsense Organics and refilled my Eco-store 500ml bottle for $2.80. At that price, it’s probably not worth the time and effort to make my own. But I might have another go if I can find some Borax unpackaged.

I had more success replacing the dishwasher rinse aid with white vinegar. The dishes looked as clean and sparkly as normal  and there was no smell of vinegar.

Today’s final experiment was toothpaste. I have finally come to the end of my tube and even I couldn’t squeeze any more out of it. 

For toothpaste, there didn’t really appear be any alternatives. People keep suggesting tooth powder but  I can’t find a plastic free version in NZ. Lush are now packaging their toothtabs in plastic. Even dirty Hippy’s glass bottles have plastic lids. So making my own seems to be the only way to go.

Like washing up liquid there are hundreds of recipes online. Baking soda is the main ingredient in most of them- the idea being a slight abrasive is needed to properly clean teeth. After that from just baking soda to a long list of ingredients for remineralising your teeth, there’s endless variants. Some use glycerine too but there enough people who warn against using it that I wasn’t tempted. I decided to use this one and I melted the oil to make it easier to mix. It’s was runnier than normal toothpaste but it’s solidified now.


I’m planning on just dipping my toothbrush in – seems the simplest way to me. I repurposed an unused Resene test pot (I used to get these filled with M&Ms at Resene sponsored Events) as it’s got a wide enough mouth and being plastic won’t smash if I accidentally knock it onto the tiled floor in the bathroom.

Verdict? My teeth feel really clean but it tastes salty. It’s not that unpleasant just a little odd. I’m hoping this will be a keeper as it’s really easy to make. The use of bentonite clay to remineralise teeth is interesting but that’s not readily available so I will have to do some hunting.

Of course I’m going to need my tooth paste tomorrow after enjoying my plastic free Easter Egg! Enjoy your chocolate everyone .

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