Homemade cleaning products: a failed experiment

When we returned to London last March after six months in Hong Kong,  I was four months pregnant and had no job. I got a bit obsessed with saving money.

I spent hours a day reading every tip and thread on moneysavingexpert, forced my partner into making an annual budget with me, insisted that he take a packed lunch to work every day, walked everywhere rather than spend money on a bus, tapped my friends for loans of baby clothes and equipment,  trawled pound shops for essentials for us, banned frequent consumption of meat, requested a yoghurt maker for a birthday present and also decided, nay insisted, that we make all our own cleaning products.

Of course, all of these ideas still remain sound in principle, but at the time I was veering towards the fanatical end in my attempts at implementation. Oh, it was also around then that I insisted we bulk buy as well. So, inspired by various glowing reviews of natural cleaning products online, I took our annual cleaning budget (I’d allowed us £40, since you ask) and spent it all in one go on borax, soda crystals, castile soap, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and soap flakes.

I hadn’t actually done a trial run of any of the various “recipes” I’d seen,  and, of course you can see where this is going: everything I did make turned out to be absolutely rubbish at cleaning. Rather than save us any money at all, I’d wasted £40. A fortnight later, the sink now covered in what appeared to be a permanent layer of immovable grease, I finally gave in to Jamie’s pleas and bought some Fairy liquid “for special occasions.” After that, it wasn’t long before the house was stocked back up with branded cleaning products again.

The trouble was, the homemade dishwasher powder, while removing most food, left everything looking smeared and tea-stained. The washing powder worked fine on clothes that weren’t too dirty, but it couldn’t shift a stain and the laundry never came out smelling fresh. The worst one, though, was the washing up liquid. This seemed to actually make everything greasier than before you’d started to wash it, including the sink, the washing up brush and our hands.

I don’t know if I did anything wrong, or if all those online advocates were just much, much more patient than me with their washing and rinsing, but now, 11 months later, I still have a cupboard full of bulk-sized bags of soap flakes and the like.

Ingredients for homemade cleaning products
The cupboard of regret

I opened the cupboard up this morning and felt a wave of guilt as I looked in at all the unused products. So, I am determined, once again, to have a crack at making something natural.

So, over to you: has anyone got  some good recipes for natural cleaning products that genuinely work?

No washing up liquid, please, that was a catastrophe too far, but I’m open to trying anything else…