Monday, March 5, 2012

NON EDIBLES: Baby Wipes, Disinfecting Wipes and Laundry Soap


I try to be GREEN whenever possible.  I use cloth napkins and wash clothes in my home instead of paper or disposable. I keep a basket of napkins and cloths right on the kitchen counter for kid fingers and faces and paint spills and whatever else life throws at me.  I also keep a laundry basket by the kitchen door so I can just throw the dirties there and add it to whatever load of laundry is up next.  I don't care that my napkins aren't perfectly white or creased, because they are intended for formal use.  I use them to be GREEN.  So they might look a little stained, but the family and day care kids know to use them instead of throwing out disposables.  

But even I think there are times when a disposable wipe is a good idea.  And it is certainly more green to make them than it is to purchase all the plastic packaging.  So I still feel good and green even when I use my disposable wipes.  And I love making laundry soap instead of buying those large plastic or hard cardboard containers.

I make homemade baby wipes from paper towels.  It saves a ton of money and I can decide what goes in them.  They do not dry baby/kid skin the way the purchased wipes do so I feel good using them on faces and hands whenever needed. In the summer time I keep a big container in the van for all our road trips.  This is a basic "recipe" that you can adjust.  I used to add fresh aloe to it for my son who had sensitive skin.  I have also added essential oils for scents.  You can try other "add-ins" if you like.

Buy a good quality paper towel that has no designs or color.  If you use the choose-a-size paper towels you get smaller wipes, but I still find those to work just fine. Purchase a container that is tall enough to fit a half a roll of paper towels.  I found mine at Target, but I'm sure there are others.  I cut a hole in the top of mine so that I can pull the wipes out one at a time.  You don't have to do that, but it does make life a little easier.  I also go through a lot of wipes, so I don't worry that mine will dry out. Once you have a good container, you are set for years of environmentally friendly, inexpensive and good smelling baby wipes for far less than you can purchase in the store.  This container in the picture (that I took today as I made wipes) is almost 10 years old. 

2 c. warm water
2 T. baby oil or lotion
2 T. baby body soap
(any add ins you prefer)
Whisk all together in the container. 

Then cut a roll of paper towels in half with a large, serrated bread knife and pull out the center cardboard tube.  Stand up one half roll in the liquid, put lid on top and flip over.  (If you cut a hole in the top, just use some plastic wrap under the lid to seal it while it soaks up the liquid.) Let sit up-side-down for about 1 hour so all liquid is absorbed.  Depending on the type of paper towels, you may want to adjust the water a little bit.

Use the same process/techniques as the baby wipes.  Just carefully measure about 2 t. Lysol or other disinfecting cleaner into the 2 c. of warm water instead of the baby soap and lotion.  Whisk it together well before adding the half roll of paper towels.

I keep a container of these in the kids' bathroom for those little boys who have a trouble hitting the toilet! : )   Please note, though, that these are not flushable.  Also, you may want to clearly label these wipes and keep them behind closed doors where children cannot get to them. 

This one is the easiest of all and I can't believe I haven't been using this my whole life.  Very easy to make a large batch about once a month.  This method costs less than 3 cents per load, while the brand name laundry soaps cost about 74 cents a load (in my town at the time I'm typing this at least).  Plus, the homemade method saves so many plastic containers and unnecessary waste.  It basically has no smell (unless you add scented oils safe for soap).  So we buy the "outdoor fresh" dryer sheets to add that fresh scent to our clothes.  This soap WORKS.  It gets clothes clean.  I still use bleach occasionally on the whites, and I often times still add a little Oxy Clean to those kid clothes that are covered in mud and grass (and who know what else) stains.  I usually make a double batch (2 gallons) at a time.  If you have a 5 gallon bucket, that will work as well.  The basic list I gave is for 1 gallon of finished laundry soap, so adjust it accordingly if you are making a large batch.  If you add a scent to it, be sure that you are adding oils meant to be used in soaps.  You don't want oil stains on your clothes, so be careful what you add. 

Borax and Washing Soda were easily found in my local store right with the other laundry detergent.  I know there are many slight variations to this basic recipe. If something works particularly well for you, let me know!

Basic Ingredient List for 1 gallon of laundry soap:

1/4 c. grated bar soap--use a natural, no dyes, no scents soap like Ivory
a heaping 1/4 c. Washing Soda
a heaping 1/4 c. Borax

Use a metal pot that IS NOT COATED with non-stick surface.  The soap gets into the non stick and your food will taste soapy!  Use metal utensils, too, since the soapy taste can permeate wooden spoons or plastic utensils.

Bring about 3 cups water and the grated soap to a boil  in the pot.  Let boil about 1 minute until soap is all dissolved.  Turn the heat off and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir it well. This may cause a bubbling, so be sure your pot is big enough to handle that without spilling over.


Place about 3 cups cold water in the bottom of your 1 gallon container.  (I stole a couple of these 1 gallon ice cream containers after a party at a friend's house one night and they work great.)  Add the hot liquid slowly.  You do not want the hot liquid to melt your plastic container.  Add enough water to the container to make 1 gallon and stir lightly.  Cover and let the solution sit overnight.  It will gel slightly when cooled and will be a little "chunky" like a thick soup.

Use 1/2 cup detergent to a normal size load of laundry.  For particularly soiled loads, I use 3/4 cup.  Add the soap to the water and let washer fill most of the way full before adding clothes.  This solution is safe to use with bleach or Oxy Clean.

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