One of my favorite homemaking delights is when I run out of something and the thought occurs to me, I wonder if I can make that myself?  Confession: the thought occurs to me more often when the bank account is low, but I’d like to change that, because the answer, invariably, is yes I can make it myself – and the result will be healthier for pocketbook, house, and environment.

Just before I left, we ran out of dish soap (for hand-washing, not the dishwasher) and this very thought occurred to me.  Thanks to the internet I found about a bazillion recipe variations, and of course I already had everything I needed in the house!  (That part always astonishes me for some reason.)  The search led me to seek out other homekeeping supplies, and soon I had created a bookmark dedicated to recipes for just about anything I would ever need.  My hope is that after I get back from Korea, I’ll wean us off of our store-bought versions and transition to all homemade.  Can you just imagine?  Supplies scented just the way we like them, with real essential oils instead of synthetic compounds?  In pretty hand-labeled bottles and jars?  And one – ONE – shelf of supply-making supplies.  What do you need to have on hand, you might ask?  Here’s the list:

– liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is my favorite, and the easiest to find)

– castile soap bars (also Dr. Bronner’s)

– baking soda

– distilled vinegar

– borax

– soda ash (also known as washing soda or sodium carbonate – Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” can be found in some grocery stores, or can be ordered online)

– essential oils (my favorites are lavender, bergamot, lemon verbena & cedar)

I’ll toss out recipes over the next few months because I think there’s something truly thrilling about doing for ourselves, and rethinking our dependence on the store-bought good.  Plus, when you make it yourself you know exactly what’s in it and you learn – whoa!  You mean I don’t have to have methylchloroisothaizolinone in my window cleaner to get my windows clean?

First recipe: the dishwashing soap that’s in our kitchen at home:


1 cup liquid castile soap

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice or distilled vinegar

a drop of essential oil

Mix ingredients together in a bottle of your choosing.  Due to time constraints I used a plastic bottle, but when I get home I’ll be scouring the thrift shops for a pretty glass bottle with a liquor bottle pourer on top.