Reusable Napkins, Wipes, Paper Towels

I’ve chosen to use lots of reusable cloth products over the years – cloth napkins, cloth diapers, and mama cloth. At the beginning of COVID, I had to come up with a cloth alternative for paper towels when all the regular paper towel were out of stock. I ended up using something I already had. I raided my cloth diaper bins and pulled out our cloth baby wipes. I’m so glad I did. We’ve probably cut our paper towel usage by more than half. I still keep paper towels on hand for extremely greasy or germ-filled cleanups. But for the messy faces and daily spills, these work great for us. Read on….

Many companies offer various different reusable paper towels these days to help people reduce their use of disposable paper products. I tried some of them. But, honestly, the flannel baby wipes we used when we did cloth diapers with our kids, are the best washable cloths that I’ve found.

They are small, soft, and absorbent. I keep a tissue box cover full of them on the kitchen counter with them all folded over tissue style so that the kids can pull them out easily. They are just the right size for what the kids need. I keep a bin in the Butler’s Pantry for dirty towels. The kids throw them in there and they get washed with all the kitchen laundry.

I keep this tissue box cover on my kitchen counter for the kids to grab flannel wipes from when they need to wipe a messy face or clean up a spill. This makes convenient so they reach for the cloth wipes rather than a paper towel.
How to fold tissue style. 1) Purple wipe goes down first. 2) Green wipe covers half of purple wipe. 3) Red wipe covers green wipe.
4) Fold purple wipe over red and green edges. 5) Repeat process by laying another wipe on top of the purple. 6) Fold the Red over. 7) Go again until all are folded. 8) Place in your tissue box.

I like this Tissue Box Cover best. It works great on the kitchen counter and looks nice. I like that I can set things on top.

My favorite wipes are these flannel baby wipes by OsoCozy.

Recycled Sewing:

You could also easily make reusable wipes for this purpose using an old flannel shirt or pajama pants. I have some saved for just this purpose. I’ll get around to it someday. In the meantime, these work well for me.

Jump in and make your own. It would be a great upcycle project. Break out the scissors and sewing machine, or give some purchased wipes a try.

It certainly has saved us lots of paper towels each week.

* Note: There are no affiliate links in this post.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

I took this photo 9 years ago when I started reusing my foaming soap bottles and making my own hand soap. I made a batch of 8 bottles today. My ingredients have changed over the years, but the basics are the same.

Your favorite dish soap + your favorite essential oils + water = soap for pennies!

You can see my original post if you visit the Kitchen Sink page.

Lately I’ve also started adding 1 tbls of aloe gel to each bottle which helps keep your hands soft and makes the soap feel silky like the fancy soaps you buy at the mall. I vary the oils I use. Lately it’s Tea Tree and Grapefruit. I also like lemon and lavender, orange and clove (just one drop), geranium and pine. Be creative and experiment with your own favorite scents.

The essential oils you use also add disinfecting properties. Many people think that soap disinfects. This is a misconception. Soap actually does not disinfect inasmuch as it changes the pH of your hands. Soap on it’s own is a solvent. It lifts the dirt, grease, and germs and allows them to be washed away with the water. This is why hand washing is so important for fighting COVID-19. But soap, in and of itself, does not kill germs. If you want to add anti-microbial properties to tour soap, this is where the essential oils come in. Oils like tea tree, clove, and lemon are anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Grapefruit is anti-microbial. So choose yours oils based on their properties and the smells you like.

If you want more info on what oils are good to use based on their properties, check out my Herbs and Oils Pocket Reference Chart.

I’ve saved myself hundred of dollars each year by making my own hand soap. Here’s my soap bottle lineup. All refilled and ready to go.

Cotton-lined Dishwashing Gloves

I posted about these originally in 2014. See post here. Try are back in stock and I just ordered more. Here is a non-affiliate link. I’m looking forward to using less lotion this winter for my chapped hands thanks to these. Happy dishwashing.

DIY Olive Oil Hand Soap and Dish Soap

140128_0012This is easy peasy for all of you who aren’t brave enough (like me) to undertake the daunting process of making your own soap from scratch.

With this recipe you can customize your blends, and add your own essential oils for scent and disinfecting purposes.

We avoid all the natural soaps and all the store bought soaps because members of our family react to the coconut oil in almost every natural soap and have very sensitive skin which reacts to the mainstream soap brands. So, once you take out coconut oil as a base ingredient and all the main soap brands and all their irritating ingredients, then you aren’t left with much except coming up with your own homemade soap. However, the process of making my own soap from scratch is a bridge too far for me right now. I’ll make lots of things from scratch (as you can tell from the recipes on this blog), but cooking fats and handling lye with littles around just makes me too nervous. Maybe I’ll try it one day, but right now, soap is one project that I don’t have the time, energy or ambition for. So, this is the way you do it without having to make it from scratch yourself. And I just found out that it has a name. I’ve been making soap this way for the past several months and didn’t know what it was called until recently. It’s a process called “re-batching.” Basically, you’re taking an existing bar or leftover pieces of soap and remake it.

For our purposes, we will be turning a bar of soap into liquid hand soap and dishwashing soap.

Now, if you research DIY soap recipes online, you will find that almost all of them call for liquid castille soap. Now aside from the fact that most of those contain coconut oil as part of the base for the soap – which rules them out for me – the other factor that has driven me to develop this recipe is the expense. Even if buying castille soap is cheaper than buying regular dish soap at the store, liquid castille soaps are expensive and basically, I’m just not willing to pay that much money for them.

So, here’s what I do instead. Note: This recipe is very easily customized to meet your needs so change the ingredients to suit your purpose.

Basic DIY Liquid Hand Soap:
Start with 1 bar of 
Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap (affiliate link, see Disclosures Page). Amazon charges $3.99 per bar for this (you can find 8 oz. bars even cheaper other places online), and you’re only grating 1/2 cup of shavings which is a very minimal amount. So, this recipe will cost you probably less a quarter per batch. To make the soap, start with a cheese grater. Grate enough shavings to loosely fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Don’t use the largest shredder but the next size down. Dump the shavings into a small glass bowl. Add your favorite essential oils for fragrance and disinfecting. To decide which oils you want to use, click here for a list of essential oils and their properties. Then add 1 cup of distilled water. (You could use tap water if you’ll use the soap up quickly, but if you don’t use it up fast enough you may find bacteria or mold growing in your soap and have to throw the rest of the batch out). Let the mixture sit overnight. The water will soften the soap shavings and in the morning you will have a lovely, scented liquid soap. Stir the soap and pour it  into an old soap dispenser and you’re done. This recipe will make enough soap to fill a 10 oz. soap dispenser. If you’re not sure what oil blends to use, my favorite for hand soap are geranium/cedarwood or lemon/lavender. If you want to make a moisturizing soap, add 1 teaspoon of your favorite oil (olive oil, almond oil, etc.) to the bottle and shake well. Note: Over time the soap may begin to solidify or coagulate in places so that it looks like there are things floating around in your soap bottle. This is normal and the nature rebatched olive oil soap. If this happens you can just vigorously shake your bottle to remix it. If it doesn’t mix all the way, you can either use it as it is (which is what I usually do). Or if you bothers you, pour your soap into a sauce pan and gently heat it on low (do not boil) and stir until it is all recombined. When it has cooled a little bit pour it back into your soap dispenser.

DIY Liquid Dish Soap:
Follow the recipe above, except only add 3/4 cup of distilled water to the 1/2 cup soap shavings. This will make a more concentrated soap. If using distilled water, feel free to double and triple the batch so that you don’t have to make it as often. The best oils for dishwashing purposes are citrus blends – lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine. I would suggest using lemon as the main oil as it has wonderful disinfecting and solvent/grease cutting properties, and then adding some other citrus oils based on what scents you prefer (be creative and come up with your own combinations). Probably 12-15 drops of oil total is sufficient for a small batch of this recipe. If you double or triple the recipe, adjust the essential oil amounts accordingly. I should warn you that you won’t see any bubbles in your dishwater when using this soap. Olive oil soap is a very low sudsing soap and hardly makes any bubbles. It will still work fine though. It’s just not what we are used to.

DIY Foaming Mosturizing Hand Soap:
Follow the recipe for the basic hand soap above. Add about a 1/4 cup of the end product to a foaming soap dispenser and fill with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the soap dispenser to make a moisturizing blend. Keep in mind that olive oil soap doesn’t foam much. So, I use it for one of my bathrooms, but don’t expect typical results in a foaming dispenser. If you want the typical foam then I suggest using this foaming hand soap recipe.

This basic recipe will work with any bar soap that you like and works well for you skin. Feel free to try it with something other than olive oil soap. The moisture content and sudsing may be different with another bar soap, but try it out. It will save you money and if you use a soap with minimal ingredients it will be better for your skin too.

What books are popping off my bookshelf?

Peruse the shelves to find out what I've been reading lately....

Peruse the shelves to find out what I’ve been reading lately….

Visit the Library to see what I’ve been reading lately. The topics that I’ve found interesting include cooking, gardening, historical recipes, herbs, natural cleaning and remedies, etc. Maybe you’ll find something that peaks your curiosity there too.

My General Store – one stop shopping for homemade things

Brookshires store shelvesVisit my General Store to find all the recipes for the things that I make myself in one convenient place. They are organized by category for easy reference. Let me know if there is a recipe that you’d like to see that isn’t posted yet. I’m updating things all the time. Happy shopping!

The Family Doctor: Keeping those little bodies clean Inside and Out

9.10.12 020Continuing our discussion of food sensitivities, let’s discuss tips and tricks on cleansing your children’s bodies and their environment.

Keeping the INside and OUTside Clean:

Children with food sensitivities seem to have delicate systems. Thus I try to use homemade cleaners, soaps, laundry detergents, sunscreens, bug sprays, toothpaste and remedies so that I can know what they are being exposed to. This way if they have a reaction, I know what the ingredients are and can more quickly diagnose the offending agent. I also try to support their immune systems by giving them Well Drops daily. And when they have a reaction to a food I give them herbs (in tincture form) which helps support their bodies as they cleanse and heal. Herbs like dandelion (cleansing), milk thistle (liver support), yarrow (healing/cleansing), yellow dock (cleansing), catnip (calming/nutritious), and nettle (nutritious) are among my favorites.

More health topics to follow…. What health issue would you like to see discussed?

DIY Linen spray – freshener

5.9.13 011Need to freshen those linens? Make your own linen spray. Use it anything that needs to be spruced up without washing. Would work for carpets and rugs too. Easy DIY linen spray recipe.

Cleaning Day

web_DSC01019Resources for a naturally clean home. Read here…. You’ve already got baking soda and vinegar. What else do you need? Start scrubbing.

Homemade HE Laundry Detergent

Not only is this recipe inexpensive (less than $15 for a 6 month supply) but it is safe for cloth diapers and cleans very well. It’s low sudsing so you can use it in your HE machine or it works great in a regular top loader too. Stroll out to the wash porch for the recipe.